Talking The Rings of Power – Tolkien Trivia

Talking The Rings of Power – Tolkien Trivia

Okay – you have seen all of season one of The Rings of Power. Well, if you haven’t, might be some spoilers below… After writing about The Istari last week, it was logical to cover the harfoots today. But they are ruining the show, and I’m just not up right now for a couple thousand words on criticizing the overbearing, completely unwarranted, hobbit presence in The Rings of Power.

The Second Age is about elves and men. With some dwarves mixed in. The hobbits have NOTHING to do with the story being told. But the showrunners, afraid to make Tolkien without the lazy, constantly hungry, hairy-footed things, had to make them a cornerstone part of the show.

I’m not ready to tackle Numenor, or why the show is more fan fiction than actual Tolkien pastiche, or real Book Tolkien (condensing over 3,000 years of history into one point of time is a part of it). So, I’m gonna share some Tolkien trivia; related to the show in some fashion. Well, mostly, anyways! You probably know a lot of it. Some might be new. But it’s time to Talk Tolkien!


I was playing D&D for several years before I read The Lord of the Rings (LotR). And I loved seeing the influences that Tolkien had on Gary Gygax. Type 6 Demons (Balors) clearly were based on balrogs. A balrog features prominently in my favorite part of LotR – the Mines of Khazad-dum section of book one, The Fellowship of the Ring.

We briefly saw that balrog in episode 7 of The Rings of Power. If you know what happened to Khazad-dum, you know there’s a bad moon on the rising.

The balrogs are Maiar – powerful beings one step below the Valar (who are basically the gods of Tolkien world; one step below the creator god, Eru Iluvatar. Gandalf, Saruman,and the other three Istari are also Maiar. They seved Melkor (Morgoth) and those that weren’t destroyed by the end of the First Age went into hiding, like the balrog of Khazad-dum.

BALROG TRIVIA I – Christopher Tolkien writes that his father said there were three to five Balrogs in Middle Earth. In early versions of of the Legendarium, there were a thousand Balrogs at the Nirnaeth Arnoediad (The Battle of Unnumbered Tears), where Melkor utterly decimated the Union of Maedhros.

The actual number was simply left out in The Silmarillion, but you can imagine that a thousand Balrogs would be devastating. And Feanor’s death at the claws of the Balrog Lord, Gothmog, certainly implies that the total number was more then five running around near Angband.

BALROG TRIVIA II – One Balrog defeated the entire dwarven population of Khazad-dum and drove them out. And Gandalf basically had to have his spirit reincarnated after defeating it in an epic battle. Gothmog himself killed two (Feanor, Fingon) of the five High Kings of the Noldor.

So how impressive is that Glorifindel – perhaps the greatest Elf of them all – defeated a Balrog in single combat after The Fall of Gondolin. True, he died in the battle, but still, he took it out one-on-one. The same can be said of Ecthelion, who slew, and was slain by, Gothmog.



We know all about the One Ring. And the rings of men ended up giving us the Ring Wraiths/Nazgul. Sauron ended up with three of the dwarven rings, which were rumored to be the secret behind the great wealth of the major dwarven clans. Four were destroyed by dragons.

So, that leaves the most powerful of the multiple rings – The Elven Rings. Sauron had no part in the forging of the Elven Rings. However, because they were made using the craft which he taught Celebrimbor, it was subject to the influence of the One Ring. As soon as the Elves heard Sauron’s voice via the One Ring, they took their rings off. They could not use powers of the Elven Rings, or receive their benefits, while Sauron had The One Ring. Though, as a reader pointed out in the comments below, they surely could utilize them while the One Ring was lost.

In The Rings of Power, Sauron pretends to be a man named Halbrand, secret king of the Southlands. In Tolkien, he put on a fair guise and named himself Annatar (the Lord of Gifts), and said he was an emissary from the Valar. Elrond and Gil-Galad smelled something fishy and shunned him. Celebrimbor accepted him and learned crafting. We know what happened with that.


ELVEN RING TRIVIA QUESTIONS (answers at the end of the post)

1) What are the three Elven rings named?

2) Which one did Celebrimbor send to Galadriel?

3) How many major rings of power were there?



Elrond was Gil-Galad’s herald during the War of the Last Alliance, and was present when the Elven King and Elendil were slain, battling Sauron. He urged Isildur to destroy the One Ring, but the man refused. A whole lotta trouble could have been avoided if he had killed Isildur and tossed it the Ring the fires of Mt. Doom. The needs of the many outweigh the covetousness of the one.

Elrond and Galadriel seem like close friends in The Rings of Power. If you’re wondering if they will become a thing: well, probably not. Because he’s going to marry her daughter, Celebrian. Which, given how they are depicting the two’s friendship, I find weird. Almost like a trashy reality show. Or maybe a little Jerry Springer.

The history of The Nauglamir (The Necklace of the Dwarves) – is one of my favorite things in Tolkien’s world. It plays a major part in Elrond’s life, as he lost his parents and was abandoned in a cave (with his brother Elros) and essentially left to die, as part of the Third Kinslaying. Those Sons of Feanor were right bastards and, quite simply, bad guys.


The Dwarves are my favorite thing about Middle Earth. I’m happy Khazad-dum has such a big part (though mithril and the Elven tree is completely made up – more fan fiction).

So, we’ve got King Durin, ruling Khazad-dum. And his son, also Durin, palling around with Elrond. Durin I (the Deathless) was one of the seven Fathers of the dwarves, created by Aule. Sometimes, there would be a new dwarf so much like Durin, they named him Durin – thus, there were six more kings named Durin. Durin VII (the Last), led the dwarves back to resettle Khazad-dum in the Fourth Age, and they remained there until the dwarves faded from the world.

There were NEVER two Durins at the same time. You can’t really have a reincarnated Durin if the preceding one is still alive. Tolkien wrote a lot about racial after-lives (primarily for the elves), and it’s not as simple as reincarnation, regarding the dwarves. But you can’t have a father and son who are the same Durin. So, the show, for absolutely no reason other than sheer laziness, did exactly that.

Durin III was King of Khazad-dum when the Rings of Power were forged. Durin VI was King when the Balrog slew him and the dwarves abandoned the place. So, you’ve got some major time compression going on here with the dwarves.



I wrote a lot last week about the five wizards; one of which is a key figure in The Rings of Power. Whether this is one of the Blue Wizards, or an entirely made up one (gee – that would be shocking, wouldn’t it?): the Istari did NOT come to Middle Earth as flaming meteors creating burning craters. I mean, really?

They’re sent by the Valar to help against an increasingly dangerous Sauron. Did that seem like the best way to send help? Read last week’s entry for info about that whole thing. The wizards arrived at The Gray Havens, by boat, out of the West (where The Undying Lands are). Cirdan the shipwright greeted them, recognizing in Gandalf a powerful entity. Cirdan gave him one of the Elven Rings. So, no flaming meteors with a large, naked amnesiac. That’s just bad fan fiction. Which is the show’s Achilles heel.



1) What are the three Elven rings named?

Narya (Ring of Fire), Nenya (Ring of Water), Vilya (Ring of Air).


2) Which one did Celebrimbor send to Galadriel?

Nenya – the ring of Water. All three Elven rings were taken back to he Undying Lands when Galadriel left Middle Earth.


3) How many major rings of power were there?

20 – There were minor rings of power as well. But as the song says, 3 for Elves, 7 for Dwarves, 9 for Men; and Sauron’s One Ring.



Numenor (which I like) and Galadriel (meh) get their own entries in this series, so no trivia for them.

The Silmarillion can be a tough read. I don’t even like the entire first part, with the world being created by music. Hippie artistic stuff to me. My favorite Tolkien book is Unfinished Tales, which is a collection of essays and timelines about Middle Earth. Coming before the History of Middle Earth series (which I love), it contained ‘neat’ extra info for readers of the five novels.

I have an old Ballantine paperback, and I have it as an audiobook. I listen to chapters, like the untold story of Gandalf and Durin meeting, leading to The Hobbit. And cool stuff about The Second Age. When The Rings of Power is taking place – but Tolkien’s actual writings. Not this fictional adaptation.

I highly recommend Unfinished Tales. You might not like every essay, but it’s full of cool stuff.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Bob_TieSmile150.jpgBob Byrne’s ‘A (Black) Gat in the Hand’ made its Black Gate debut in 2018 and has returned every summer since.

His ‘The Public Life of Sherlock Holmes’ column ran every Monday morning at Black Gate from March, 2014 through March, 2017. And he irregularly posts on Rex Stout’s gargantuan detective in ‘Nero Wolfe’s Brownstone.’ He is a member of the Praed Street Irregulars, founded (the only website dedicated to the ‘Sherlock Holmes of Praed Street’) and blogs about Holmes and other mystery matters at Almost Holmes.

He organized Black Gate’s award-nominated ‘Discovering Robert E. Howard’ series, as well as the award-winning ‘Hither Came Conan’ series.

He has contributed stories to The MX Book of New Sherlock Holmes Stories – Parts III, IV, V, VI and XXI.

He has written introductions for Steeger Books, and appeared in several magazines, including Black Mask, Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, The Strand Magazine, and Sherlock Magazine.


Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Eugene R.

Saying nothing against the literary or creative values of The Lord of the Rings, but I, too, got into LotR due to a need to know more about what was up in games of D&D (original “white box” version). So that even precedes Appendix N. No regrets about any of it, and I do like The Silmarillion, hippie music section included.

John E. Boyle

Great post and I really appreciate you taking the hit for those of us who faded out on this series when it just got to be too much (episode 6 for me). I second your recommendation of Unfinished Tales (most excellent!). I do have an issue with this though:

“They could not use powers of the Elven Rings, or receive their benefits, until after Frodo (and Gollum) destroyed the One Ring.”

I believe they were still able to use at least some of the benefits/powers of the Three Rings as long as Sauron did not possess the One Ring. It would explain how Elrond and Galadriel kept their respective havens hidden and safe even though Dol Guldor was just across the river from Lothlorien and Arnor basically collapsed around Imladris. And it doesn’t make much sense for Cirdan to give Gandalf a useless trinket.

By the way, may I use your definition of Hobbits as hairy, hungry and lazy? It just seems so RIGHT!


“ Sauron ended up gaining all of the dwarven rings”
He gained the three that were not destroyed by dragon fire.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x