Sauron was said to have kept the 9 rings given to the Nazgul. I read an article which claimed if the Nazgul had their rings they would have been even greater in power. If this is true, why would Sauron take their rings from them? Which got me thinking: maybe without the one ring Sauron could only control the Nazgul if he held the 9 rings that were given to the Nazgul.

Is there any evidence which might suggest Sauron had to take the 9 rings of the Nazgul to keep them bent to his will?

3 Answers 3


There is such evidence; Letter 246 states:

I do not think they could have attacked him with violence, nor laid hold upon him or taken him captive; they would have obeyed or feigned to obey any minor commands of his that did not interfere with their errand – laid upon them by Sauron, who still through their nine rings (which he held) had primary control of their wills.

If we take this in conjunction with the statement in Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age describing the power of the One Ring:

And while he wore the One Ring he could perceive all the things that were done by means of the lesser rings, and he could see and govern the very thoughts of those that wore them.

It seems plain that Sauron needed to keep the Nine Rings in order to dominate the Nazgûl.


It isn't really clear whether Sauron took back the Nine Rings before or after the One Ring was lost, or even whether this would make any difference. The most we can say with certainty is that, if the Nazgûl had access to their rings, they would probably be harder to control:

But [the Nine Rings] also... enhanced the natural powers of a possessor – thus approaching 'magic', a motive easily corruptible into evil, a lust for domination. And finally they had other powers, more directly derived from Sauron ('the Necromancer': so he is called as he casts a fleeting shadow and presage on the pages of The Hobbit): such as rendering invisible the material body, and making things of the invisible world visible.
- The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, #131

This explains why Sauron took the rings back, but unless we know whether he took them back before or after the One Ring was lost, we can't definitively answer your question.


It appears the answer is yes. See the quote from Tolkien in the accepted answer of this thread.

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