Did Sauron have his great Ring while in Númenor? How did he save it then, while in spirit form?

He ... fell into the abyss. But Sauron was not of mortal flesh, and though he was robbed now of that shape in which he had wrought so great an evil, so that he could never again appear fair to the eyes of Men, yet his spirit arose out of the deep and passed as a shadow and a black wind over the sea, and came back to Middle-earth and to Mordor that was his home. There he took up again his great Ring in Barad-dur...

So it appears that the ring was left in Barad-dur. But since he was planning to be brought in captivity to Númenor, why not bring along his precious (!) Ring, both as an aid in the corruption of the Númenoreans and to avoid that someone took it while unguarded?

Note that in a comment to a previous Silmarillion related question of mine it was stated that he had the great ring on the island but I cannot recall it being mentioned and it seems against the text that I quoted....

PS: This question has the obvious counterpart in the LotR, regarding another Maia which dies and comes back. But in that case it is possible to invoke with good reason the intervention of Eru: this is less plausible in Sauron's case.

  • I'm afraid it's simply a plot hole. – Mithoron Mar 5 '15 at 13:34

"He naturally had the One Ring" (sic) with him at Numenor and carried the Ring back using his Maia powers (a rather funny situation to mentally picture), as answered by Tolkien in one of his letters

Good catch, nonetheless, I never wondered about that before :)

I can't keep myself from imagining some sort of shadow dragging the One Ring centimeter by centimeter on 3000 kilometers of seabed... No wonder Sauron became a bit mean.

  • Really good catch: I'm not convinced, given the context of Letter 131 which states Sauron was in no way diminished by not having the Ring on his person, that it was necessary to commit to that deus ex machina, which leads me to personally think he's being misinterpreted, but I can't find anyone anywhere else that seems to agree with that assessment. – user366 Nov 15 '12 at 8:45
  • @MarkTrapp Even if he was not diminished, Tolkien implied that he needed the One Ring "upon which his power of dominating minds now largely depended." (Letters, p280, tolkien.slimy.com/tlfaq/Humans.html#RingSink) to subjugate Ar-Pharazon. Even if he still had the power, the ability to use it was linked to the One Ring, just as you still own a portable phone even if you haven't it on yourself, but cannot phone without grabing it. – Eureka Nov 15 '12 at 8:59
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    @Francesco, Gandalf died atop the mountain, so if the ring were separated from him it would be there. I'm pretty sure that his new body returned to the same place, he'd just have to dig around in the snow and Balrog debris to find it. – TGnat Nov 15 '12 at 14:32
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    @TGnat Not even the Balrog debris, since he felt from the mountain (Gandalf indeed returned at the same place, from where Gwaihir carried him to Lothlorien). Just some snow, using Maia-senses :) – Eureka Nov 15 '12 at 14:38
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    @maguirenumber6: probably, yes. I doubt it actually fell into the Sea, which is generally 'good' in Arda, so Sauron probably would have grabbed it before it got there. – cometaryorbit May 10 '17 at 4:30

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