I was reading the Lord of the Rings books and noticed something strange. The elves are the most magically powerful native race on Middle Earth, and they created the Rings of Power (under the guidance of Sauron).

Therefore, they should be almost completely resistant to the Rings. However, Galadriel was tempted, to say the least, to take the Ring from Frodo. On the other hand, Gimli was not visibly tempted to take the Ring, but Boromir was. Could someone please explain this to me?

  • 2
    There's no reason they should be 'resistant' to the rings. Sauron was a Maia, an even more powerful magically species, and he fell. Just because you have power doesnt mean you won't want more (look around the real world)
    – The Fallen
    Jul 10, 2014 at 3:24
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    Nitpick: I don't think the Elves are the most magically powerful race of Middle Earth. Also, it doesn't automatically follow that someone who creates a magical artifact should be more resistant to its effects. Maybe that's true, but it needs further justification.
    – Andres F.
    Jul 10, 2014 at 3:44
  • 3
    If you build a handgun, you're not immune to the bullets fired by this gun...
    – cfrei89
    Jul 10, 2014 at 5:37
  • @SSumner They are the most powerful native race on Middle Earth.
    – user159911
    Jul 10, 2014 at 15:42
  • @user159911 - then to nitpick, Elves weren't even native to Middle-Earth, as they left Valinor to come to Middle-Earth
    – The Fallen
    Jul 11, 2014 at 13:32

4 Answers 4


Elves are not the most magically powerful race in Middle Earth

While the question of whether or not they are the most magically powerful native/bodied species of Middle-Earth (i.e. even just among the Elves, Humans, Dwarves and Ents) is debatable, it is not in fact of any point in this question, because Middle-Earth is also home to many Maiar.

Most importantly, Sauron, the being to whom Elves are being compared in this scenario is a Maia - the Tolkien equivalent to angelic beings. And while Maia are not a 'native' species/race of Middle-Earth, many of them undoubtedly live on Middle-Earth. Apart from Sauron, the Balrogs were also fallen Maiar. On the side of the 'Good', we had the Istari who were Maia sent to oppose Sauron. We also know that Melian, the mother of Luthien (and hence an ancestress of Elrond and his kids) was also a Maia, which implies other Maia wandering around on Middle-Earth as well.

Which brings us to the fact that...

The Ring was made by a Maia

First of all, the Elves made their Rings under guidance of Sauron. So Sauron was the guy with the 'master knowledge' about how Rings are created and ins and outs of the magic surrounding them, even if he wasn't directly involved in the making of the Three Rings. There is no reason to assume that Sauron, whose whole plan with the Rings was to subjugate the Elves using these Rings would share everything about the craft/lore honestly and not keep some 'back door' knowledge to himself. In fact, we know that he kept info to himself and crafted the One Ring in secret, explicitly to subjugate the Three - and the only reason he couldn't was because the bearers of the Three found out before he could 'execute his hack' so to say and hid them.

Secondly, not only does he have this back door info, Sauron is a Maia, which means he's a being exponentially more powerful than Elves. There's absolutely no reason to believe that an individual elf, even one as powerful and willful as Galadriel would be immune to Sauron because of her elvishness.

  • The reason he had no power over the Three was because he did not help with their creation. Jul 10, 2014 at 8:08
  • @Simon This is true, but the lore about the creation of the Three came to the elves from Sauron himself, which is my point.
    – Shisa
    Jul 10, 2014 at 9:31
  • "Galadriel would be immune to Sauron because of her elvishness." I think I misintepreted this as you referring to Sauron using the Three rings instead of the One Rings corruptive power. Jul 10, 2014 at 9:35
  • Is Legolas an exception to this?
    – user159911
    Jul 10, 2014 at 15:36
  • @user159911 In what sense is saying "Elves are not immune to corruption" an exception for Legolas? Saying "Elves are not immune to corruption" is not the same as saying "all Elves must fall to corruption". I'd say some do, some don't, probably according to their individual power, self-control, and sense of what is right.
    – Andres F.
    Jul 10, 2014 at 17:16

It's fairly clearly stated that the One Ring confers powers upon the user in proportion to their inherent power.


Galadriel is the mightiest elf on Middle-earth, and would likely derive great power from the One Ring, so the opportunity to wield that power would be tempting outside of the intrinsic influence of the ring itself

Boromir has a different role, he is the living symbol of the 'weakness of men'. It doesn't necessarily follow that the temptation that drove him to claim the ring would be the same as Galadriel's.


Well, the One Ring was forged by Sauron to control all the other Rings, it is more powerful and more dangerous than the other Rings. Temptation of the One Ring appeals more to people who want to use its power -- Boromir thought he could use the power of the Ring to help Gondor and fight Sauron, instead of destroying its power. It depends on the character -- also the One Ring itself has a conciousness of a kind, it can choose to attract someone or fall in their path. In the hands of Galadriel or Gandalf, who already have a lot of power, the One Ring could wreak more destruction than in the hands of Gimli, probably. Boromir was already tempted by it, and the Ring saw an opportunity to get back to its Master.

  • You could say the same about Legolas, but he was not affected.
    – user159911
    Jul 10, 2014 at 3:29
  • @user159911 What is "the same" in this case? Legolas is obviously not nearly powerful enough like Galadriel or Gandalf, nor is he already weak to temptation like Boromir. I don't see how he matches either case :)
    – Andres F.
    Jul 10, 2014 at 17:23

The wise and powerful often fall to temptation because they want to improve the world, at least at first; in order to improve the world they think they need to control it. This seems to be a main theme of Tolkien's world. It happened to Melkor, Sauron, and Saruman. All of them more powerful entities than any Elves. Why shouldn't it happen to Elves?

Besides, the Rings of Power wouldn't be the first magical artifacts to have harmful effects on Elves... What about the Silmarils? They were crafted by an Elf and only brought them problems.

  • 1
    Not only that, but the Silmarils show that Elves can be tainted. At the end, when the sons of Feanor got hold of them, they were burned by them just like Morgoth was. They had lost their good character somewhere along the line.
    – Oldcat
    Jul 10, 2014 at 20:31

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