Three elven rings? How the Rings of Power finale changes LOTR canon
“Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky…”
And just like that, the first season of Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has come to an end. The eighth and final episode of Season 1 certainly doesn’t hold back, either. Not only does the episode, “Alloyed,” finally confirm that Halbrand (Charlie Vickers) has secretly been Sauron all along, but it ends with the forging of Middle-earth’s first three Rings of Power.
These rings, forged by Celebrimbor and the Elven smiths of Eregion, are created to prevent the Elves from diminishing and having to leave the shores of Middle-earth. While The Rings of Power definitely ends its first season on a climax by focusing on the creation of the Three Rings, the series contradicts J.R.R. Tolkien’s version of events.
Here’s what you should know about the Three Rings featured in The Rings of Power’s Season 1 finale, including who becomes their bearers, what they do, and how their creation differs from their origins in Tolkien’s writings.
The Lord of Gifts — In Tolkien’s legendarium, the Three Rings worn by “the Elven-kings under the sky” are some of the last forged. Unlike in The Rings of Power, the Three Rings are forged only after the Nine for Mortal Men and the Seven for the Dwarf-lords of Middle-earth have already been made. That means the Three Rings aren’t forged until long after Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards) has been taught how to craft them by Annatar, the Lord of Gifts, who turns out to be Sauron in disguise.
Episode 8 alludes to Sauron’s book role as Annatar by having him remark that Celebrimbor should view his crafting advice as nothing more than a “gift.” As is the case in The Rings of Power, the Three Rings are also forged in the books when Sauron is not present in Eregion. However, the reason he’s not around when Celebrimbor forges them is not that he’s gone on the run from Galadriel (Morfydd Clark), but that he’s gone back to Mordor to secretly forge the One Ring.
The Rings of Power’s Season 1 finale seriously upends the chronology of events laid out by Tolkien. Their forging will likely emerge as a major point of contention among Tolkien fans, although the Three Rings do seem to carry the same properties in The Rings of Power that they do in Tolkien’s books.
Three Rings of Power — According to Tolkien, the Three Rings were known as Nenya, Narya, and Vilya. While little is known about their specific powers, the three did contain colored stones that matched the elements they were named after (water, fire, and air). The elements also, notably, reflect what happened to Fëanor’s three Similarils: One was cast into the sea, another was lost in a fiery chasm, and the third was made into a star in the sky.
Unlike how they are made in The Rings of Power, though, only one (Nenya) was made with mithril. Additionally, due to how they were crafted — namely, in the absence of Sauron’s corruptive presence — the Three Rings forged alone by Celebrimbor did not make their wearers invisible or give them the power to conquer others. Instead, they were imbued with the power to protect and heal, and two of their bearers eventually use them to do just that.
However, because they were made using the teachings that Sauron imparted onto Celebrimbor, the Three Rings still fell under the dominion of the One Ring. That meant they could not be worn at the same time that Sauron wore the One Ring, or else their bearers would be vulnerable to his control. Whether that’s how The Rings of Power will end up treating the Three Rings remains to be seen, but the fact that the show uses an image of the items to transition to a shot of Sauron’s eye does suggest they don’t exist separate from him.
The Inverse Analysis — In Tolkien’s legendarium, the Three Elven Rings of Power are eventually given to Galadriel, Gil-galad (Benjamin Walker), and Círdan the Shipwright. The Rings of Power’s Season 1 finale, notably, doesn’t show anyone actually wear the Three Rings, which means it’s unclear whether their bearers will be the same as they are in Tolkien’s books. It has, however, been confirmed that Círdan will be introduced in The Rings of Power Season 2, so it seems safe to assume that the show won’t deviate too much from that plot point.
Of course, by having the Three Rings forged before any of the others, The Rings of Power has already raised some very real questions about its future. After all, if the Three Rings already exist, and Celebrimbor, Galadriel, and Elrond (Robert Aramayo) are all aware that Halbrand is not to be trusted, then how could any of the Elves be tricked into forging 16 more Rings of Power with him?
Season 1 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is streaming now on Prime Video.