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This is sort of a multi-part question that adds up to one larger question:

  1. Can Sauron get to the Undying Lands? (another question seems to have produced the answer to this - "No")
  2. Is the One Ring still dangerous even if Sauron can't possibly get to it?
  3. Is Elrond strong enough to resist the Ring?
  4. Could the Ring be taken to the Undying Lands, perhaps by Frodo, Bilbo, or Elrond?

Assuming the answers to these questions are 1. no, 2. not really, 3. yes, and 4. yes, then wouldn't it be feasible for someone to just bring the Ring to the Undying Lands and give/send it to someone who could safely hold on to it? Say, perhaps, Eru Iluvatar, Manwe, Elbereth, Cirdan, etc? This wouldn't require the person in question to actively intercede in worldly affairs - they would merely have to accept a gift and keep it forever. Since humans (and/or elves and/or hobbits or whoever took the initiative in getting the Ring there, it would be more or less the same as bringing it to Mordor and destroying it, but less suffering and loss of life would be required in the process.

So basically, the overall question is: Why not send the Ring to the Undying Lands?

*Note - since sea monsters never seem to attack ships carrying Elves, Valar, or Maiar to the Undying Lands, despite Sauron's hatred of them, the sea monster issue is irrelevant. In any case, this question isn't about whether the ship would get there safely if passage were granted - it is about whether passage WOULD be granted and whether it would solve the problem.

*Note 2 - granted, this wouldn't get rid of Sauron, but Aragorn was free to set the terms of the Army of the Dead's deployment. If he said "You must serve for a thousand years" instead of "You have to fight one battle", then the Army of the Dead could have roamed through Middle-earth and Mordor killing off every Orc and goblin Sauron enlisted. Sauron would still exist, but he would be a more or less powerless eye stuck on top of a tower, with no hope of raising and army for a thousand years. If Aragorn said "You must serve forever", Sauron would be deprived of an army forever.

marked as duplicate by The Fallen, DVK-on-Ahch-To, Ward, Stan, Möoz May 4 '15 at 22:29

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • 1
    The Ring corrupts anyone who encounters it, and the Elves of Valinor have already been proven to be... imperfectly trustworthy. If it had been taken to Valinor, it would have sown betrayal and destruction there, which would be even more catastrophic than its effect on Middle Earth. – Nerrolken May 4 '15 at 17:51
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    Eru isn't going to get involved, Eru almost never interacts with the world. There's no way Eru is an option. As for the others, do we have any reason to think they wouldn't be tempted by the Ring? Maiar can clearly be corrupted by it, so maybe Valar would be immune, but maybe not. And even if they were immune, would the messengers who brought it be tempted by it, or the people tasked with guarding it? The Ring's preservative effects would be especially tempting for the Elves... Plus, as long as the Ring survives, Sauron survives, so destroying it is better than safely hiding it away. – Nerrolken May 4 '15 at 17:59
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    @Richard - The trip to Aman/Valinor seems to be less like a sea voyage and more like space travel. – Wad Cheber May 4 '15 at 18:41
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    @Richard: There's no reason to believe the voyage to Valinor would be perilous due to sea monsters; it's just that the Ring wouldn't be safe at the bottom of the ocean for all eternity. – Shamshiel May 4 '15 at 18:41
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    Lately there was a question about destroying the ring with Thangorodrim so probably all resonable ideas were disputed here long time ago ;) – Mithoron May 4 '15 at 19:56
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Can Sauron get to Aman?

This is unclear. As dlanod's answer to the linked question notes, Aman has been removed from the circles of the world, and is only accessible via the Straight Way. The Elves are, of course, allowed to follow this road to Aman.

What's unclear to me is how the Straight Way works. There are a lot of unknowns.

For example, it's possible that the Straight Way is accessible by any ship on the correct bearing. If so, then Sauron could probably build his own ships and (eventually) find it.

It's also possible that the Elven-ships are under some enchantment that allows only them to pass into Aman. If so, then Sauron would have to fight all the way to the Grey Havens (before the inhabitants destroyed all the ships). It would be supremely unlikely to succeed, but not impossible.

Finally, it's possible that the Valar themselves individually decide whether each ship is allowed to pass into Aman. The odds of them letting Sauron through are astronomically slim.

However, even if Sauron could get to Aman, he's not dumb enough to try. It's worth noting that when he sends Ar-Pharazôn and his men to invade Valinor, Sauron stayed behind:

For Sauron himself was filled with great fear at the wrath of the Valar, and the doom that Eru laid upon sea and land. It was greater far than aught he had looked for, hoping only for the death of the Númenóreans and the defeat of their proud king. And Sauron, sitting in his black seat in the midst of the Temple, had laughed when he heard the trumpets of Ar-Pharazôn sounding for battle; and again he had laughed when he heard the thunder of the storm;

The Silmarillion IV Akallabêth

Granted, this takes place relatively early in Sauron's role as Dark Lord; he has grown more powerful in the intervening millenia. But he's not strong enough to contend with all the Valar combined, and that's assuming they don't call on Eru again.

Trying to invade Aman is suicide, and Sauron knows it.

Is the Ring dangerous if it's beyond Sauron's grasp?

This is unknowable, but I submit to you that it's the wrong question to ask. A better question would be "is Sauron still dangerous if the Ring is beyond his grasp?", and the answer it a resounding "Yes." Even without the Ring, the Elves consider Sauron's victory to be practically inevitable. I can't point to any particular quote, but that's the general tone of the Council of Elrond.

Of course the ultimate danger of leaving the Ring undestroyed (even if it's beyond Sauron's grasp forever), is that there is no other way of destroying Sauron. This is covered by Why was the One Ring such a problem?

Is Elrond strong enough to resist the Ring?

Ultimately, no; Elrond would succumb like everyone else. Tolkien himself says this in Letter 246:

Elrond or Galadriel would have proceeded in the policy now adopted by Sauron: they would have built up an empire with great and absolutely subservient generals and armies and engines of war, until they could challenge Sauron and destroy him by force.

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien 246: To Mrs. Eileen Elgar (Draft). September 1963

Could the Ring be taken to Aman?

No. This is discussed in the Council of Elrond, and Elrond himself rejects it:

'Then if the Ring cannot be kept from him for ever by strength' said Glorfindel, 'two things only remain for us to attempt: to send it over the Sea, or to destroy it.'

'But Gandalf has revealed to us that we cannot destroy it by any craft that we here possess,' said Elrond. `And they who dwell beyond the Sea would not receive it: for good or ill it belongs to Middle-earth; it is for us who still dwell here to deal with it.'

Fellowship of the Ring Book 2 Chapter 2: "The Council of Elrond"

  • Now THIS seems like the authoritative answer. But as to Sauron reaching Aman, he can't. It isn't a matter of sailing in the right direction - Aman/Valinor is now a different planet from Arda, and no one can get there uninvited. – Wad Cheber May 4 '15 at 18:37
  • @JasonBaker: Would you consider adding a line about the futility of merely keeping the Ring from Sauron (since he'd win without it) so I can delete my answer? :) – Shamshiel May 4 '15 at 18:39
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    @WadCheber I'm not fully convinced; the only thing Tolkien tells us is "Aman is removed" and "the Elves can still get there." Maybe the Elf-ships are magic, maybe the Elves were given the magic heading, maybe the Valar personally approve or reject everyone who tries it. In the absence of Tolkien telling us explicitly, I'm erring on the side of caution – Jason Baker May 4 '15 at 18:48
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    You know its kind of stupid that the Valar wouldn't take the ring back. They were willing to break their prime directive to send Gandalf over. Why not just take the ring and avoid a lot of bloodshed? Seems a little absurd, especially since Sauron is a former servant of one of their own. I'm sure Tolkien had some hand-waving mythical reason for the end of the third age, but it just seems like a plot hole. – Mark Rogers May 4 '15 at 19:00
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    @WadCheber I'm not disagreeing with any of that, but the mechanics of how (or if) the Elves find the Straight Way and how (or if) the Valar prevent those without permission from using it are never made clear; that's what I'm referring to – Jason Baker May 4 '15 at 19:10
7

You're assuming that 'fate shortcuts' can be taken - which in Tolkien's legendarium generally is not the case:

  • Can't Eru just prevent Melkor from conspiring to alter creation? (i.e. put him in the penalty box or something?)
  • Can't the Valar just gang up on Melkor to begin with and watch over him to make sure he doesn't spoil Arda any further?
  • Can't the Valar have a bunch of guards watching the two trees in case, oh, I dunno, some errant spider wanders by? They have plenty of unemployed Maya shuffling about after all, right?
  • Can't the Valar just take the Silmarils from Melkor and use them/give them back to Feanor/destory them?
  • Can't the Noldor just multiply enough to kick Melkor's ass? "Come on, Darling, I know you have a headache, but we really have to - remember the oath of Feanor!"
  • Can't Mairon just fly around in his magic bat form for a while and figure out where Nargothrond and/or Gondolin are? ...
  • Shall I go on?

It's a mythology, they're epic tales, not engineering problems. So, of course not.

  • I agree (this is why having the Eagles carry Frodo to Mordor so he can get there in hours, instead of years, would work, but would make the story one that isn't worth telling), but I was looking for an in-universe answer. – Wad Cheber May 4 '15 at 19:16
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    So you got your answer: "Maybe we can - but we won't. Nya na-na na-na na." – einpoklum May 4 '15 at 19:19
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    Not sure the eagles taking Frodo to Mordor would have worked. They would have been spotted very fast on Sauron's radar and would have been countered with all his might, including himself coming down from Barad-Dur, Nazguls and making Orodruin erupt. Also, Eru is creating a show for all to see, he will make small fate shortcuts, like Bilbo finding the ring, or Pippin and Merry meeting Treebeard exactly at the right time, but he won't make big ones like directly kicking Sauron's ass ! – Joel May 4 '15 at 19:24
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    I heard that Gandalf just wanted the achievement for having Hobbits carry the ring into Mordor on foot. – CodesInChaos May 4 '15 at 22:18
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    @WadCheber: I have to admit that most of his arguments are hard to refute. I guess we'll have to make do with the idea that Manwë would not let them do it, even though he would let them intervene when humans and hobbits only need a little help from their friends ;-) – Joel May 5 '15 at 1:12
5

The answer to (4) is a resounding no. It was discussed in the Council of Elrond chapter.

But Gandalf has revealed to us that we cannot destroy it by any craft that we here possess,' said Elrond. `And they who dwell beyond the Sea would not receive it: for good or ill it belongs to Middle-earth; it is for us who still dwell here to deal with it.'

The answer to (2) and (3) is yes, the Ring is dangerous even outside Sauron's influence, and no, Elrond is not immune.

In any case Elrond or Galadriel would have proceeded in the policy now adopted by Sauron: they would have built up an empire with great and absolutely subservient generals and armies and engines of war, until they could challenge Sauron and destroy him by force. (Letters)

Even if Elrond was far away from Sauron. In the same Letter, Tolkien describes what Gandalf would have done after vanquishing Sauron forever:

Gandalf as Ring-Lord would have been far worse than Sauron. He would have remained ‘righteous’, but self-righteous. He would have continued to rule and order things for ‘good’, and the benefit of his subjects according to his wisdom (which was and would have remained great).

But more importantly, Sauron's victory was inevitable with or without the Ring. So merely hiding the Ring, or taking it to Valinor, would not have helped.

2

If the ring is destroyed, then so is Sauron. So even if he cant get to it, he still has power, and a huge orc army. The ring is just a way to ensure his victory.

  • But without the Ring, he is less powerful - hence the desire to keep it away from him. – Wad Cheber May 4 '15 at 17:47
2

Eru isn't going to get involved, Eru has only interacted with the world 2-3 times since its creation, and never at the request of a simple Man or Elf. He's not going to step in to do a minor favor for some random people, just because they'd rather not walk to Mordor.

As for the others, do we have any reason to think they wouldn't be tempted by the Ring? The Ring corrupts anyone who encounters it, and the Elves of Valinor have already been proven to be... imperfectly trustworthy. Maiar can clearly be corrupted by it, so maybe Valar would be immune, but maybe not. Aule, certainly, would likely admire the craftmanship (remember that both Sauron and Saruman were Maiar under Aule's domain), and we know that he already has had conflicts with other Vala (over the creation of the Dwarves).

And even if the Valar were immune and you could get something as evil as the Ring to Valinor in the first place (again not a guarantee), would the messengers who brought it be tempted by it, or the people tasked with guarding it? Remember, it's not just the journey to Valinor, it's the journey across Valinor and the entire duration of its containment there (that is, all of eternity). The Ring's preservative effects would be especially tempting for the Elves, who are constantly yearing to slow down the world and keep it from changing. Even if you gave it to Manwe and Manwe did turn out to be immune, the Ring famously breeds treachery. It could cause another rebellion of the Elves, or worse, the fall of a Maia or Vala, and thus the creation of a new Sauron or even Morgoth.

Plus, as long as the Ring survives, Sauron survives, so destroying it is better than safely hiding it away. Even if it was safely out of Sauron's reach, he would still be free to devastate Middle Earth. Hardly a satisfactory scenario, given that the whole reason for keeping the Ring away from him is to stop him from devastating Middle Earth.

  • This is a great answer, but I disagree on some of the details. If Frodo can bring it to Mordor (resisting it for 2 years), he can bring it to the Undying Lands (resisting it for a month or less). None of the Elves tried to take it from him, and the book suggests some of them are basically immune to it (Elrond and Glorfindel at the very least). Reading the description of Elbereth and Manwe in particular, I can't imagine they'd be susceptible to it either. And Elves are immortal and eternally preserved already, even more so in the Undying Lands - its preservative effects are superfluous to them. – Wad Cheber May 4 '15 at 18:17
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    @WadCheber Exactly. After the Second Age, Valinor can't be reached simply by sailing west. You have to be "allowed" to reach it, and I doubt anyone carrying such evil would be allowed. What I meant by the "armies of Numenor" comment was that stealing from Manwe isn't a crazy notion. Anyone can do it, if they're strong enough. – Nerrolken May 4 '15 at 18:25
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    @WadCheber: Palantir are not evil. They were made by Feanor to faciliate long-range communication and to see things far away. It's just that bad people can use them - Sauron stole his from Gondor. Also, Morgoth got robbed by a Man and an Elf, and he was also a god. – Shamshiel May 4 '15 at 18:34
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    @WadCheber Sauron didn't make the Palantiri. And check out Jason Baker's answer for proof that Valinor wouldn't accept the Ring. – Nerrolken May 4 '15 at 18:35
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    @WadCheber: Morgoth was the mightest of the Ainur. He was so powerful that literally everything in Middle-Earth contains a piece of Morgoth and his will. – Shamshiel May 5 '15 at 0:27

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