Tolkien Gateway

War of the Ring

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War of the Ring
Osgiliath (1) · Fords of Isen · Isengard · Hornburg · Osgiliath (2) · Dale · Siege of Gondor · Pelennor Fields · Black Gate · Dol Guldur · Bywater
Previous war: War of the Last Alliance
Next war:
War of the Ring
Beginning: III 3018 (fighting in Gondor started long before that)End: III 3019
Place: Northwestern Middle-earth
Outcome: Free peoples' victory; destruction of the One Ring, Sauron and Mordor; start of the Fourth Age; Arnor and Gondor reunited under restoration of the King of Gondor
Major battles: Fords of Isen, Battle of Isengard, Battle of the Hornburg, Battle of Osgiliath, Battle of the Pelennor Fields, Battle of the Morannon, Battle Under Trees
Free peoples of Middle-earth: Gondor, Rohan, Dale, Esgaroth, Erebor, The Shire, Lothlórien, Woodland RealmUnder Sauron: Mordor, Rhûn, Harad, Haven of Umbar, and Khand.

Under Saruman: Isengard and Dunland.
Gandalf† (but resurrected), Aragorn, Théoden†, Denethor†, Dain II Ironfoot†, Brand†, Thranduil, Galadriel and Celeborn.Sauron†, The Witch-King of Angmar†, and Saruman†.

The War of the Ring was the great conflict at the end of the Third Age, named for the One Ring and the importance this had in the final outcome. The war was fought between the Free (a loose alliance of Elves and Men led by the Wise) and Sauron the Dark Lord, with Saruman as a third power based in Orthanc.

Sauron at all times held the military advantage in the War, due to his overwhelming forces; not only Orcs and Trolls, but Men of Harad and the East. His main immediate object was the overthrow of Gondor, his near neighbour and the strongest of his enemies. He had such forces at his command, though, that he was able to fight the war on many fronts, also attacking Dale, Erebor and the Wood-elves in the far north, and Lórien from his secondary stronghold at Dol Guldur. There can be no doubt that, had the Wise not achieved possession of the Ring, Sauron would ultimately have been victorious.

Saruman had claimed alliance with both the Wise and the Dark Lord, but was ultimately fighting for his own ends. In alliance with the Dunlendings, and having Orcs at his own command, his objective was the defeat of Rohan. Until late in the War, he held the advantage, defeating Rohan twice at the Battles of the Fords of Isen. He had not considered the Ents of Fangorn in his plans, however, and when they were roused to anger at his actions, they brought about his downfall.

The policy of the Wise was based around the Quest of Mount Doom; a company of nine under the leadership of Gandalf travelled from Rivendell with the One Ring, with the hope of reaching Orodruin in Mordor and there destroying it. Because the Ring held much of Sauron's native power, they realised that in unmaking it, they would also defeat its creator. Against all hope, the Quest was achieved by Frodo Baggins, and Sauron defeated.

The War did not end with the defeat of Sauron, for Saruman fled northward after the capture of Orthanc, and established himself in the Shire, bending the Hobbits to his will by threat of violence and the persuasive power of his voice. The return of Frodo Baggins and his companions led to a rebellion by the Shire-hobbits, in which Saruman was killed by his servant, Gríma Wormtongue.

Although Sauron and Saruman were both defeated, the Wise did not achieve total victory. With the destruction of the One Ring, the Three Rings that had maintained the realms of the Elves in Middle-earth lost their power, and the Elves began to leave Middle-earth for the Undying Lands.



Sauron and his Allies

Gondor, its Allies, and Enemies of Sauron