46

After Gandalf defeated Saruman, what happened to Saruman's Ring? Was it destroyed? Did it still have power, and was it wielded by him or others?

Was this a topic in one of Tolkien's work, or was it mentioned in the books his son has been doing?

39

I hate to post such a non-answer, but I think the disposition of Saruman's ring was simply never addressed. The most evidence I have to offer is the passage when Gandalf destroys Saruman's staff (The Lord of the Rings, 3.X). The only nearby occurrence of the word “ring” is “ring of Isengard”, which refers to a geographical formation. Surely, if Saruman's ring had given him significant power, Gandalf would have arranged to take it from him or destroy it at that point.

In fact, I can't find any evidence that Saruman's ring is a ring of power at all. This seems to be all inference from the canonical fact that Saruman studied ring lore and two particular sentences from Gandalf's tale at the Council of Elrond:

  • “He wore a ring on his finger.” Portentious, maybe, but it could be an affectation, a place-holder until Saruman can obtain the One Ring. Or it could just be part of Saruman's changed personality — formerly Saruman the White, now Saruman of the many colorful ornaments.
  • “For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!” He's clearly researched the topic, but we only have his word that he's a ring-maker. Or is that ring-maker wannabe?

A further related clue lies in the Unfinished Tales. In The Disaster of the Gladden Fields (3.I), we get a glimpse of the clean-up work that was performed at Orthanc. In particular, “[with] the aid of Gimli the Dwarf a steel closet was revealed. Maybe it was intended to receive the Ring; but it was almost bare”. Nearby are other relics of Isildur. There is no mention of any found rings, tools, materials, rejects, or anything else that would hint that Saruman had been trying to forge rings. (Granted, any evidence could have been destroyed by Saruman, or just not seen worth mentioning by Tolkien.)

(An earlier draft made Saruman's ring one of the 19 (Christopher Tolkien, The Treason of Isengard (History of Middle-Earth vol.7), VI, note 28). The second quote above read “For I am Saruman: Saruman the Wise, Saruman of many colours.” — no mention of rings. That idea was clearly abandoned, since the 19 are all accounted for elsewhere (the elves still have the Three, the Ring-wraiths have the Nine, and the Seven are destroyed or in the hands of Sauron (source: LOTR 1.II, just after the Ring poem)).)

(Also, Google turns up many similar questions on various forums, but none with a definitive answer.)

  • indeed. Nowhere does it read that Saruman had created a ring of power, only that it was his intention to do so. – jwenting Aug 3 '11 at 9:30
  • 2
    Yeah. I assumed he'd progressed somewhat towards it (hence the ring on his finger) but that it wasn't successful enough to matter when his power was broken (for whatever reason). – Jack V. Oct 4 '11 at 8:33
  • Surely Saruman had not succeeded .. one should remember that Sauron was a great Mayar, that he learned with the best (iirc he was in close relationship with the eregion smiths) and that it took him quite some time before he succeeded in making the one ring, in a friggin volcano (underground "lair" anyone ?) which has no equal in middle-earth it would seem. So at most he may have succeeded in making rings inferior to the nine... like anyone would care about that ;) – Morg. Oct 7 '11 at 9:40
11

It is unclear what happened to any of the magic rings, either the rings of power or any other magical ring. Tolkien never really addresses this in his works. The most common opinion based on the hints in the text appears to be that because Saruman used the same technique to forge his ring as the elves used to make the rings of power that his ring was also subject to the One Ring and when it was destroyed its power was greatly diminished like all of the rings or power were. One of the better arguments for that can be found here.

Tolkien hints that all the rings of power lost most of their power with the destruction of the one ring, but he never really says for sure. And thus as there is no real official cannon on the disposition of effect of the One Ring's destruction on any of the magic rings, it is all speculation and theory.

  • 3
    The One was destroyed. We never hear of the Nine again, or the Seven, but it's a decent guess that the remaining of the Seven were in Barad-Dur, and were likely never found again. The Three lost their power, and afterwards were visible to everybody. – David Thornley May 16 '11 at 2:49
  • I should have clarified it as being unclear what happened to any of the surviving magic rings. I am aware that the One was destroyed and the Three left with the elves and Gandalf back across the sea. However, Tolkien never makes clear how much of their power the Three or any other magic ring lost after the destruction of the One and the coming of the Age of Man. – BBlake May 16 '11 at 12:26
  • "cannon" should be "canon". Also, (nitpicky question) what does "disposition of effect" mean? Would not "effect" suffice? – Faheem Mitha May 25 '11 at 19:22
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    @BBlake: it is quite apparent. The text says "the 3 are diminished" and that "everything they created will fade" (or words of similar meaning). Thus it becomes apparent that the 3 no longer hold magic power beyond possibly being able to channel what power their wielders posess. The 9 were taken from their owners when they succumbed to Sauron, so were the 7. What happened to them is unknown, but we can assume they were destroyed when Barad'Dur fell, and even if not would have similarly lost their powers (which were, as mentioned in the LotR, linked to that of the master ring). – jwenting Aug 3 '11 at 9:29
  • The Peter Jackson movies made a blunder in that they talked about the rings being "forged" while showing a picture of molten metal being poured into a mould, which is casting, not forging. The 1970s cartoon of LoTR, on the other hand, got it right. – Wallnut May 13 at 15:01
6

I'll reference a few of the same passages as another answer, but draw a different conclusion:

  • “He wore a ring on his finger.”
  • “For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!”

To me, this sounds a lot like Saruman was wearing a ring that he made for himself. And one thing we know about magic rings made in this way is that Sauron "poured a great part of his power" into the One Ring.

What I suspect, then, is that Saruman had also had to put power into the ring he made for himself. It seems most likely to me that Saruman's Ring was just a weaker version of the One Ring, made by and loyal to Saruman. This has several implications:

  • The defeat and reduction in power of Saruman may have resulted in a corresponding reduction in power for Saruman's ring, just as a rising in the power of Sauron created a rising the power of the One Ring, as it "worked ever harder to return to it's master".
  • What power remained in the ring might always be ultimately loyal to Saruman, just as the One Ring always remained most loyal to Sauron.
  • With the alliance of the two towers, Saruman may have actually used Mount Doom to create the ring, and it might have been just as hard to destroy Saruman's ring at his defeat as it was to destroy the One Ring, already a monumental task.
  • The ring may have had a corrupting effect on it's bearer, just as the One Ring did.

Cumulatively, what you have then is an artifact of reduced effectiveness that you cannot destroy and should not keep or bear, let alone use, but would still be dangerous to leave lying just anywhere. Leaving it with Saruman would be an added sting to his loss, a message that he is so utterly defeated that even the ring cannot help him. But this result is less satisfying to the narrative, so for the story's sake it's best just not to mention it.

5

Another theory would be based on the fact that the three Elven rings were made by Celebrimbor without the taint caused by Sauron's involvement with the other rings.

Despite this "The Three" lost their power when the one ring was destroyed.

So it seems plausible that if Saruman's ring was made using the same method as the other rings of power that his ring would also be rendered powerless with the destruction of the "One".

3

All the rings were linked to the one. when it was destroyed so was the power of the other rings, even the three forged by Celebrimbor. Saruman did not wield a famous ring of any known power as far as I am aware. Gandalf wore the ring Neyena, one of the three elven rings which was originally in the possession of Cirdan in the grey havens. When the Istari came to middle earth they were greeted by Cirdan at the docks and although Gandalf seemed the least of the Istari, Cirdan saw in him the greatest wisdom and so secretly gave the ring Neyena to Gandalf. Later Saruman learned of this and became very jealous. Although not stated in any of Tolkiens works this could have been the seed which saw fruition as Surumans ultimate betrayal and his unhealthy obsession with magic rings!

3

I think it is clear that, with the destruction of The One and the start of a new Era, magic IN GENERAL (and not only the magic linked to The One) loses importance, power and quickly fades.

  • 1
    nice idea, but I don't think it is clear . . . – MadTux May 2 '13 at 18:57
1

It seems likely the Saruman's ring was made by him as he implied. There is however the small chance that it could be a lesser ring made by the Elves of Eregion in the Second Age, presumably given to him by Sauron as a gift (or a trap), or found by him during his researches.

In Eregion long ago many Elven-rings were made, magic rings as you call them, and they were, course, of various kinds: some more potent and some less. The lesser rings were only essays in the craft before it was full-grown, and to the Elven-smiths they were but trifles — yet still to my mind dangerous for mortals. But the Great Rings, the Rings of Power, they were perilous. [LotR I 2 (60)]

This theory is possible, but this doesn't explain why Saruman could capture Gandalf if Gandalf had a more powerful ring. Maybe his ring give him more magic combat powers. This can be a reason why he could imprison Gandalf.

Maybe the best explanation is that Saruman just built a ring for himself (because he called himself a ring-maker). This ring gave him special magic combat abbilities or gave him the magic might to create Uruk Hai, because I never heard that Sauron nor anyone else used or created Uruk Hai. This is maybe because Saruman just had that gift to create Uruk Hai.

Sorry for my bad English.

  • One minor point: the Uruk-hai were created by Sauron first. – dlanod Aug 2 '12 at 20:43
0

I agree with everything 4^ said, as that is part of my theory as well. I do not believe his ring's power would have faded because of the One Ring. Although it was made in the same craft as the 19, his knowledge about the rings of power, although great, had gaps, shown clearly by the fact that it was obviously not as powerful as even any of the nine. Much information about the true craftsmanship of the rings was lost, therefore, unlike the elven-rings' effect after the one rings fall, his ring should not have any reason to have been diminished.

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    You should name the person you are referring to by name, not by 4^ – The Fallen Nov 3 '12 at 15:32
-2

Saruman had forged only a lesser ring--there was no mention of a gem. Let's say, for interests of thematic completion, that it gave him some powers of illusion and to be irresplendent in many colors. When the One Ring is destroyed, it loses all its power, and Saruman's robes stop their shimmering but become merely dirty rags. Again, this is not indicated in the text, but I follow what is the simplest explanation for thematic completion.

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    Whilst you say it is not indicated in the text is there anything you can edit in for evidence? – TheLethalCarrot May 12 at 19:11

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