The War of the Ring was a massive conflict brought by the Dark Lord Sauron upon the Free Peoples of Middle-earth for control of the One Ring and dominion over the entire continent. It occurred at the end of the Third Age. Together with the Quest of the Ring, it comprised one of the main overarching plot-lines of The Lord of the Rings saga. The war pitted Orcs, trolls, evil mercenaries and creatures, and others against allied forces of Men, Elves, and Dwarves aided by the Istari, Ents, and Great Eagles of the Misty Mountains.
The war was instigated by Sauron, who had gained back much of his strength since his defeat at the end of the Second Age and who sought the One Ring, the key to regaining his physical form and thus his full power. In the war that ensued, countless thousands of Men, Elves, and Dwarves lost their lives. Following the end of hostilities the final decline of the Elves' power in Middle-earth began, paralleled by the rise of Men in the West, the restoration of the King of Gondor and Arnor, and the start of the Fourth Age.
Battles were fought across Middle-earth in Gondor, Rohan, Lothlórien, Mirkwood, at the Lonely Mountain and Dale. These were primarily waged against Sauron's forces, but Saruman, a third contender, also fielded his own army, which fought battles at the Fords of Isen and Helm's Deep.
The first full-scale battle fought in the war was the First Battle of the Fords of Isen, while the last was the Battle of Bywater, followed shortly afterward by the deaths of Saruman and Gríma Wormtongue. In the wake of the victory, Aragorn II Elessar was crowned King of Gondor, heralding a final renewal of cooperation between Men, Elves, and Dwarves.
Sauron had been defeated in the War of the Last Alliance, but because of Isildur's refusal to destroy the One Ring, he was not entirely vanquished. He was, however, reduced to a formless phantasm. Sauron began plotting his return to power from his stronghold at Dol Guldur. The foundations of Barad-dûr were also not destroyed. Sauron's spirit wandered the wastelands of Middle-earth for over 1000 years, but eventually he rebuilt his power and became a threat once again. Around TA 1000, the Valar sent Maiar emissaries to Middle-earth to help the free peoples against the growing evil.
Indeed, Orcs and other wicked things were multiplying and the Witch-king from his fortress in Angmar waged unending war against Arnor. Moria and Minas Ithil fell and were abandoned, among other battles, plagues, and catastrophes which ended the Kingdom of Arnor and the Royal line of Gondor. The evil entity known only as the Necromancer fled from Dol Guldur because of Gandalf, allowing for some centuries of calmness.
In TA 2002, The wraiths conquered Minas Ithil in the Southern Kingdom of Gondor, launching assaults on Ithilien and Osgiliath, while the Witch-king of Angmar in the North, assailed the Northern kingdoms of Arnor and raided Rhovanion.
In the meantime, Sauron's One Ring was found by two of the Stoors in the Gladden River. The Hobbit who got it, under its influence, was corrupted as Gollum and eventually retreated in the Goblin-town under the Misty Mountains. By the end of the Age, Sauron attempted to gather back all the Rings to augment his power. He took the Nine, but of the Seven he managed to reclaim only three, the last of them being the Ring of Thrór but could not find the One.
Gandalf was concerned about the weak state of the North. Smaug the Dragon had destroyed both the Kingdom under the Mountain and the town of Dale. About Erebor was a desolation which Sauron might use to regain the northern passes in the mountains and the old lands of Angmar, not to mention the devastating effect of a living dragon in the Enemy's force. Gandalf, seeing no hope in Thorin's plans of battle and war against Smaug, persuaded him that he should go secretly to Erebor to reclaim its treasure, and to take with him Bilbo Baggins of the Shire. Smaug was killed by Bard, Erebor was retaken, and most importantly, the kingdoms of Erebor and Dale were re-established. In a small incident along the way, the One Ring was lost by Gollum and wound up in Bilbo's hands.
- "The Dark Tower had been rebuilt, it was said. From there the power was spreading far and wide, and away far east and south there were wars and growing fear. Orcs were multiplying again in the mountains. Trolls were abroad, no longer dull-witted, but cunning and armed with dreadful weapons. And there were murmured hints of creatures more terrible than all these, but they had no name."
- —The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Shadow of the Past"
During the Quest of Erebor, the White Council attacked Dol Guldur and the Necromancer withdrew. However, Sauron returned to his old abode in Mordor to reconstruct Barad-dûr and ten years after the fall of Smaug he sent three Nazgûl to reoccupy Dol Guldur. He declared himself openly in TA 2951. The White Council met for the last time in TA 2953 to discuss the Rings of Power when Saruman reassured them that the One Ring had been lost forever in the Sea. After this, Saruman fortified Isengard, spied on Gandalf, learning thus his interest in the Shire, and started sending his agents around the Shire under the pretense of pipe-weed affairs.
All the while, Sauron's mind was bent on a single thought: the One Ring, which he needed above all else to restore his full might. To that end, he deployed numerous spies across Middle-Earth to search for it but the closest he ever came was the capture of an insane, raving Stoor Hobbit, the creature Gollum who had been discovered sneaking about the borders of Mordor and who contained traces of the One Ring's power. Sauron savagely tortured and interrogated the Stoor relentlessly for weeks, receiving only inane babble in return until finally Gollum blurted out two ungarbled words; 'Shire' and 'Baggins'. Seizing on this, Sauron released the Stoor under the belief that he might of later use and deployed the Nazgûl to find the Shire to track down the One Ring. He was foiled once more however by the machinations of the Wizard Gandalf and the One Ring remained lost to him.
Undeterred, Sauron continued to rebuild. His Orc armies continued to grow in Mordor whilst he forged alliances with the Easterlings in the East; the Haradrim and Variags in the South; as well as Dunlendings through his thrall Saruman. Having tracked the Ring to the Elven sanctuary of Rivendell in December, TA 3018, Sauron concluded that his enemies had the Ring and prepared to launch his war to recover it and destroy those that opposed him.
Sauron began reassembling his forces for the final blow against the hated remnants of Númenor and the Eldar. Armies of Easterlings from Khand and beyond the Sea of Rhûn reinforced Mordor, joined by men from South Harad. Orcs, trolls, and other foul beasts were multiplying while Sauron's servants were searching the Anduin for the One Ring. Meanwhile, Saruman's use of a palantíri caught the Dark Lord's notice and he used the Ithil-stone to ensnare him, turning him into a useful, yet not wholly trustworthy, minion.
A year before the war, while Gollum was looking for his ring, he was taken to Mordor and interrogated by Sauron, who learned that the One Ring was in the possession of a "Baggins" in a place called "the Shire". However, Sauron was led into thinking that the Shire was on the banks of the Gladden River. Gollum was then set free, but caught by Aragorn, who placed him in the care of the Silvan Elves and held him in Mirkwood. A messenger from Mordor visited King Dáin II and asked information on Bilbo and the Ring. Meanwhile, Gandalf reading the Scroll of Isildur in Minas Tirith, also realized that Bilbo's Ring was the One Ring.
The task of the Wizards was to oppose Sauron, but by the time of the War of the Ring only one remained true to that purpose. Throughout the war Gandalf would prove to be the key element, martialling the Dark Lord's enemies against him while countering Sauron's moves, sometimes decades in advance.
Gandalf's adaptability and aptitude for strategy proved invaluable to his allies during the complicated web of strategy surrounding the War of the Ring. As told in Unfinished Tales, Gandalf had known for quite a while that Sauron's use of Smaug would virtually guarantee victory over his enemies, laying waste to the remaining strongholds of the Elves. He and the company of Thorin II Oakenshield thus set out to destroy Smaug, and in the process broke the power of the Northern Orcs in the Battle of Five Armies, ensuring the freedom of a mostly defenceless Eriador in the war to come.
The primary objective of Sauron's grand wartime strategy was to defeat the strongest of his enemies; Gondor, and to do so he would need to take their capital city and greatest fortress, Minas Tirith. This was no easy task even for Sauron; Gondor was easily the largest, most populous and most powerful kingdom of Men in Middle-earth and, despite its decline and stagnation, could still boast strong military forces. To this end, the war effort of Mordor was focused in the south in and around Gondor's borderlands, in a strategy of divide and conquer. To keep Gondor's ally Rohan, on its northern border, from sending aid, Sauron promoted the rise of his puppet Saruman at Isengard to the west of Rohan. Thus Rohan's forces would be focused in the west trying to stem the tide of Isengard's attacks and none could be sent to Minas Tirith's defense. Meanwhile, Sauron sent his allies, the Corsairs of Umbar to attack Gondor's populous southern coastal fiefdoms, which as a result could send only a fraction of their forces to defend Minas Tirith, while the rest stayed on the coasts preparing for the Corsair assault.
At the apex of Sauron's incursion into Gondor was the ancient, ruined city of Osgiliath which straddled both sides of the Anduin River and lay right in front of the mountain pass which served as the entrance to the lands of Mordor. The city was defended stoutly by the garrison and Rangers of Ithilien but the defenders were massively outnumbered by the army Sauron would throw against them.
- Main article: Battles of the Fords of Isen
The War of the Ring started in Rohan when a detachment of Saruman's troops crossed the Fords of Isen. Warned by good intelligence reports, Théodred, the son of the King Théoden, secretly mustered his forces and rode with them to the fords in order to launch a surprise attack against the enemy. On February 23, 3019 he attacked the vanguard of the Orc forces marching out of Isengard in the First Battle of the Fords of Isen. The Rohirrim however had misjudged their position and reinforcements were quickly deployed from Isengard by Saruman, forcing Théodred to order a retreat. His forces withdrew to a small island at the Fords of Isen, but they had no time to rest before they were surrounded and in the process, Theodred was killed. Grimbold managed to hold the island, but would not have succeeded if Elfhelm had not come with reinforcements from Helm's Deep and because the Uruk-hai immediately withdrew following Théodred's death. Thus the First Battle of the Fords of Isen ended in a costly victory for the Rohirrim.
Now that the Second Marshal of the Mark was dead, Erkenbrand took command of the Westfold. He placed Grimbold and Elfhelm at the Fords. However, they were unable to withstand the forces of Isengard and were outflanked and then surrounded in the Second Battle of the Fords of Isen. Though they successfully broke through the enemy's lines, they ended up scattered around the Westfold, giving Saruman clear passage into Rohan.
- Main article: Battle of the Hornburg
Meanwhile, Gandalf drove Gríma Wormtongue out of Edoras and went to gather Erkenbrand's scattered forces, advising King Théoden to move to the stronghold of the Hornburg. The king and his forces arrived unmolested, but soon the fortress was surrounded by Saruman's troops and attacked in the Battle of the Hornburg. All through the night of March 3rd-4th a combined force of Orcs and Wild Men from Dunland besieged the Hornburg, and despite the efforts of the Rohirrim (aided by Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli) hope appeared lost. Believing Rohan was lost, Théoden decided to mount a final, suicidal charge against Saruman's forces. Unexpectedly, however, Gandalf arrived in the nick of time with Erkenbrand and the scattered Rohirrim, along with a forest of Huorns who had been sent to the battle by Treebeard. The Orcs were trapped and utterly annihilated. The Dunlendings were taken captive, however, they were freed after swearing an oath not to again attack Rohan and clearing the battlefield of the dead. The mercy of this act amazed the captives, who had been told by Saruman that the men of Rohan were cruel and burned their captives alive.
- Main article: Destruction of Isengard
Days before, at an Entmoot in Fangorn Forest, the Ents, furious over the destruction Saruman had wrought upon the forest, decided to march on Isengard. They attacked the fortress and completely obliterated it, save only the impregnable tower of Orthanc. By March 3 the destruction was completed, and the command of Isengard was taken by the Ent Treebeard. At Gandalf's request, he sent a large herd of Huorns to the Battle of Hornburg, to aid the Rohirrim.
The Pelennor Fields
- Main article: Battle of Osgiliath
For over 3000 years, the realm of Gondor had held back the threat from the east and south. In time, with multiple assaults co-ordinated by Sauron, the kingdom declined, and the Dark Lord prepared to strike the mortal blow. On June 20 TA 3018 an initial attack was launched that captured the Eastern half of Osgiliath, securing a base from which the assault would be launched the following year. The two most important of Gondor's outer fortresses were the island citadel of Cair Andros and the western half of the ruined city of Osgiliath. Following the Great Signal from Minas Morgul and the answering signal from Mount Doom, the attack on Osgiliath was the first move of the assault on Gondor. Sauron's two armies swiftly overwhelmed the defenders of the fortresses, and Faramir was forced to retreat to the Causeway Forts, the last defence against the Morgul forces. Soon these too were destroyed, and only Minas Tirith remained. The defence of these outposts bought vital time however, delaying the arrival of the forces of Mordor at the gates of the White City for nearly two days.
- Main article: Siege of Gondor
The attack soon began, as the Nazgûl hovered above and spread terror and confusion, and siege towers tried to take the walls. Incendiary missiles were hurled over the city walls of Minas Tirith, starting multiple fires. Such was the terror of the Nazgûl that the morale of the defenders began to collapse, with many abandoning the fight to cower in fear. Led by Gandalf and Imrahil the defense at the Great Gate of Minas Tirith remained stout until the arrival of Grond, which breached the gate. The Lord of the Nazgûl then entered. He was the first and only enemy to do so.
- Main article: Battle of the Pelennor Fields
All seemed lost — until six thousand Rohirrim, under King Théoden's command, came and broke the siege lines. Still, the battle was in doubt until Aragorn arrived with a large force out of southern Gondor. The joint force of Gondor and Rohan then successfully defeated their enemies after a long day of fighting. This battle resulted in the deaths of the Witch-king of Angmar, King Théoden, and Denethor, Steward of Gondor.
- Main article: Battle of the Morannon
The Battle of the Morannon was the final major battle against Sauron in the War of the Ring, fought at the Black Gate of Mordor. The Army of the West, roughly 6,000 strong, led by Aragorn marched on the gate and faced a vastly larger force as a diversionary feint to distract Sauron's attention from Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee, who were carrying the One Ring through Mordor. It was hoped that Sauron would think Aragorn had the Ring and was now trying to use it to overthrow Mordor. Despite the seemingly impossible odds the Army of the West was eventually victorious, for when the Ring was destroyed, Sauron's forces fled, surrendered in dismay or were destroyed.
Whilst Mordor's central war effort was focused in the south against Gondor, using his outstretched right arm, Sauron concurrently attempted to outflank the lands of the Free Peoples through Rhovanion, using Orcs and his Easterling allies. In this theatre of the war, Sauron's primary strategic objective was to use the forces at his primary base of operations in the area, Dol Guldur in southern Mirkwood, to defeat the Elven realm of Lothlórien, then pass over the Misty Mountains to take Rivendell and Eriador. However, Dol Guldur also had to deal with the threat of the Elven Woodland Realm of Thranduil, and thus was forced to split the Orc forces between the attack on Lothlórien and the attack on the Woodland Realm.
Sauron would doubtless have used his Easterling allies to attack these realms were it not for the fact that the way west was blocked by the Dwarves of the Lonely Mountain and the Iron Hills and the Men of Dale.
Bridging the gap between the northern and southern theatres of the war was the line of the River Anduin between Lothlórien and Gondor, running along Rohan's border. Orc armies peeling off from the assault on Lothlórien tried to enter Rohan via this route, while most of its men had left to fight at Minas Tirith, but the Ents of Fangorn forest counterattacked on The Wold and destroyed the invading force.
Dale and the Lonely Mountain
- Main article: Battle of Dale
When the war commenced, the Dwarves of Erebor refused to cooperate with Sauron in his hunt for the Ring. So it was that Sauron sent in his legions of Easterlings to attack Dale and destroy the two kingdoms. On March 17 the Easterlings met the armies of the Dwarves of Erebor and the Men of Dale outside the city of Dale. After three days of intense fighting during which time both sides sustained heavy losses, the armies of Dale and the Dwarves were pushed back to the mountain. King Brand of Dale fell before the gate of the Lonely Mountain, and King under the Mountain Dáin II Ironfoot fell after a long defence of Brand's body. Dale was sacked and its citizenry sought refuge in Erebor. The Easterlings settled down to besiege the Mountain, but were unable to gain entry.
When news spread about the fall of Sauron, the Easterlings became demoralized and retreated, and the sons of Brand and Dáin let their army out of Erebor to break the encirclement.
Lothlórien and Mirkwood
On March 11, Lothlórien was first attacked from Dol Guldur. It was attacked two further times, on March 15 and March 22. When the Dark Lord had fallen, Celeborn led his army out of Lórien, and crossed the Anduin. Dol Guldur was captured and destroyed by Galadriel.
Thranduil of Mirkwood was also attacked from Dol Guldur on March 15 resulting in the long Battle Under the Trees, in which Thranduil's kinfolk won a hard victory. After the destruction of Dol Guldur, Celeborn met Thranduil on April 6, and as the shadow had passed, they divided Mirkwood and renamed it Eryn Lasgalen.
- Main article: Battle of Bywater
After the defeat of the Dark Lord, Saruman used the power of his voice to convince Treebeard to release him from Isengard. He travelled to the Shire, where he replaced Lotho Sackville-Baggins as the Chief under the name Sharkey. Under his command Ruffian men entered the Shire and ruined it. They were defeated by Hobbits led by Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took in the Battle of Bywater on November 3. The Hobbits headed to Hobbiton where Frodo ordered Saruman and Wormtongue to leave the Shire. Wormtongue, however, killed Saruman, before he himself was killed by the Hobbits and their arrows. With the death of the wizard Saruman, the War of the Ring finally ended.
Consequences and legacy
The War of the Ring had great influence on all of the lands of the northwest of Middle-earth. Most importantly it led to the restoration of the Kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor as the Reunited Kingdom, under King Elessar Telcontar. The Steward of Gondor was dead, but he was succeeded by his son Faramir, who kept the office and was given the title Prince of Ithilien.
In Rohan the heir apparent, Théodred, was killed, and, in the Battle of Pelennor Fields, King Théoden died as well. He was succeeded by his nephew Éomer. In the Glittering Caves at the Hornburg, a Dwarven colony was established, and Isengard was given to the Ents, who filled Saruman's pits and reforested the land, renaming it the Treegarth of Orthanc
In Dale, both King Brand and King Dáin II Ironfoot were killed, who were succeeded by their sons Bard II and Thorin III Stonehelm. They sent their emissaries to the crowning of Elessar, and were in alliance with Gondor until their Kingdoms ended.
For the Elves, the final decline had begun. With the destruction of the One Ring, the power of the Three Rings faded, and the kingdoms that had been preserved by their magic began to fade with them. The bearers of the Rings left Middle-earth, and Lórien was eventually abandoned. The Elves of Lothlórien who did not depart over the Sea moved east to the southern third of Mirkwood, below the Narrows, which they named East Lórien. In Eryn Lasgalen however, Thranduil's rule continued, and they had peace. An Elven colony was also set up by Legolas in Ithilien for a short time. Many of the Elves of Rivendell departed over the Sea, and by Aragorn's death 120 years later, only the Sons of Elrond, Celeborn and a small household remained.
In the Shire life continued as it had prior to the war. It was declared a free land under the Sceptre of Annúminas, and Men were forbidden to enter it. The Westmarch was added to the Shire by King Elessar in SR 1452.
The different races of Men that had served Sauron suffered grievously; much of Harad's fighting men were annihilated on the Pelennor Fields, slaughtered by the swords of Gondor and the lances of Rohan or drowning in the Anduin river. The Easterlings hastily retreated back to their homelands after Sauron's fall and fought several territorial wars with King Elessar over lands near the Sea of Rhûn, but ceased to be a major threat.
Once the Fourth Age began, the Elves stopped having an active influence on the affairs of Middle-earth, having started fading away ever since the Third Age. Orcs never became a serious threat again, reduced to small bands of mountain brigands they were never more than a nuisance. All the Nazgûl were killed, with Sauron reduced to a mere shadow of malice. Wars would still be fought by the Reunited Kingdom and Rohan against the Men that had allied with Sauron, the Haradrim and Easterlings.
- Battles of the Fords of Isen
- Destruction of Isengard
- Battle of the Hornburg
- Battle of Osgiliath
- Battle of Pelargir
- Battle of the Pelennor Fields
- Battle of the Black Gate
- Battles of Lórien
- Battle Under the Trees
- Battle of Dol Guldur
- Battle of Dale
- Battle of Bywater
Portrayal in adaptations
The War of the Ring is one of the major wars in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. It was one of the major wars in all of Middle-earth and the main conflict in the film series. It begun with the Attack on Dol Guldur and Battle of Five Armies in TA 2941, which sent the conflict into a 60-year lull during which Sauron rebuilt his power, before erupting with attack on Osgiliath and culminate in Sauron's ultimate defeat during the Battle of the Black Gate in TA 3002.
In the Second Age, the Dark Lord Sauron was challenged by an alliance of Men and Elves (from Númenor and Lindon, respectively). In spite of some Men breaking their oath of allegiance for fear of Sauron, the alliance was successful. Wielding the sword Narsil, Isildur defeated Sauron.
However, because his Ring of Power was not destroyed but lost, Sauron's spirit endured and his servants - the nine Ringwraiths led by the Witch-king - later returned to harass the kingdoms of Middle-earth.
In TA 2940, Gandalf - a member of the council - stumbled upon men carrying a message promising payment for the head of the Dwarven exilarch Thorin Oakenshield, who was abroad nearby at the time. With this, Gandalf began to sense an unease as to the continuation of the peace. Worried that "darker minds" will turn towards Erebor - either to secure an alliance with the dragon or to use its wealth and position for evil purposes - he intercepted Thorin and convinced him to undertake Quest of Erebor, which was a quest to reclaim Erebor from the dragon Smaug. He would later argue that the quest for the Dwarves to reclaim their homeland would Bean that Middle-earth's armies in the East will be strengthened anger to rid Sauron's chance of using Smaug in his army. During the Quest, Gandalf noticed further signs of disquiet, which he later reported to The White Council: Trolls have come down from the Ettenmoors and raided a farm. Orcs, astride Gundabad Wargs, attacked the company in the open, along the Great East Road, coming the very borders of Rivendell.
Most importantly, however, a Necromancer had taken up residence in the ruined fortress of Dol Guldur some time before, and his dark magic was spreading a sickness through the Greenwood. Bats and Giant Spiders were abroad and a Morgul Blade, which was known to belong to the Witch-king, was uncovered by Radagast in Dol Guldur. The other members of the council (outside of Galadriel, who shared Gandalf's innate sense of "something at work") largely dismissed this. Elrond, in particular, in his complacency, said its "hardly a prelude to war."
Further down the road, Gandalf saw further proof of rising evil: Azog has come out of Moria for the first time since his defeat, and payed homage to the Necromancer, rallying more and more Moria Orcs to Dol Guldur. Goblins had multiplied under the Misty Mountains, and Orcs have infested the Wilderland. Unbeknownst to him, hearing its Master's call, The One Ring - too - was recovered from Gollum, falling into the hand of Bilbo Baggins, a member of Thorin's company.
All of this compelled the wizard to investigate the High Fells, where he found the tombs opened from the inside. Now fearing that the Necromancer is Sauron himself, he went to Dol Guldur where he discovered that the last Dwarf Ring was harvested by Sauron, who was marshaling a secret army commanded by Azog. He was already in league with Smaug and intended to use him against the realms of the North while using Erebor to secure his reclaiming of the lands of Angmar.
The members of the White Council - informed by Radagast - came to Gandalf's rescue. The ensuing battle is the beginning of the War of the Ring. Elrond and Saruman faces the Ringwraiths and Galadriel banished Sauron to the east. Galadriel became too weakened to be a part of the physical struggle against Sauron in the war to come, and when Elrond brought her back to Lothlorien, she remained there for the duration of the conflict. Indeed, with Sauron reappearing, the power of the Elven Rings began to dwindle, with Sauron declaring that "The time of the Elves is over." Saruman took control of the situation, asking that Sauron be left to his care. He retrieved a Palantir present in Dol Guldur. Sauron and Azog's army (and a second army led out of Gundabad by Bolg), however, was already en route to the Lonely Mountain and attacked the armies of Elves, Men and Dwarves which were marshaled there for the Siege of Erebor.
The Battle was lost when Azog used it for his own ends, setting a trap for Thorin which ended up costing both their lives during the Skirmish in Ravenhill. With Azog defeated, Bolg slain by Legolas and the Gundabad Army thwarted by Beorn, Sauron had suffered a temporary defeat.
In the intervening years, Sauron returned to Mordor and began multiplying Orcs and rebuilding his tower of Barad-dur. Saruman went to Isengard to keep a watch, but using the Palantir he confiscated in Dol Guldur eventually resulted in him being convinced by Sauron's superiority and submitting himself to the Dark Lord.
Gandalf and Legolas joined a young Aragorn who, along with the sons of Elrond, helped cleanse Eriador of evil creatures left over from the Angmar Wars. Aragorn later travelled under pseudonym to Rohan, where he rode to war with Thenga, and to Gondor where he served the steward Ecthelion in the fight against Sauron. The stewards of Gondor kept the forces of Mordor at bay in Ithilien.
Gandalf returned to the Shire from untold ventures against Sauron and his agents. Attending Bilbo's Farewell Party, he became aware of the corrupting effects of Bilbo's Ring and compelled the Hobbit to leave it behind for his cousin, Frodo Baggins. He left again to look for answers.
In the quest to hunt for Gollum, Gandalf called upon the Dúnedain ranger Aragorn (the secret heir of Isildur) to help him track down Gollum in order to learn more of the nature of Bilbo's Ring. However, Sauron caught him first and extracted Bilbo's name and whereabouts from him. Sauron launched an attack on the ruins of Osgiliath, which was soon reclaimed by Boromir, son of the Gondorian steward, which reignited the war.
Gandalf tracked Gollum's trail, reaching the borders of Mordor and learning that Sauron is marshaling an army and rebuilding Barad-dûr. He did not know, however, that Sauron had sent the Nine Ringwraiths towards the Shire. Gandalf then turned to the library of nearby Minas Tirith, finding information that would later help him prove that the Ring is indeed Sauron's. Returning to the Shire in September, he set Frodo off with the Ring towards Bree while he went to convene with Saruman in Isengard. As Elrond was informed of this, he called upon delegates of all the races of Middle-earth to take coucil in Rivendell. Gandalf was delayed after being held captive by Saruman, bringing news that the wizard is marshaling his own army. Frodo arrived later still, chased by Ringwraiths. Delegates from Erebor, Dale, Gondor and the Woodland Realm convened and the Fellowship of the Ring was formed to help Frodo destroy the Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. This included Gandalf, Aragorn, Boromir of Gondor (secretly sent by his father to bring the Ring to Gondor), Legolas, Gimli, Sam, Merry and Pippin. During the first leg of their quest, the Fellowship took part in the Battle of the Mazarbul Chamber against the Orcs of Moria, and in the Battle of Amon Hen against Saruman's Uruk-hai, where the company was partially disbanded. Lothlórien, too, was attacked by Orcs chasing the company out of Moria, and Frodo even beheld a future in which the War was won by Sauron and the Shire was spoiled by his servants.
Meanwhile, Sauron used Saruman as a puppet to attack the people of Rohan, while Sauron himself mustered Easterlings and Southrons (some of which were intercepted in Ithilien by Faramir, brother of Boromir) in preparations to launch an assault upon Gondor. Saruman's hordes of Uruk-hai and disgruntled Dunlendings burned many villages in the Westfold and destroyed a Rohirric army led by prince Théodred (himself mortally wounded) in the Battle of the Fords of Isen. In preparation of a large-scale assault, Saruman also harassed the nearby Ents of Fangorn, burning a portion of their forest to feed the furnaces required to forge armor for his troops.
Against this threat, King Théoden - with Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli at his side - decided to lead his people out of Edoras and into the Fortress of Helm's Deep. In spite of a Warg attack, they arrived and barricaded themselves against Saruman's army.
Meanwhile, Osgiliath was attacked again, but the enemy seemed to withdraw when The Ring (taken with Frodo into the ruins of the city) was borne out of it.
In Battle of Helm's Deep, despite of aid from Lothlorien under Haldir, sent by Elrond, the Rohirrim very nearly lost to Saruman's forces in Helm's Deep before Gandalf arrived with reinforcements. Meanwhile, the Ents - egged by Merry and Pippin - were enraged into attacking Isengard itself, eliminating Saruman from effecting the future course of the War. Nevertheless, as Gandalf summarized, the great battle for Middle-earth's future was only about to begin.
With a Palantir secured from Saruman, Pippin accidentally saw a glimpse of Sauron's plan: fearing Aragorn's impending return to the throne of Gondor, and suspecting that the Ring was taken to its capital of Minas Tirith, Sauron was in a hurry to besiege and raze the city. Indeed, shortly afterwards the Witch-king marshalled an army out of Minas Morgul, led by Gothmog. Feigning to move out of the eastern shore of Osgiliath, the Orcs used boats under cover of night to launch a surprise attack on Faramir's garrison. While engaging the Gondorian soldiers on the shore, they placed a wooden bridge over the city's demolished causeway, which allowed them to assault it in large numbers and push Faramir back. Meanwhile, Gandalf used Pippin to light the beacons and call upon Théoden to help in Gondor's defense. All the while, during the battle of Dale, as suspected by Legolas, Orcs and Easterlings attacked the Woodland Realm and Dale, but were held back by the Kings Thranduil, Brand and Dáin in great loses. The heirs of the latter two kings, Bard II and Thorin III Stonehelm pushed the enemy back. Attacks were made on Rivendell, too, but were repelled.
During the attack on Pelargir, in Théoden's camp, Aragorn learnt of the approach of Umbar corsairs, who would tip the scales of the battle even further in favor of Sauron. He was compelled by Elrond to wield Anduril - the reforged Narsil - and recruit the help of the Men of the Mountains (cursed to endure as undead for their lack of fidelity to Isildur), which he did, intercepting the corsairs shortly after they sailed past and assailed Pelargir.
In the Battle of Pelennor Fields, Gothmog lay siege to Minas Tirith. After exchanges of catapult fire being the Orcs and Men, the Nazgul - now astride winged Fell Beasts - took out Gondor's trebuchets, allowing for Siege Towers to approach the city walls and engage its defenders. The gate, however, was impregnable for the Orcs standard rams, before Gothmog had Grond wheeled unto the field.
Breaching the city, he ordered his forces to move in and "kill all" in their path. Gandalf led a retreat to the second level of the city and faced the Witch-king before the Rohirrim arrived at the break of dawn. They cut through the Orc ranks, but were matched by the Haradrim and their Mumakil. Théoden was mortally wounded by the Witch-king's mount, but his niece Éowyn - having joined the battle in disguise - defended her uncle and, with the aid of Merry, dispatched the Witch-king. Just then, Aragorn arrived with the Army of the Dead on the Corsair Ships, tipping the scale of the Battle.
However, the war was not over, however, as Sauron still had as many as ten thousand Orcs scattered across Gorgoroth. Aragorn offered to use their remaining forces to draw out this force, giving Frodo a chance to carry the Ring through Mordor and destroy it in Mount Doom.
The plan nearly failed when Frodo and Sam, disguised as Orcs, were marched towards the Black Gate, where the forces of Gondor and Rohan were mustered. The Hobbits managed to sneak out of the mass of Orcs, however, and continued on their trek across Gorgoroth, while the Mouth of Sauron tried to fool Aragorn into thinking Frodo was in fact captured and killed.
The plan was successful in distracting Sauron until Frodo - consumed by the Ring - claimed it to himself. However, the intervention of Gollum who was tracking the Hobbits in an attempt to reclaim his Ring, caused it to fall into the fires of Mount Doom and be destroyed. The army of Mordor was in part destroyed in the ensuing cataclysm and in part fled the horror of it.
After the Battle of the Black Gate, Aragorn was crowned King and married Arwen, daughter of Elrond. Thorin III and Bard II inherited the kingships of Erebor and Dale, respectively, and the Hobbits returned to the Shire, where Sam married Rosie Cotton and became mayor. Aragorn established the Reunited Kingdom, and later sired a line through his son Eldarion.
However, the destruction of the Ring drained the power of the three Elven Rings, and with the departure of Elrond, Galadriel and Celeborn to the West, the realms of Lothlorien and Rivendell were depopulated. The death of Saruman and departure of Gandalf also meant the end of the Order of the Istari, and with Frodo and Bilbo joining the wizard and Elf-Lords, the Ringbearers too would leave Middle-earth indefinitely.
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Afrikaans||Oorlog van die Ring|
|Albanian||Lufta e Unazës|
|Amharic||የ ሪንግ ጦርነት|
|Belarusian Cyrillic||Вайна Пярсцёнка|
|Bosnian||Rat za Prsten|
|Bulgarian Cyrillic||Войната на Пръстена|
|Catalan||Guerra de l'Anell|
|Cebuano||Gubat sa mga Singsing|
|Chichewa||Nkhondo ya Mphete|
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||魔戒聖戰|
|Corsican||Guerra di l Anellu|
|Croatian||Rat za Prsten|
|Czech||Válka o Prsten|
|Dutch||Oorlog om de Ring|
|Esperanto||Milito de la Ringo|
|Fijian||Na Ivalu ni na Mama|
|Filipino||Digmaan ng Singsing|
|French||Guerre de l'Anneau|
|Galician||Guerra do Anel|
|Greek||Πόλεμος του δαχτυλιδιού|
|Haitian Creole||Lagè nan an Bag|
|Hausa||Yaki da Zobe|
|Hawaiian||Kaua o ke Apo|
|Hindi||रिंग के युद्ध|
|Irish Gaelic||Cogadh an Fáinne|
|Kazakh||Жүзік соғыс (Cyrillic) Jüzik soğıs (Latin)|
|Kurdish||Şer yên de Rîngê (Kurmanji)|
|Kyrgyz Cyrillic||Шакектин согуш|
|Latin||Bellum autem Anulus|
|Luxembourgish||Krich vun de Réng|
|Macedonian Cyrillic||Војната на прстенот|
|Malagasy||Ady ny Peratra|
|Maori||Whawhai o te Whakakai|
|Mongolian Cyrillic||Цагираган дайн|
|Norwegian||Krigen om Ringen|
|Occitan||Guèrra de l'Anèl|
|Pashto||د حلقوي جګړې|
|Polish||Wojna o Pierścień|
|Portuguese||Guerra do anel|
|Punjabi||ਰਿੰਗ ਦੀ ਲੜਾਈ|
|Querétaro Otomi||Ar hñäki jar anillo|
|Scottish Gaelic||Cogadh na Fàinne|
|Serbian||Рат Прстенова (Cyrillic) Rat Prstenova (Latin)|
|Slovak||Vojna o Prsteň|
|Spanish||Guerra del Anillo|
|Swahili||Vita ya Gonga|
|Tahitian||Tamai o te tapea Rima|
|Ukrainian Cyrillic||Війна персня|
|Urdu||انگوٹی کی جنگ|
|Uzbek||Узук уруш (Cyrillic) Uzuk urush (Latin)|
|Vietnamese||Cuộc Nhẫn Chiến|
|Welsh||Rhyfel y Fodrwy|
|Yiddish||מלחמה פון די רינג|
- The History of Middle-earth, The War of the Ring, pg. 249, "...somewhat short of ten thousand but in that count I reckon only men well-horsed, fully armed...As many again there are on foot..."
- The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Shadow of the Past" - "the Nine [Sauron] has gathered to himself; the Seven also, or else they are destroyed."
- Unfinished Tales, "The Quest of Erebor"
- The Hobbit, "Riddles in the Dark"
- The History of Middle-earth, Vol. XII. The Peoples of Middle-earth, "XIII. Last Writings"
- The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
- The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Council of Elrond"