Legendarium’ Second Age Part 2: Rings of Power

As Nunemor continued to grow and evolve within itself, Middle-earth grappled with the menace of Sauron, who had survived the War of Wrath and was steadily amassing power. By the 1000th year of the Second Age, Sauron had established himself in Mordor and initiated the construction of the fortress of Barad-dûr. In Mordor, Sauron began to train his own armies while also gathering human supporters from the Easterlings and Haradrim. Yet, Sauron was well aware that, like his master Morgoth, the armies of Orcs alone would not suffice to secure victory in the conflicts of Middle-earth.

Following the submersion of Beleriand beneath the waves, the Elves who settled in Lindon gradually expanded eastward. Galadriel and Celebrimbor, residing in Lindon, departed from Gil-Galad’s side in the year 750 of the Second Age and journeyed eastward to establish the realm of Eregion. After spending a significant portion of her life there, Galadriel ultimately passed through the depths of Khazad-dûm and settled in Lothlorien in the year 1350.

Eregion stood as a region of skilled artisans, particularly the domain of smiths. Celebrimbor, a distant relative of Feanor, was one of the most prominent smiths among those who lived there. His passion for metalwork fostered close relations with the Dwarves, forging a connection between these two distinct races at a shared juncture.

However, the tranquil atmosphere of Eregion would soon be disrupted. Recognizing that victory could not be secured solely through conventional warfare, Sauron devised a cunning plan. Assuming the identity of Annatar, he took on an Elven form and infiltrated the Elven society. Annatar, arriving in Eregion from the East, distributed gifts among the resident Elves, befriended Celebrimbor, and shared his knowledge of metallurgy. Though initially wary of Annatar, Celebrimbor’s curiosity drove him to learn the information this enigmatic figure possessed, leading him to sustain their relationship.

Annatar persuades Celebrimbor to forge rings that he believes will be unique. Thus, 16 rings are crafted. These 16 rings are distributed as gifts to various locations across Middle-earth. Seven rings are given to the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm, while nine rings are bestowed upon greedy humans. After the 16 rings have reached their respective owners, Sauron returns to Mordor and abandons his Annatar form. He dons armor and forges the one Ring that will rule them all, pouring a part of his essence into it during its creation. Sauron believed this Ring to be the pivotal instrument in his quest to seize dominion over Middle-earth, but he was gravely mistaken.

Upon Sauron’s departure from Eregion in his Annatar guise, Celebrimbor secretly forges three more rings: Nenya, Vilya, and Narya. These three rings hold greater power than the other lesser 16. Nenya is given to Galadriel, while Vilya is entrusted to Elrond. Although the wearer of Narya remains unnamed, we know that this Ring will later be entrusted to Gandalf. The Elves who wear these rings can sense Sauron, his One Ring, and his scheme. Consequently, they remove the rings from their fingers. This thwarted Sauron’s cunning scheme that he had spent months devising, revealing his identity in the process. Worse yet, Sauron learns of the forging of rings unbeknownst to him.

The impact of the rings varies across races. The Elves, possessing strong wills, manage to resist the rings’ influence entirely. Dwarves do not become slaves of Sauron, but the rings intensify their greed and deepen their craving for digging and material wealth, leading them to delve further into the depths of Khazad-dûm, ultimately bringing about their downfall. Humans, the weakest of the races, succumb to becoming Sauron’s slaves upon donning the rings, becoming ensnared in servitude that will span centuries.

Upon discovering that the rings were forged without his knowledge, Sauron seeks to reclaim them. Initially, he requests that the rings be returned to him and promises gifts in return. However, the response does not align with his wishes. As a last resort, Sauron launches a massive invasion on Eregion with a formidable army. Capturing Celebrimbor, Sauron inquires about the rings’ whereabouts. While he reclaims the nine rings, he discovers the locations of the remaining five but fails to locate the last three. To send a message to Middle-earth and as a lesson for the Elves, Sauron slays Celebrimbor and uses his body as a standard by impaling it on a spike.

King Gil-Galad, observing the increasing chaos in Eregion, dispatches Elrond and his armies to address the situation. However, Elrond and his forces prove unsuccessful. If not for Durin and the Dwarves from Khazad-dûm, Elrond and his army could have been completely obliterated. With Sauron’s forces prevailing, Elrond and his troops retreat westward. The Dwarves, on the other hand, return to Khazad-dûm and seal their gates shut. They assure that anyone in need of help will find the gates of Khazad-dûm open, allowing passage, but the Dwarves themselves never emerge from there.

art by Peter Xavier Price

However, the Dwarves’ timely assistance to the Elves in Eregion had greatly irked Sauron. Consequently, Sauron directs his anger towards the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm. Over the years, enduring numerous orc attacks, Khazad-dûm meets its demise due to its own greed. Driven by the influence of the rings, the Dwarves dig deeper and deeper, until they eventually encounter an ancient creature left from The War of Wrath: a Balrog, known as Durin’s Bane. This Balrog becomes the downfall of Khazad-dûm and its Dwarven inhabitants.

Sauron’s Ring plan, despite his intentions, ultimately puts him in danger. Having tethered his soul to the One Ring, Sauron’s sole aim becomes to ensure that nothing happens to the Ring on his finger.

Fleeing from Sauron’s grasp, Elrond finds himself in Rivendell, where he establishes the enchanting Imladris, as depicted in the film. Upon Gil-Galad’s proclamation, Elrond became one of the most significant figures in the Eriador region after the king.

Sauron persists with his onslaughts relentlessly. Seizing a significant portion of Eriador, Sauron advances as far as Mithland, also known as the Grey Heavens, and the gates of Imladris. Just as things appear dire for the Elves, ships from Numenor appear on the western horizon. Upon entering the Grey Heavens, the Numenoreans launch an attack on Sauron and his forces, compelling his retreat. Although Tar-Telperion is initially reluctant to involve Numenor in Middle-earth’s conflicts, his nephew Minastir has come to aid Gil-Galad. The first group of Numenorean ships arrives at the Grey Heavens, repelling the orcs, while the second group reaches Gwathlo, attacking Sauron’s retreating troops. With Numenor’s intervention, Sauron’s forces are thoroughly routed, forcing him to finally flee back to Mordor. The last orc army in Rivendell is cornered and annihilated by Elrond and Gil-Galad’s forces.

Sources and Further Information

  • Tolkien, J.R.R & Tolkien, Christopher. “The Silmarillion,” Houghton Mifflin Company (2004)
  • Tolkien, J.R.R & İpek, Çiğdem Erkal “Translator”. “Yüzüklerin Efendisi,” Metis Yayınları (2007)
  • Tolkien, J.R.R & Tolkien, Christopher. “The Children of Húrin,” HarperCollins (2007)
  • Tolkien, J.R.R & Tolkien, Christopher. “Beren and Lúthien,” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2017)
  • Tolkien, J.R.R & Tolkien, Christopher. “The Fall of Gondolin,” Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2018)
  • Orta Dünya – Legendarium Türkiye, YouTube
  • Yüzüklerin Efendisi – Orta Dünya, YouTube
  • Nerd of the Rings, YouTube


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