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Lord of the Rings Questions
December 13, 2004 1:30 AM   Subscribe

IDontHaveTimeToReadTheBookFilter - I have some questions about the LOTR movie trilogy that can only be answered by those who have actually read the books. (mi+)

Answer however many you can, thanks in advance to everyone who responds - all of these have been nagging me for the longest time.

The Fellowship of the Ring
1. In the beginning when Cate Blanchett is talking about how all the rings were being made, who was making them?

2. After the first Ring was lost, why didn't Sauron order one of his groupies to just make another one?

3. How does Gollum lose the ring - in other words, how does Bilbo find it?

4. How did Sauron go from being a giant ugly-looking creature to some glowing eye? When Isildor chopped off his finger, why didn't he just stay in that same form (minus the finger)? And while I'm at it, how did he get there? (I'm assuming someone had to construct that interesting-looking contraption for anchoring his fiery eyeball).

5. How old was Frodo when the Ring came to him? (i.e. in human years, how old would he have been?)

Return of the King
1. Why was the fate of the Ring particularly tied to the fate of Arwen, but not to any other elf? In other words, why was she on the verge of death, but her father or Legolas weren't?

2. Why did Frodo have to leave the shire? Obviously, the burden of destroying the Ring had changed him, but why did he have to leave all of his friends and the place where he grew up? And where was the ship taking him and the others to?
posted by invisible ink to Media & Arts (42 answers total)
 
FotR:
1: The Mirdain made the rings for Sauron, after he (in guise) taught them various secrets. He forged the One Ring which would control/bring/bind the others, and since the Mirdain basically did what he told them they didn't know that the rings could be controlled externally. I believe the Mirdain were a race of ancient elves.

2: The part of the movies "into this ring he poured all his hate, his malice, his will to dominate" is true -- a portion of Sauron's essence was transferred to the One Ring, so he couldn't construct another.

3. Bilbo found Gollum under the Misty Mountains in The Hobbit, and there was a wacky game of riddles, the end riddle (told by Bilbo) of which was "what have I got in my pocket?" Turned out to be the One Ring, which grew (the ring changes diameter to ditch losers) to fall off Gollum.

4. The One Ring gave Sauron his physical form (it also held up Barad-Dur, which is why the tower collapsed when the ring was destroyed). When Sauron was "killed" by the loss of the ring, he came back into the world like Gandalf after his death by the Balrog (in fact, Sauron and Gandalf are of the same race, the Maiar). When he returned, however, he was only able to take a non-physical form since so much of him was invested in the Ring, which he did not possess.

5. Don't know this offhand.
posted by j.edwards at 1:49 AM on December 13, 2004


FOTR
1) I forget. The elves, Way Back When? Sauron forced them to? Sorry.
2) The One Ring contained most of Sauron's power. He didn't have the juice, man!
3) Bilbo kind of stumbles upon it when he's lost in Gollum's lair; I'm pretty sure that happens in The Hobbit.
4) The Eye, I'm pretty sure, is just an easy way for him to see anything he cares to; it's a badass Wizard Eye spell. Sauron's in the tower generally being evil or whatever.
5) Crap. It was Bilbo's 111th birthday . . . don't remember. Sorry.

ROTK
1) . . . Buh? I think this might be an invention of the movie version, as Arwen is only mentioned roughly twice in the Rings books as far as I recall.
2)Well, Frodo's had a hard enough life by this point, so he's sailing off to the magical eternal lands of the Elves.

Anyway, I'm obviously not an authority. Hope I helped and did not totally mislead you, though I probably embarrassed myself here.
posted by jenovus at 1:51 AM on December 13, 2004


RoTK:

1. Arwen is barely in the books. No idea on this one.

2. The boats take the elves to the "Undying Lands," which are where the Valar (god of Middle-Earth) live. Normally only elves get to go there (I'll explain why in a second), but the Fellowship was so awesome that they got to go as well. Frodo left because the Shire didn't have anything for him, being a boring place where nothing changes. It used to be that Arda (the planet) was flat, and anyone could sail over to the Undying lands. However, this was forbidden by the Valar. At some point, the King of Numenor (place where men used to live -- in the movies Elrond mentions that "the blood of Numenor is all but spent," meaning that mens aren't what they used to be) decided he wanted the Undying Lands (apparently forgetting that the Valar are basically gods) and sent some ships over, so the Valar sunk Numenor and the only men that survived were those on Middle-Earth (who then formed Gondor, Rohan, et cetera). The Valar also bent the world, making it round, and "removed" the Undying Lands from it. The elves get there by sailing the "straight road," which presumably lies tangent to the western sea, making the Undying Lands somewhere in space.

*whew* Any clarifications needed?
posted by j.edwards at 1:56 AM on December 13, 2004


Damn, j.edwards, now I'm just ashamed.
posted by jenovus at 1:57 AM on December 13, 2004


On the other hand, I'm an enormous nerd who's read the Silmarillion multiple times and just looked up that Frodo was 53 when he left for the Undying Lands, making him 33ish when Bilbo left him the ring and 50ish when Gandalf came to the Shire and he took off. jenovus, I'm not sure which one of us ends up ahead.
posted by j.edwards at 2:03 AM on December 13, 2004


Ooohhh... this is much more fun that actually studying for my final exam. My answers might raise more questions, but here we go... (ohh, and I'm not checking spelling on some of these names, too lazy)

1. In the beginning when Cate Blanchett is talking about how all the rings were being made, who was making them?

This is in the Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age. In Eregion, after the fall of Morgoth, Sauron disguised himself and helped the elves create the rings for dwarves and men. But the elvish rings were created by Celebrimbor alone, and remained pure (but still under the control of the One Ring). Sauron forged his ring by himself, in secret.

2. After the first Ring was lost, why didn't Sauron order one of his groupies to just make another one?

Well, several reasons. Sauron's groupies didn't make the rings, he did: alone. Second, much of his power was bound into the One Ring, and likely could not make another again. Third, the history of the elves is largely concerned with the fact that some things can only be done once. The Two Trees could never be made again, the Silmaril's could never be made again, and the One Ring could never be made again.

3. How does Gollum lose the ring - in other words, how does Bilbo find it?

This was in The Hobbit. Basically, the One Ring has a mind of its own, and sometimes does things of its own accord. Gollum was useful for keeping the ring hidden until almost all had forgotten. But then Sauron started to gather his power, and so the ring abandoned Gollum (probably hoping to be found by Orcs). It just literally fell off his finger. Bilbo finding it was not part of its plan.

4. How did Sauron go from being a giant ugly-looking creature to some glowing eye? When Isildor chopped off his finger, why didn't he just stay in that same form (minus the finger)? And while I'm at it, how did he get there?

Sauron used to have the ability to change his shape. There is a tale of him coming out to confront Luthien in wolf form. When Numinor fell, he lost his physical body forever, and was trapped as a sort of spirit. Now, that being said, I don't know why he had that physical form. My guess is that since he was in possession of the ring (and thus much stronger), he could take a physical form again.

(I'm assuming someone had to construct that interesting-looking contraption for anchoring his fiery eyeball)

He ordered it constructed, and his minions built it. He isn't in anyway trapped by the tower, he chooses to be there. It should be noted that of all the major and minor gods, only Morgoth and his servants -- of which Sauron was one -- knew fear. He probably stays at the top of the tower because he is afraid.

5. How old was Frodo when the Ring came to him? (i.e. in human years, how old would he have been?)

I don't think there is a difference between hobbit years and human years. He was 33, because Bilbo was 111 and the book made a minor deal that their ages added to 144.

1. Why was the fate of the Ring particularly tied to the fate of Arwen, but not to any other elf? In other words, why was she on the verge of death, but her father or Legolas weren't?

That Arwen was tied to the ring is, as far as I can tell, largely a plot device created by Jackson. I don't remember it being in the books at all. Elrond, Galadriel, and Ciradan were tied to fate of the ring, because they were ring bearers themselves. However, their power would have only diminished, and if Sauron had the ring then they would become slaves like the Nazgul. There's no hint they would have died.

2. Why did Frodo have to leave the shire? Obviously, the burden of destroying the Ring had changed him, but why did he have to leave all of his friends and the place where he grew up?

Think about Bilbo at Rivendale, and ask the question again. It would almost be like if you had smoked for 30 years, finally quite, but then had to live with a wife who smoked too. The temptation would drive you mad.

Similarly, Frodo would continually be thinking about the ring, and all the old wounds. For him to be truly happy again, he had to leave. He could have stayed if he wanted, but he would have been sad and withdrawn till he died.

And where was the ship taking him and the others to?

To the West, of course. The story goes that the world used to be flat, and in the far West the gods lived. The land and its people are immortal, and men are forbidden to step foot on it.

But the Kings of Numenor grew arrogant, and sailed into the West to wage war with the gods. In return, the gods hid their land, and reformed the earth so that no one could again come to the forbidden lands.

Small catch though: for reasons too long to go into, the elves are allowed to dwell in the West. So there is a hidden road on which only they can sail. That is where the elves were going. Frodo, being mortal, would not have been allowed in. He would have resided on an island within seeing distance of the shore, along with some of the sea elves (Teleri).
posted by sbutler at 2:09 AM on December 13, 2004 [3 favorites]


When Sauron was "killed" by the loss of the ring, he came back into the world like Gandalf after his death by the Balrog (in fact, Sauron and Gandalf are of the same race, the Maiar).

I'm going to dispute this, until you have something to back it up. I think that Sauron was simply vanquished, and took some sort of spirit form. Then he ran away. Remember, unlike the rest, he knew fear. If Isildor and the elves could take his ring, perhaps he was afraid of what else they might do. Galadriel was an extremely powerful elf. Alone, in his diminished form, she could probably defeat him utterly.

Also, Gandalf was sent to Middle Earth to perform a task. He had somewhere to go when he "died". Sauron was in Middle Earth because he was hiding, and had no where to go if he "died". Gandalf was sent back by the Valar because his task was incomplete; I don't think Sauron ever left.

But yes, Gandalf and Sauron were of the same race.

When he returned, however, he was only able to take a non-physical form since so much of him was invested in the Ring, which he did not possess.

This is pretty much what I think too, as far as Sauron's physical form post-Numenor goes.
posted by sbutler at 2:22 AM on December 13, 2004


I'm going to dispute this, until you have something to back it up.

That's fair, I can relieve myself of that idea. I thought it sounded off when I was typing it (pretty much because I know Gandalf was "sent" back, and I didn't see that happening with Sauron). Your verson makes more sense.

Frodo, being mortal, would not have been allowed in.

Whoop, I knew I forgot something. I'm left wondering if anyone told Frodo before he left that he'd be stuck on The Lonely Island, while Gandalf and the elves hung out with the Valar.
posted by j.edwards at 2:32 AM on December 13, 2004


THANK YOU so much everyone, for taking the time to write out these detailed answers. It's past 2:30AM PST right now, but I've been so absorbed in reading your posts and imagining all the characters that I didn't even notice:-)
posted by invisible ink at 2:42 AM on December 13, 2004


Okay,

1. The rings of power (save for the three elvish rings and the one ring) were created by Sauron and the High Elves (led by Celebrimbor) who lived next to the Dwarvish Mines in Moria. These Elves were the 'friends' for whom Moria's western gate was created. The one with the secret password "Say 'friend' and enter". The Elves made three rings on their own without Sauron's help. Sauron made one. At the time the rings were made Sauron could still take fair form and he deceived the Elves. When Sauron put on the one ring (which he had made all by himself), the Elves knew him and his purpose and hid their rings.

2. Sauron had no groupies learned or powerful enough to make such a ring, he had to enlist the Elves. Sauron had poured a good part of his power and malice into the One Ring. When he lost it he lost the ability to take corporeal form again. It took him ages to marshall his strength to affect the world in a significant way.

3. The ring has part of Sauron in it and a will of its own. Gollum didn't so much lose it as it abandoned him the first time that someone stumbled upon Gollum's mountain by falling off his finger and right where Bilbo would trip over it.

4. See 2.

5. Frodo celebrated his birthday on the exact same day as Bilbo. When Biblo celebrated his 111th, Frodo turned 33, which meant he came of age as an adult hobbit (they matured late and lived longer).

1. The fate of the ring was not at all tied to Arwen, that was an invention of the movie. The movie substituted that nonsense for Arwen's more compelling storyline, her love for her human cousin about a thousand times removed. The two races called the Children of Illuvatar, elf and human, have very different destinies. Elves, even when they die are tied to middle earth. They travel to the undying land and wait for the end of the world or occasionally are reincarnated. When humans die they leave middle earth forever. Illuvatar has plans for them beyond the scope of the world and human death is considerd the "gift of Illuvatar". Arwen is the third elvish princess to fall in love with a human. The first was her direct ancestor Luthien Tinuviel who loved Beren One-handed. Luthien was the most beautiful creature ever to inhabit middle earth having an elvish king for a father and a maia (a lesser god of the same race as Gandalf, Sauron and Saruman) as a mother! When Luthien chose to love Beren she chose to die a human death and leave her people. Arwen is making the same choice and completing the cycle, she is also parting from her father Elrond forever. When he takes to the havens to go to the undying lands she cannot follow. Interestingly, Aragorn is a direct lineal descendant of Elrond's brother Elros. Elrond and Elros were the sons of the second elf/human match, Dior and Nimloth. They were thus half-elven and got to choose the human or elf destiny. Elrond chose to be elvish and sired Arwen. Elros chose to be human and sired the race of Numenor. Many generations later Aragorn closes up the family tree and Arwen makes the hard decision.

2. Frodo had to leave the shire because wearing the ring changed him. He lived in two worlds, the material and the other (for lack of a better word) world which the elves and others also live. When he was in the other world he could see the Nazgul and hear Sauron, etc. Well the pull of that world was strong and he was 'fading.' He could only be healed by going to undying lands, also called Valinor, where the gods, or Valar, lived. All the elves were allowed to go to Valinor, most went. Especially the high elves, who were high elves because they had been to Valinor once before. Read the Silmarillion. It's the story of the gods finding the elves, leading them to the undying lands, teaching them everything and then watching Morgoth (Sauron's Boss) mess it up by stealing the Simarils, the most beautiful things ever made (they were made by the greatest Elf who ever lived, Feanor, who's Galadriel's cousin, I think). Naturally, the high-elves declared a blood curse on any who would not give the Silmarils back and left paradise to chase Morgoth all over God's creation to retrieve them. Galadriel was one of the leaders of the expeditions and as far as I can remember was the only one left at the time of the LOTR trilogy who could remember the undying lands. She's definitely one of the oldest most powerful creatures period.

All of this history nicely underlays the books. The movies, as good as they were, just can't capture the same sense of standing in a time in ages past looking back to an even more inconceivably ancient era.
posted by Metametadata at 3:02 AM on December 13, 2004 [1 favorite]


Two subsequent questions that came up and I missed.

When Gandalf passed, he was sent back by the powers that be. It is safe to assume that Sauron wasn't getting that special treatment and had to recompose himself on his own, which was even harder since he had put a good portion of himself in the One Ring.

I don't have my copy of ROTK with me, but I'm fairly certain that being a ring bearer entitled Frodo to travel all the way to the undying lands. There was no island of men. That isle, was broken and buried beneath the see when Sauron goaded Numenoreans into attempting to sail to Valinor. In addition to deceiving the Elves in the creation of the rings of power he also corrupted the Numenoreans (children of Elros who had been given their own island) into trying to claim the whole world. I'm pretty sure that he was caught in the sinking of Numenor (an allusion to the Atlantean myths) and so had to regenerate. This might have been when he lost the ability to take on a fair form and become the ugly thing he was when he fought Isildur and Gilgalad.

The lonely isle was an early idea that Tolkien played with and intended to use to get into the story. The idea was that there was still a member of the race of Aragorn and the Numenoreans alive in our time (or the not to distant past) and that this person (a mariner) sailed to the lonely isle because of the blood in his veins. I don't think he ever got to flesh this story out. I think you'll find it in the Unfinished Tales.

As for the Teleri, they did in fact live on an isle in a bay of the coast of Valinor. That's just where they chose to hang it up, there were no humans. The teleri were the third and the tardiest of the three clans of high elves that made the original trek to Valinor and they mostly do not figure in the Simarillion. Feanor and Galadriel's clan were called the Noldor.
posted by Metametadata at 3:17 AM on December 13, 2004


You guys are amazing.
posted by painquale at 4:09 AM on December 13, 2004


If I remember dimly....the Arwen-ring connection is only this: if the Ring is destroyed, Arwen stays with Aragorn, becomes mortal. If the Ring is recaptured by Sauron (or, annoyingly, lost again for an extended period of time), Sauron takes over all of Middle-Earth, and Arwen leaves for Valinor.

If I weren't rushing off to work I'd check in the appendices to ROTK, where there's more Aragorn/Arwen stuff than in the main LOTR.

I don't think this was just "made up for the movie"--it fit in place for me when I was watching.
posted by gimonca at 5:54 AM on December 13, 2004


All you LotR scholars should form a MeFi clique named "Sauron's Groupies." This was really interesting, thanks!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:42 AM on December 13, 2004


No, gimonca, the whole the-ring-is-killing-Arwen stuff wasn't in the book. It was a dopey addition to add a little extra romantic tension.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:53 AM on December 13, 2004


Some more Tolkien pedantry:

Tolkien liked to use multiple names for his races and people and stuff; I do not remember the name "Mirdain" for the ring-forgers; the name he uses in all the other areas of his mythology is the Noldor, who were the same sub-class of elves who made the Silmarils (the magic jewels at issue in the Silmarillion-- further digression, the 'light of Earendil' given to Frodo is captured light from the star of Earendil, which is a silmaril that Earendil attached to his brow before sailing into the sky).


Sauron's groupies didn't make the rings, he did: alone.

This is not accurate. The Noldor (who were not Sauron groupies) made the rings, with Sauron's help: he tricked them into thinking that he was a nice guy (a common scheme that he repeated over and over again. You'd think these immortal elveses, who had been around for several thousand years, would remember what a jerk he was). The only one that he made alone was the One Ring, and he used his sekrit knowledge that he had gained from the production of the other rings of power to bind the power of the rings together. The only real exception to this cooperative ring arrangement besides the One Ring were the three elven rings-- while he managed to bind their power to the One, he didn't have anything to do with their creation, which is why the elven rings could do nice things like keeping Lorien and Rivendell clean and tidy.


There are probably any number of angry Tolkien geeks on the web that have point-by-point refutations on each of the large number of liberties that PJ took with the story (i.e., Arwen's unconscionably large role). You could probably check them out too.

(and consider reading the books, please. What do you mean, you don't have time for them? You had time to watch ten hours worth of knock-off, you have time to read them.)
posted by norm at 6:59 AM on December 13, 2004


This is not accurate. The Noldor (who were not Sauron groupies) made the rings, with Sauron's help: he tricked them into thinking that he was a nice guy ... The only one that he made alone was the One Ring

Yeah, it's not accurate because it is a typo on my part. Mostly due to late night fuzziness (it was 4am here when I wrote that). norm is right on this matter: I meant to use the singular.
posted by sbutler at 7:10 AM on December 13, 2004


I largely agree with Metametadata up there. His take is more like the Gospel, and mine like the theology of Paul (that is, some of it is my own reasoning added on top). But I'd like to think they agree more than they don't.

I don't have my copy of ROTK with me, but I'm fairly certain that being a ring bearer entitled Frodo to travel all the way to the undying lands.

I'm not so sure about this point. I seem to remember one of Tolkien's letters saying something to the contrary. But I'm too lazy to google it right now, so I'll concede.
posted by sbutler at 7:14 AM on December 13, 2004


I would have had fun answering all these but others got here before me. Heh. Let me add something to this bit though:

I think that Sauron was simply vanquished, and took some sort of spirit form. Then he ran away.

Yes. He hid in the Mirkwood forest, in a tower called Dol Guldur, until he grew strong enough to move back to Mordor and build Barad-Dur.

Oh, and I too have always been under the impression that Frodo gets to go all the way into Valinor, not just the island off its coast.
posted by dnash at 7:14 AM on December 13, 2004


Related question: Does anying know if the troubles upon our hero's return to the shire are in the new extended ROTK?

Does Jackson do a good job of it? (I want to see our hobbit buddies kick a little ass).

(Great answers, BTW)
posted by MotorNeuron at 7:27 AM on December 13, 2004


MotorNeuron, I have not yet seen it but my understanding is that the Scouring of the Shire is not in the extended edition of ROTK. Jackson always felt it wouldn't work in movie-terms to add a whole other battle sequence after the Big One, and thus never put it in the screenplay. Lots of people aren't happy about that, personally it doesn't bother me because the books are so rich with details that I think no one will ever come up with a film version which will really make absolutely everyone happy.
posted by dnash at 7:32 AM on December 13, 2004


Something that I believe hasn't been mentioned that is additional information for "5. How old was Frodo when the Ring came to him? (i.e. in human years, how old would he have been?)"

Everyone's told you that Frodo was 33 when he got the ring. For comparison, the longest-living Hobbit ever (before Bilbo, at least) was the Old Took, (coincidentally, Pippin's great-great-grandfather), who lived to 130. And 33 was considered the age of "adulthood" to the hobbits. You could thus probably assume that hobbits on average lived slightly longer than pure-bred men.
posted by Plutor at 8:14 AM on December 13, 2004


I can back up dnash regarding the "Scouring of the Shire". Not only didn't Jackson think it would work in the movie, but he actually never liked the sequence at all. He never filmed it or even wrote script for it. Hollywoodjesus.com has a great discussion about why it was left out and why the trilogy's message suffers as a result.
posted by Plutor at 8:19 AM on December 13, 2004


Another question: if Sauron's power (or much of it) becomes invested in the ring, why does he get it made in the first place? What does having his power in the ring do that having his power in him couldn't? I prefer keeping all my power in my person, but that's just me.
posted by drpynchon at 8:30 AM on December 13, 2004


From what I can remember, Frodo does in fact get to go to Valinor, as a recognition by the Valar of his sacrifice. I doubt that such a supreme storyteller as Tolkien would send Frodo with a Maia and a bunch of Elves out West, and have them dump him off just before they get there.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:34 AM on December 13, 2004


I think, DrPynchon, it was two things.

1) The Ring amplified Sauron's power.
2) It was a way for him to control the Dwarf Kings, the Elves (though that failed), and the Kings of Men. To do that, his power had to be tied into the Ring.

Can't remember; haven't read the Silmarillion in aaaaaaaaaages.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:36 AM on December 13, 2004


and if i'm not totally mistaken, even sam gets to go to the undying lands, eventually - he carried the ring, just for a little while, but was touched by it, and none touched by the ring are left entirely unscathed. i can't imagine that i'm making this up... i think it was in the silmarillion somewhere. or perhaps in one of the histories that chris tolkein was writing up.

on preview: drpynchon, sauron puts the power into the ring so that he can control all the other rings. without that, he couldn't touch them. the first three rings of power were made before his ring, so that he has no control over them, but he can see them and see what is done with them.

sauron's ring was also made to control and gather power. the three rings of the elves were not made as weapons.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:40 AM on December 13, 2004


Another question: if Sauron's power (or much of it) becomes invested in the ring, why does he get it made in the first place? What does having his power in the ring do that having his power in him couldn't? I prefer keeping all my power in my person, but that's just me.

I tell people to think of the ring as a resonator. It doesn't actually confer powers to the bearer, it only magnifies the ones they already poses. So yes, Sauron lost a lot of power making the ring, but in turn it enhanced the powers he had many fold. Also, Sauron is weaker because his power has been diffused. On some level he uses it to control his many orcs, trolls, etc.

In addition, the ring as a resonator helps explain what happens to the hobbits. In the book, Tolkien tells you they are very good at being quiet, and hiding when they don't want to be seen. So what does the ring do for them? They become invisible.
posted by sbutler at 8:49 AM on December 13, 2004


No, gimonca, the whole the-ring-is-killing-Arwen stuff wasn't in the book.

You're not getting it here. Everyone's fate is tied to the Ring, and Arwen's particularly so, since her big "life decision" thingy -- her fate -- depends on what happens. Is the Ring "tied to Arwen"? No. But Arwen's fate does depend on the success or failure of the ringbearer's quest.

It does mention somewhere in the books that if the quest fails, she, Elrond, Galadriel, and all the other elves plus the occasional "half-elven" are outta there.

I don't recall anything related to this that seemed to me to be out-of-place compared to the book. Nothing like, oh, Arwen saving Frodo at the fords instead of Glorfindel.
posted by gimonca at 8:57 AM on December 13, 2004


Rings were made in the Second Age as a trap to control the races of Middle-Earth. Three for elves, seven for dwarves, nine for men. Sauron instructed the smiths in their making. But, Sauron, never touched the Three Rings personally--the elves figured out what he was up to before he got the chance--so they were mostly free of evil. Bearers of the Three at the end were Elrond, Galadriel, and Gandalf (who got his from Cirdan the shipwright).

The nine enslaved their human bearers, who became the Ringwraiths you see in the movie.

Dwarves were made of tougher stuff, and couldn't be made into wraiths, so when Sauron was re-establishing himself in the Third Age after losing the One Ring, he captured and tortured the dwarvish ringbearers to take the rings back from them. At the time of LOTR, Sauron was wearing four rings originally given to dwarves. The other three had been "consumed by dragons".

The whole ring-system would have eventually made all elvish, dwarvish, and human wielders of power ultimately dependent on Sauron, who would have ruled everything in Middle-Earth.
posted by gimonca at 9:06 AM on December 13, 2004


Check out The Encyclopedia of Arda for your one-stop "what the heck was the name of that elf again" needs.
posted by sacre_bleu at 9:07 AM on December 13, 2004 [1 favorite]


That's what I remember too clf. All ring bearers go to the undying land. Bilbo, Frodo and Sam.
posted by ginz at 9:08 AM on December 13, 2004


caution live frogs: you're right -- Samwise does get to go to the undying lands. (I know this because I came home one night to find my gf on the couch crying, having just finished reading LOTR for the first time. I asked her what was wrong and she said that she was sad because Sam and Frodo would never see each other again. I told her I thought they did and found evidence in the Appendixes:

"1482
Death of Mistress Rose, wife of Master Samwise, on Mid-year's Day. On September 22 Master Sam-wise rides out from Bag End. He comes to the Tower Hills, and is last seen by Elanor, to whom he gives the Red Book afterwards kept by the Fairbairns. Among them the tradition is handed down from Elanor that Samwise passed the Towers, and went to the Grey Havens. and passed over Sea, last of the Ring-bearers.")
posted by papercake at 9:09 AM on December 13, 2004


In addition, the ring as a resonator helps explain what happens to the hobbits. In the book, Tolkien tells you they are very good at being quiet, and hiding when they don't want to be seen. So what does the ring do for them? They become invisible.

That's not entirely accurate. Note, for example, that Isildur becomes invisible as well, only to become visible again in the river when the Ring falls off his finger.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:11 AM on December 13, 2004


You're not getting it here. Everyone's fate is tied to the Ring, and Arwen's particularly so, since her big "life decision" thingy -- her fate -- depends on what happens. Is the Ring "tied to Arwen"? No. But Arwen's fate does depend on the success or failure of the ringbearer's quest.

*twitch* see, it's misconceptions like this that make Tolkien purists get a little shrill. Everyone's fate in Middle Earth was tied to the ring-bearers. Arwen had no special connection to any of it. Period. Arwen is nigh on to irrelevant in the story, except as the elf in the third-ever elf/human coupling. But her "life decision" thingy had nothing to do with the ring, rather just her passionate connection to Aragorn, which was entirely independent of the ring quest.

It does mention somewhere in the books that if the quest fails, she, Elrond, Galadriel, and all the other elves plus the occasional "half-elven" are outta there.

Wrong, Pat Buchanan! Since the beauty of Lorien and Rivendell was a creation and maintenance of the Three Rings (the elf ones), the passing of the One Ring meant that these rings too would fade in power, and the elf realms would fade with them. The destruction of the One Ring meant the passing of the last vestiges of the elf power, and Galadriel and Elrond et al were going to have to leave if that happened. On the bright side, if Sauron had won the war of the ring and gotten it back, he would have been powerful enough to just destroy those places anyway, so they were done in Middle Earth either way.

(/waves geek flag)
posted by norm at 10:25 AM on December 13, 2004


But her "life decision" thingy had nothing to do with the ring, rather just her passionate connection to Aragorn

Right. I was objecting to the scene in the movie where we are told Arwen is being slowly killed by the ring and if it isn't destroyed soon, she will die. None of that was in the book.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:36 PM on December 13, 2004


Re: Sam waiting until Rosie dies and then taking off to go spend eternity with Frodo--well, every good slash fangirl knew about that one already. It's a plot point in a good many stories... *ahem*.

(Note that even his short time as a ringbearer made Sam a bit longer-lived than usual.)
posted by Asparagirl at 1:27 PM on December 13, 2004


While I consider the "Arwen's fate is now tied to the Ring" and Aragorn going over the cliff as the only 2 actual blunders on Jackson's part, considering what almost was, it's not that bad. I believe at one point Arwen herself was going to show up at Helm's Deep to fight in the battle. Luckily they thought better of that. The threat of her dying in ROTK, while it doesn't really jibe with Tolkien canon, is at least closer to the spirit of Arwen's character.
posted by dnash at 2:17 PM on December 13, 2004


objecting to the scene in the movie where we are told Arwen is being slowly killed by the ring and if it isn't destroyed soon, she will die

That slipped past me. Yes, that's not in the book, and yes, that line is a bit jarring. Actually, the book makes it pretty clear that she's making a tragic choice to become mortal.

I now have quotes in hand, but I won't have time before this scrolls off the bottom of the green to type in two pages of text (thankfully?).

Anyway, in Appendix A to ROTK, in a scene set before the events in LOTR proper, Arwen tells Aragorn "Dark is the Shadow, and yet my heart rejoices; for you, Estel [Aragorn], shall be among the great whose valor will destroy it."

After that premonition, Arwen tells Aragorn she'll marry him and not go west with the other elves.

But--two paragraphs on--Elrond tells Aragorn: "She shall not be the bride of any Man less than the King of both Gondor and Arnor". That really can't happen unless the Ring is destroyed. I think Elrond is calling the shots here.

At the time Elrond says this, the Ring is probably still rolling around unknown to anyone in Bilbo's hope chest in Bag End, and Elrond doesn't yet know the Ring will be involved. But at the Council of Rivendell, the implications ought to be clear to him. That's the dramatic tension involved in Elrond's character--if Frodo's quest succeeds, Elrond loses his daughter.
posted by gimonca at 2:35 PM on December 13, 2004


As a corollary question to some of the awesome! going on in this thread: who, in y'all's opinion, got it better? Humans or elves?

Additionally, considering the undying lands that not even Morgoth, much less Sauron, could touch - who gives a shit about middle earth? Why weren't the elves and numenoreans a little more blase about it? "Well, Sauron got the ring and rules middle earth. Ha ha, tool! Fingolfin, pass me another peach, will you?"
posted by kavasa at 3:26 PM on December 13, 2004


who, in y'all's opinion, got it better? Humans or elves?

Well, elves can't ever leave the world. When humans die, they "go somewhere else," while Elves, the Maiar (Gandalf, Sauron, the Balrog, Saruman, et cetera), and the Valar/Ainur are stuck in Arda until it ends. Of course, without knowing where it is that the humans go it's hard to speculate. Personally, I would rather be an elf, because I'd like to see how it ends (before Melkor, the evil super-Valar, was banished from the universe he said he'd come back, and there's supposed to be some final Norse-esque battle for the world -- not to be missed).

Also, the Undying Lands aren't beyond the reach of evil. The Valar erected really high mountains to defend it, so it must have been accessible, and Morgoth/Melkor managed to trash their lamps and their trees, so they're somehow vulnerable. I'm guessing that if Sauron managed to control all of Middle-Earth he'd start working on bringing Melkor back -- he seems like a project kind of guy to me.
posted by j.edwards at 5:21 PM on December 13, 2004


I say the humans had it better. Along with the other things said about the elves, there is the fact that they have seen horrors that man can not imagine. Sauron was nothing during the events of LotR, nor his forces, when compared to his past might or especially to Melkor.

One of the things that really caught my attention in Fellowship of the Ring (the movie) was when it showed Legolas after Gandalf announced that a Balrog was present. It is the only time in the movie trilogy where you see fear in his eyes. In the book he cries out, in the movie he was shocked into silence. I actually liked his reaction better in the film, I think.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 9:10 PM on December 13, 2004


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