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This (and others eg: this ) answer states that Frodo claiming the ring alerted Sauron immediately of its position, which makes sense: How else would Sauron realize where the Ring and Frodo were at that exact moment. And it also explains why Sauron did not know where the ring was beforehand.

However there is a problem with this: Why did Sauron not find out about where the ring was when it was in Gollum's possession? Gollum obviously claimed the ring as his own (he even dreamt about becoming Gollum the Great, unfortunately I'm not able to find the passage in the books). In addition Bilbo claims it as well (right before he leaves it for Frodo), without alerting Sauron (Sauron learns about the Shire from Gollum, not through some form of comunication with the ring)

Is there an in canon explanation, or have I simply misunderstood something?

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Gollum was using the Ring in a cave under the Misty Mountains. There is no cell reception down there :p –  Joseph R. Jun 30 at 14:07
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@JosephR. He should consider switching to Verizon. I hear they give a Dark Lord discount. –  Zibbobz Jun 30 at 14:34
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@Zibbobz Man, I have to work up to being a Dark Lord. My minions are just on the Fiends & Family plan. –  Falsenames Jun 30 at 18:45
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@Voldemort needs to comment on the veracity of this claim. –  Dacio Jun 30 at 19:04
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@Zibbobz Switching carriers doesn't help. Get your book facts straight: Under the Mountain where the Night is fell/Thou shalt find no reception for thy cell. -- The Lay of Andruid -- The Book of Dropped Calls. –  Joseph R. Jul 1 at 1:16

6 Answers 6

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Joseph R's answer is a good one -- by wearing the Ring, Frodo did make himself more noticeable to the Ringwraiths nearby, but not to others far away. So proximity matters. But the most important proximity is that of the Ring itself to Mount Doom in particular. The Ring becomes more powerful as it approaches Sammath Naur, the place of its forging and its unmaking.

The last volume shows this happening in multiple ways: the Ring tempted Frodo more strongly as they approached Mount Doom; it became more burdensome to Frodo; and it may even have changed size and become heavier.

Furthermore, I don't think the increase in power is linear. I believe the power of the Ring increases rapidly -- say, inversely proportionally to square of distance -- as it approaches Mount Doom. If that's correct, then the power of the ring would have been many orders of magnitude higher when Frodo put it on at the end of the journey than at any earlier time. Even when Sam put it on at Cirith Ungol, they were still many miles away, and the ring would have been far less powerful.

I don't have a copy of the book handy to confirm this, but I believe this interpretation explains almost every detail in the book concerning Sauron's perception of those who wear the ring. It doesn't explain why Sauron perceives Frodo on Amon Hen, but the properties of the Seat of Seeing provide an alternative explanation in that case.

At no point in many hundreds of years had the Ring been so close to the place of its forging. Frodo's actions on Mount Doom were entirely unprecedented -- nothing that Gollum did with the Ring when he possessed it could have had the same effect so far from Sammath Naur. While the fact that Frodo "claimed" the Ring may have made his actions still more noticeable to Sauron, I think the Ring's proximity to Mount Doom was the primary factor.

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Gollum was claiming an almost dormant ring, plus he was not claiming the One Ring, he was just claiming posession of a gold ring that turned you invisible. It was coincidental that it was the One Ring because it was not that what caused Gollum to claim it. Gollum was not claiming it against Sauron, but just trying to treasure a simple magical ring.

On the other hand, Frodo claimed a fully empowered One Ring, fully knowing that it were the One Ring, and claiming it as his against Sauron.

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+1, and Frodo also claimed it in the Sammath Naur: "And far away, as Frodo put on the Ring and claimed it for his own, even in Sammath Naur the very heart of his realm, the Power in Barad-dur was shaken, and the Tower trembled from its foundations to its proud and bitter crown". –  Darth Satan Jun 30 at 10:20
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I always thought the Ring being the Ring was what caused Gollum to claim it, not just that it was a pretty trinket. I hope so, at least, because I would hope he wouldn't have killed his own cousin, birthday or not, for just anything. Then again, he may have fallen for one of the Mens' or Dwarves' Rings just as hard, if that's what you meant, @Envite. –  trysis Jun 30 at 22:55
    
What about the intro to Gollum. There is a sentence "there it consumed him" (red. the ring on Gollum). For some reason beyond me, the Ring didn't make Gollum bring it to its master. –  DoStuffZ Jul 1 at 6:41
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Could you explain what you mean by a fully empowered ring compared to a dormant one? I didn't think they ring changed its power over the course of the books... –  Chris Jul 1 at 14:55
    
@Chris I mean that the Ring, while with Gollum, was just awaiting and not actively trying to return with Sauron. The most powerful thing it did was escaping from Gollum's sight (not even from his finger) and become in Bilbo's path. This is what I meant with "dormant". While at Orodruin, the Ring has been continouosly trying to betray Frodo and return with Sauron in the fastest possible way (remember the Ring talking to Frodo directly, changing Boromir's honour into greed, and finally succeeding in altering Frodo enough to have him claim it. This is what I meant with "fully empowered". –  Envite Jul 2 at 8:10

I think another factor to consider is that of proximity. Frodo claimed the Ring right on Sauron's doorstep. This was definitely not the first time that Frodo had put the Ring on. During other times though, putting the Ring on alerted Sauron's spies who were nearby: Bill Ferny and "the Southerner", the Ringwraiths, etc... but not Sauron himself.

By the same token, when Bilbo and Gollum used the Ring, they were a world away from Mordor and so went undetected by Sauron.

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It is not the same to use the ring than to claim it. What Frodo did at Sammath Naur in Orodruin (Mount of Doom) was the last: Then Frodo stirred and spoke with a clear voice, indeed with a voice clearer and more powerful than Sam had ever heard him use, and it rose above the throb and turmoil of Mount Doom, ringing in the roof and walls. 'I have come,' he said. 'But I do not choose now to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!' And suddenly, as he set it on his finger, he vanished from Sam's sight. –  Envite Jun 30 at 15:12
    
@Envite Even if I concede that the two things are distinct, Frodo did both: "And far away, as Frodo put on the Ring and claimed it for his own, even in Sammath Naur the very heart of his realm, the Power in Barad-dur was shaken" -- "Moun Doom", RotK So Frodo first claimed the Ring, then put it on his finger, then was visible to Sauron. –  Joseph R. Jun 30 at 15:16
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I'd actually argue that both answers are correct here, and that the real correct answer is a combination of the two. If you go back and read the book you'll see that the Ring evidently gained more "presence" the nearer the Hobbits got to the heart of Sauron's realm, so proximity was what caused the Ring to become fully empowered at the last crucial moment. –  Darth Satan Jun 30 at 17:46
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Would some of the times when Gollum put it on under the Misty Mountains have been when Sauron was still in Mirkwood, and would that change this answer in any way? –  David Conrad Jun 30 at 20:51
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@DavidConrad Great point. But wasn't Sauron's power not fully recovered when he was in Mirkwood? Wouldn't that explain him not being able to "feel" the Ring? –  Joseph R. Jun 30 at 20:53

The difference is that Gollum never really understood exactly what the ring was. To him, it was the one beautiful thing in his miserable life, his precious. In short, he was claiming the ring itself as his, not the full power behind it. For Sam, it was a useful tool to save his friend/master and get out of a tight spot. Just a tool, nothing more. But when Frodo claimed it, he was claiming the power incorporated in the ring, not the ring itself. That's what got Sauron's attention, hard.

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I think that the biggest factor in Sauron's knowledge of the Ring's position is based on his level of power.

Remember that the very beginning of Fellowship of the Ring takes place about 60 years after the end of The Hobbit. There was also a year in there between when Bilbo found the Ring, and the end of the book. Gollum had the Ring for 500 years before Bilbo picked it up.

One other piece of the timeframe that was overlooked in the movies is that between Bilbo's 111th birthday, and when Frodo, etc. finally leave The Shire, there was a gap of another 20 years while Gandalf was researching about the Ring.

During the events of The Hobbit, it is assumed that Sauron has still been completely destroyed as nothing has been heard of him in thousands of years. It isn't until a year or two before Denethor sends Boromir to the Council of Elrond that Minas Tirith has any inkling of rumblings from Mordor.

So all through Gollum and Bilbo's possession of the Ring, Saruon is nothing more than a whisper, slowly building his strength. It isn't until probably the last 5 years that Frodo is just sitting on the Ring that he finally starts to regain his followers and they capture Gollum and find out about The Shire. Then when they're finally on their trek, Sauron is finally able to start to exert some will over the Ring and use it from afar.

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Frodo claimed not only the ring at the end, but Sauron's throne and powers. Bilbo and Gollum claimed the ring itself, and were obsessed by it. They did not even realize they would become Sauron's counterpart (or, for that matter, that Sauron existed.)

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