Is there any reason why there are specifically Nine Riders? The Council of Elrond appointed Nine Walkers in response to the Nine, but why nine?

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    It let them be sure that their votes were never tied, and gave Men more rings than the Dwarves had, which Men would have insisted on, since they're taller.
    – Jeff
    Dec 18, 2017 at 20:06
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    Not a dup as this question is about about why nine nazgul (to which the answer is because nine rings). Whereas the target is asking why nine rings (as well as why three and seven for the elves and dwarves)
    – amflare
    Dec 18, 2017 at 20:24

1 Answer 1


There's no stated mystical significance of nine in the legendarium, so I'd have to say that there's no reason for nine specifically. As a practical matter, Tolkien needed there to be enough Nazgul to be a menace, but not so many to start to look like a horde of the undead. He had already determined that there were seven houses of the Dwarves, thus making seven a good number for their rings.

Speculating, I think he wanted the number of rings for Men and for Dwarves to be different, and he shows a distinct taste for having odd numbers of numinous objects and beings, leaving him with few choices for Men: 5, 9, and 11.

  • Well given there were 20 rings of power, 1 being the one ring. Three families of Elves and three family of dwarves, the leftover were 9, for the houses of Men. Seems pretty solidly answered in the linked question.
    – Edlothiad
    Dec 18, 2017 at 20:17
  • I think that my be somewhat circular reasoning. In the linked questions -- which I agree overlaps substantially -- the total of 20 rings is gotten by saying that the elves made the Three and the Seven, and Sauron made ten (The One plus nine for Men) also to balance. That strikes me as utter hand-waving! (If for no other reason than that Sauron never elsewhere shows himself as inclined towards balance...)
    – Mark Olson
    Dec 18, 2017 at 20:27
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    Sauron did not make the Nine by himself and the Elves did not make the Seven by themselves. The Nine and the Seven were made together, by Sauron and the Elves together. It is even likely the Nine and Seven had no differences except in who they were given to. Dec 19, 2017 at 0:18

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