Nitpicking LOTR, again

Background: I have known and loved LotR for forty years, and was exposed to the first section of it four years earlier in story time at primary school. I have re-read it many times and what I’m about to talk about I may well have noticed before. But on my latest run-through I noticed a couple of things in “The Shadow of the Past” that seemed to jar…

Gandalf says that Sauron thought the Elves destroyed the One Ring centuries ago. Which would be fine, except that…

…if the One Ring had been destroyed, how would Sauron have been in any position to have an opinion on the matter? The Council of Elrond will be in agreement that if the One is destroyed, Sauron will fall so far towards nothingness that he will be incapable of taking shape ever again – doesn’t Sauron know this also?

…it will be a major plot point throughout the book that Sauron cannot conceive that anyone possessing the One Ring could even think of destroying it – so how could he have thought that the Elves would have done so?

Gandalf also says that no-one except Bilbo has ever willingly given up a Ring of Power; not just the One Ring, but any other Ring. Well, that’s flat-out untrue, isn’t it, since Cirdan handed over Narya almost as soon as Gandalf stepped ashore? (And this isn’t obscure trivia from The Silmarillion but straight out of the Appendices, IIRC).

Opinions? (I already have some fan-wankery locked and loaded, but I’d be interested to hear anyone else’s)

I don’t remember that statement from the text. I remember the assumption being that Sauron thought the ring was forever lost. Which could mean “destroyed”, of course, but is much more simply interpreted here as “who knows where and can’t be found”. Like, say, if it were washed out to sea and buried somewhere in the muck at the bottom of the ocean.

Remember that no one knows that Gandalf has the ring. As I recall, a few suspect it, but he’s not told anyone except maybe Elrond and Galadriel that he has it. So he’s not about to ruin the secret by saying, ”…except the dude that gave me mine…"

It’s in “The Shadow of the Past” – haul down your copy and you’ll soon find it. The bit about it falling in the River and washed to sea to be lost forever is Saruman’s theory trotted out to the White Council, referred to in “The Council of Elrond”. Of course Saruman did not necessarily believe what he was saying…

Well, but he doesn’t need to tell Frodo the truth about Narya – but he doesn’t need to tell lies about it either…

And if I end another sentence with an ellipsis I will slap myself.

Was he not given it by Cirdan? And could not the bearer of the One Ring see it?

Yes to the first point. Interesting question about the second. If I’m following you, you’re referencing the scene where Frodo is aware that Galadriel is wearing and using Nenya, while Sam, who is also there, only sees a star and does not know what she is talking about. However, it’s possible that as long as the keepers of the Three weren’t actively using them, Frodo couldn’t see them. Elrond never used Vilya while Frodo was there (or at any rate, not that we’re told) and it may be that Gandalf only ever used his own magic, not Narya’s, while Frodo was with him.

I’ll agree with Chronos. Sauron certainly knows the One Ring hasn’t been destroyed…because he still exists. But Sauron could easily worry that the Elves have cast it into the sea, or the Dwarves have forged it into the middle of a block of Mithril the size of a great-anvil, or even that the Elves have put it up into orbit in a sky-ship, to accompany Earendil and the Silmaril.

Sauron doesn’t worry that the One Ring would ever be destroyed, because he believes, with absolute pride, that anyone who found it would be irresistably tempted to wield it for personal glory and power. And he’s very close to right in that!

For that matter, what about Celebrimbor? He gave away all three elf rings after personally crafting them.

Here’s the exact quote:

Third Age Sauron was greatly diminished compared to even his Second Age incarnation. He was no longer able to assume a fair form after surviving the fall of Numenor, for example, and then he got tanked by Gil-Galad and Elendil.

I think it’s safe to say that The Three are unique in many ways, and that being able to pass them on to someone else could easily be one of those ways.

As for Sauron fearing the elves had destroyed The One, I suppose it’s not completely impossible that he doesn’t actually KNOW what effect that would have. The whole this is pretty ill defined.