Frodo casts the Ring into Mount Doom and saves Middle Earth. Subsequently he-- along with Gandalf and all the Elves-- exits Middle Earth and goes to a place called the Undying Lands, the haven for the Elves who are tired of Middle Earth.

My question is, if Frodo didn't manage to destroy the Ring and if Sauron retrieved the Ring and used it to his advantage, would Sauron's forces be able to reach the Undying Lands and conquer every corner of the Earth, not just the Middle Earth?

3 Answers 3


No, the Undying Lands were removed from the spheres of the world when the Numenorians attempted to reach them at the end of the Second Age. This lead to the Valar calling upon Eru, who removed the Undying Lands resulting in the sinking of Numenor:

Then Manwë upon the Mountain called upon Ilúvatar, and for that time the Valar laid down their government of Arda. But Ilúvatar showed forth his power, and he changed the fashion of the world; and a great chasm opened in the sea between Númenor and the Deathless Lands, and the waters flowed down into it, and the noise and smoke of the cataracts went up to heaven, and the world was shaken. And all the fleets of the Númenóreans were drawn down into the abyss, and they were drowned and swallowed up for ever. But Ar-Pharazôn the King and the mortal warriors that had set foot upon the land of Aman were buried under falling hills: there it is said that they lie imprisoned in the Caves of the Forgotten, until the Last Battle and the Day of Doom.

But the land of Aman and Eressëa of the Eldar were taken away and removed beyond the reach of Men for ever. And Andor, the Land of Gift, Númenor of the Kings, Elenna of the Star of Eärendil, was utterly destroyed. For it was nigh to the east of the great rift, and its foundations were overturned, and it fell and went down into darkness, and is no more. And there is not now upon Earth any place abiding where the memory of a time without evil is preserved. For Ilúvatar cast back the Great Seas west of Middle-earth, and the Empty Lands east of it, and new lands and new seas were made; and the world was diminished, for Valinor and Eressëa were taken from it into the realm of hidden things. (The Silmarillion)

After this change in the world, it was only accessible by the Eldar explicitly:

the Eldar were permitted still to depart and to come to the Ancient West and to Avallónë, if they would. Therefore the loremasters of Men said that a Straight Road must still be, for those that were permitted to find it. And they taught that, while the new world fell away, the old road and the path of the memory of the West still went on, as it were a mighty bridge invisible that passed through the air of breath and of flight (which were bent now as the world was bent), and traversed Ilmen which flesh unaided cannot endure, until it came to Tol Eressëa, the Lonely Isle, and maybe even beyond, to Valinor, where the Valar still dwell and watch the unfolding of the story of the world. (The Silmarillion)

They were only reachable by Elves and those who get special exemptions by the Valar, i.e. the Ringbearers (and Gimli), although these will still eventually die in the Undying Lands:

But the promise made to the Eldar (the High Elves – not to other varieties, they had long before made their irrevocable choice, preferring Middle-earth to paradise) for their sufferings in the struggle with the prime Dark Lord had still to be fulfilled: that they should always be able to leave Middle-earth, if they wished, and pass over Sea to the True West, by the Straight Road, and so come to Eressëa – but so pass out of time and history, never to return. ...

But in this story it is supposed that there may be certain rare exceptions or accommodations (legitimately supposed? there always seem to be exceptions); and so certain 'mortals', who have played some great part in Elvish affairs, may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus Frodo (by the express gift of Arwen) and Bilbo, and eventually Sam (as adumbrated by Frodo); and as a unique exception Gimli the Dwarf, as friend of Legolas and 'servant' of Galadriel.

I have said nothing about it in this book, but the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their 'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and will 'die' – of free will, and leave the world. (Letter 154)

No non-Elves that have not "played some great part" in Elven matters would ever be able to find the Straight Road that still lead to Valinor.

  • 1
    no ALL the non-high elves. As i remember, the Grey elves (mirkwood?) delayed leaving. only the green elves decided to stay.
    – acolyte
    Jul 10, 2012 at 12:37
  • 7
    I don't have the books with me so someone else can provide the exact quote. But this was brought up in the Council Of Elrond and someone (Gandalf?) said that "they would not take it" and that "for good or ill it belongs to Middle Earth".
    – GeezerGeek
    Mar 7, 2013 at 12:54
  • 2
    The Ring also wouldn't be safe there. This is a ring that had helped corrupted one Maiar with just the thought of it, and you want to send it to their headquarters?
    – dlanod
    Mar 7, 2013 at 19:26
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    They would not accept such a vile thing as the One Ring to be delivered to their shores and to sully their paradise.
    – Morgan
    Feb 5, 2014 at 16:19
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    This answer draws a false distinction between Elves and "those who get special exemptions". No one reaches the Undying Lands without permission of the Valar; (most?) Elves were simply given that permission. A ship trying to bring the Ring across the Sea would find themselves unable to find the Straight Road. (It's possible that some Elves would also find themselves banned: the Avari, for rejecting the original summons, and Galadriel hints that she was still under the original Ban of the Noldor until her rejection of the Ring finally earned her a "pardon".)
    – chepner
    Oct 7, 2016 at 18:40

Gandalf the Grey came from Aman to Middle Earth. So if the passage depended on Power alone, Sauron could certainly force the straight road and travel to Aman.

But Sauron would not survive long in Aman. Sauron is a Maia (lesser Power) and would be met by the Valar (greater Powers) that dwell there.

So Sauron would be well advised to wait until the End of Days. At the Dagor Dagorath, Morgoth (Sauron's mentor) will discover how to break the Door of Night, and will destroy the Sun and the Moon. It seems unlikely that the straight road would pose much of an obstacle to Morgoth.

  • Now here is an answer that yet from ignorance understands. The straight way is barred to him by the powers that be on the other side. If he should wrest the way open, he would contend with the powers and lose.
    – Joshua
    Feb 24, 2016 at 17:42

would Sauron's forces be able to reach the Undying Lands and conquer every corner of the Earth, not just the Middle Earth?

Conquer? Consider that Morgoth fled the undying lands and never returned with an army despite himself and his army were far stronger than Sauron's. With good cause: in the War Of Wrath his entire host and Morgoth himself was defeated proving the Valar host the mightier. Neither Morgoth nor Sauron is a match for Tulkas, ring or not. Consider the entirety of Arda was considered to be Morgoth's Ring and he was defeated.

Whether Sauron could open the Lost Road, that's a bit left open (maybe he could torture an elf into bringing him?) but he has no interest in it for sure for only utter destruction awaits him at the other end.

  • 1
    The analogy that calls Arda "Mortgoth's Ring" is not meant to imply that he was able to draw vast amounts of power from the entire world. Quite the opposite, he was greatly weakened because he put forth much of his native power into the world in order to exert control over it.
    – chepner
    Jan 19, 2017 at 1:58
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    +1 for mentioning the sheer power of the Valar vs. just one Maia. Eonwe: "Sauron's coming with all his host." Tulkas: "Hold my beer."
    – EvilSnack
    Dec 15, 2018 at 5:13

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