In Tolkien's mythology, the Three Rings are magical artefacts forged by the Elves of Eregion. After the One Ring, they are the most powerful of the twenty Rings of Power.
The Three Rings were made by Celebrimbor after Sauron, in the guise of Annatar, had left Eregion. These were free of Sauron's influence, as he did not have a hand in their making. However, they were still forged by Celebrimbor with the arts taught to him by Sauron and thus were still bound to the One Ring. Upon perceiving Sauron's intent, the Elves hid the Three from him. They were taken from Middle-earth to the blessed realm of Valinor at the end of the Third Age, after the destruction of the One Ring.
Commentators have observed that the Three Rings enabled the Elves to halt the passage of time within their realms, especially in Lothlórien where Galadriel wielded Nenya. Others have noted that their power was benevolent, in sharp contrast to the One Ring, and could be used to protect and to heal; and that Tolkien uses the Three Rings to elaborate the angelic and sacrificial aspects of the Elves in the battle between good and evil in the War of the Ring.
Jason Fisher, writing in Tolkien Studies , notes that Tolkien developed the names, descriptions and powers of the Three Rings late and slowly through many drafts of his narratives. In Fisher's view, Tolkien found it difficult to work these Rings both into the existing story of the One Ring, and into the enormous but Ring-free Legendarium.Some of the descriptions, such as that Vilya was the mightiest of the Three, and that Narya was called "The Great", were added at the galley proof stage, just before printing. The Rings had earlier been named Kemen, Ëar, and Menel, meaning the Rings of Earth, Sea, and Heaven.
According to Köberl, Tolkien struggled with the notion of a "special status" for the Elven-Rings, and considered having The Three set free when the One Ring was destroyed.In an unused draft by Tolkien, Galadriel counselled Celebrimbor to destroy all the Rings when Sauron's deception was revealed, but when he could not bear to ruin them, she suggested that the Three be hidden. According to Unfinished Tales , at the start of the War of the Elves and Sauron, Celebrimbor gave both Narya and Vilya to Gil-galad, High King of the Noldor. Gil-galad later entrusted Vilya to his lieutenant Elrond, and Narya to Círdan the Shipwright, Lord of the Havens of Mithlond and leader of the Falathrim or "People of the Shore". Tolkien suggested that Sauron did not discover where the Three were hidden, though he guessed that they were given to Gil-galad and Galadriel. In the published The Lord of the Rings, Gil-galad received only Vilya, while Círdan was the direct recipient of Narya from Celebrimbor.
Tolkien noted in his letters that the primary power of the Three was to "the prevention and slowing of decay", which appealed to the Elves in their pursuit of preserving what they loved in Middle-earth.As changeless beings in a changing world, the Elves who remained in Middle-earth relied on the Three to delay the inevitable rise of the Dominion of Men. Tolkien explained that the Elves can only be immortal as long as the world endures, leading them to be concerned to burdens of deathlessness in time and change. Wanting the bliss and perfect memory of Valinor, and yet to remain in Middle-earth with their prestige as the fairest, as opposed to being at the bottom of the hierarchy in the Undying Lands, they became obsessed with "fading".
|Narya||Fire||Red||Ruby||unknown||Gil-galad, then Círdan, then Gandalf|
|Vilya||Air||Blue||Sapphire||Gold||Gil-galad, then Elrond|
The first Ring, Narya, was adorned with a red gemstone, which Tolkien stated was a ruby. It is seen in the final chapter of The Lord of the Rings , along with the other two Elven Rings.
The name is derived from the Quenya nár, "fire".It was also called Narya the Great, the Ring of Fire, the Red Ring, and The Kindler. Unlike the other Elven Rings, it is not said what metal Narya was made of. It is described as giving its wielder resistance to the weariness of time, and the power to inspire others to resist tyranny, domination, and despair; in other words, evoking hope in others around the wielder.
Círdan kept Narya after Gil-galad's death. At some point during the Third Age, Círdan passed the Ring to the Wizard Gandalf to aid him in his labours, having recognised his true nature as one of the Maiar from Valinor. This is not revealed until the end of The Lord of the Rings, as Frodo reaches the quayside to leave Middle-earth, when "Gandalf now wore openly on his hand the Third Ring, Narya the Great".Gandalf's distinguishing skill is in the manipulation of fire; it is never made explicit that this power comes from Narya, but it appears that Tolkien intended this to be inferred.
The second Ring, Nenya, was made of mithril and adorned with a "white stone". The name is derived from the Quenya nén meaning water.It is also called the Ring of Adamant, the Ring of Water, and the White Ring.
The Ring was wielded by Galadriel of Lothlórien; its radiance matched that of the stars. Frodo Baggins could see it by virtue of being a Ring-bearer, whereas Sam Gamgee tells Galadriel he only "saw a star through your fingers".It has been noted that "Adamant" means both a type of stone, usually a diamond, and "stubbornly resolute", a description that equally well suits the quality of Galadriel's resistance to Sauron.
Nenya's power gave preservation, protection, and possibly concealment from evil because "there is a secret power here that holds evil from the land". However, the facts that Orcs from Moria entered Lothlórien after The Fellowship of the Ring and Lothlórien itself had suffered previous attacks from Sauron's Orcs sent from Dol Guldur indicate that the power of the Ring did not constitute military prowess. It was said that, protected as it was by Nenya, Lothlórien would not have fallen unless Sauron had personally come to attack it. Galadriel used these powers to create and sustain Lothlórien, but the Ring also increased in her the longing for the Sea and her desire to return to the Undying Lands.
With the Ring's power gone, the magic and beauty of Lothlórien faded, along with the extraordinary mallorn trees (save the one that Samwise Gamgee grew in Hobbiton). Lothlórien was gradually depopulated, until by the time Arwen came there to die in the Fourth Age, it was deserted and in ruin.
The third Ring, Vilya, was made of gold and adorned with a "great blue stone", probably a sapphire. The name is derived from the Quenya vilya, "air".It is also called the Ring of Air, the Ring of Firmament, or the Blue Ring.
Vilya was the mightiest of these three Rings, as mentioned in the ending chapter in The Return of the King . The exact power of Vilya is not stated, though The Silmarillion states that Celebrimbor had forged the Three to heal and to preserve, rather than to enhance the strengths of each individual bearer as the Seven, Nine, and the lesser Rings did.
When Sauron laid waste to Eregion, Vilya was sent to the Elven-king Gil-galad far away in Lindon, where it was later given to Elrond, who bore it through the later years of the Second Age and all of the Third. Vilya's power of healing may have been particularly strong; Elrond is recognised as the greatest healer in Middle-earth at the time of the Quest.The Ring may have had the power to control minor elements, given that Elrond was able to summon a torrent of water as the Nazgûl attempted to capture Frodo and the One Ring.
Gwyneth Hood, writing in Mythlore , explores two Catholic elements in the story of the Three Rings: the angelic and sacrificial aspects of the elves in the War of the Ring. To the hobbits of the Fellowship of the Ring, the elven Ring-bearers appear as angelic messengers, offering wise counsel. To save Middle-earth, they have to accept the plan to destroy the One Ring, and with it, the power of the Three Rings, which embody much of their own power. Hood notes that while Gandalf as one of the supernatural Maiar sent from Valinor is "remarkably unlike an elf",out of the wielders of the Three Rings he is the character who most closely combines the angelic and the sacrificial. The poet W. H. Auden, an early supporter of Lord of the Rings, wrote in the Tolkien Journal that good triumphs over evil in the War of the Ring, but the Three Rings lose their power, as Galadriel had prophesied: "If you succeed, then our power is diminished, and Lothlórien will fade, and the tide of time will sweep it away". Hood further writes that Tolkien was suggesting technology such as the making of Rings of Power is in itself neither good nor evil; both the Elves and Sauron (with his armies of orcs) use that technology, as they also both make and wear swords and mail armour, and shoot with bows.
Hood notes, too, that the elves use the power of their Rings benevolently, in sharp contrast to Sauron's domineering intentions for the One Ring. Galadriel uses her Ring to create a kind of Earthly Paradise in Lothlórien.Alexis Levitin, writing in the Tolkien Journal, adds that the power for good in the Three Rings is limited in scope, not being usable for war or for dominating others; it can be used for purposes such as to protect a place such as Rivendell or Lothlórien, or to heal.
Commentators such as Kevin Aldrich and David Brin have pointed out that the Elves made the Three Rings to try to halt the passage of time, or as Tolkien had Elrond say, "to preserve all things unstained". This was seen most clearly in Lothlórien, which was free of both evil and the passage of time.
Gandalf is a protagonist in J. R. R. Tolkien's novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. He is a wizard, one of the Istari order, and the leader and mentor of the Fellowship of the Ring. Tolkien took the name "Gandalf" from the Old Norse "Catalogue of Dwarves" (Dvergatal) in the Völuspá.
Rivendell is a valley in J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional world of Middle-earth, representing both a homely place of sanctuary and a magical Elvish otherworld. It is an important location in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings', being the place where the quest to destroy the Ring began.
Arwen Undómiel is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. She appears in the novel The Lord of the Rings. Arwen is one of the half-elven who lived during the Third Age; her father was Elrond half-elven, lord of the Elvish sanctuary of Rivendell, while her mother was the Elf Celebrian, daughter of the Elf-queen Galadriel, ruler of Lothlórien. She marries the Man Aragorn, who becomes King of Arnor and Gondor.
The Rings of Power are fictional magical artefacts in J. R. R. Tolkien's writings about Middle-earth, especially his high fantasy book The Lord of the Rings. The Ruling Ring first appeared as a plot device, a magic ring in his children's book, The Hobbit; Tolkien later gave it a backstory and much greater power, as well as 19 other Rings that it could control, including the Three Rings of the Elves, Seven Rings for the Dwarves, and Nine for Men. A key story-element in The Lord of the Rings is the addictive power of the One Ring, made secretly by the Dark Lord Sauron, while the Nine Rings enslave their bearers as Ringwraiths, Sauron's most deadly servants.
Eärendil the Mariner and his wife Elwing are fictional characters in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. They are depicted in The Silmarillion as Half-elven, the children of Men and Elves. He is a great seafarer who, on his brow, carried the morning star, a jewel called a Silmaril, across the sky. The jewel had been saved by Elwing from the destruction of the Havens of Sirion. Tolkien took his name from the Old English Earendel, found in the poem Crist A, which hailed him as "brightest of angels". Elwing is the granddaughter of Lúthien and Beren, and is descended from Melian the Maia. Through their progeny, Eärendil and Elwing became the ancestors of the Númenorean, and later Dúnedain, royal bloodline.
In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, Lothlórien or Lórien is the fairest realm of the Elves remaining in Middle-earth during the Third Age. It is ruled by Galadriel and Celeborn from their city of tree-houses at Caras Galadhon. The wood-elves of the realm are known as Galadhrim.
In the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, the Noldor are a kindred of High Elves who initially migrated to Valinor from Middle-earth and lived in Eldamar, the coastal region of Aman, a continent that lay west of Middle-earth. The majority of the Noldor returned to Middle-earth following the murder of their first leader Finwë by the Dark Lord Morgoth, on the instigation of Finwë's eldest son Fëanor. They were the second clan of the Elves in both order and size, the other clans being the Vanyar and the Teleri.
Celebrimbor is a fictional character In J. R. R. Tolkien's Legendarium. His name means "silver fist" or "Hand of silver" in Sindarin. In Tolkien's stories, Celebrimbor is an elven-smith who was manipulated into forging the Rings of Power by the disguised villain Sauron, who then secretly makes the One Ring to gain control over all the other Rings and dominate Middle-earth, setting in motion the events of The Lord of the Rings. Outside of Tolkien's legendarium, the character has been adapted as a major character in the 2014 video game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and its 2017 sequel.
Elendil is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He is mentioned in The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales. He was the father of Isildur and Anárion, last lord of Andúnië, and the first High King of Arnor and Gondor.
Dol Guldur was Sauron's stronghold in Mirkwood in the fictional world of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth, before he moves to Barad-dûr in Mordor. It is first mentioned in The Hobbit. The hill itself, rocky and barren, was the highest point in the southwestern part of the forest. Before Sauron's occupation, it was called Amon Lanc. It lay near the western edge of the forest, across the Anduin from Lothlórien. In a passage that appears to apply the name Dol Guldur principally to the fortress rather than the barren hill it rose from, the company of the Ring first catch sight of it from Cerin Amroth in Lórien.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the real-world history and notable fictional elements of J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy universe. It covers materials created by Tolkien; the works on his unpublished manuscripts, by his son Christopher Tolkien; and films, games and other media created by other people.
In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, the history of Arda, also called the history of Middle-earth, began when the Ainur entered Arda, following the creation events in the Ainulindalë and long ages of labour throughout Eä, the fictional universe. Time from that point was measured using Valian Years, though the subsequent history of Arda was divided into three time periods using different years, known as the Years of the Lamps, the Years of the Trees and the Years of the Sun. A separate, overlapping chronology divides the history into 'Ages of the Children of Ilúvatar'. The first such Age began with the Awakening of the Elves during the Years of the Trees and continued for the first six centuries of the Years of the Sun. All the subsequent Ages took place during the Years of the Sun. Most Middle-earth stories take place in the first three Ages of the Children of Ilúvatar.
Magic in Middle-earth is the use of supernatural power in J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional Middle-earth. Tolkien distinguishes ordinary magic from witchcraft, the latter always deceptive, stating that either type could be used for good or evil. Both sides used magic in the War of the Ring.
Elrond Half-elven is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. Both of his parents, Eärendil and Elwing, were half-elven, having both Men and Elves as ancestors. He is the bearer of the elven-ring Vilya, the Ring of Air, and master of Rivendell, where he has lived for thousands of years through the Second and Third Ages of Middle-earth. He is introduced in The Hobbit, where he plays a supporting role, as he does in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.
In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, Elves are a fictional race inhabiting Middle-earth in the remote past. Unlike Men and Dwarves, Elves are immortal. They appear in The Hobbit and in The Lord of the Rings, but their history is described more fully in The Silmarillion.
Galadriel is a character created by J. R. R. Tolkien in his Middle-earth legendarium. She appears in The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and Unfinished Tales.
In the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, Moria, also named Khazad-dûm, is an ancient subterranean complex in Middle-earth, comprising a vast labyrinthine network of tunnels, chambers, mines and halls under the Misty Mountains, with doors on both the western and the eastern sides of the mountain range. Moria is introduced in Tolkien's novel The Hobbit, and is a major scene of action in The Lord of the Rings.
The One Ring, also called the Ruling Ring and Isildur's Bane, is a central plot element in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (1954–55). It first appeared in the earlier story The Hobbit (1937) as a magic ring that grants the wearer invisibility. Tolkien changed it into a malevolent Ring of Power and re-wrote parts of The Hobbit to fit in with the expanded narrative. The Lord of the Rings describes the hobbit Frodo Baggins's quest to destroy the Ring.
Sauron is the title character and the main antagonist, through the forging of the One Ring, of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, where he rules the land of Mordor and has the ambition of ruling the whole of Middle-earth. In the same work, he is identified as the "Necromancer" of Tolkien's earlier novel The Hobbit. In The Silmarillion, he is also described as the chief lieutenant of the first Dark Lord, Morgoth. Tolkien noted that the Ainur, the "angelic" powers of his constructed myth, "were capable of many degrees of error and failing", but by far the worst was "the absolute Satanic rebellion and evil of Morgoth and his satellite Sauron". Sauron appears most often as "the Eye", as if disembodied.