It is said that the elves became aware of Sauron's deceit when he tried to use the One Ring on them. So they would obviously have guessed that the bearers of the other 16 rings would be vulnerable as well. And they certainly were aware of the other 16 beacuse Sauron forged them with the help of Celebrimbor. Later Celebrimbor was tortured by Sauron and he gave up the 16 rings.

So, were the elves not aware that Sauron would try and corrupt the Dwarves and Men using the 16 he managed to get back from them? Did they not have any clue this was happening? If they did, why did they not try to stop Sauron?

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    I suspect Sauron was too powerful for them there and they couldn't resist him
    – The Fallen
    Mar 16, 2015 at 9:59
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    Were the 16 rings all essentially the same (not necessarily identical) ? I'd always assumed some distinction between the 7 and the 9 but there's no evidence for that. Mar 16, 2015 at 16:20
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    @TheMathemagician - you're correct; there is no evidence for the 7 and the 9 being different; in particular the texts are careful to highlight that their effects depend on the species using them, and never actually attribute those effects to any special difference in the rings themselves.
    – user8719
    Mar 16, 2015 at 20:19

1 Answer 1


They did - or at least they tried.

This is all told in the Tale of Years (Return of the King Appendix B), the Galadriel and Celeborn material in Unfinished Tales, and Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age in the Silmarillion. I refer you to those works for the complete story, but in summary:

  • The Elves originally held all of the Rings (i.e the 3 and the 16),
  • Sauron forged the One and at that point the Elves became aware of him,
  • There is a war between the Elves and Sauron in which the Elves lose,
  • Eregion is overrun and Sauron captures Celebrimbor,
  • Sauron tortures Celebrimbor and gets the locations of the 16 (in two batches of 7 and 9 each) out of him,
  • And having won the war, Sauron then proceeds to corrupt Men and Dwarves in order to bring them further under his power.

The only respite from Sauron's domination came towards the end of the Second Age when Ar-Pharazon came to Middle-earth and took Sauron to Númenor.

Otherwise: the Elves tried but Sauron won the war.

Thus the Black Years began, which the Elves call the Days of Flight. In that time many of the Elves of Middle-earth fled to Lindon and thence over the seas never to return; and many were destroyed by Sauron and his servants. But in Lindon Gil-galad still maintained his power, and Sauron dared not as yet to pass the Mountains of Ered Luin nor to assail the Havens; and Gil-galad was aided by the Númenóreans. Elsewhere Sauron reigned, and those who would be free took refuge in the fastnesses of wood and mountain, and ever fear pursued them. In the east and south well nigh all Men were under his dominion, and they grew strong in those days and built many towns and walls of stone, and they were numerous and fierce in war and armed with iron. To them Sauron was both king and god; and they feared him exceedingly, for he surrounded his abode with fire.

(Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age)

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    Also Sauron originally intended all rings to go to the elves. However, after he gained possession of the 7 and 9 he couldn't find any elves that would take them. So he tried giving the 7 to the dwarves - which did not produce the desired effects. So he tried giving the 9 to men - which finally did have the desired effect.
    – Jim2B
    Mar 16, 2015 at 13:04
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    @Jim2B - I'm not sure that I see any evidence that Sauron had first tried to give any of the 7 and the 9 to Elves after he captured them.
    – user8719
    Mar 16, 2015 at 20:25
  • I recall reading that somewhere but don't recall the source. This is part of the reason I put it in as a comment and not an answer.
    – Jim2B
    Mar 16, 2015 at 20:28

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