The second last line of the message reads:

One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

What exactly does this mean?

By them, I'm assuming it's referring to the humans, elves and dwarves Sauron gave rings of power.

By ...and in the darkness bind them, does he mean to bind them to his will like slaves, or to trap them in some way/place? Were the elves and dwarves supposed to end up ringwraiths like the humans?

What is the darkness?

Maybe no explanation is ever given, I'm just curious. For a long time I thought it read and in the darkness BITE them. Which I assumed meant to kill them.

  • 13
    I don't think this is a dupe. It's asking what the darkness refers to and none of the answers explicitly speak to that point.
    – Valorum
    Feb 3, 2015 at 16:14
  • 9
    Agreed with @Richard - I'll be using my un-dupe hammer here if this gets closed :)
    – user8719
    Feb 3, 2015 at 18:22
  • 6
    Hooray for Satan!
    – Daft
    Feb 3, 2015 at 19:02
  • 2
    @Richard my parents enjoyed heavy metal.
    – Daft
    Feb 3, 2015 at 20:34
  • 2
    @Daft - Iron Maiden? Excellent! youtube.com/watch?v=rE3bc8rCy6Q
    – user8719
    Feb 3, 2015 at 23:22

2 Answers 2


It's pretty clear (from the Silmarillion and other texts) that the "darkness" is intended semi-metaphorically. It refers to Sauron's evil as creating a figurative darkness over all he commands. Note also that his domains are always described as dark and brooding, even during the daytime.

Hail Eärendil, bearer of light before the Sun and Moon! Splendour of the Children of Earth, star in the darkness, jewel in the sunset, radiant in the morning!' - Silmarillion


'Four days and nights, and on into a fifth, we rode from the Black Stone,' he said. 'And lo! in the darkness of Mordor my hope rose; for in that gloom the Shadow Host seemed to grow stronger and more terrible to look upon. - LOTR : The Return of the King


The Men of Númenor were settled far and wide on the shores and seaward regions of the Great Lands, but for the most part they fell into evils and follies. Many became enamoured of the Darkness and the black arts; some were given over wholly to idleness and ease, and some fought among themselves, until they were conquered in their weakness by the wild men. `It is not said that evil arts were ever practised in Gondor, or that the Nameless One was ever named in honour there - LOTR : The Two Towers


Gandalf fell silent, gazing eastward from the porch to the far peaks of the Misty Mountains, at whose great roots the peril of the world had so long lain hidden. He sighed. There I was at fault,' he said. I was lulled by the words of Saruman the Wise; but I should have sought for the truth sooner, and our peril would now be less.' We were all at fault,' said Elrond, and but for your vigilance the Darkness, maybe, would already be upon us. But say on!' - LOTR : The Fellowship of the Ring

  • 1
    You might also contrast with the light of Aman, and the light of the secret fire. Plus, contrast with the outer darkness, and the darkness of Morgoth.
    – Lexible
    Feb 3, 2015 at 17:01
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    @Lexible - You're not wrong, but I concluded that after a while I was simply flogging a dead horse by piling reference onto reference.
    – Valorum
    Feb 3, 2015 at 17:05
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    @Richard You can never have enough references :)
    – Daft
    Feb 3, 2015 at 17:10
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    Note also that in the War of the Ring Sauron exported literal darkness over the lands he intended to conquer...for a little while at any rate.
    – Oldcat
    Feb 3, 2015 at 17:21
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    @Richard to make this a more complete answer, you may want to add a TL;DR or something like "The line refers to Sauron's ultimate goal - bringing the other rings of power under his own dominion."
    – Omegacron
    Feb 3, 2015 at 18:53

One Ring to bring them all - surely this means to tie all of the Rings of Power to the One Ring, and bind the holders to Sauron's will?

  • Welcome to scifi.stackexchange! I actually find it quite plausible what you're saying (myself, I've always read it that them refers to the Rings, not the peoples), but as you have phrased the post it's not so much an answer as a counter-question, and thus should rather be a comment – unless you can rephrase it and add some supporting references. May 17, 2015 at 23:07

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