The Silmarillion Writers' Guild :: Seven in '07, A Tribute to the Creativity Inspired by the House of Fëanor

Tyelpo by Oloriel
"Tyelpo" by Oloriel.

Celebrimbor, alone of the characters in the House of Fëanor, first appeared not in The Silmarillion but in The Lord of the Rings, and his history was developed from there. In The Lord of the Rings, he is the artificer of the Rings of Power--save the One created by Sauron--and he drew the inscriptions upon the gates of Moria. In Appendix B of that volume, it is noted that he was "descended from Fëanor," a fact that--though committed to print in a published source--was far from resolved as J.R.R. Tolkien's legendarium underwent continued change.

I will never forget the last night I saw my son. Tyelperinquar had plopped himself onto to the dusty, cold marble floor of what had once been our home in Tirion. His face red and smeared with tears and soot, he squalled as his father moved back and forth across the room and around me, tossing seemingly random articles of clothing onto our bed. We had brought little that would be useful with us from Formenos and Curufinwë rummaged frantically in closets and cupboards long unexamined.

“Curvo, stop it! Listen to me. Look at me.” We both ignored the crying child.

“Are you going to say that you will come? If that is what you want to say I will listen. Otherwise, if you refuse to help me at least get out of my way.” If I had guessed his father would actually take Tyelpo with him I could have scooped our child up into my arms and fled into the darkness. Instead I thought only of the loss of his father’s love. I might have hidden, perhaps delaying Curufinwë until he was forced to leave without my baby, my only son. I curse myself when I think of it.
"A Mother's Lament" from It Gives a Lovely Light by Oshun.


“Please…” his mother pleaded. “Do not follow your father on this path.”

His dark eyes met hers for barely a moment before he looked down, unable to face her tears.

“I must go with him,” Celebrimbor said softly.

“You did not swear this oath. It is not too late for you to…” Her eyes turned angry, as she said spitefully, “And what of your loyalty to me? You will never be able to restore your father’s honor. It will be the death of you.”

Picking up his sword, Celebrimbor turned away replying, “I must go; he needs me. Farewell mother.”
"Cursed Commitment" by Alassante.

Little is said about Celebrimbor in The Silmarillion. He is the son of Curufin and said to share in his father's skills of hand, though he is not even mentioned until Celegorm and Curufin are banished from Nargothrond. Then, it is said that he rejected his allegiance to his father and uncle and chose to remain in Nargothrond. This is the final mention in The Silmarillion of Celebrimbor in the First Age. Who was he? Where and when was he born? And most importantly, why did he choose such a vastly different path from his father and the other Fëanorians?

In The History of Middle-earth series and Unfinished Tales, Celebrimbor's history is presented in some greater detail, though it's fairly clear that J.R.R. Tolkien had yet to fully solidify his views on Celebrimbor's early history and later role in the events of the Second Age. In a footnote to the essay Of Dwarves and Men in HoMe 12, it is said that Celebrimbor "was an Elf of wholly different temper" from his father Curufin. His mother, it is told, refused to join Fëanor's rebellion. Her son Celebrimbor went with his father to Middle-earth.

By this account, then, Celebrimbor was born in Aman and was therefore present for all of the events of the First Age. The note goes on to say that Celebrimbor forsook his father in Nargothrond because he had grown to love Finrod Felagund and was disgusted by his father's role in Finrod's death.

‘You cut your hair. Did the dark one or his fell beasts hurt you?’ Tyelperinquar said, pointing at the sling. Maitimo winced at the matter-of-factness of the boy’s manner in speaking of such horrors.

‘Yes, Tyelpo, they did. But there are good healers here and they are helping me recover. Crawl up here with me.’ Tyelperinquar squirmed to insert himself between Maitimo and Carnistir. The child stroked Maitimo’s shortened hair in fascination.

‘Hold still, Tyelpo,’ Curufinwë said. ‘You could hurt your uncle wiggling around like that.’ Tyelperinquar frowned at his father, causing Maitimo to laugh at how like Curufinwë he had looked for a moment.

‘Is it true you came on a giant eagle with our cousin Findekáno?’

‘Yes. Thorondor mightiest of the Eagles carried us here.’

‘Which one is Findekáno?’

‘That would be me, little one.’ Findekáno’s wide smile, alight with all his charm and energy, and startlingly blue eyes clearly interested the boy.

‘I have heard a lot about you. Well, now. Uncle Nelyo is back and we are all happy again,’ Tyelperinquar asserted to no one in particular. He wrinkled his forehead in consternation at the loud laughter his innocent remark elicited.
Excerpt from A New Day by Oshun.


Child Celebrimbor by Breogán
"Child Celebrimbor" by Breogán.

But Celebrimbor's heritage--indeed, his place in the House of Fëanor to begin with--was frequently changed as J.R.R. Tolkien continued to work on his stories. By early accounts, Celebrimbor was a relative of Daeron of Doriath or a craftsman of Gondolin. Prior to the publication of The Lord of the Rings--where Celebrimbor first appears--Tolkien made note that it was preferable to "make him a descendant of Fëanor." Therefore, the addition was made to Appendix B, and Celebrimbor joined the House of Fëanor.

By some of the accounts given in Unfinished Tales, "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn," Celebrimbor was the creator of the Elessar given to Aragorn at the end of the Third Age. In one version, the original Elessar was a stone made in Gondolin in the First Age by Celebrimbor's friend and rival, a craftsman called Enerdhil. But for Enerdhil, Celebrimbor would have been the greatest craftsman of Gondolin. Enerdhil returned over the sea, taking his extraordinary stone with him.

The Elessar that Celebrimbor made in the Second Age rivaled Enerdhil's but for the fact that the light in Middle-earth was diminished due to Morgoth's shadow. The second Elessar he gave to Galadriel so that she could preserve the beauty of her realm.

In later versions of the same story, Celebrimbor displaces Enerdhil as the maker of both stones, though the first is said to have "passed away," presumably in the attack on Gondolin.

“Do you remember the first time you taught me to wield a sword, Uncle? How clumsy I was and my father swore I would end up killing someone accidentally. You told him you had faith in me and you worked with me for endless weeks on the practice field until I finally was able to defeat you. Then you laughed as I bested my father the next day, much to his surprise. He taught me everything he knew about crafting the weapons but you taught me everything I know about wielding one. Your knowledge is unsurpassed; you simply need to retrain yourself to use your left hand. I will practice with you night and day until you restore your abilities.”

Choking back his emotions, Maedhros gazed at Celebrimbor for a moment before asking, “Did you craft this for me?”

Smiling broadly, Celebrimbor answered, “No. My father did and told me to not return until you were able to defeat Fingon and myself. He also sent a message to you.” Laughing he added, “He said to quit sitting around crying like a elleth. He would have come and held your hand through this but then you would have to learn to use the sword with your teeth.”
Excerpt from Holding onto Hope by Alassante.

The Second Age history of Celebrimbor, not surprisingly, is deeply entwined with that of Galadriel and Celeborn. The precise relationship between these characters was ever-changing as the stories evolved. In the accounts of the Elessar, Celebrimbor is even said to have loved Galadriel--although this idea was never repeated elsewhere--and this love is the reason why he crafts for her the Elessar: the means to preserve the lands that she loves in a fashion that he finds befitting of her.

Perhaps in direct contrast to this, in an early version of the story, also given in Unfinished Tales, Celebrimbor leads a revolt against the rule of Galadriel and Celeborn in Eregion. This rebellion was encouraged by Sauron, posing as Annatar, and then deep in the confidences of Celebrimbor. As the story developed and changed, however, this element never appeared again.

The smith let the still-dark stone cool after the forging of the eagle's wings. Then, cradling it in his palm, he awakened its hidden power with his breath.

At a quiet pond rimmed with moss and ferns, he dipped the stone into the water's green-gold depths and felt the power surge. He raised the stone to the light of the sky:

Jewel, heal wounds of despair;
Light, renew all worthy arts.
Eagle, bring hope to the children;
Fire, rekindle barren hearts.

In his exultant fingers a green sun blazed in the span of the fierce eagle's wings. It was done.
"Elfstone" by Gandalfs apprentice.

Indeed, for his seeming lack of consequence in the days of his ancestors, Celebrimbor takes a leading role in the events of the Second Age. When Sauron came to Middle-earth, posing as Annatar, an emissary of the Valar, he was resisted by Gil-galad in Lindon and Galadriel. Celebrimbor, however, was eager for what Annatar was willing to provide, and he was welcomed into Ost-in-Edhil. Celebrimbor, having already ascended to the place of the chief craftsman in Ost-in-Edhil, nonetheless desired more: to rival the skill and fame of his grandfather Fëanor. The secrets necessary for his success, only Annatar could teach him.

Tyelperinquar by Noliel
"Tyelperinquar" by Noliel.

And so the misgivings about Annatar that plagued the other leaders of the Eldar failed to impress upon Celebrimbor. Annatar was welcomed into Ost-in-Edhil and, more dangerously still, into the brotherhood of craftsmen Celebrimbor had created there, the Gwaith-i-Mirdain or People of the Jewelsmiths. There, Celebrimbor learned the knowledge he desired, and in secret, he forged the Three Elven Rings of Power.

At the same time, Annatar aided with the crafting of the Seven and the Nine. While the Three were not tainted by the touch of Sauron, they were nonetheless influenced by the One, and when Sauron betrayed the Elves of Eregion and forged the One Ring in an attempt to master them, Celebrimbor knew it immediately sought Galadriel's advice. She counseled him to hide the three Elven rings, so Nenya was given to Galadriel, while Narya and Vilya were given to Gil-galad.

At last! I finally completed my masterpiece after years under tutelage of Annatar. Alike my grandsire, I created three jewels connected to the elements. As they lay there on the soft velvet of my private forge, I wonder if Fëanor would have felt the same serenity I feel now. Awed by their beauty, I study them and all touch me with their powers. I wonder: did grandfather name the jewels as I did just now? Did we bestow the same powers on our jewels in minds alike? Will my fate be tied to my new children: Narya, Nenya and Vilya?
"Serenity--Celebrimbor" from The Voices of Silence by Rhapsody the Bard.

Sauron and his army destroyed Ost-in-Edhil in an attempt to regain control of the Gwaith-i-Mirdain and the treasures kept there. Celebrimbor faced Sauron before the doors of the Mirdain, but he was captured and tortured to reveal the location of the other rings. While he would reveal the locations of the Seven and the Nine, he would not tell about the Three. Sauron had him killed and used his tormented body as a banner as his armies marched upon Elrond.

Celebrimbor closed his eyes as the orcs delivered more lashes to his blood soaked back. His wrists strained uselessly against the ropes that bound him.

Annatar had left his minions to their sadistic fun after Celebrimbor was no longer able to speak. Before taking his leave, however, he had taunted Celebrimbor about his failure as he drove fire heated iron rods into his torso. Then he savored the elf lord’s screams as he severed each of his fingers, while demanding to know the location of the Elven Rings of Power.

Praying for death, Celebrimbor tried to block out the pain that filled every fiber of his being. How could he have been so foolish, so full of pride and lust to restore honor to the House of Fëanor? Too blind too long, he had fallen prey to the very sins that had destroyed Fëanor and his sons, damned by the Rings as they had been by the Silmarils. And his failure had handed the key to Middle Earth's downfall into Sauron's hands.

“Adar, forgive me for judging you so harshly.”

Fading away, Celebrimbor’s final thought was to hope that Narya, Nenya, and Vilya would be enough to protect his people.
Excerpt from Fëanorian Fates Series by Alassante.

Both the fictional history and evolution of Celebrimbor's character is a tumultuous one, and he meets a tragic end not unlike those of his brethren. While perhaps the only Elf ever to come close to rivaling the skills of Fëanor, J.R.R. Tolkien is nonetheless careful to set Celebrimbor apart. He is compassionate and thoughtful where his father and grandfather were often ruthless and acted in haste. He alone of the Fëanorians in Middle-earth had the courage to walk away from the oath and the violence that followed in its wake … but still, he fell for much the same reason as Fëanor, having loved so much the works of his hands that he became blind to all else.

But Celebrimbor serves another purpose in connecting the events of the First Age to those of the Third Age that finally freed Middle-earth from thralldom. Through him, one can see how the deeds of the Fëanorians--even those most awful--did, indeed, lead in the end to freedom for the people of Middle-earth. Without the House of Fëanor, the Noldor might never have come to Beleriand, Celebrimbor never would have forged the Rings of Power, and Sauron might never have concentrated his essence into an object that could be destroyed. And one can imagine the different--and darker--turn the stories would have taken without the Fëanorians.

And so for Fëanor through Celebrimbor--and every character between--it is as Eru explains to his nascent disciples in the Ainulindalë,1 that even the darkest times and most treacherous deeds make the world more beautiful and life worth living to have, in the end, overcome these things to find peace and joy, at last.

1 This idea is expressed more fully in The Music of the Ainur in The Book of Lost Tales 1, on which the published Ainulindalë was heavily based.