LotR: The Most Malevolent Jewelry in All Middle Earth – The One Ring Breakdown
The Ring of Power, Isidulr’s Bane, the Precious… The fate of Sauron and all of Middle Earth is wound around the One Ring. Here’s its story.
Today is the anniversary of the day that Sauron was finally defeated. On March 25th, Frodo cast the One Ring into the fiery depths of Mount Doom. And in doing so, he destroyed the spirit of the Dark Lord and ended his evil reign over Middle Earth. In honor of this festive occasion, let’s tell the story of the Ring of Power.
Sauron & Celebrimbor Forge the Rings
Sauron was originally one of the most powerful Maiar, the spirits that helped the immortal Valar shape the world under the guidance of the Eru. His name was originally Mairon, and he was a patron of the smithing Valar Aulë. But his desire for order and perfection made him vulnerable to the power of Morgoth the fallen Valar. Through him, Mairon sought to control the beings of Middle Earth.
So after the defeat of Morgoth, Sauron fled to Middle Earth and didn’t surface again until the Second Age. Soon-to-be-Sauron has two particular skill sets: smithing and deceiving. He devised a plan to bend the peoples of Middle Earth to his will, so he disguised himself as an Elf. He called himself Annatar and used his smithing skills to get in with powerful Elves. Among them was Celebrimbor, the greatest craftsman of his time. And together they forged a series of rings with exceptional powers to rule.
The Elves had three rings made by a disguised Sauron and the great Elven smith Celebrimbor. Nenya, the ring of water, Narya, the ring of fire, and Vilya, the ring of air. There were the Seven Rings given to the Dwarf-lords, and the Nine made for the leaders of Men. But the gifts of Annatar were really a curse because he made his own ring.
One ring to rule them all, One ring to find them,
One ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
Meanwhile, the Dwarves were too hearty to submit to his will, but their rings nurtured in them great greed, which led to their own destruction. The nine Men succumbed to Sauron’s will, they became the Nazgûl, or Ringwraiths, and Sauron’s horrifying servants.
The Power of the One Ring
In addition to its superior ruling power, the One Ring makes its wearer invisible to most physical beings by shifting them into another unseen realm. The wearer of the ring would have a greater understanding of evil languages. It also fostered in its wearer a fierce dependency. The ringbearer would also experience an incredible slowing of age, although an increased weariness would come along with that. It has the power to change sizes, made to fit any bearer it chooses as it attempts to find its way back to its master.
While its influence is great, the powers around it also influence the ring. For instance, Bilbo’s strength of character and empathy lessened the intensity of its hold on his mind. This is probably why he was able to part with it willingly. But the ring, independent of the wearer, could lure people into its clutches. This sway could also be used if the One Ring came into the possession of someone massively powerful, like Gandalf or Galadriel, who were both tempted to take it but denied its pull. After all, the evil that forged it would surely corrupt them.
The Ring of Power was forged in the volcanic crack of Mount Doom called Sammath Naur. Sauron used a large chunk of his own soul to imbue it with the level of power it needed. This tied his life force to the ring. But because so much of his will was poured into the ring, the Elves knew of his malicious intent as soon as he slipped the ring on his finger. So the rings are hidden with the wisest Elven leaders, Gil-Galad, Galadriel, and eventually Elrond. Sauron’s only choice was to try and find the rings through military means.
The War of the Elves and Sauron
Eventually, Sauron captured Eregion, where Celebrimbor lived. He tortured the ringmaker in an attempt to locate the Elven rings, but Celebrimbor wouldn’t give in. Still, the Elves were retreating, and overall, Sauron’s quest for dominance over Middle Earth was going well. That is, until Tar-Minastir of Númenor brought his troops to Gil-Galad’s aid, driving the Dark Lord straight back to Mordor.
After some time, Sauron’s armies began to grow again. When the King of Númenor, Ar-Pharazôn, marched into Mordor, Sauron knew he didn’t have the resources to hold out his keep. Instead, he took on another not-so-scary appearance and played to the king’s pride. Ar-Pharazôn demanded that Sauron come back to Númenor as his prisoner. And Sauron the sweet-talker was pleased; after all, this gave him the opportunity to establish himself as the king’s right hand – with help from the persuasive tendencies of the ring, of course. Using his influence over the Númenorean court, he nurtured their greed. And they soon became covetous of the Elves’ immortality – turning Men against the Valar.
During the fall of Númenor, Sauron’s body was destroyed but his spirit lived on. He took his ring and fled back to Mordor, where he built a new body. But no more would be able to disguise himself as fair to the eye. Meanwhile, the few surviving Númenoreans escaped the ruined city under the leadership of Elendil, a Lord of the court who maintained the old Elven ways during the time of Sauron’s influence over King Ar-Pharazôn. As you can imagine, Sauron was not his biggest fan. So when he found out that Elendil and the remaining Númenorean refugees established the realms of Gondor and Arnor, he was none too pleased.
Sauron attempted to strike down these new cities of Men. But the Elven king Gil-Galad had grown greatly in power after the Sauron’s fall. So when Gil-Galad and Elendil joined forces, their seven-year siege of Barad-dûr put Sauron in a tricky spot. Finally, Sauron himself took to the battlefield to duel the two legendary kings. Tragically, he slew them both.
Isildur, Elendil’s son, picked up Narsil, his father’s broken sword. With it, he cut off Sauron’s hand, separating the Dark Lord from the One Ring, and turning the battle in his favor. Sauron was defeated, and his body was demolished. His spirit, however, clung to the force of the One Ring. And because Isildur refused to dump the Ring back into the fires of Mount Doom, Sauron’s spirit was able to live on.
Shocking absolutely no one, Isildur was betrayed by the One Ring. It wiggled its way off his finger, and he was immediately killed by Orcs. The Ring fell to the bottom of a lake and lay in wait for its master. And so went the Third Age: Sauron hiding and allowing the world to forget about his existence.
“What Have I Got in My Pocket?”
The Precious-to-Be sat at the bottom of the riverbed for a mighty long time. That is until a swamp-dwelling proto-Hobbit named Déagol scooped it out of the mud. His cousin Sméagol stole the ring, killing Déagol and taking the ring deep into the wet darkness underneath the Misty Mountains. There he lived, obsessing over the ring for almost half a millennium. The ring kept him alive but changed his features and warped his mind, turning him into the creature known as Gollum.
One day, the ring abandoned him as it had Isildur, and fell to the floor of one of the tunnels. A few hours later, an unassuming Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins found the ring and used its powers of invisibility to escape the clutches of Gollum. But when given the opportunity to kill the creature, Bilbo instead chose mercy.
And so Bilbo Baggins brought his new trinket back to the Shire with him. He kept it on him constantly, though he rarely used it. But like its previous owner, Bilbo hardly aged for the 60 years it was in his possession. He did, however, use it to make a dramatic exit from his final birthday party in the Shire before he traveled to Rivendell. Bilbo’s uncharacteristic possessiveness of the ring caused his wise friend Gandalf to suspect that the ring wasn’t necessarily a blessing. At the wizard’s insistence, Bilbo left the ring to his adopted nephew Frodo, who would inherit Bilbo’s estate.
Frodo Travels to Mount Doom
Gandalf’s concern about the power of the ring caused him to seek out news of the creature Gollum. He found that the creature had ventured out in search of his Precious ring. Unbeknownst to Gandalf, Gollum’s long time spent with the ring left his mind open to Sauron’s bidding. So Gollum was drawn to Mordor, and there he was tortured for information about the ring’s whereabouts.
Gandalf then traveled to Minas Tirith to read the records of Isildur. These entries were short, but they said that the ring, under fire, would show fiery writing on its outside. Gandalf took this knowledge back to the Shire. When he arrived, Gandalf’s suspicions were confirmed and he urged Frodo to take the ring and go to Rivendell.
During this journey, Sauron sent his Ringwraiths to the Shire to find the One Ring. Frodo and his gang managed to make it to Rivendell, and there it was decided that a group of Men, Elves, and Dwarves would escort Frodo and his fellow Hobbits to Mordor. There, he would chuck Sauron’s jewelry into Mount Doom, destroying its power for good.
The group journeyed through the Mines of Moria and the Elven kingdom of Lothlórien and continued on until they were separated by an attack of Uruk-hai, the Orcs bred in Isengard. Frodo and Sam continued on to Mordor alone. While searching for the way, the two realized that Gollum had been following them. They captured him, ordering the creature to swear an oath of obedience to the master of his Precious. And so Frodo commanded him to lead them to Mordor.
During this journey, the hobbits and Gollum were captured by Faramir, the Captain of the White Tower of Gondor. Against his power-hungry father’s orders, Faramir resisted the temptation of the ring and aided Frodo in his quest to destroy it.
After some dramatic spider-wrestling and a brief detour to being kidnapped by Orcs, Frodo and Sam finally approached Mount Doom. They were ambushed by Gollum just as they reached the Crack of Doom. During the struggle, Frodo was overcome by the power of the one ring and proclaimed that he would not destroy it. Just then, Gollum took the ring from Frodo by biting it off of his finger. But as the creature celebrated being reunited with his Precious, he slipped. Gollum and the ring fell into the fires of Mount Doom, destroying Sauron and toppling his armies.