This question is similar but not entirely the same.

It seems to me that the bearers of the elven rings ran a great risk by wearing their rings whilst Frodo trekked to Mordor.

If at any time Frodo was captured & Sauron regained the ring, would he then not have immediate dominion over Elrond, Galadriel, and most importantly Gandalf? These are three very powerful & influential figures.

What would be Sauron's effect on these individuals? Especially how would Gandalf be affected?

Was Frodo's plan such a last ditch effort that they were willing to run this risk? Such a risk seems out of character for Gandalf.

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    is there any evidence that they are wearing the rings during the journey? We see Galadriel reveal her ring to Frodo in Lothlorien, but we don't know that she continues to wear it. Gandalf is shown to be wearing his ring at the Gray Havens, but I don't think he has shown to be prior to that. Ultimately, it wouldn't matter if they did or didn't wear them I think. He is the Lord of the Rings and would have knowledge of them regardless.
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 17:35
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    @NKCampbell It seems to me that OP means "Sauron taking control of the Ringbearers", not becoming aware of them. Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 17:50
  • @NKCampbell of course it is a simplifying assumption to my question that they are wearing the rings (at least some of the time). You do raise a good point however.
    – scott
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 18:30

2 Answers 2


A few things to note:

  • It's ambiguous whether or not Gandalf was actually wearing his Ring during the events of the trilogy. This is perhaps nitpicking on your question, but it bears mentioning

  • Sauron's control (probably) wouldn't be immediate. As I've discussed elsewhere on the site, the Elves have previously demonstrated the ability to roll a Will save that allowed them to remove their Rings before Sauron could master them. There's little reason to believe they couldn't do so again, though that might be moot because:

  • Elrond implies that Sauron would be dangerous regardless of whether or not the Three were being worn or used. This one comes down to a little interpretation, but consider Elrond's words at the Council:

    [A]ll that has been wrought by those who wield the Three will turn to their undoing, and their minds and hearts will become revealed to Sauron, if he regains the One.

    The Fellowship of the Ring Book II Chapter 2: "The Council of Elrond"

    Recall that the Elves have been actively using the Three for thousands of years at this point; it's their power that allows the Elves to preserve the glory of the Elder Days in places like Rivendell and Lothlórien. Elrond is highly non-specific about how Sauron would turn this work against them, but it certainly doesn't seem as though active, current use of the Rings is necessary.

    Which is to say, it doesn't really matter that much whether they wear them or not. If Sauron regains the One, they're already screwed.

  • This makes me wonder, the rings affect races differently, right? Sauron gained control of the Men easily, but the Dwarves just dug deeper holes. So even if Sauron could corrupt the elves, is it known what form that corruption would take? Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 18:08
  • @DaaaahWhoosh My gut tells me we don't know; they probably wouldn't become Wraiths, since Gandalf suggests that's what happens to a mortal who wears a Great Ring, and the Elves aren't mortal (technically, sort of, it's complicated), though a very early draft of Fellowship says otherwise; I can't recall anything more specific off the top of my head. Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 18:12
  • I actually had a discussion on this subject on this site a while back. The person who I was debating was suggesting that Gandalf had Naryna the whole time. I believe they used the fight against the Balrog as an example (the secret fire could be a reference to Gandalf's ring). However, the three Elven rings couldn't be used in combat, only for creation and nurturing. I believe that Gandalf's ring was in possession of Elrond for protection while Gandalf was on his pilgrimage -but I could be wrong, there could be evidence that he had it on him the whole time. Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 18:21
  • @Withywindle IIRC there was discussion on this site regarding Saurman being unable to take the ring from Gandalf at Orthanc, and Gandalf retrieving his ring after his rebirth. Not to use the previous statement as evidence, I speculate that even if it was not worn & concealed, that he at least was in possession of his ring. But Elrond's safekeeping is an interesting idea
    – scott
    Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 18:28
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    @Withywindle I'm not going to take a side on that (though I rather doubt the claim about the Secret Fire), but consider Cirdan's words to Gandalf: "'"Take this ring, Master,' he said, 'for your labours will be heavy; but it will support you in the weariness that you have taken upon yourself." You can do a lot with "creation and nurturing" Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 18:29

The wearers of the Three Elvish Rings of Power could detect when Sauron gained or lost the ring, as they did when he forged The One Ring and placed it upon himself:

As soon as Sauron set the One Ring upon his finger they were aware of him; and they knew him, and preceived that he would be master of them, and of all they wrought. Then in anger and fear they took off their rings. - ("Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age," Silmarillion)

Whereupon they removed their rings until they found out he been struck down and the ring removed from him.

We could assume that the wearing of the rings was to detect if Sauron gained the ring back and thereby plan for the future. Middle-Earth does not have a wonderful postal or newspaper system so this could give them information they needed months in advance of when they'd otherwise gain it.

From the quote we can assume that it wouldn't be an immediate transformation into slavish domination by Sauron so the removal of the rings would allow for them to continue as they were, if but without their power.

If they did continue to wear their rings, they would've likely have ended up in a form of slavery similar to that of the Ringwraiths, able to subvert commands if they truly desired to but not able to directly resist. In a similar way to how the Ringwraiths would've acted if Frodo had managed to keep possession of the Ring:

I think they would have shown 'servility'. They would have greeted Frodo as 'Lord' ... Until Sauron himself came ... Sauron would not have feared the Ring! It was his own and under his will. (Letter 246)

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    Your suggestion that the "enslaved" Elves would have been able to subvert commands given to them by Sauron is mildly baffling and not, I think, borne out by your (quite cherry-picked) citation of Letter 246. That letter describes a very different situation, in particular noting that Frodo would be unable to truly command the Nazgul because he lacked the stature to effectively wield the Ring. Sauron himself would not be so limited Commented Apr 21, 2017 at 17:56

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