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In the movie version of Fellowship of the Rings, at the beginning of film, we're shown all the rings being forged, including Sauron's One Ring of power. However, there's no indication as to what Sauron did to that ring in order to make it so powerful, omnipotent, and extraordinarily evil. Did he conduct a spell? Sacrifice a poor maiden? Channel evil and malevolent spirits in order to make the ring so powerful and to have a sentient connection with Sauron? The ring was almost loyal, an interesting trait for an inanimate object.

How did Sauron create the One Ring with such an essence of malice, evil, and power?

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    If you're still working your way through the books, I'd advise you finish them, and then follow them up with the Silmarillion. In that book, the essay "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age" will give you some necessary background. – Mark Beadles Feb 20 '12 at 1:30
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    God, I'll be in a nursing home by that time! ;) – Slytherincess Feb 20 '12 at 5:28
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    @Slytherincess: But that's only because of your attitude to commit every word to long-term memory! :) – sbi Feb 20 '12 at 12:53
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    At the ruining of the Trees, Fëanor talks about how he would never again be able to create the likeness of the Silmarils, and Yavanna will never be able to create the Trees again. You can find the quote in scifi.stackexchange.com/q/63964/4918 . Sauron creating the One Ring is similar to this. Basically he's spent a lot of experience points on it and used a power he can only invoke once in this world. – b_jonas Aug 21 '17 at 2:16
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From Wikipedia:

The One Ring was created by the Dark Lord Sauron during the Second Age in order to gain dominion over the free peoples of Middle-earth. In disguise as Annatar, or "Lord of Gifts", he aided the Elven smiths of Eregion and their leader Celebrimbor in the making of the Rings of Power. He then forged the One Ring himself in the fires of Mount Doom.

Sauron intended it to be the most powerful of all Rings, able to rule and control those who wore the others. Since the other Rings were themselves powerful, Sauron was obliged to place much of his own power into the One to achieve his purpose.

I think putting a part of himself in the ring made it the dominating ring. Also, remember that when he lost it in the battle, Sauron became very weak.

  • Very interesting. I wonder how Sauron actually imparted his power into the ring. Anyhow, +1 and accept. :) – Slytherincess Mar 14 '12 at 3:09
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    @Slytherincess: Sauron has split his soul and made the ring a Horcrux. :) – b_jonas Apr 10 '12 at 21:09
  • @b_jonas - You're totally right: scifi.stackexchange.com/a/14545/3500 :) – Slytherincess Apr 10 '12 at 22:47
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There is no real explanation how the ring was made (except that it was forged in the depths of Mount Doom and that he specifically created it as a control device to control the wearers of the other, inferior rings like puppets).

Magic in LOTR is rarely explained for a simple reason: People performing magic just "do" it. They intrinsically understand it but they can't explain. Elves don't "perform" magic at all. Lothlórien is the way it is because Galadriel wants it that way - she doesn't perform any special "magical" rituals (or anything humans would consider "magic" - there are festivities, processions, maybe prayers). Nature simply bows before her will.

For example, if I asked you to explain how you think, you would be hard pressed to come up with an answer. You could explain about the brain, self-consciousness and neurons and all. But that doesn't explain "thinking". You just think. In the same way, elves bend physics. They just do it. It's as natural for them as breathing, eating and frolicking.

In a similar way, Gandalf doesn't do magic as we humans would do. In the movies, he makes a couple of gestures and sometimes murmurs something but there are no arcane books involved, ingredients, sacrifices (that we can see).

Since Sauron was even more powerful than the elves, it's reasonable to assume that for him, magic was even more simple and accessible. The wikipedia article explains:

Sauron was prominent among the Maiar who served Aulë the Smith, the great craftsman of the Valar. As a result, Sauron came to possess great knowledge of the physical substances of the world, forging, and all manner of craftsmanship — emerging as "a great craftsman of the household of Aulë". Sauron would always retain the "scientific" knowledge he derived from the great Vala of Craft: "In his beginning he was of the Maiar of Aulë, and he remained mighty in the lore of that people."

So he was one of the first "people" who ever lived, direct descendants of the creator Eru Ilúvatar. He had a long time to learn (maybe millions of years) and access to means and knowledge that are incomprehensible today.

  • This is a very interesting and detailed answer, but it doesn't address the original question: what was in the One Ring to make it so powerful? See pewfly's reply. – Andres F. Feb 20 '12 at 15:12
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    I answered all the other questions: "Did he conduct a spell? Sacrifice a poor maiden?" – Aaron Digulla Feb 20 '12 at 15:33
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The One Ring is so powerful because Sauron committed a significant part of his own power into the Ring. Gandalf mentions this twice:

he made that Ring himself, it is his, and he let a great part of his own former power pass into it, so that he could rule all the others. (Fellowship of the Ring)

and, when talking about the destruction of the Ring,

he will lose the best part of the strength that was native to him in his beginning (Return of the King)

The Silmarillion makes it absolutely explicit when describing the creation of the Ring:

much of the strength and will of Sauron passed into that One Ring;

As a philosophical out-of-universe device, Tolkien said it represented the concept that potency has to be externalized and out of one's direct control to produce results:

If I were to ‘philosophize’ the Ring of Sauron, I should say it was a mythical way of representing the truth that potency (or perhaps rather potentiality) if it is to be exercised, and produce results, has to be externalized and so as it were passes, to a greater or less degree, out of one’s direct control. (Letter 211)

  • To me, the concept of externalizing potency out of one's direct control means Sauron couldn't simply cast a spell that allowed him to control the ringbearers. He had to first invent and then build a magical item, a machine or device of sorts (with artificial intelligence!), that required much of Sauron's magic powers or soul to make it operational. – RobertF Oct 24 '13 at 20:59
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Sauron poured all of his hate, malice, spite, and cruelty into it and his will to dominate all things

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    The last time someone did that, it created Piccolo. So does this mean that lacking his hatred, malice, spite, cruelty, and will to dominate things, Sauron had actually turned into a pretty cool dude? – Jeff Dec 17 '12 at 20:26
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It's also interesting to note that Sauron is drawing upon some deeper, pre-existing magic that allows ring 'technology' to work in the first place. According to Tolkien the whole of Middle Earth was Morgoth's ring - and within Middle Earth gold was especially tainted by his evil essence. It was this 'Morgoth Element' that allowed Sauron to make the (gold) ring the potent vessel it became and the principal of investing matter with spiritual power began with Morgoth. Sauron is not the inventor of evil: Morgoth is, and much of Sauron's power is merely tapping into the structures and potencies that Morgoth put into Arda. In this sense the ring is doing Morgoth's work (as is Sauron even if he now believes himself to be Morgoth returned and his own master).

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    That is interesting, but it would be better with a citation to a source – wyvern Oct 25 '15 at 10:07
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TL;DR: The One Ring contains not only a portion of Sauron's life-force & power, but also the ability to control the other rings of magic given to each race.


There are already a lot of good answers here, but they all refer to the books & expanded lore. Since the original question was about the movie version, I thought I'd write up an answer using only what was there. In the first movie, there are two main scenes that explain the power of the ring.

The first is during Galadriel's voice-over at the beginning. After describing the creation of the rings and who received them, she states:

GALADRIEL (V.O.) : For within these rings was bound the strength and will to govern each race.

[FADE TO BLACK]

GALADRIEL (V.O.) : But they were all of them deceived.

[FADE UP: An ancient PARCHMENT MAP of MIDDLE EARTH...moving slowly across the MAP as if drawn by an unseen force the CAMERA closes in on a PLACE NAME...MORDOR.]

GALADRIEL (V.O.) : ...for another ring was made.

[TEASING SHOTS: SAURON forging the ONE RING in the CHAMBERS of SAMMATH NAUR.]

GALADRIEL (V.O.) : In the land of Mordor, in the fires of Mount Doom, the Dark Lord Sauron forged in secret a Master Ring to control all others.

[IMAGE: The ONE RING reflecting FIERY LAVA. FIERY WRITING emerges on the plain BAND OF GOLD.]

GALADRIEL (V.O.) : ...and into this Ring he poured his cruelty, his malice and his will to dominate all life.

[IMAGE: THE ONE RING falls through SPACE and into flames...]

GALADRIEL (V.O.) : One Ring to rule them all...

This tells us that even the basic rings of power have within them the "strength and will to govern each race." That is apparently an inherent quality in ALL of the rings, not just Sauron's. The difference is that Sauron's controls the other rings, not the races. The One Ring itself is a conduit through which Sauron can tap into the other rings.

Next, we have the scene where Gandalf informs Frodo that his ring is the One Ring:

FRODO : But he was destroyed...Sauron was destroyed.

[ANGLE ON: THE RING, Lies between them on the table.]

GANDALF : No, Frodo. The spirit of Sauron has endured. His life force is bound to the ring and the ring survived. Sauron has returned. His Orcs have multiplied...his fortress of Barad- dur is rebuilt in the land of Mordor. Sauron needs Only this ring to cover all the lands in the second darkness. He is seeking it, seeking it, all his thought is bent on it. For the ring yearns, above all else, to return to the hand of its master: they are one, the Ring and the dark lord. Frodo, he must never find out.

So, these two taken as a whole tell us that Sauron not only poured his own qualities into the ring during its construction, but he actually tied it into his OWN power & life-force. Therefore, whatever measure of power & evil we equate with Sauron, we must also equate that with the Ring itself, since it is essentially an extension of Sauron himself. The "how" exactly is never explained in the films, but they definitely explain the question of "why" the ring is considered so powerful and evil.

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Gotta read the history of the origin of Middle-earth to answer this one. Those are the big boat anchor books edited by Christopher Tolkien. This one is in volume I that covers the story of Turin Turambar and the First Age. Go back to the story of the fall of Nargothrond and the slaying of dwarf and elf under the influence of Morgoth and Glaurung the dragon. Morgoth cursed all the children of Hurin, including his son, Turin. Among things Turin did was to kill Mim, the dwarf who had moved in and taken possession of Nargothrond and the cursed treasure that Glaurung had been sitting on. Most of that gold was lost in the breaking of the world at the end of the second age but Sauron got hold of some of it and used that cursed gold, imbued with greed, treachery and the curses of Morgoth, Glaurung and Mim, to make the One Ring. I also suspect that one of the things that made people so drawn to the ring, so greedy for it, was the dragon essence left behind by Glaurung on that gold and then refined by Sauron. Tolkien mentions in the Hobbit that a pile of gold sat on by a dragon for a long time kind of drives people nuts with greed. Otherwise, this makes no sense - why would an evil lord make a ring in which his essence was bound that would make everyone want it? Wouldn't it have made more sense to make a ring that no one else wanted and would be glad to give it back to Sauron if they found it or would just want to leave it alone? This would have been a side-effect of Sauron using cursed gold to make the ring. He wanted the curse of Morgoth on the children of Hurin. He wanted the enmity between dwarf and elf. He wanted the pain of the fall of Nargothrond. That everyone was greedy for the ring was an accidental effect.

Unfortunately, I can't provide a quote without going back through the history of the making of Middle Earth and finding the half-dozen or so quotes, hints and surmises that go into the above. If I remember right, the cursed gold of Nargothrond angle was one of several versions of the story and it is only mentioned in an aside by Christopher Tolkien in the explanation of one of the verses in the huge poem about the Children of Hurin. Much of Tolkien's stuff was like that - some key information wasn't in the final printed version but was in his first draft that was then laid aside. Was that information still valid in the final? Hard to say. Given that there is no other explanation given of how it was made, this isn't a bad one. It certainly makes sense if you wanted to make a really evil ring that getting hold of some cursed gold makes sense. It also fits in with the motif in Wagner's ring cycle with the cursed gold of the Nibelungen dwarves being what the power ring was made of. I regard Tolkien's ring story as being a variant on the Nibelungen ring story which, in turn was a variant on the ring of Gyges from Plato's Republic.

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    Can you add a quote that covers this? – Blackwood Aug 20 '17 at 23:47
  • This would be an eminently upvoteable answer if you could quote verse and chapter. There are so many tellings and versions of the Fall of Nargothrond and the story of Turin. I'm almost certain this did not make it into the "final" published "Children of Hurin". – Marakai Aug 22 '17 at 5:05
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I like to imagine it like this:

Say what we are is not really all in this world and that what we see is only an impression of what we really are in another realm of existence. It might be possible to exercise/accomplish wonderful or terrible things by pouring more of what you are into this world from the realm in which we are actually from. Sauron does this in the LOTR series, I think.

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I actually see it, in both the book and the films, as a 'horcrux' sort of thing. All of Sauron's hate is put into that One Ring rather than six different objects (excluding harry potter) and without it he is weak. I can only explain this theory by using Harry Potter logic and joining them with LOTR, as much as that might upset some people just hear me out. Voldemort seperates his 'malice','hatred' or whatever you want to call it into these objects; when one is destroyed, his power is weakened. Imagine that he only had 'one' horcrux instead of seven. That 'one' would have the power of all seven combined, plus his desperate need to keep it safe from all harm. The One Ring is a part of Sauron and because of this, his hatred, malice and cruelty proves so strong that it possesses immense powers. Both films have magic but both explain it in entirely different ways, if not at all. In both however, they seem to present emotions as the strongest of all magic. For example, the stronger your feeling be it, love, happiness or even anger and frustration, the power of the magic is amplified, which brings us back to how strong the ring is and telling us that Sauron's hate is off the 'Middle-Earth Chart', so to speak. In conclusion, the One Ring is more of a Resurrection stone more than anything, for it is as tempting to keep and with it not destroyed Sauron has the ability to use whatever life essence he placed into the ring to come back. (Not to mention the illusions of the dead kings in their true form, before death, when looking at the Nazgul)

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