This is the fifth sixth in a series of what I am calling my "Thorincentric" posts. The reason behind the series is to "flesh out" the character of Thorin for myself, in particular, so that I can understand the role Richard Armitage is going to have to play. Durin III's Ring plays an important part in Thorin's family history - specifically the influence it has over Thorin's father, Thráin II.
The History of the Rings of Power.
(Enlarge map by clicking on it and then zooming in)
My reference for most of this post is from J.R.R. Tolkien's “Unfinished Tales”; Chapter IV "History of Galadriel and Celeborn" p 303.
To tell the story of the Rings of Power, it is necessary to go back in history to the events of the 2nd Age.
700 of the 2nd Age: Galadriel and Celeborn established Eregion near to west gates of Khazad-dûm. They had in their company a craftsman called Celebrimbor who became the chief craftsman of Eregion and had a good relationship with the dwarves of nearby Khazad-dûm sharing their love of crafts.
(Celebrimbor along with Narvi, the dwarf, wrote the inscription above the West Gate of Moria “Im Narvi hain echant: Celebrimbor o Eregion teithant I thiw hin” “I, Narvi, made them: Celebrimbor of Hollin drew these signs”).
Eregion became stronger and more powerful as a result of the co-operation and association between elves and dwarves.
750 of the 2nd Age: Sauron learnt of the founding of Eregion and the building of its major city. He feared that his enemies the Numenoreans would land on the coasts and join forces with his other foes. He left Eriador alone and moved to Mordor where he founded a stronghold.
1000 of the 2nd Age: Sauron felt secure in Mordor and sent emissaries to Eriador.
1200 of the 2nd Age: Sauron went to Eriador disguised in a “fair form” and called himself by a fair name, Annatar, the Lord of the Gifts. Arriving In Eregion, Sauron posed as an emissary of the Valar (angelic beings) sent by them to Middle-earth to give aid to the elves.
"Sauron used all his arts upon Celebrimbor and his fellow smiths who had formed a society or brotherhood called the Gwaith-i-Mirdain: but he worked in secret unknown to Galdriel and Celeborn. Before long he had the Gwaith-i-Mirdain under his influence for at first they benefited from his instruction in secret matters of their craft. So great was his hold on the Gwaith-i-Mirdain, he persuaded them to revolt against Galadriel and Celeborn.and seize power in Eregion." (p 306. Ch IV, J.R.R. Tolkien: "Unfinished Tales").
1350 – 1400: Galadriel left Eregion to rule Lorien/Lorinand. Celeborn remained but was ignored by Celebrimbor.
1500: Sauron departed Eregion after the Mirdain had begun making the Rings of Power using the dark arts Sauron had taught them.
"Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-Lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortel-Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne,
In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them,
In the land of Mordor where the shadows lie."
J.R.R. Tolkien: "Lord of the Rings"
Celebrimbor had not been corrupted by Sauron unlike his fellow artisans but he had been duped by him. He discovered he was wrong when he found out Sauron had made the One Ring. He sought counsel of Galadriel. They kept the Three Rings of the Elves hidden where they could not be found. Nenya, Galadriel's White Ring strengthened the power of Lorien, but it increased her desire for the Sea and return to the west so she no longer enjoyed being in Middle-earth; The Ring of Air; and The Ring of Fire. The Rings of Air and Fire were entrusted to Gil-galad of Lindon and also Lord of the Havens.
1695: Sauron learnt of Celebrimbor’s betrayal and invaded Eregion. Sauron took the Nine Rings of Men and lesser works of Mirdain. He could not find the Seven and the Three however. Sauron tortured Celebrimbor to find out where they were and he revealed where the Seven were. He would not reveal where the Three were as they had been made by him whereas the Seven and the Nine had been made under Sauron’s influence.
It was not known who gave the dwarves the Seven Rings but Durin’s folk believe that the elven smiths gave Durin III his ring known as the Ring of Durin III. This was passed down through the generations and given to Thror and Thrain II, grandfather and father of Thorin.
The power of the Rings: (Source: Wikipedia)
The Nine were given to Kings. They were quickly dominated and became shadows. (Wraiths or Nazgûl). They had the power to make people invisible and prolong life. They quickly became servants of Sauron.
The Seven were given to the seven dwarf nations. The dwarves were not as easily influenced as Men but it is written that the Rings increased the dwarves' greed for gold. They brought wealth to their owners. Through the Rings, Sauron hoped to influence the dwarves by increasing their anger and greed. It was believed that four of these Rings were devoured by dragons, two were believed to be recaptured by Sauron and one was believed to be lost in Moria (this one had actually been given to Thráin II before Thrór set out on his journey to reclaim Moria (see next post). The year before the departure of Frodo Baggins in the Fellowship of the Rings, Sauron attempted to persuade the dwarves to work for him to find the Ring of Power (reportedly stolen by "a thief") by telling them the story that the ring he desired was just a minor ring. The dwarves however were distrustful and not easily influenced and sought advice from Elrond at the Council of Elrond (where Gimli joins the Fellowship).
The Nine and the Seven were destroyed when Frodo destroyed the One Ring.