After Gandalf discovered that Sauron was back and sent Frodo on his quest to Rivendell, did he continue to wear Narya (one of the Three Rings)? It seems like a huge risk to continue to wear it after the Nazgûl (Ringwraiths) started to try and reclaim the One Ring; if they managed to get the ring to Sauron, couldn't he be corrupted by his power?

Whatever powers Narya bestows upon him couldn't possibly be worth the huge risk, could it?

4 Answers 4


When Sauron forged the One Ring and put it on his finger, the other ring bearers were immediately aware of him and his intentions and removed their own rings. There is no reason why they couldn't merely do so again.

As soon as Sauron set the One Ring upon his finger they were aware of him; and they knew him, and perceived 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," The Silmarillion

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    This doesn't appear to directly answer the first question, although the other answers do. Any reason this was accepted so quickly? Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 21:55
  • No it doesn't answer the question. It gives some history of the danger the one ring poses to the three elven rings if Sauron is wearing the One, but because Sauron was defeated in battle and lost physical form, there was no longer a danger of corruption or subjugation of the three rings. Keeping them secret was simply a strategic decision.
    – Morgan
    Commented Mar 16, 2013 at 16:05
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    @GorchestopherH: The OP's original question was predicated on the idea of a risk that didn't exist and I showed that. I suppose this is why the OP chose to accept. Whether or not Galadriel and Elrond wear rings has little bearing on the question either.
    – horatio
    Commented Mar 19, 2013 at 14:57

Gandalf did wear Narya, as did Galadrial, Nenya and Elrond, Vilya. The three Elf rings were 'safe' to wear and use so long as Sauron didn't possess the One Ring to rule them. They knew he didn't have it because Frodo had it.

They had to pull out all the stops and use any and all means at their disposal to stop Sauron from getting the One Ring. That was the main theme of the story; keep the Ring out of Sauron's hand and destroy it. They were playing a desperate game, balanced on a razor's edge of survival, so keeping their rings of power in their pocket was not an option.

If Sauron finally succeeded in getting his ring back it was all over anyway; the world would be lost.

Gandalf used Narya's powers to inspire others to resist tyranny, domination, and despair, as well as giving himself resistance to the weariness of time. It's obvious that Gandalf used his ring's power to motivate Theoden and Eomer before and during the battle of Helm's Deep. He also rallied Gondor's disheartened, fleeing and disorganized forces when Minas Tirith was under siege and the Witch-king was at the door. Resistance to weariness? That guy covered a lot of ground that couldn't have been 'humanly' traveled in the time he had. Gandalf was the Energizer Bunny because of Narya's powers.

So too did Galadriel wear Nenya, and Elrond, Vilya. They used their rings' powers to maintain 'good in the world' and to assist Frodo and others in support of the desperate struggle to keep the One from Sauron.

Observers seemed to be magically 'blinded' from seeing the rings on their fingers. While Frodo could see them on their fingers by virtue of being the Ring-bearer, others could not. Even Samwise was 'allowed' to perceive Galadriel's ring while in Lórien, though not clearly. He tells her that he "saw a star through your fingers". This tells me that the rings can be disguised from an observer even though they were worn.

Frodo, not being well versed in ring lore, was unaware of the numerous Elven rings' significance. Lots of people wear rings and jewellery. Frodo even spoke of it (Galadriel's ring) later to Aragorn while traveling down the river Anduin after leaving Lórien. Aragorn quickly admonished him to not speak of it outside of Lórien. That means Aragorn too was aware of Galadriel's ring, and probably Gandalf's as well due to their close and longstanding friendship. To his credit, he could keep his mouth shut.


Sauron forged the Ring around the year SA 1600. Soon afterwards, Sauron attempted to use it to subjugate the wielders of the three Elvin rings crafted by Celebrimbor. When Sauron placed the One Ring on his finger, the Elves were immediately aware of him so removed their rings. Sauron marshalled his armies to seize all the Rings of Power by force. The War began in SA 1693.

After causing lots of trouble, Sauron was finally brought to heel in SA 3441 and the Ring was cut from Sauron's hand by Isildur at the end of the Siege of Barad-dûr. Although Sauron's body was destroyed, his spirit remained in a greatly weakened state and unable to take physical form.

Isildur kept the ring until TA 2 when he was killed by an Orc ambush at the Gladden Fields and the Ring was lost in the River Anduin. The Ring remained hidden in the riverbed for almost two and a half millennia until found by a Stoor named Déagol who discovered it while on a fishing trip with his friend and cousin Sméagol. Sméagol took the ring from Déagol. Sméagol soon took up residence beneath the Misty Mountains for nearly five hundred years.

Bilbo finds the Ring while spelunking under the mountain. The Ring stays in the family for 77 years until it gets melted where it was made.

In short; after the Ring was cut from Sauron's hand he never touched it again. For three thousand years the One Ring was not available to him and the three uncorrupted Elven rings were safely worn and used for the good of Middle-earth.

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    Sauron was defeated and dispersed S.A. 3441. From that time forward the three were free to be used. Basically the three were used for the entire 3rd age. thumbnails.visually.netdna-cdn.com/…
    – Morgan
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 22:05
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    It's obvious that Gandalf motivated Theodin and Eomer before and during the battle at Helms Deep, but I don't see why that ability/power must have come from his ring.
    – Junuxx
    Commented May 13, 2013 at 19:40
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    @Junuxx, true enough. It could be that Gandalf just has an award winning smile or it could be that his handy dandy elf ring's speciality is 'inspiring others to resist tyranny, domination, and despair' which is exactly what was going on.
    – Morgan
    Commented May 14, 2013 at 4:33
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    @Morgan: or it could be that he handy-dandily had such special powers himself, what with being a Maiar specifically sent to Middle-Earth to resist Sauron, and so on. Or it could be that the power was from, say, his staff. It seems like there are plenty of sources he might have drawn his powers from; I don’t see how it’s “obvious” that the ring is crucial among them in the events of the book.
    – PLL
    Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 22:23
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    On the other hand, the other Istari also failed to inspire and guide any of the lesser races to oppose Sauron. Heck, Saruman even essentially joined his side. Coincidence?
    – Oldcat
    Commented Feb 13, 2015 at 0:22

On the one hand - no. See Was Frodo able to see that Gandalf wore Narya and Elrond wore Vilya? - note the quote relating to Gandalf openly wearing the ring.

On the other hand - possibly. Refer to the Lórien chapters in tLotR where Galadriel wore the ring on one (mentioned) occasion. Frodo could see it but yet Sam could not.

What are we to make of this? After all, the "openly wore" quote specifically refers to Frodo being able to see that Gandalf openly wore it. Should we read that as meaning that Gandalf had worn it all along, just not "openly" (in the same manner as Galadriel's ring was not "openly worn")? Does this mean that Frodo was aware that Gandalf was always wearing it but never said anything, nor did Tolkien mention it (both of which seem unlikely)?

Unfortunately, in the absence of anything from Tolkien himself confirming it (and one gets the feeling that Tolkien would snort and declare the answer obvious) we're left with personal interpretation of those words.


Should it not work both ways? i.e. If when Sauron put on the One Ring, and the other ring bearers became instantly aware of him, would then not Sauron instantly be aware of them too and know exactly who they were?

It doesn't make sense that only the Elven ring bearers were aware of Sauron when he put the One Ring on, while he was not aware of them. I think this is a problem in the text that is not fully explained by Tolkien. I think it has to work both ways, in which case when Sauron put his One Ring on he was instantly aware of who had the Elven rings, if they were wearing them at that instant.

At the time it seems Galadriel had one and Gil-galad the other two, so Sauron must have known. Also, we can assume that when Gil-galad assaulted Barad-dûr with Círdan, they each had their rings on in order to use their power (the red ring kindled the hearts of those around it to courage, the blue ring it is not said what it does), as did Sauron, so at that point Sauron would have known that Gil-galad had the blue ring and Círdan the red ring.

This is what I think is going on really. So long as the elves wear their rings and Sauron his, they all are aware of each other. Another important thing to support this is that Frodo, when he puts on the One Ring in Amon Hen, hears a voice telling him to take it off. This I believe is the voice of Gandalf communicating through the red ring to Frodo. However, Frodo cannot communicate back to Gandalf because he is not powerful enough when wearing the One Ring. Or perhaps this is proof that the communication is indeed only one way, the Elven rings are aware of the One and not the one of the other three? Perhaps this is the true explanation of what it means "the three were hidden from Sauron". Interesting.


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