The work is an essay dealing with the preamble to the events described in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and the events themselves, in the style of The Silmarillion. The fact that those events are explored in a mere handful of pages suggests that if the events described in the rest of The Silmarillion had been written in the style of The Lord of the Rings they would have filled hundreds of volumes. When Tolkien died in 1973, his son, Christopher Tolkien, completed this part, assisted by Guy Gavriel Kay. The chapter bears some similarities to Elrond's narrative in The Fellowship of the Ring in the chapter "The Council of Elrond"; though neither divulges any details about how Arnor was destroyed and how Gondor became kingless.
As the name implies, the events of the essay are focused around magical artefacts: the Rings of Power.
The Elves of Eregion helped Sauron forge many rings, including nineteen Rings of Power. But Sauron had deceived them, for in secret he made the One Ring for himself, which was the master of the rest. These rings of power were distributed to the leaders of the free peoples of Middle-earth in order to achieve control and therefore power. Seven to the Dwarf Lords, nine to mortal Men and three left to the Elves.
But Sauron's plan failed: the Elves discovered his plot, for as soon as he put on the Ring, the Elves knew they had been deceived. They removed and hid the three Elven rings, and were therefore shielded from Sauron's influence, which would have held dominion over their bearers had they used them. Sauron then waged war upon the Elves in retaliation, but the three Elvish rings remained hidden from him. While many Elves were killed and the realm of Eregion destroyed, the Men of Númenor helped the Elves repel Sauron. Over 1500 years later, King Ar-Pharazôn of Númenor decided to capture Sauron to demonstrate his might. As it is described in the Akallabêth, Sauron was brought to Númenor as a prisoner; however, he soon corrupted most Númenóreans, encouraging them to replace their traditional reverence for Eru Ilúvatar with worship of Melkor, or 'Morgoth', Sauron's previous master. Under Sauron's influence, the Númenóreans decided to challenge the Valar by invading Aman. As a result, Númenor was destroyed and sank beneath the waves, a cataclysm far beyond the premeditated schemes of Sauron who himself was cast down into the sea.
Only a few survivors left Númenor successfully, and led by Elendil the Tall and his two sons Isildur and Anárion, their ships reached Middle-earth's coast, and they were recognized and accepted as rulers by those who encountered their arrival. They founded two great Realms in Exile; Elendil ruled over Arnor in the north, and Isildur and Anárion jointly ruled Gondor in the south. However, Sauron's spirit survived the disaster too, and although he had lost his fair physical appearance, he returned safely to his stronghold of old in the land of Mordor and regained his strength.
Years passed, and Sauron, who had renewed his might, gathered his allies of Orcs and evil men, including the Black Númenóreans (most of whom now followed leaders who wore Rings of Power) and decided to attack the new realms while they were still weak. His onslaught failed, however and King Elendil, his sons, and the Elven kings forces fought back. Forming a great coalition, the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, they defeated Sauron's armies in a great battle and then besieged the Dark Lord's fortress Barad-dûr for seven years. Sauron himself eventually came forth to challenge Elendil and Gil-galad in combat. Gil-galad and Elendil were both slain. But in the process they overthrew Sauron, after which Isildur used the broken hilt of Narsil to cut the One Ring from Sauiuron's hand, the final death blow it would seem. Sauron's spirit departed his dark armored body. Lord Elrond who stood nearby tried to convince Isildur to destroy the Ring then and there in the fires of Mount Doom where it was made, and the only place it could be destroyed for ever: But he took it for his own and declared that it would be a weregild for his father, and brother Anárion, who also was killed during the siege of Barad-dûr. The Elves could now wear their three Rings of Power freely as The One was no longer worn by the defeated Dark Lord. Thus began the Third Age of Middle-earth.
In the second year of the Third Age, Isildur and his guard were ambushed by a band of Orcs near the Gladden Fields. With almost all of his men killed, Isildur put the Ring on his finger in the hope of eluding the Orcs as the Ring made him invisible. He plunged into Anduin, the great river, in order to escape. Yet the Ring slipped from his finger, revealing him to the Orcs, who then shot him with many arrows. As Isildur died the Ring was lost in the great river for nearly two and a half thousand years.
For a millennium after the War of the Last Alliance, the realms of Arnor and Gondor enjoyed freedom and prosperity. However afterwards, Arnor divided into warring successor states, which became subject to attacks from the evil kingdom of Angmar. The remaining kingdom of Arthedain's strength gradually dwindled until it was destroyed. Its people were scattered, and its royalty decreased in number; however they remained true to their Númenórean descent. They became the Rangers of the North, protecting the lands of Eriador from the menace from the East.
As for Gondor, it prospered for much of the Third Age, becoming very powerful. However after a disastrous civil war, the Kin-strife and an even more destructive Great Plague and Wainrider War the kingdom began to decline.
In TA 1000, several Wizards, known as 'the Istari', had come to Middle-earth: Saruman, Gandalf, Radagast, and two others who went into the east. Although it was unknown to the peoples of Middle-earth, they were emissaries from the West, sent on behalf of the Valar to help them resist the power of Sauron, who had been secretly orchestrating the attacks on Arnor and Gondor.
Taking up residence at Dol Guldur as the 'Necromancer', Sauron rebuilt his power over many centuries, opposed unsuccessfully by the White Council, until eventually in TA 2951 the Dark Lord declared his return to Mordor.
Sauron made war on Middle-earth again. In this war, the Heir of Isildur, Aragorn II Elessar, arose and led the host of the West to victory at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, whilst the now traitorous Saruman was defeated and captured at Isengard. Then Gandalf, the sons of Elrond and Aragorn led the army of the west to the Black Gate of Mordor. But Frodo the Hobbit had embarked on the Quest of the Ring, carrying the One Ring stealthily to Mount Doom and destroying it, thus defeating Sauron for good.
After this, it was made clear that Gandalf bore the red ring, Narya. Galadriel and Elrond had the other two rings, Nenya and Vilya. The Third Age ends with the Keepers of the Three Rings departing over the Sea, bringing an end to the time of the Elves except in story and song.
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Afrikaans||Van die Ringe van Krag en die Derde Ouderdom|
|Albanian||Unazat e Pushtetit dhe Mosha e Tretë|
|Amharic||ኃይል ቀለበቶች እና ሦስተኛ ዘመን|
|Arabic||عن خواتم القوة والعصر الثالث|
|Armenian||՝ Իշխանության մատանիների և Երրորդ ժամանակների մասին|
|Azerbaijani||Hakimiyyəti Üzüklərin və Üçüncü dövrünə|
|Basque||Botere eraztunak eta Hirugarren Aroa|
|Belarusian Cyrillic||Пра Пярсцёнкі ўлады і Трэцюю эпоху|
|Bengali||শবে রিং এবং তৃতীয় বয়স|
|Bosnian||O prstenovima moći i Trećem Dobu|
|Breton||Gwalinier ar Galloud hag an Trede Amzer|
|Bulgarian Cyrillic||За всевластните пръстени и Третата епоха|
|Catalan||Dels Anells de Poder i de la Tercera Edat|
|Corsican||Di l 'Aneddu di -Sintinedddi e la Terza età|
|Croatian||O prstenovima moći i Trećem dobu|
|Czech||Z Kruhů síly a Třetího Věku|
|Danish||Om de Mægtige Ringe og den Tredje Tidsalder|
|Dutch||Over de Ringen van Macht en de Derde Era|
|Esperanto||De la Ringoj de Potenco kaj la Tria Aĝo|
|Estonian||Rõngad võimu ja kolmas vanus|
|Fijian||Ni na Mama ni Kaukauwa kei na Ikatolu ni Yabaki|
|Finnish||Mahtisormukset ja Kolmas Aika|
|French||Les Anneaux de pouvoir et le Troisième Âge|
|Frisian||Fan de Ringen fan macht en de Tredde Leeftyd|
|Galician||Dos Aneis do Poder e a Terceira Idade|
|Georgian||ძალაუფლების ბეჭდებისა და მესამე ეპოქის შესახებ|
|German||Von den Ringen der Macht und dem dritten Zeitalter|
|Greek||Τα Δαχτυλίδια της Δύναμης και η Τρίτη Εποχή|
|Gujarati||પાવર ઓફ રિંગ્સ અને થર્ડ ઉંમર|
|Hausa||Daga cikin Zobba mulki kuma na uku shekaru|
|Hebrew||על טבעות הכוח והעידן השלישי|
|Hindi||सत्ता के छल्ले और तीसरे आयु के|
|Hungarian||A gyűrűkről és a harmadkorról|
|Icelandic||Af Hringir af Krafti og Þriðja Aldri|
|Indonesian||Cincin Kekuasaan dan Ketiga Umur ?|
|Irish Gaelic||As na bhFáinní na Cumhachta agus an Tríú hAoise|
|Italian||Gli Anelli di Potere e la Terza Età|
|Javanese||Saka dering daya lan umur Katelu ?|
|Kannada||ಶಕ್ತಿಶಾಲಿ ಉಂಗುರಗಳ ಮತ್ತು ಮೂರನೇ ವಯಸ್ಸು|
|Kazakh||Қуат сақиналары және Үшінші а дәуір (Cyrillic) Qwat saqïnaları jäne Üşinşi a däwir (Latin)|
|Korean||힘의 반지와 제3시대’의 다섯 파트로 나뉜다|
|Kurdish||Wekî we Qulp Hêz û Serdema Sêyemîn ? (Kurmanji Kurdish)|
|Latin||De Anulis Potestatis et Tertia Aetate|
|Latvian||Gredzenu varas un Trešā Laikmeta|
|Lithuanian||Apie Galios Žiedus bei Trečiąjį Amžių|
|Lombard||I Anei del podè e la Terza Età|
|Luxembourgish||Vun de Réng vun Muecht an den Drëtte Alter|
|Macedonian Cyrillic||На прстените на власта и Трето доба|
|Malaysian||Daripada Cincin Kuasa dan Umur Ketiga|
|Maori||O nga Mowhiti o te Mana me te Tau Tuatoru|
|Marathi||पॉवर रिंग व तिसरे वय|
|Mongolian Cyrillic||Гүрэн Бөгжний болон гурав дахь зэвсгийн тухай|
|Nepalese||पावर को छल्ले र तेस्रो आयु को|
|Norwegian||En redegjørelse om Maktens Ringer og Tredje Tideverv|
|Occitan||Los Anèls del poder e l'Edat Tresena|
|Pashto||د بریښنا د کړۍ_ګانې او د دریم عمر ?|
|Persian||حدیث حلقههای قدرت و دوره سوم|
|Polish||Pierścienie Władzy i Trzecia Era|
|Portuguese||Dos Anéis de Poder e da Terceira Era|
|Punjabi||ਪਾਵਰ ਦੀ ਰਿੰਗ ਅਤੇ ਤੀਜਾ ਦੀ ਉਮਰ ਦੇ|
|Romanian||Despre Inelele puterii şi cel de-al Treilea Ev|
|Russian||О кольцах власти и о Третьей Эпохе|
|Samoan||O le mama o le Mana ma le Tausaga Tolu|
|Serbian||О Прстеновима моћи и Трећем добу (Cyrillic) O Prstenovima moći i Trećem dobu (Latin)|
|Sindhi||پاور ۽ ٽيون عمر جي ويڪريون جي|
|Sinhalese||විදුලිබල හා තුන්වන වයස පිළිබඳ රින්ග්ස්|
|Slovak||O Prsteňoch moci a Treťom veku|
|Slovenian||O prstanih moči in Tretjem vek|
|Somalian||Oo ka mid ah Siddo oo Xoog iyo da'da Saddexaad|
|Spanish||De los Anillos de Poder y la Tercera Edad|
|Sundanese||Tina Cingcin daya jeung Katilu Jaman|
|Swahili||Wa Pete ya Madaraka na Umri Tatu|
|Swedish||Om Maktens Ringar och Tredje Åldern|
|Tajik Cyrillic||Аз зиреҳҳои Ҳокимият ва Синну сеюм|
|Tamil||பவர் வளையங்கள் மற்றும் மூன்றாம் வயது|
|Telugu||రింగ్స్ అఫ్ పవర్ మరియు మూడవ వయసు|
|Turkish||Güç Yüzüklerine ve Üçüncü Çağa Dair|
|Ukrainian Cyrillic||Про Персні Влади та Третю епоху|
|Urdu||بجلی کے حلقے اور تیسری عمر کے|
|Uzbek||Қадр Узуклар ва учинчи Асри (Cyrillic) Qadr Uzuklar va uchinchi Asri (Latin)|
|Vietnamese||Của những chiếc nhẫn quyền lực và con thứ ba Tuổi|
|Welsh||O'r Cylchoedd Grym a'r Trydydd Oed|
|Yiddish||וועגן די רינגס פון מאַכט און די דריט עלטער|