Elrond said during the council that if Sauron gets the One Ring back, he will have full control of those who have the three rings. But why did Sauron not already have control of them before the Great War?

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    Probably has an answer here. Basically, elven rings were made by the elf Celebrimbor, using Sauron's knowledge but free of his malice. Actually, the game "Shadow of Mordor" revolves around Celebrimbor and his work with Sauron. Aug 21, 2016 at 22:12
  • I could have sworn there was a scene from some entry in Peter Jackson's Middle-Earth-inspired-franchise that also showed Celebrimbor et al removing their rings. Aug 22, 2016 at 21:29
  • @KyleStrand Methinks you're thinking of this scene; I'm pretty sure that'd be the closest Aug 23, 2016 at 6:14

2 Answers 2


Because the Elves who possessed them took them off

From The Silmarillion:

But the Elves were not so lightly to be caught. As soon as Sauron set the One Ring upon his finger they were aware of him; and they knew him, and perceived that he would be master of them, and of all that they wrought. Then in anger and fear they took off their rings.

The Silmarillion V Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

Since they weren't actually wearing their rings anymore, Sauron had no ability to control them. Once he lost the One, his ability to command any of the Rings of Power was lost1; in fact, there's evidence to suggest that he was only able to control the Nazgûl because he had the Nine in his physical possession.

1 Hence why the Elves considered it safe to put them back on and start using them

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    They took them off while Sauron had the One, but they were wearing them again by the War of the Ring.
    – Blackwood
    Aug 21, 2016 at 22:13
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    Why were they able to take off the 3 rings back then, but they would not be able to now? Or why would he have control over them now if he obtained the One Ring, but before the 3 were able to avoid that control?
    – trysis
    Aug 22, 2016 at 4:51
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    @trysis To vastly oversimplify, the Elves won their saving throw against Sauron's attack. Perhaps they could do the same now, but that isn't really what they're worried about; the implication of Elrond's statements (supported by some old drafts) is that the Elves are mainly worried about Sauron being able to control what they've done with the Three since his defeat: "all that has been wrought by those who wield the Three will turn to their undoing" Aug 22, 2016 at 5:27
  • They were already afraid Sauron would "be master... of all that they wrought" the first time. Are you saying they were afraid both times that he would control all they had wrought, even though they got lucky tge first time?
    – trysis
    Aug 22, 2016 at 11:17
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    @trysis The implication seems to be that, with the One, Sauron could control everything the Three were going to do, as well as what they had already done. In the Second Age, there's not much of the second and a load of the first; in the Third Age, it's the other way around Aug 22, 2016 at 16:32

The Three Elven Rings were not made by Sauron and were not under his control.

As Gandalf tells Frodo in Bag End:

The Enemy still lacks one thing to give him strength and knowledge to beat down all resistance, break the last defences, and cover all the lands in a second darkness. He lacks the One Ring.

The Three, fairest of all, the Elf-lords hid from him, and his hand never touched them or sullied them. Seven the Dwarf-kings possessed, but three he has recovered, and the others the dragons have consumed. Nine he gave to Mortal Men, proud and great, and so ensnared them. Long ago they fell under the dominion of the One, and they became Ringwraiths, shadows under his great Shadow, his most terrible servants.

The Fellowship of the Ring: The Shadow of the Past

Later in the same conversation, Gandalf makes clear that Sauron needs the One Ring in order to control the Three even though he already controls the Ringwraiths.

So it is now: the Nine he has gathered to himself; the Seven also, or else they are destroyed. The Three are hidden still. But that no longer troubles him. He only needs the One; for 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. If he recovers it, then he will command them all again, wherever they be, even the Three, and all that has been wrought with them will be laid bare, and he will be stronger than ever.

The Fellowship of the Ring: The Shadow of the Past

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    This is incorrect. Sauron was not involved in creating the Three, but they were still under command of the One because they were made using his formula Aug 21, 2016 at 22:13
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    They were under the control of the One, but not the control of Sauron (without the One).
    – Blackwood
    Aug 21, 2016 at 22:15
  • Hm, I see what you mean now; it's not a well-phrased question Aug 21, 2016 at 22:18

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