The book makes it quite clear that the One Ring could control the bearers of the lesser rings. We also know that Sauron had recaptured at least one of the seven dwarvish rings, presumably to use himself, not to put in a museum. The Ringwraiths definitely wore their rings. Could the bearer of the One Ring use these facts to his advantage?

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    Yes. they could use them to their advantage, right up to the point that Sauron cut their fool head off and took his ring back.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 19:13
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    I thought I read that he took the dwarves' rings back because the dwarves weren't being dominated like he had hoped. He didn't necessarily have much use for them, but didn't want any rings of power in circulation that weren't under his control. And are we sure that the ringwraiths still carried their rings? I seem to recall reading differing opinions on that on other questions here.
    – Molag Bal
    Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 19:14
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    @user64944 They were by far the most powerful of his servants, and the most suitable for such a mission, since they were entirely enslaved to their Nine Rings, which he now himself held... (Unfinished tales)
    – user46509
    Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 20:08
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    @user64944 You saw the Eye of him that holds the Seven and the Nine. (fellowship of the ring)
    – user46509
    Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 20:09
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    @user64944 also letters Tolkien explicitly states sauron held the rings
    – user46509
    Commented Apr 19, 2016 at 20:09

1 Answer 1


Almost certainly not

If you came into possession of the One Ring of Sauron, and claimed it as your own, depending on your native amount of power one of two things would happen:

  1. You would face Sauron and be destroyed

    [A] confrontation between Frodo and Sauron would soon have taken place, if the Ring was intact. Its result was inevitable, Frodo would have been utterly overthrown: crushed to dust, or preserved in torment as a gibbering slave. Sauron would not have feared the Ring! It was his own and under his will. Even from afar he had an effect upon it, to make it work for its return to himself. In his actual presence none but very few of equal stature could have hoped to withhold it from him. Of 'mortals' no one, not even Aragorn.

    The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien 246: To Mrs. Eileen Elgar (draft). September 1963

  2. You might reduce Sauron to an impotent spirit

    Confrontation of Sauron alone, unaided, self to self was not contemplated. One can imagine the scene in which Gandalf, say, was placed in such a position. It would be a delicate balance. On one side the true allegiance of the Ring to Sauron; on the other superior strength because Sauron was not actually in possession, and perhaps also because he was weakened by long corruption and expenditure of will in dominating inferiors. If Gandalf proved the victor, the result would have been for Sauron the same as the destruction of the Ring; for him it would have been destroyed, taken from him for ever.

    The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien 246: To Mrs. Eileen Elgar (draft). September 1963

There is no evidence to suggest that you would be able to command Sauron the way Sauron commands the Nine.

Likewise, although you may have had some protection against the Nine, you would not have been able to command them, except possibly with minor instructions:

Sauron sent at once the Ringwraiths. They were naturally fully instructed, and in no way deceived as to the real lordship of the Ring. The wearer would not be invisible to them, but the reverse; and the more vulnerable to their weapons. But the situation was now different to that under Weathertop, where Frodo acted merely in fear and wished only to use (in vain) the Ring's subsidiary power of conferring invisibility. He had grown since then. Would they have been immune from its power if he claimed it as an instrument of command and domination?

Not wholly. I do not think they could have attacked him with violence, nor laid hold upon him or taken him captive; they would have obeyed or feigned to obey any minor commands of his that did not interfere with their errand – laid upon them by Sauron, who still through their nine rings (which he held) had primary control of their wills.

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien 246: To Mrs. Eileen Elgar (draft). September 1963

Though this is a somewhat imperfect example, since Frodo is explicitly mentioned as not having the strength to command hostile wills; a more powerful bearer may or may not have better luck.

If you wanted to command the Nine, you would be much better off trying to steal their rings from Sauron1; of course, if you managed to do that, you've probably already mastered the One and defeated Sauron with it, and become the newly-anointed Dark Lord of All.

1 The question asserts that the Nazgûl "definitely wore their rings," but I would not be as definitive; the balance of evidence suggests that Sauron held the Nine

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    Now imagining pimp!Sauron with a ring on every finger.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 12:02

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