Nazgûl, Black Speech for “Ring-Wraith”, were Men who fell to Sauron’s power and became his most deadly servants. They were all great kings of men and received nine rings of power from Sauron the Fair, which in turn corrupted them and bent them to his will. The only named
Nazgûl are the Witch-King and Khamûl The Easterling. Similar to wights they had no real physical appearance and often wore heavy robes and armor. They would often shriek to intimidate foes and communicate, a blinding noise that debilitated enemies. Contact with Nazgul could result in the Black Breath. They first appeared in a major way where the Witch-King took Angmar and campaigned against the Kingdom of Arnor. The campaigns and successes against the Dunedain solidified the Witch-King’s position as the leader of the Nine and lieutenant to Sauron himself. Defeated at the Siege of Fornost, the Witch-King retreated and proceeded to retake Minas Ithil from Gondor. Minas Ithil became Minas Morgul, and the Nazgûl maintained order and discipline among the armies of Mordor, and were feared among the orcs. The War of the Ring saw them as intelligence and terror units. They cloaked themselves in black robes and sought the One Ring, knowing it was in the hands of a “Baggins” from the “Shire”, as told by Gollum when captured. The chase lead them to Weather-top where they fought with Gandalf, who fled but was chased. The remaining Nazgul came upon Aragorn and the Hobbits. They wounded Frodo, learned that the Ring belonged to a hobbit, but were routed by Aragorn. Their chase after the wounded Frodo would end with Glorfindel defeating them at the Fords of Bruinen. Nazgûl terror tactics were used during the war on Gondor, mounted on fell-beats they would spread fear and dread among Men. This proved successful in the initial phase of the war and during the siege of Gondor, however the defeat of the Witch-King in the Battle of Pelennor Fields proved decisive. The last act of the
Nazgûl was the Battle of the Morannon, where the mounted
Nazgûl were engaged by the Great Eagles of Gwaihir. They were all destroyed following the destruction of the Ring.
“’I’l give your name and number to the Nazgul,’ said the soldier lowering his voice to a hiss. ‘One of them’s in charge at the Tower now.” The other halted, and his voice was full of fear and rage. ‘You cursed peaching sneakthief!’ he yelled ‘You cant do your job, and you can’t even stick by your own folk. Go to your filthy Shriekers, and may they freeze the flesh off you! If the Enemy doesn’t get them first. They’ve done in Number One, I’ve heard, and I hope it’s true!’” – Orcs discussing discipline following the fight at the Tower of Cirith Ungol, after the Battle of Pelennor. Return Of The King, The Land of Shadow.