The One Ring can corrupt its wearer and make them invisible (potentially with other powers?), but I'm unsure what the other rings of power could do. Were they only able to make the Nazgûl immortal, or did they have other powers?

  • I don't have time to chase down sources, but Tolkien Gateway says they conferred "powerful magical abilities and gave them the ability to influence peoples' will." The LOtR Wiki says "they each acquired great power and wealth, became powerful Sorcerers [...] and appeared to have eternal life, for they did not age."
    – DavidW
    Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 16:52
  • 3
    Neither of those are "powers" of the One Ring, but side effects. While the One Ring was specifically designed to allow Sauron to exert his will over the users of the other Rings, no explicit details are ever given as to what the other Rings actually do.
    – chepner
    Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 17:06
  • 5
    Does this answer your question? What are the powers shown by the Rings of Power?
    – NathanS
    Commented Jun 3, 2020 at 8:23

1 Answer 1


The Silmarillion says that the men who were granted the rings obtained "power" and became "sorcerers" (thus, the "Witch-King") but we don't get too much in the way of specifics.

Those who used the Nine Rings became mighty in their day, kings, sorcerers, and warriors of old. They obtained glory and great wealth, yet it turned to their undoing. They had, as it seemed, unending life, yet life became unendurable to them. They could walk, if they would, unseen by all eyes in this world beneath the sun, and they could see things in worlds invisible to mortal men; but too often they beheld only the phantoms and delusions of Sauron. And one by one, sooner or later, according to their native strength and to the good or evil of their wills in the beginning, they fell under the thraldom of the ring that they bore and of the domination of the One which was Sauron's. And they became forever invisible save to him that wore the Ruling Ring, and they entered into the realm of shadows. The Nazgûl were they, the Ringwraiths, the Úlairi, the Enemy's most terrible servants; darkness went with them, and they cried with the voices of death.

So other than the powers you listed, the two major other ones would be invisibility—at first at will, and then permanently—and some sort of visionary power.

Another I would add from The Lord of the Rings would be their piercing screams, which are said to strike terror in the hearts of ordinary men. There's also a lot in The Lord of the Rings suggesting the wraiths have the power to strike fear in those around them, but it's not clear if that's a magical power or if they're just very intimidating—magic in Tolkien's universe tends to be very subtle.

Somewhat less subtly, we do at one point see the Witch-King casting a spell to set his sword on fire:

The Black Rider flung back his hood, and behold! he had a kingly crown; and yet upon no head visible was it set. The red fires shone between it and the mantled shoulders vast and dark. From a mouth unseen there came a deadly laughter. ‘Old fool!’ he said. ‘Old fool! This is my hour. Do you not know Death when you see it? Die now and curse in vain!’ And with that he lifted high his sword and flames ran down the blade.

  • 2
    I think "they cried with the voices of death" is alluding to their screams.
    – DavidW
    Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 17:26
  • 1
    The "invisibility" and "visionary power" are the same thing - as with the One, the wearer can (or if insufficiently wilful, is forced to) enter the spirit realm.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 18:18
  • 1
    The scream and ability to cast fear is due to their being (un)dead shadows rather than to their rings, I'd presume. That's a bit wiggly because they became what they are because of their rings, but I still maintain that their status is the source of these powers, not their ring-bearing as such. Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 19:56
  • Did the Witch-Kings sword actually emit flames, or was "and flames ran down the blade" a poetic metaphor for its mirror like surface reflecting the fires inside and outside Minas Tirith? Commented Jun 3, 2020 at 17:00
  • @M.A.Golding- maybe the blade was just reflecting the fire from a Balrog's wings? Commented Jun 3, 2020 at 18:06

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