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The Rings of Power are fictional artifacts of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. They are first described early in The Lord of the Rings in a rhyme of lore told to Frodo Baggins by Gandalf:
The inscription on the One Ring; the sixth and seventh lines of the poemThree Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Description Fortress of Rohan
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Location Rohan
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
Founder Gondor
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne,
Lord Kings of Gondor
laterIn Marshalthe land of Mordor where the West-Markshadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy writings, Helm's Deep was a large valley in the north-western Ered Nimrais (White Mountains).
One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them,
In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.
Contents [hide]
1 Literature
1.1 History
1.2 Common powers of the Rings
1.3 The Nine
1.4 The Seven
1.5 The Three
1.6 The One
1.7 Final disposition of the Rings
2 Adaptations
3 References
4 See also
5 External links
The valley was blocked over its entire width by the natural series of hills called Helm's Dike and behind that lay the fortress of Aglarond or the Hornburg, at the entrance to the Glittering Caves.
[edit] Literature
Originally the valley was home to a small Gondorian regiment, but after Calenardhon became Rohan it became an encampment of the Rohirrim, where the guards of the Fords of Isen lived.
[edit] History
During the war with the Dunlendings under Wulf, the Rohirrim under King Helm Hammerhand and many of his people sought refuge in the keep, where they held out during the winter of T.A. 2758–2759.
After the fall of Morgoth, Sauron begged for the pardon of the Valar, but reneged on his promise to submit to judgment and fled. As the Second Age progressed he presented himself disguised in a beautiful shape as 'Annatar', Lord of the Gifts, to the leaders of the remaining Eldar in Middle-earth with offers of aid. Galadriel, Gil-galad and Círdan all distrusted him, but he was welcomed by the smiths of Eregion, who were eager to increase their knowledge and technical achievement. According to Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings, the forging of the Rings of Power began circa S.A. 1500. The Seven and the Nine Rings were forged by the Elves with Sauron's direct assistance. The Three Rings, the greatest of the Elven Rings, were forged by Celebrimbor, a grandson of Fëanor and leader of the Eregion smiths. He accomplished this alone, without Sauron's aid but with knowledge obtained from him, completing them around S.A. 1590. It is also strongly implied that many lesser rings were forged as well with limited and unspecified powers.
Sauron forged the last Ring, the One Ring or Ruling Ring, secretly in the fires of Mount Doom of Mordor in S.A. 1600, imbuing a portion of his power into it. Its purpose was domination over the other Rings and their powers, and the opening of the thoughts and wills of their wearers to his view and control. However, as soon as Sauron put on the One Ring, the Elves became aware of him and, immediately understanding his purpose, they took off their Rings.
A long causeway wound up to the great gate of the fortress itself. Inside the keep there were stables and an armoury, as well as a great hall in the rear which was dug out of the mountainside. There also was a great tower (the Hornburg) the top of which consisted of the great horn of Helm Hammerhand. The Deep which stood next to the fortress was barred by the long Deeping Wall, which consisted of solid rock except for a small culvert which allowed water from the Deeping Stream to enter; this rendered a fresh supply in sieges of great length. The Deeping Wall itself stood 20 feet tall; it was wide enough for four men to stand side by side. Access to the fortress from within the Deep was made possible by a long stair which led to the Hornburg's rear gate.
About 90 years later Sauron invaded and conquered Eregion before overrunning nearly all of Eriador. Celebrimbor was captured, and under torture revealed the locations of the Seven and the Nine, but he died without revealing where the Three were hidden. Sauron took the Seven and the Nine, and these he distributed to leaders of the Dwarves and Men, respectively.
During the War of the Ring the fortress guarding Helm's Deep again became the refuge of some of the Rohirrim, now under King Théoden, and the Battle of the Hornburg was fought there.
It was said in a myth that Helm's Deep would never fall while men defended it. No enemy had ever breached the Deeping wall, or set foot inside the Hornburg, but in the year T.A. 3019, during the War of the Ring, Saruman's army of Uruk-hai managed to almost overwhelm the defences of the Rohirrim. This was achieved by the orcs using an explosive blast of fire within the culvert which when detonated, destroyed the main defences. The origin of this explosion is unclear and Tolkien denotes it as "Saruman's devilry." In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy this weapon is depicted as gunpowder.
[edit] Common powers of the Rings
The fortress was featured as a scenario board in the Lord of the Rings board game.
The primary purpose and power of all the Rings made by the Elves was to heal, build and understand. Though Sauron tried, he did not succeed in seducing the elves. This may have been because he (Sauron) did not personally touch them, later or at their making.
The Rings apparently granted the ability to see things that are normally unseen, such as Frodo's ability to see the Ringwraiths in their true form while wearing the One Ring and Nenya, Galadriel's ring (which his companion Samwise could not see). However, this power is said to have been "more directly derived from Sauron" than the other powers of the Rings and thus may not have been present in the Three, which Sauron never touched.
[edit] Aglarond
Aglarond and Angrenost (later Isengard) were the two fortresses built by Gondor guarding the Fords of Isen. Like Angrenost to the north it was initially well guarded, but as the population of Calenardhon (the later Rohan) dwindled it was not maintained and, losing importance, was left to a hereditary small guard who intermarried with Dunlendings.
It is unclear whether these effects were always present in the sixteen or were added after Sauron had taken them from the Elves. It is said in Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age that Sauron "perverted" the Nine and the Seven such that they cursed and betrayed those who used them. This 'curse' can be seen in the deaths of the Dwarves Thrór and Thráin, both driven to undertake lethal dangers by the Ring of their house.
When Cirion, Steward of Gondor, gave Calenardhon to the Éothéod, Aglarond was transferred into Rohirric care, who named it Súthburg (southern burg in their language). The Gondorian guard was merged with that of Angrenost to the north, which remained in the keep of Gondor. Guard duty of the Fords was initially shared between Gondor and Rohan, but later maintained only by the Rohirrim.
The Nine were presented to Kings and Sorcerers among Men, including Black Númenóreans. These men were swiftly dominated and ultimately became mere shadows (see Nazgûl). The Nine proved quite useful to Sauron in the Third Age, especially when he was too weak to take action personally.
The Seven were presented to the seven heads of the Dwarf houses, but because of the unique ancestry of Dwarves, Sauron could neither control them nor read their minds. One of Sauron's goals in the Third Age was to recover as many of the Seven as still existed. In the end, only three survived dragon-fires and wound up in his clutches. The only evil perpetrated by the Seven was to inflame an existing Dwarf covetousness of gold, jewels, and worked objects and to allow the wearer to become wealthy. This wealth in turn attracted Dragons, and most of the Seven were incinerated (along with their wearers). This is alluded to at the Council of Elrond, but it is stated that the One was too mighty for any known Dragon to destroy in this way.
In an unused draft text, Tolkien indicated that Calaquendi, such as Glorfindel, could use the invisibility power of a Ring to choose to appear fully in either the physical or invisible world rather than existing in both at the same time. This might be similar to the way that Sauron and Tom Bombadil were apparently able to remain visible while wearing the One.
[edit] The Nine
Main article: Nazgûl
The Nine Rings caused Men wearing them to become invisible. They also extended the lifespans of Men who possessed them, although this eventually led to the Men becoming wraiths under Sauron's complete control. It is implied by Gandalf that all the Great Rings would have the same effects on Men, but Tolkien wrote that this was untrue of the Three and there are no instances of a Man bearing one of the Three.
The wraiths of the Men who received the Nine were the Nazgûl, the Ringwraiths, Sauron's most feared servants. None are mentioned specifically in The Lord of The Rings except their leader, the Witch-king of Angmar. His second-in-command is named in Unfinished Tales as Khamûl, the Black Easterling. What is known is that three of the nine Ringwraiths were originally 'great lords' of Númenor in the mid Second Age.
The Nine were held by the Nazgûl after the fall of Sauron at the end of the Second Age, and they went on to wreak great evil with their powers in the East and South of Middle-earth, as well as the kingdom of Angmar, which warred on and destroyed the Dúnedain in the North. Later, Sauron was said to have gathered the Nine to himself, but this could also be construed as having the Nazgûl close at hand, rather than physically having these rings at Barad-dûr as was certainly the case with the remaining Dwarf-rings.
[edit] The Seven
As there were seven Dwarf 'Houses' or nations, it is tempting to assume that the king of each House was given his own Ring, but this is not stated. However, It is mentioned by Gandalf that the seven hoards of the Dwarves were rumored to have each been started with a single golden ring. The Dwarves used their Rings to increase their treasure hoards, the rings bringing great wealth to their owners.
Tolkien wrote that the Rings could not make Dwarves invisible, turn them into wraiths, dominate their wills, or extend their lives due to essential traits of their kind. This greatly frustrated Sauron's plans, but through the Rings he was still able to influence them to anger and greed.
At the time of The Lord of the Rings, four of the Seven had been "consumed" by dragons, one was believed lost in Moria when Thrór was killed by Azog (one reason Balin returned to the ancient dwarf realm) and the remaining two were known to be recaptured by Sauron.
However, as revealed by Gandalf at the Council of Elrond, Thrór had given his ring, the last of the Seven, to his son Thráin II prior to Thrór's departure for Moria. Thráin II was subsequently captured, imprisoned, and tormented by Sauron at Dol Guldur nearly one hundred years before the beginning of The Hobbit in T.A. 2845. Therefore, Balin's hope to find the ring in Moria was futile. Apparently, the dwarves' secrecy worked against them, since Gandalf knew all of this long before Balin went to Moria, and could have warned Balin.
In the year before Frodo and Sam left the Shire with the One Ring, Sauron, through an unnamed emissary, promised to return the remaining three of the Seven to the Dwarves if they would recover "a little ring, the least of rings" from the "thief" who "stole" it. The emissary's words suggest Sauron hoped to convince the Dwarves that Bilbo's ring was one of the lesser rings forged by the Eregion smiths and not a Great Ring of Power. This offer was made repeatedly over the course of the year, and each time the Dwarves declined to answer. Distrustful of Sauron, who in fact correctly believed this ring to be the One, and not wanting to endanger Bilbo, the Dwarves instead sought out advice from Elrond. This is what brought Glóin and Gimli to Rivendell for the Council of Elrond in The Fellowship of the Ring.
There is a tradition among the Dwarves that Durin III of Moria was not given a Ring by Sauron, but received his directly from Celebrimbor. As such, his ring would not have borne the taint of Sauron. For this reason, among others, Balin son of Fundin returned to Moria. He had hopes of finding a ring of power that could be used to help preserve and strengthen the dwarven people.
[edit] The Three
Main article: Three Rings
Unlike the other Rings, the Three did not confer invisibility or bear a curse beyond their vulnerability to the One (as Sauron himself never laid hand on them), but the rings themselves were invisible when worn. Only a few, such as other Ring-bearers, could see them.
The Three are the only Rings of Power other than the One that Tolkien depicted in the narrative. Narya, the Ring of Fire, was set with a ruby; Nenya, the Ring of Water or Ring of Adamant, was of mithril and set with a "white stone", presumably a diamond (although never stated explicitly, the usage of the word "adamant", an old synonym, is strongly suggestive); and Vilya, the Ring of Air, and "mightiest of the Three", was of gold and set with a sapphire. They remained hidden, and their possessors were not revealed until the end of the Third Age.
Before the sack of Eregion, Celebrimbor gave Vilya and Narya to Gil-galad and Nenya to Galadriel. Gil-galad later gave Narya to Círdan, and gave Vilya to Elrond shortly before he died.
The Three remained hidden from Sauron and untouched by him, and during the Third Age after he lost the One they were used for the preservation and enhancement of the three remaining realms of the Eldar. Vilya was used by Elrond at Rivendell, Nenya by Galadriel at Lothlórien, and Narya at Mithlond by Círdan. When the Istari, or wizards, arrived about T.A. 1000, Círdan gave Narya to Gandalf, who bore it until the end of the Third Age.
[edit] The One
Main article: One Ring
The Rings of Power were objects of great potency, and so to accomplish their domination Sauron was obliged to transfer most of his own power into the One Ring, a necessity that later led to his downfall.
In Eregion, a great many lesser rings were forged as "essays in the craft", of unknown but far lesser powers than the Great Rings. These were all "simple and unadorned" metal bands without any markings or gemstones. In contrast, the Great Rings other than the One were each set with 'their proper gem'. As with the lesser rings, the One was a plain band, apparently of ordinary gold, and with no visible markings. However, if the One was made hot enough an inscription of two lines of Black Speech in tengwar script could be made out in fiery letters covering both sides of the ring:
Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul,
ash nazg thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.
These words were spoken by Sauron when he first put on the One, and it was when they heard him speaking them that the Elves became aware of his purpose. Later, after Sauron had captured and distributed the Seven and the Nine, a translation of them was incorporated into the rhyme told to Frodo by Gandalf:
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
Because the Elves did not use their Rings while Sauron possessed the One his original plan was unsuccessful, but the force he could bring to bear with the Ring upon the wills of others was vast nonetheless. With the Ring in his possession, Sauron was quickly able to corrupt the Númenóreans into Dark worship, human sacrifice, and open rebellion against the Valar, which led to their destruction by divine intervention.
As with the Nine, a mortal who wore it would become invisible. Gandalf told Frodo that while he wore the Ring he was invisible to his friends but even more visible to the Nazgûl since he then existed more fully in the spirit world they inhabited. With repeated use a mortal might 'fade' and become a wraith dominated by Sauron. It granted power to dominate the wills of others in proportion to the native abilities of its wearer. Thus, although Frodo was able to dominate Gollum for a time, he could never have done so with anyone greater. Any powerful being who possessed the Ring, such as Gandalf, would be so corrupted by it that he would simply take Sauron's place as Dark Lord.
It may have granted Sam the ability to understand the speech of Orcs in Mordor, and Bilbo Baggins the ability to understand the speech of the Great Spiders in Mirkwood.
The One possessed a kind of sentience or will of its own and could slip on or off at inopportune times or influence the bearer (cf. Isildur at the "Disaster of the Gladden Fields.") in an effort to return to its creator. It could even influence and corrupt those who had never touched it, such as when it drove Sméagol to murder Déagol.
[edit] Final disposition of the Rings
In the climactic scene of The Lord of the Rings, the One was destroyed in the Crack of Doom at Orodruin, where it was originally forged, causing the downfall of Sauron and the undoing of all he created with it.
Galadriel tells Frodo that with the destruction of the One, the power of the other surviving Rings, though no longer bound to it, would fail. At the end of the Third Age, the Three were taken to Valinor by their bearers.
Dragons consumed four of the Seven Rings, and after Sauron's return in the Third Age he recaptured three of them. These were almost certainly buried in the rubble of Barad-dûr.
The fate of the Nine was likely the same as that of the remaining Seven. Tolkien wrote that "all of the Nine had come into the possession of Sauron", and that "they perished and became useless when the One was destroyed". This implies (contradicting a statement made by Gandalf at the Council of Elrond) that the Nazgûl no longer physically possessed the Nine. This implication is supported by the fact that the Witch-King's ring was not captured after he was killed. Leaving aside the peril of using it, Aragorn and Gandalf would not have allowed a Ring of Power to be left unattended on the battlefield. However, it is just as likely that the Nazgul's Nine Rings were still worn by each of them, but were automatically destroyed by the unmaking of the One Ring.
[edit] Adaptations
The bearers of the Rings of Power in Jackson. From top to bottom: Elves, Dwarves, MenRalph Bakshi's 1978 animated film begins with the forging of the Rings of Power and the events of the Last Alliance's war against Sauron, all portrayed in silhouette against a red background.
During the reign of Helm Hammerhand, Rohan was attacked by Dunlendings from across the river Isen. Edoras was taken, and Helm and many of his people retreated to Súthburg. Because Helm always blew a great horn before riding out to fight the beleaguering Dunlendings, the keep was renamed Hornburg. During the War of the Ring, the Hornburg was the refuge of the Rohirrim as they defended Helm's Deep.
Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring begins with a similar prologue, though longer and more detailed. The three Elven rings are shown being cast using a cuttlebone mold, an ancient primitive casting technique consistent with the book's description of them as "only essays in the craft before it was full-grown". Additionally, Tolkien illustrators John Howe and Alan Lee, employed as conceptual designers for the films, have cameoes as two of the nine human Ring-bearers (the future Nazgûl).
After the war, Gimli the Dwarf, who fought in that battle, established a colony of Durin's folk there. Aglarond lay in front of a huge and very beautiful cave system, which proved irresistible to him. Gimli became known as 'the Lord of the Glittering Caves', although this new realm was presumably under the overlordship of Thorin Stonehelm, his kinsman and heir of the lordship of all Durin's Folk. The dwarves of Aglarond restored the Hornburg following the War of the Ring, and it became a fortress they shared with the Rohirrim.
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