I just answered the question Why did Gandalf get Narya, of all the Maiar? and in the course of writing up my answer it occurred to me that there's no real reason for Círdan have given his Ring to a Maiar at all.

I'm aware of three other Elf-kingdoms (Besides the Grey Havens themselves) that were active at this point in the Third Age: Rivendell, Lothlórien, and Greenwood/Mirkwood. So why didn't Círdan give Narya to Elrond, Galadriel, or Thranduil?

  • They Grey Havens were also a high-elven kingdom, just not mentioned much in the books. Well, the The Silmarillion, and Unfinished Tales, of course, but not the "main" books Dec 16, 2014 at 3:58
  • @Thorin That's a fair point; I maybe should have said "three other elven kingdoms" Dec 16, 2014 at 3:59
  • No time to answer properly now, but look at 'The Istari' in the Unfinished Tales. Basically it was foresight on Cirdan's part; he knew that Gandalf would make the best use of it. Dec 16, 2014 at 8:35

2 Answers 2


Because Círdan wasn't particularly looking to get rid of his Ring at all.

By the Third Age the Havens was one of the major remaining Elf strongholds (the others being Rivendell, Lórien, and — to a lesser extent — Mirkwood) and the power of the Three was mostly to preserve, to prevent decay. The Ring may have been actively in use in the Havens and the Elves appear to have suspected where the three Rings were, as we see in "The Council of Elrond" (and note that Mirkwood is omitted from this list):

What power still remains lies with us, here in Imladris, or with Círdan at the Havens, or in Lórien.

It's reasonable to surmise that if Gandalf hadn't arrived, or if he had arrived elsewhere, Círdan would have still been holding his Ring at the end of the Third Age.

The answer to your question is therefore:

  • Círdan didn't give his Ring to Gandalf because he wanted to get rid of it.
  • He gave it because he recognized who and what Gandalf was ("for he knew whence he came and whither at last he would return" — "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age").
  • Until that point he actually had no intention of giving it away.
  • So therefore he would not have had any reason to give it to anyone else either.
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    When Cirdan gives the ring to Gandalf he says "It was entrusted to me only to keep secret". Doesn't that seem to say that he didn't use the ring and that his guardianship of the ring was temporary?
    – TGnat
    Dec 16, 2014 at 14:52
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    @TGnat I was wondering the same, but the more I thought about it the more it seems like Cirdan was saying "It was given to me to keep secret; it's been useful to have, but it'll do more good with you" Dec 16, 2014 at 21:57
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    @TGnat - that's a valid point and I'd missed it (and he follows up with "here upon the West-shores it is idle") - thanks. Must brush up on me Tolkien!
    – user8719
    Dec 17, 2014 at 0:03

Elrond and Galadriel already had the other two Rings. Thranduil was inelegible to receive a Ring, since he never went to the West. Círdan was the only other Lord of the Elves who qualified. Celeborn qualified, of course, but two Rings in Lothlórien probably would have been noticed by Sauron when he lived in Dol Goldur.

  • 1
    Do you have any writings to support your theories? I thought of some of these myself (Although the comment about two rings in Lorien making it more of a target is a decent point), but ultimately I couldn't convince myself of them Dec 16, 2014 at 3:46
  • In The Fellowship, Galadriel reveals her Ring to Frodo. At the end of The Return of The King, Elrond is leaving with Galadriel and Gandalaf, and he is openly wearing the Third Ring. The Silmarillion details the various kindreds of the elves. Thranduil's people, as it is mentioned in The Hobbit as well, are not as "noble" as Elrond and his elves. The Rings were created by the race of elves that journeyed to the West, gained the knowledge and Lore of the Valar, then returned to Middle Earth. Also, would they really want a Ring in the same forest as Dol Goldur? Dec 16, 2014 at 3:52
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    I think you misunderstood; I know that Galadriel and Elrond both had a ring already, but I'm not convinced that they couldn't have had two. Gil-Galad did, before he gave Vilya to Elrond. Also, although the point about Dol Guldur is good, I don't see anything that ties the Rings to the Eldar. The inspiration for them came from Sauron himself; compare to the Silmarils, for instance. Although I suppose good old-fashioned Elvish superiority complexes are as good a reason as any Dec 16, 2014 at 3:59
  • I see what you mean. Maybe @Darth Satan can suss it out. I haven't slogged through The Silmarillion in years.... Dec 16, 2014 at 4:12
  • @ThorinSchmidt - Dol Guldur has little to do with it; it wasn't even a place of trouble until TA1000 or so. LotR (in the Tale of Years) states "But at the end it became known that they had been held at first by the three greatest of the Eldar: Gil-galad, Galadriel and Círdan" so Thranduil - although a king - is just not in the running for one (not being one of the "greatest of the Eldar").
    – user8719
    Dec 16, 2014 at 11:46

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