The Nazgûl ~ A Dark History of the Ringwraiths ~ The Nine
Nine Kings of Men Who Fell Into Shadow
“Nine Rings were gifted to the race of Men, who above all else desire power.”
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Nine mortal men enslaved by Sauron the Deceiver
They were once men and each fell one by one under the power of the One Ring and became slaves to the will of the Dark Lord.
The Nine Nazgûl or Ringwraiths were the most loyal and terrible servants of the Dark-lord. In origin they were all mortal men, great and powerful lords in their own right, who ruled many lands throughout Middle-earth. Each was seduced by the gift of one of the Nine Rings of Sauron, which imbued its wearer with great powers of sorcery, and an almost unlimited life span. But like all of the Dark-lord’s gifts it was tainted, for each of the Nine Rings was ruled by the One, and thus the nine wearers became slaves of the will of Sauron. Ultimately, by the end of the Third-age the Nazgûl were terrifying undead creatures, existing in a terrible twilight world between life and death, with no thought or desire save that of the Dark-lord himself. Their fate was by this time completely bound up with that of their master and that of the One ring, whose recovery and restoration they arduously sought.
Here you will find a brief history of the origin of each of the Nine Nazgûl. Though these histories do not fall under the Tolkien Canon, they have become part of the larger mythology of Middle-earth which has grown with radio, films, television, stage, games, trading cards and the internet. A portion of these Ringwraith biographies are from early Middle-earth Role Playing games and Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game, as well as our own interpretations and additions made here in Mordor ~ The Land of Shadow.com.
The names of the Nine Nazgul are as follows: The Witch-king of Angmar, Khamûl the Easterling, Dwar of Waw, Ji Indûr Dawndeath, Akhôrahil, Hoarmûrath of Dír, Adûnaphel the Quiet, Ren the Unclean and Ûvatha the Horseman, but only The Witch-king of Angmar and Khamûl the Easterling come from Tolkien’s writings.
The Nazgûl each have a number beginning with The Witch King of Angmar ~ Úlairë Minë (1), Úlairë Attëa (2), Úlairë Nelya (3), Úlairë Cantëa (4), Úlairë Lemenya (5), Úlairë Enquëa (6), Úlairë Otsëa (7), Úlairë Toldëa (8) and Úlairë Nertëa (9). Úlairë is a reconstructed Quenya singular “Ringwraith” (the singular of Q. pl. Ulairi is not directly attested), and the second word is simply an ordinal number from one to nine. The numbers below signfy a hierarchy of power in the group of nine.
The Witch-king of Angmar ~ Úlairë Minë (One of Nine)
Race: Black Númenórean
In origin, a prince of the Royal House of Númenór in the Second-age, the Witch-king was seduced by the power of the nine rings and fell thrall to Sauron, as the price paid for that terrible gift. The Witch-king became the greatest of the Nazgûl and second only in power to the Dark-lord himself. During Sauron’s final attempt to become Lord of Middle-earth during the Third age, the Witch-king played a vital role in his master’s designs. As a plan to subvert and finally destroy the Northern realm of Arnor, the Witch-king established himself in the north of Eriador in the barren lands of Angmar, where he gathered his power and sent out spies. His evil machinations were largely responsible for the fragmentation of Arnor into three successor kingdoms each of which was confronted and finally destroyed by the power of Angmar. In the final battle of the North the Witch-king road forth from Carn-dûm with a host of evil men and orcs to assault the last northern stronghold of Fornost. The city was overwhelmed sacked by the armies of the Witch-king. However, a feet from Gondor came to the aid of the north kingdom and the Witch-king was defeated, however it was too late to save the North Kingdom of Arnor which was finally abandoned.
During the War of the Ring, the Witch-king led the dark host out of Minas Morgul to battle at the Pelennor Fields. This long planed assault was nearly victorious after the fall of the great gate. The Lord of the Nazgûl drove Grond into the Gate of Minas Tirth and it was broken with the power of Morgul Spells. However, the tide of battle turned and the Witch-king perished at the hands of Eowyn Dernhelm, shield maiden of Rohan with help from Merry Brandybuck of the Shire
Chief of all the servants of Sauron, the Witch-king was, in origin, one of the Black Númenóreans, who the Dark-lord seduced to his own service by the gift of one of the Nine rings. The rings conferred great power upon their wearers but also subjugated them forever to the will of Sauron. A sorcerer of great power, the Witch-king was also Sauron’s ablest military commander. He founded the Northern Kingdom of Angmar and was the architect of both Arthedain’s and Cardolan’s destruction. In the Southern Kingdom he successfully conquered the great citadel of Minas Ithil and ended Gondor’s guardianship over Mordor. With the death of King Eärnur, who defeated him at Fornost the Witch-king had his revenge and ended the line of Kings of Númenór in exile..
The Witch-king was the most power wraith among the Nine, wielding great powers of Dark Sorcery which in the end could not save him from his fate upon the Pelennor.
Khamûl the Easterling ~ Úlairë Attëa (Two of Nine)
Rank, Nazgûl Lieutenant. Emissary to the peoples of the East and the Variags, he was Lieutenant to the Witch-king and second among the Nine; a potent Mage in his own lifetime, now bound to the cause of Mordor forever.
Khamûl’s origins are veiled in mystery save that he was of one of the races from beyond Rhûn in the furthest east of Middle-earth. Like all the ringwraiths he was bound to Sauron by one of the nine rings of power and his fate was thus tied to that of his master. So when Sauron went into the shadow at the end of the Second-age, Khamul also disappeared from Middle-earth re-appearing in Mordor during the second millennium of the Third-age.
He served the Dark Lord in the tower of Barad-dûr during the Second-age and with his master, was forsaken at Gorgoroth, during the Battle of the Last Alliance. At the end of the first millennium of the Third-age, Khamûl served Sauron in the ruins of Dol Guldur, and dwelt there with him while Sauron’s power grew in secret. After the Witch-king’s return to Mordor all of the Nazgûl were called back to the Land of Shadow to prepare the way for the Dark Lord’s return. When Sauron was driven from the ruins of Dol Guldur he returned in secret to Mordor. The Nazgûl Lieutenant Khamûl and Adûnaphel were later sent back to Dol Guldur, to fortify the fortress and prepare for an assault on Lothlorien. In the year leading up to the War of the Ring, the Nazgûl were sent out to find the land of the halflings, and if possible to locate the One Ring. Khamûl and the other Nazgûl came to Hobbiton too late. They then hunted the Ringbearer through the Shire but lost their track when the halflings entered the Old Forest. Later he stood with the Witch-king at Amon Sûl when he stabbed the Ringbearer with Morgul Knife. Later during the War of the Ring, he would orchestrate three attacks on Lothlorien from Dol Guldur, returning to Mordor for the battle at the Black Gate.
Khamûl the Easterling perished with the remaining Nazgûl in the fiery ruin of Mount Doom when the One Ring of Power was destroyed.
Akhôrahil of Númenór ~ Úlairë Nelya (Three of Nine)
Race: Black Númenórean
Like the Witch-king, Akhôrahil was of old, a lord of Númenór, who was corrupted and ensnared by one of the Nine Rings of Sauron. After Sauron’s fall at the end of the Second age, Akhorahil disappeared from Middle-earth. He returned after long years and awaited his master’s return in the far South of Middle-earth.
When Sauron reappeared after the Watchful Peace he ordered Akhôrahil and the other Nazgûl to reoccupy Mordor and to secure it for his return. Akhôrahil was instrumental in laying siege to Minas Ithil and he was chosen bring the captured Palantir from the Tower of the Moon into Mordor to the Dark Tower of Barad-dûr. He remained in Minas Morgul until the War of the Ring when, with his fell companions, he sought out the bearer of the One Ring. Unhorsed at the Ford of Bruinen, he fled back to Mordor and was given a Fell Beast by his Master and so brought terror to the skies of Middle-earth. When the Witch-king marched on Minas Tirith he remained in Minas Morgul as messenger to Barad-dûr.
Akhôrahil of Númenór perished with the remaining Nazgûl in the fiery ruin of Mount Doom when the One Ring of Power was destroyed.
Adûnaphel the Quiet ~ Úlairë Cantëa (Four of Nine)
Race: Men of Eriador
After the great plague ravaged Eriador in the mid Third-age, Gondor’s watch on Mordor became less vigilant and Sauron sent Adûnaphel to the Black Land to prepare for his eventual return. Adûnaphel dwelt secretly in Nurn until the arrival of the Witch-king; whose coming heralded the Nazgûl’s assault on the tower of Minas Ithil. Its fall signified the end of Gondor’s hold on the Mordor. When Sauron’s return to Barad-dûr he commanded Adûnaphel to make fast the ancient stronghold of Dol Guldur under the eves of Mirkwood, and later he was sent north with the other Nazgûl to find the One Ring.
Watching over the southern reaches of Mirkwood and as Captain of Dol Guldur, he would often fly upon his fell beast to Orthanc to carry messages from the Dark Tower. Adûnaphel the Quiet was know to carry a black bow of Yew and a quiver of poisoned arrows. One of his infamous Black Arrows is thought to have been found by the men of Esgaroth and kept as a family heirloom. Some believe this arrow was used by the man, Bard, who slew Smaug the Dragon. It was thought to be his flying steed mentioned in the Red Book of Westmarch when Legolas of the Norther Wood, one of the Nine Walkers who accompanied the Ringbearer on his quest to Mount Doom shot down his steed upon the eastern banks of the River Anduin.
Adûnaphel the Quiet perished with the remaining Nazgûl in the fiery ruin of Mount Doom when the One Ring of Power was destroyed.
Dwar of Waw ~ Úlairë Lemenya (Five of Nine)
Race: Men of Umbar
Dwar of Waw came from a sea-faring race of men, whose pirate ships plundered and waged war upon the lands of the south. Known as a great warrior of Umbar, he became a tyrant and King to his people. A Black Captain of the Corsairs of Umbar Dwar of Waw was one of the first to fall under the spell of the Dark Lord. He gained Sauron’s favor by bringing the lands of Harad under his rule through trickery and cunning during it’s wars against the men Númenór.
He fought many battles with Gondor over the long years of war. Their black fleets ruled the waterways of the South Kingdoms for many years. From afar, he commanded a final great Fleet of Black Ships meant to bring a final end to the rule of Gondor during the War of the Ring. This fleet was to be the final blow in the fall of Minas Tirith during the Battle of the Pelennor, but his desire was cheated by Aragorn and the Dead Men of the Dwimorberg when the fleet was taken over by the men of Amroth and so came at unawares to the Plennor and turned the tide of war.
Dwar of Waw perished with the remaining Nazgûl in the fiery ruin of Mount Doom when the One Ring of Power was destroyed.
Ji Indûr Dawndeath ~ Úlairë Enquëa (Six of Nine)
Race: Men of Harad
Indûr Dawndeath was born in the Second-age in the far south of Middle-earth, where he ruled a tropical kingdom despite the growing threat of Númenórean power.
After being ousted from his throne, he fled to Mumakan and sought refuge with the agents of the Dark Lord who resided there. Here he was offered one of the Nine Rings of Sauron, with all its accompanying power. He accepted the ring and soon after took over the realms of Mumakan and Indûr which he ruled with an iron fist. He was soon under the complete thrall of the Dark Lord and fought for him at the Battle of the Last Alliance. When the One Ring was cut from the hand of Sauron Indûr Dawndeath vanished from Middle-earth until the Dark Lord’s return. When Sauron reemerged as the Necromancer in Dol Guldur the Nine appeared as terrible beings of shadow and invisibility, bound even more completely to the will of the Dark Lord. Ji Indûr ruled his former lands in fief to Mordor. During final assault on Gondor he ordered the armies of Mumakan to march upon the city riding their mammoth Mumakil to the gate of Minas Tirith.
It was by his cunning, that the the great Mumakil of the Southlands were tamed and trained for warfare, gilded with armor and painted in evil runes of the Black Speech, with massive fortresses upon their backs they marched upon the West in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. The were bred and housed in the southern plain of Mordor, near the inland Sea of Núrnen.
Indûr Dawndeath was named Captain of Barad-dûr organizing the defense of the Dark Tower should the land of Mordor ever be breached,
Ji Indûr Dawndeath perished with the remaining Nazgûl in the fiery ruin of Mount Doom when the One Ring of Power was destroyed.
Ûvatha the Horseman ~ Úlairë Otsëa (Seven of Nine)
Race: Men of Khand
Originally a Variag from Khand, Ûvatha was, like all his people, a great horseman. He fought in civil war in his native Khand and eventually united all the tribes under his own rule. He accepted the gift of the Ring of Power shortly after achieving this. The Variags were useful allies to the Dark Lord protecting his eastern and southeastern borders and were later to prove a valuable addition to the armies of Mordor, their fearsome and bloodthirsty reputation alone striking terror into the hearts of many of their enemies. When Sauron fell at the end of the Second-age Uvatha also passed into the shadow of the east, but reappeared along with the Dark Lord after a thousand years has passed. He reestablished his rule of Khand and expanded his kingdom into northern Harad.
He took part in the Nazgûl attack on Minas Ithil, and reoccupied the Tower of Sorcery when Sauron returned to Mordor. He also was responsible for the raids upon Rohan in search of black horses. Within the walls of Mordor, in a vale east of Barad-dûr, was a place known as the Plain of the Black Steeds. Here the horses of Mordor were raised upon fell grains and trained to endure the horror of the Ringwraiths. Ûvatha greatest achievement was the black steed gifted to the Mouth of Sauron, a horse bred with a warg, one of the hellhounds of of Mordor and imbued with the power of a Morgul Wraith. A creature huge and hideous, it’s face a frightful mask more like a skull then a living head, and in it’s eyes and nostrils there burned a flame.
Ûvatha was a skilled rider from the East, he was a messenger and spy across the Plains of the Rohirrim, whose heads he is said to collect and leave hanging from the branches of Fangorn. He was responsible for preparing the way when the Nazgûl left Mordor in search of the Ring. He was sent along with rest of the Nine to seek for the One Ring and was caught up in the white waters at the Ford of the Bruinen, that destroyed his precious black steeds.
Ûvatha the Horseman perished with the remaining Nazgûl in the fiery ruin of Mount Doom when the One Ring of Power was destroyed.
Ren the Unclean ~ Úlairë Toldëa (Eight of Nine)
Race: Men of the Men of Brown Lands
Ren the Unclean was said to have uttered a curse upon Sauron before he succumbed to the power of the Ring. Some believed he was fated to destroy the Dark Lord. To what end he may have come if the War of the Ring had favored the Dark Lord instead of the men of the West, none can say for he perished in flaming ruin of Mount Doom. Ren the Unclean is even more disturbing than most of the fearsome Nazgûl. It is believed that he was a Princeling and son of the King to the people who once live in the lands below Greenwood the Great. This small kingdom of men lay along the eastern edge of the great river Anduin and their southern border was the Emyn Muil. It was a region of great beauty and bounty, filled with gardens and orchards of fruit. It is said the Entwives labored long in this land of plenty. However the ruthless greed of King Ren allowed the Dark Lord to ravage their lands and all of it’s people are now gone. This forsaken place is now known as the Brown Lands.
After falling into Shadow, Ren became known as the Lord of the Marshes. He was a corrupter of the River Folk, who became like Gollum and now serve Mordor in the Dead Marshes. They are known as Swamp Dwellers or Mewlips and server the Dark Lord.
It is believed that by his foul craft, the dead buried on the Dagorlad after the Battle of the Last Alliance, were overtaken by the dark sorcery of this mire and so became shadow wraiths amid the stagnate waters. This haunted place became known as the Dead Marshes, which crept slowly over many years into the northern reaches of the Dagorlad. The fear of it’s deadly meres protected the northern border of Mordor.
When Sauron rose once more in power, he was named Guardian of the Morannon, the Black Gate.. He was known as the Captain of the Teeth, the towers that flanked that Iron Gate, controlling all that went upon the Dagorlad and through the Dead Marshes. He was the overseer during the building of the newly fortified entrance into Mordor, fortifying the two towers originally built by the men of Gondor. He commanded the armies of Udûn during Battle of the Black Gate.
Ren the Unclean perished with the remaining Nazgûl in the fiery ruin of Mount Doom when the One Ring of Power was destroyed.
Hoarmûrath of Dír ~ Úlairë Nertëa (Nine of Nine)
Race: Men of Rhûn
Hoarmûrath of Dir was born of the race of Rhûn in the East of Middle-earth. Much like Khamûl the Easterling, his origins are veiled in mystery. He is believed to have lived upon the Sea of Rhûn near its Northern Shores, whose people were often apt to evil. They waged many wars with the Men of the Long Lake, the Elves of the Northern Wood and the Dwarves of the Mountains. He is thought to have received the last of Nine Rings and so was one of the last to fall fully into shadow.
It is said that he served alongside the Witch-king of Angmar during the assaults upon North Kingdom of Arnor and when Angmar fell, the two fled into the East to await the return of Sauron.
He took part in the attack on Minas Ithil, and reoccupied the Tower of Sorcery when Sauron returned to Mordor. In the year before the War if the Ring at the end of the Third Age, he was sent as messenger to the Gate of Erebor to deliver a message to King Dain from Sauron, who knew that the Ring had been found once more and that a creature named Baggins possessed it. The King under the Mountain refused to speak and his insubordination was met with war. When the Armies of Morgul were assailing Minas Tirith under the command of the Witch-king, Hoarmûrath of Dír was commanding another finger of the Black Hand of Mordor. A massive army marched from the sea of Rhûn and drove the Men of Esgaroth into Dale, finally besieging the Kingdom of Erebor. They would soon have fallen, except that terrible news came from Barad-dûr heralding the fall of the Witch-king and commanded the remaining Nazgûl to return immediately to Mordor!
Hoarmûrath of Dír perished with the remaining Nazgûl in the fiery ruin of Mount Doom when the One Ring of Power was destroyed.