I can't stop with LOTR questions, sorry

What, exactly, did everyone expect the Ring of Power to do? Denethor and Borimir seem to think it would be a powerful weapon against Sauron, but all we ever see is that it seems to “phase” the wearer into the Shadow Realm. Surely, through myth and legend, some thought it held greater powers? Gandalf seems afraid the Ring and says he would use it from a desire to do good, but through him it would wield a terrible power.

For that matter, what exactly were the powers of the rings given to the elves, dwarves, and men? The movie says something about the strength and will to rule, but was there more?

Galadriel seems to still have her ring. Is she the only one still wearing one? It’s 2500 years after Sauron’s fingers got chopped, it seems like maybe she’s the last still wearing one of the rings. If that is the case, then the whole “One Ring to rule then all” bit seems a bit pointless.

OK, let me see if I can do this until someone better versed comes along.

  1. The One Ring. It gives the wearer the power to dominate others. It also awards that power commensurate with the power the wearer already has. Giving it to Gandalf is bad. He’s already powerful. Giving it to Frodo is fine - sort of - because who the hell is he, anyway?

  2. The powers of the lesser rings varied. Gandalf wore the ring that was given to him by Cirdan the Shipwright, as I recall and it controlled fire. Galadriel held the ring originally given to Celebrimbor, Nenya the ring of Water or Adamant and Elrond wore the ring of Air. During the time where the One Ring was lost - and without power over them - these Ringbearers used them to preserve their lands in a sort of timelessless perfection.

  3. The dwarves had the seven rings. These rings led to avarice and gold and reinforced dwarven greed, as I recall.

  4. The nine. Sauron gave human kings the nine rings. They gave the humans the illusion of power and terror and extended their lives. Sadly, also made them eventually Sauron’s slaves and they became the Nazgul. Classic human lack of long-term risk management.

  5. The ‘One Ring to rule them all’ thing is broken when we see the subordinate rings because Sauron has lost the One Ring. The elves are free to wear and use their rings precisely because it’s lost. Had Sauron had his ring the elves could not wear or use theirs without becoming dominated by Sauron’s will via the ring. Not a happy space.

  1. One of the powers of the Elven rings was to enable the wearer to hide their location from Sauron, which is why Rivendell and Galadriel’s forest weren’t overrun.

  2. The One Ring was supposed to allow its wielder to control the minds of the wearers of the lesser rings, but when he gave them to the dwarves, they proved to be curiously resistant to mind control (which, given that it was Sauron, means they’re pretty much immune… possibly due to being the first born, maybe?). He tried to get them back and did get several back. Some were lost when their wielders were eaten by dragons, but at least one or two are still out there, somewhere.

So did Elrond have a ring?

And are hobbits the key because they lack ambition? They don’t have a king and they don’t want to rule anything, they just want peace and quiet?

Sauron got three of the seven back, the last when he captured Thrain II, the father of Thorin Oakenshield. The other four were consumed by dragon fire.

Sauron got three of the seven back, the last when he captured Thrain II, the father of Thorin Oakenshield. The other four were consumed by dragon fire.

Yes; as Jonathan Chance noted above, Elrond had Vilya, the Ring of Air. Gil-Galad had it, and gave it to Elrond at some point during the Second Age.

That’s probably part of it; they don’t desire to dominate others, conquer, or amass great wealth.

Also, there’s a certain toughness (both of body and will) to them, at least in the cases of the Bagginses and Samwise.

I want to argue with this. I seem to recall that the elves saw through Sauron early on and although they may have used his techniques, they created their own rings (or one of the elves did) free from any influence of Sauron or his One Ring.

(Side question: If Gandalf hadn’t had the ring of fire, as he mentioned he did obliquely on the bridge, would he have been able to withstand and defeat the balrog? I assume that Cirdan gave his ring to Gandalf rather than Saruman because he was an astute judge of character.)

I sort of wonder about the ringwraiths too. They were already wraiths and presumably subject to the will of Sauron, even before he lost his ring. Is that why his power over them carried on? If he had lost his ring when they were still men, would his influence have waned and, even if/when they went bad, they would have been independent?

Here’s my go to answer I’ve posted before.

They all work by amplifying innate tendencies of the bearers. The 9 for Men amplified their lust for power, the 7 for Dwarves amplified their desire for riches, the 3 for Elves amplified their desire for stasis and preservation, and the One Ring would amplify whatever its bearer already was. This was why Gandalf believed the Hobbits might be useful. He had studied them and their nature for years and generations. They were generally without ambition. Their biggest concerns were food, drink, gardening, and their own genealogy. There’s a running gag in LOTR that most people, if they’ve even heard of “halflings” they have no stories of them. Some of that was their generally insular nature and some was that even when out in the world, they had a talent for not being noticed (as Gandalf discovered when hiring Bilbo as a burglar). Gandalf was hoping that the effect of the Ring on a hobbit would be minimal due to their modest nature. He followed one particular family that was somewhat adventurous, as he needed one that would at least leave the Shire, but was still “hobbity” enough to not let the Ring affect him so much.

So, the hope was to somehow take advantage of the Hobbits’ natural tendencies and abilities. They had no full plan, but Gandalf hoped that by putting things in motion, sending the Ring with a Hobbit and moving Aragorn to take on his Kingly destiny, that “fate” would do what it would do.

Side note: Gandalf was sent in an advisory capacity. He couldn’t use his innate powers to control men but he could persuade them to the cause. This is what the Fire Ring did for him. It amplified his persuasion or ability to “fire up” those around him.

It went something like this, I think:

  1. Elf supersmith Celebrimbor collaborated with the brilliant and charming messenger-of-the-gods Annatar on the Nine and Seven Rings.
  2. Celebrimbor made the Three Rings on his own.
  3. Sauron made the One Ring in secret. This ring could control all the other rings.
  4. The Elven ringbearers had a vision of “Annatar” forging the One Ring and going full evil-overlord on them, so they immediately took off their rings.
  5. Once Sauron was de-ringed, it was safe to wear the Elvish rings. Of course, if Sauron somehow got re-ringed , they’d be in trouble again.

Um, now that I think about it, I’m not sure of the underlying mechanics, but: the Nine and Seven were inherently tainted because Sauron made them. The Three rings were potentially subject to his control, but were safe as long as he didn’t have the One or know who had them.

Yes, Elrond has a ring, which he uses to hold Rivendell in a sort of timeless state. Visitors notice its effects–mostly losing track of time–without knowing the cause.

Hobbits are resistant not only to the Ring’s call to power, but also to the fading that comes along with it. The Men who received the Nine became wraiths, but Smeagol endured. It’s not just lack of ambition, I think. They’re also stubborn and down-to-earth, Tolkien’s representatives of common-sensible people of the land, so enduring is fundamental in his view of them.

In terms of the mythology, hobbits are something of a mystery. They don’t appear in the songs of the Elves, the lists of the Ents, or the records of Men. Only the Rohirrim have some half-forgotten stories about them. So, what are they, and where did they come from?

They were not made by one of the Valar, like the Dwarves, or at the request of one, like the Ents. They were not twisted or made in mockery of one of the other races by Morgoth. It has been suggested that they branched off from Men in the Elder Days, but what if they were part of Arda from the beginning, but were not awakened in the First Age, like Elves and Men? What if they were created with a purpose, and left to sleep until their time came? Perhaps they were awakened in the Second Age, or at the very beginning of the Third. In the Music of the Ainur, they are a pastoral theme, perhaps meant to be the central theme of the Fourth Age. Their theme exists as contrast to the dramatic martial music of the earlier ages; it is a song for a world that has put Sauron, the Elves, and many others behind it. It’s a prosaic, rambling tune for pennywhistles after the sweeping strings of the past, and it is harder for the Ring, a dissonance from an earlier Age, to disrupt.

I believe Sauron never had any part in the forging of the Elven rings (~“he has never touched them”) except to teach them how to do it, but the Three were still subservient to the One Ring. The Elves perceived and realized they had been deceived by Sauron when he first put on the One, and so the Elves took off their rings and never wore them while Sauron had the One.

And according to lore, the Three Elven rings were special because Sauron didn’t help to make them. However, his One ring would still dominate them. The Seven and the Nine were just a bunch of lesser rings that Sauron helped to create. They weren’t created to give to men or dwarves, but rather to elves. Sauron only distributed his spare rings among various men and dwarves over the years because the elves wouldn’t take them, since they knew of the One. There were Nine rings for men and Seven for dwarves just because that’s the number that Sauron happened to give out.

Although your theory above is certainly possible, I would note that when Gandalf faces a fiery Balrog on the Bridge of Khazad-dum, he says “You cannot pass. I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun.”
This strongly suggests that Gandalf’s Ring does provide fire protection at least.

So that’s what Morgoth’s discord was! Yodeling: the root of all evil. :smiley:

I thought the root of all evil was mimes.

I sometimes wonder if DnD hasn’t done a disservice to the notion of magic as it’s around today. We think of wizards as people who can hurl fireballs, throw lightning, summon up demons and cast spells, whereas wizards in Tolkien’s lore are rather more subtle, sages able to read signs, who simply have a certain power, rather than some set of abilities (to be enhanced by various gadgets). I should check if there’s any research on the changing conception of magic over the years (if anybody knows an example, I’d be thankful for a pointer!).

“It was said that [Vetinari] would tolerate absolutely anything apart from anything that threatened the city*… [Footnote] And mime artists. It was a strange aversion, but there you are. Anyone in baggy trousers and a white face who tried to ply their art anywhere within Ankh’s crumbling walls would very quickly find themselves in a a scorpion pit, on one wall of which was painted the advice: Learn The Words.”

For one example, that’s pretty much what Mickey Mouse does in Fantasia (1940), so that image has been around for a long time.

As you note, the concept of the wizard in D&D (or the “magic-user” as the class was originally known :smiley: ) looks pretty different from Tolkien’s wizards. Gygax and his fellow gamers and designers drew on a lot of fantasy sources for D&D, and while Tolkien was, generally, a major influence on the game, magic use in the game owes more to authors like Jack Vance (particularly his Dying Earth stories), L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (their Harold Shea stories), and Robert E. Howard (Conan), among others.