The Nine Rings were made along with the other Rings of Power in Eregion and were forged by Elven smiths under the guidance of Sauron. They were kept in the House of the Mírdain, but all rings save the Three Elven rings were captured by Sauron when he attacked Eregion. He gave nine of them to Men, and it was said that three of those that received them were Númenórean lords, and another was from the East.
The owners of the Nine were corrupted, amassing glory and riches, and becoming great among Men. They had the ability to become invisible, and their lives were extended unnaturally, until they fell at last to the power of the One Ring held by Sauron. They became part of the wraith-world, permanently invisible, and were enslaved by Sauron. They were afterwards his greatest servants, terrible to behold, known as the Nazgûl.
In The Council of Elrond, Gandalf indicates that the Nazgûl kept their Rings by saying, "The Nine the Nazgûl keep". However in many other references, it is indicated that Sauron later held the Nine Rings. Furthermore, Frodo does not see any Rings on them on Weathertop, and it is believed that if they did wear the Rings, they would have been fully invisible (including their cloaks).[source?]
It is possible that the line in the Council of Elrond represents Tolkien's earlier intention that the Nazgûl should still be wearing their Rings; if that is so, he later changed his mind and simply missed revising that sentence.[source?]
Portrayal in adaptations
2017: The Lord of the Rings Online:
- The Nine Rings are named as "Orôm, the Warmonger", "Sâkhla, the Cruel One", and "Adâsh, the Foe-maker", given to the Lieutenant of Dol Guldur and two other Easterling rulers, respectively; "Jûru, the Herald of Mourning", "Mêbat, the Mirth-eater", and "Khânto, the Pain-giver", given to Haradrim; and "Sapthân, the Foolstone", "Nitîr, Terror's Sting", and "Ûri, the Heart-stopper", given to Númenóreans, the third of whom became the Witch-king of Angmar.
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Hunt for the Ring", "(i) Of the Journey of the Black Riders"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Shadow of the Past" "the Nine he [Sauron] has gathered to himself; the Seven also, or else they are destroyed."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Mirror of Galadriel" "You saw the Eye of him that holds the Seven and the Nine."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"
- J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Hunt for the Ring", "(ii) Other Versions of the Story" "[the Ringwraiths] were entirely enslaved to their Nine Rings, which he [Sauron] now himself held"
|Rings of Power|
|The One Ring|
|(Narya · Nenya · Vilya)|
|(Ring of Thrór)|