What were these Tolkien Rings for? What were they made of? What was their real power?

Among the many Tolkienian inventions, one that reaches the ears of even those who know nothing of Middle-earth and have never read a line of the books, concerns the Rings. The One built by Sauron, the Nine, the Seven and the Three made by the Elves. The story of these will be told (perhaps) in the ever closer Amazon TV series The Rings of Power.

Let's get to know Tolkien's Rings better

Apart from the Ring of Sauron, which everyone knows and which would need an essay rather than an article, I believe that many of the other Rings have an unclear notion, also because Tolkien himself did not give too much information. However, in Tolkien's texts, information, if you know how to search, is always found. In this article I want to tell you about the shape and functions of these Rings, and their origin.

In The Lord of the Rings, we have two chapters that tell us about these Rings: Right at the very beginning, in the Shadow of the Past chapter, Gandalf briefly tells Frodo their story.

“A long time ago, in Eregion, many Rings were made, magical rings as you call them (…) but the Great Rings, the Rings of Power, were dangerous. A mortal who holds one of the Great Rings, Frodo, does not die, but neither grows nor gains life, he just keeps going until at last every moment comes into shadow.

And if he often uses the Ring to make himself invisible, it fades: he ends up becoming invisible forever and proceeds into the twilight under the eye of the Dark Power that rules the Rings ".

An effective description, this, of the Nine Rings given to Men by Sauron who had taken them to the craftsman Celebrimbor, and which would lead these Men to become the Ringwraiths.

How Tolkien's Rings Work

But how did these and the other Rings work, those not given to Men? We'll get there soon.

But first, let's read a description of the Rings, which we can read in the chapter Elrond's Council: Gandalf, to prove that Frodo's Ring is indeed the One, explains how the other Rings were made, and uses the words of the traitor Saruman, who had studied the subject for a long time:

“The Nine, the Seven and the Three - he said - each had a gem. Not the only one though. He was round and unadorned. "

The other Rings, therefore, had a gem. A clear sign of who had made them: the Elves of the Eregion, and in particular Celebrimbor. The three Rings of the Elves, in particular, never touched by Sauron and not even created with his help unlike the others, also had names: Narya, the Ring of Fire, passed through various hands (Gil-Galad, Cìrdan, Gandalf ), Nenya, the Ring of Water, in the hand of Galadriel, who had a white stone set on it and was made of silver mithril, and Vilya, the most powerful Ring, owned by Elrond: the Ring of Sapphire, adorned with a blue gem.

The various powers of Tolkien's Rings

But in what did the power of the Three and the others consist? The best place to find out is Tolkien's Letters. In letter 131, written to Milton Waldman, we read that

"The main power of all the Rings was to prevent or slow decay (that is, the change regarded as a deplorable thing), to preserve what is desired or loved, its appearance; this is a more or less elven motive ”. And in fact it is thanks to the power of two Rings that Lotlòrien and Valforra, the mansions of Galadriel and Elrond, seem eternal: the power of the Rings has made it possible.

But the other Rings also had other, more sinister powers: “they increased the natural powers of those who wore them, thus approaching magic, a motive easy to corrupt into evil, a desire for domination. And finally they had other powers, more directly derived from Sauron (...) such as making the material body invisible, and making the things of the invisible world visible. "

So much for what happened to Men, who were ensnared and transformed into the Nazgul. But what effect did the Seven Rings given to the Dwarves have instead? Well, quite different, because for each people, the consequences of those powers suited the spirit and nature of that particular population. If we read the Appendix A of the Lord of the Rings, in fact, it reads and:

"The only power that the Rings exercised over them was to stoke in their hearts the greed of gold and precious objects so that, in the absence of these, every other good seemed worthless, and they were seized by anger and the desire for revenge. against all those who took them from him. But from the beginning they were made of a stubbornly resistant temper (..) it was possible to kill them, or to break them, but not to reduce them to shadows subjected to the will of others; and for the same reason no Ring could affect their life, neither shortening it nor lengthening it. Increasingly Sauron hated them as possessors and wished to expropriate them. "

Eventually, however, the Dwarves lost all the Rings. Some were taken by Sauron, such as the one belonging to Thorin's grandfather Thròr, and others were burned by the fire of the Dragons in their battles with the Dwarves.

The power of the Nine, closely linked to that of the One, crumbled with the fall of Sauron. The Three of the Elves also lost all power in the end. This is because, although Sauron had no responsibility for their creation, they were still tied to his fate. Probably because they were born due to the relationship between Celebrimbor, the architect, and Sauron.

Tolkien Sauron's rings

The inevitability of the end

Their purpose was to preserve the elven realms by defeating the passage of time until Sauron was defeated; this happened, the power of the Three also ceased, because their function was exhausted.

Thus, their Bearers left the Middle-earth and that was the end

"Of the Eldar of stories and songs."