[Originally posted on April 3rd, 2015]
The central component to LotR is, in fact, in the title: the Rings. Their history, like everything else Tolkien thought of, is very deep and rich. To be brief, the Rings of Power were not all created by Sauron alone. There were 20 in total, including the Ruling Ring (the one Frodo inherited) and they were wrought by the Elves in the Second Ages. Sauron came in disguise to the Elves under the name Annatar, meaning Bringer of Gifts. He promised the Elves great power and knowledge. One elf, named Celebrimbor, took particular interest in ring-crafting and played the key part in making the Rings. Once the 19 lesser Rings were made, Sauron returned to Mordor and crafted the One Ring. Not to get into much detail as to HOW the One worked, once Sauron put it on those wearing the lesser Rings would be under his control while he wore It. However, the Three Celebrimbor made for the Elves were not touched by Sauron in their making. Once Sauron put the One on they were aware of his plan and immediately removed them. The Nine Men that wore it were immediately enslaved, eventually becoming the Nazgul, Ring-wraiths. The Seven Dwarves were a different story: they were more resistant to dominance and could not be easily daunted by Sauron. Those Rings were either consumed by dragons, or recovered by him. The Three remained in possession of the Elves until Sauron was overthrown at the end of the Second Age and their keepers not revealed until his defeat at the end of the Third.