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How many Rings of Power are there?

Charles Edwards as Celebrimbor in The Rings of Power.
Charles Edwards as Celebrimbor, the elf responsible for bringing the rings of power into being. (Image credit: Ben Rothstein/Prime Video)

How many Rings of Power are there?

That’s one of the many questions that many fantasy fans have about The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power now that the show is underway. 

Given lots of viewers’ first experience with the world of Middle-earth came in Peter Jackson’s movie trilogy, most viewers are primarily familiar with the One Ring — an extremely powerful artifact wielded by the Dark Lord Sauron — as the Fellowship of the Ring (comprised of Frodo, Sam, Gandalf and friends) were tasked with casting the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom in order to stop Sauron.

If you recall the prologue to that first film, you'll know there were a number of other rings distributed amongst the many rulers and leaders of Middle-earth before Sauron during the Second Age. With the new Prime Video series taking place in that mythical era, and the title of the series pointing to the rings' playing a big part in what's to come, we've broken down how many rings of power there are and briefly explained their history. 

How many Rings of Power are there?

In total, there were 20 rings of power crafted, which we know from J.R.R. Tolkien’s epigraph to The Lord of the Rings. The short poem details who received them, and explains the relationship between the One Ring and the other rings of power. It reads:  

"Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,

Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,

Nine for Mortal 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."

The last two lines were inscribed on the One Ring in Black Speech, which could only be found once the ring had been heated up.  

Morfydd Clark in armour as Galadriel in The Rings of Power

Morfydd Clark as eventual ringbearer, Galadriel.  (Image credit: Amazon Prime)

Where did the rings of power come from?

The rings were brought into being so that Sauron could control the many leaders of Middle-earth. The would-be Dark Lord went to the elves disguised as Annatar, the “Lord of Gifts” and taught them how to forge the rings, while secretly forging the One Ring at Mount Doom for himself. 

The 19 rings were then forged by the Elven smiths (led by Celebrimbor) in Eregion during the Second Age. Celebrimbor forged the three Elven rings of power independently of Sauron’s help, though they were still somewhat subject to the control of Sauron's influence, but less so than the others.

As of The Rings of Power’s second episode, Elrond has been drafted in to assist Celebrimbor in a brand new project; as the Elven smith explained, he wants to create "something of real power", which must be the titular rings themselves.

Celebrimbor and Elrond sitting at a table in The Rings of Power.

Are Elrond and Celebrimbor in the process of forging the rings? (Image credit: Ben Rothstein/Prime Video)

Who had the rings of power?

Two of the three Elven rings were gifted to High King Gil-galad, though he later gave one to an Elven lord named Círdan, who later passed his ring to Gandalf. Gil-galad gifted his other ring to Elrond, whilst the remaining ring was only ever worn by Galadriel.

The “Nine Mortal Men doomed to die” were the easiest to corrupt, according to the story; fittingly, they became the nine Ringwraiths, who were some of the Dark Lord’s most powerful allies. We only officially know the identity of two of the Ringwraiths: their leader, the Witch-king of Angmar, and his right-hand man, Khamûl.

It’s less clear which of the dwarves received their rings, as Tolkien wrote the least about them. However, we do know that there were seven tribes of dwarves, so it makes sense that Dwarf-Kings would each have received one of the rings. 

The most notable dwarven ring was given to King Durin III by Celebrimbor, where it remained for thousands of years. It was later handed down to King Thrór, the dwarf who ruled during the period that the dragon Smaug drove the dwarves into exile after seizing the Lonely Mountain (as seen in The Hobbit).

Then, of course, the last ring was wielded by Sauron. It was also briefly held by Isildur after Sauron's defeat during the War of the Last Alliance, who refused to destroy the ring. The ring was also borne by Gollum, and then by Bilbo after he took it in The Hobbit.

Gandalf the White in The Lord of the Rings.

Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf.  (Image credit: Warner Brothers)

More LOTR: The Rings of Power

Martin Shore
Staff Writer at WhatToWatch.com

Martin is a Staff Writer with WhatToWatch.com, where he produces a variety of articles focused on the latest and greatest films and TV shows. 

Some of his favorite shows are What We Do In The Shadows, Bridgerton, Gangs of London, The Witcher, Doctor Who, and Ghosts. When he’s not watching TV or at the movies, Martin’s probably still in front of a screen playing the latest video games, reading, or watching the NFL.