Celebrimbor
J. R. R. Tolkien character
In-universe information
Aliases'Hand of Silver',
Lord of Eregion
RaceElf
Book(s)The Silmarillion (1977)

Celebrimbor (IPA: [ˌkɛlɛˈbrimbɔr]) is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Legendarium. His name means "silver fist" or "Hand of silver" in Sindarin (Telperinquar in Quenya, Telperimpar in Telerin). In Tolkien's stories, Celebrimbor is an elven-smith who was manipulated into forging the Rings of Power by the disguised villain Sauron, who then secretly makes the One Ring to gain control over all the other Rings and dominate Middle-earth, setting in motion the events of The Lord of the Rings. Outside of Tolkien's legendarium, the character has been adapted as a major character in the 2014 video game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and its 2017 sequel, where he is voiced by Alastair Duncan.

Middle-earth narrative

Timeline
Epoch History of Celebrimbor and the Rings
First Age Celebrimbor is born, grandson of Feanor (The Silmarillion)
Second Age Celebrimbor rules Eregion
"Annatar" teaches him to make Rings of Power for Elves, Dwarves, Men
but secretly makes the One Ring to rule the world
Sauron tortures Celebrimbor, captures the Rings of Men and Dwarves
Elves and Men make war, cut the Ring from Sauron's hand
Isildur loses the Ring, is killed
Celebrimbor dies of wounds
Third Age Bilbo finds the Ring (The Hobbit)
Frodo sets out to destroy the Ring. (The Lord of the Rings)

Celebrimbor is the son of Curufin, fifth son of Fëanor and Nerdanel, and Fëanor's only known grandchild. Fëanor was the most skilful craftsman of the First Age, forging the three Silmarils to capture some of the light of the Two Trees of Valinor.

It is not stated where or when Celebrimbor was born. During the Second Age, Celebrimbor lives in the Elvish realm of Eregion and founds a brotherhood of jewel-smiths.

Dwarf-friend

From the early days of Eregion, Celebrimbor fosters the relationship with Khazad-dûm, the neighbouring Dwarf-kingdom. He becomes friends with Narvi,[T 1] a great Dwarf-craftsman, and together they make the West-gate of Khazad-dûm. Celebrimbor's special contribution is the inscriptions on the gateway.

Ring-maker

Sauron, in disguise, deceives Celebrimbor into making the Rings of Power, and then secretly makes the One Ring (artist's rendering shown) to gain control over all the others, and so dominate Middle-earth.
Sauron, in disguise, deceives Celebrimbor into making the Rings of Power, and then secretly makes the One Ring (artist's rendering shown) to gain control over all the others, and so dominate Middle-earth.

Later, someone naming himself Annatar arrives in Eregion. He appears to be an Elf, and claims he has been sent by the Valar to share his wisdom and skills in ring-craft and jewelry for the benefit of all Middle-earth; but in fact he is the Dark Lord Sauron in disguise. Annatar provides valuable and seemingly benevolent guidance and instruction to Celebrimbor and the smiths of Eregion, and they began making the Rings of Power for the rulers of Middle-earth—seven for the Dwarf-lords and nine for Men. Secretly, without Sauron's knowledge, Celebrimbor also forges three rings for the Elves, the greatest and fairest of the Rings of Power. The Three Rings are thus free of Sauron's corrupting influence.

At the same time, Sauron secretly forges a ring: the One Ring which will enable him to rule Middle-earth. Later Sauron reassumes his role as the Dark Lord and places the One Ring on his finger, claiming dominion over all the Rings of Power and their bearers. Before this, Celebrimbor believed Sauron to be what he had claimed to be, but realising the truth he and the Elves of Eregion defy Sauron by withholding the other rings from him. He has already sent the three rings away for safekeeping.

With his scheme exposed to the elves, Sauron retaliates by attacking Eregion, initiating the War of the Elves and Sauron and laying waste to the realm. Celebrimbor is captured in the sack of Eregion, and is forced under torture to disclose where the Nine and the Seven are held, but he would not reveal the whereabouts of the three Elvish rings. Sauron captures the lesser rings and uses them as instruments of evil in later years, particularly against Men. Celebrimbor dies from his torment; his body, shot with arrows, was then hung upon a pole and used by Sauron's forces like a banner on the battlefield.[T 2]

Alternative backgrounds

In another version of the story, dating from 1968, Celebrimbor is not a Noldo but one of the Teleri of Aman, one of the three companions of Galadriel and Celeborn (here made into a Telerin prince Teleporno or Telporno, grandson of Olwë). Christopher Tolkien noted that his father had mentioned Celebrimbor's descent from Fëanor in the appendices to The Lord of the Rings and in fact had underlined it in one of his personal copies and wrote in the margin a note stating that Celebrimbor was Curufin's son, and that if he had remembered this he would have felt bound to retain that version.

Another statement in the late essay Of Dwarves and Men has Celebrimbor as a Sinda who claims descent from Daeron,[T 3] and at one point Celebrimbor is also a Noldo of Gondolin.

The explanation for these changes is that Celebrimbor as a character, like Galadriel and Gil-galad, first appeared in The Lord of the Rings and then had to be inserted into The Silmarillion, thus leading to multiple changes to their descent.

House of Finwe

Celebrimbor was of the royal line of Finwë, high king of the Noldor, the elves who migrated to Valinor and lived in the blessed realm.

MahtanMírielFinwëIndis
NerdanelFëanorFindisFingolfinÍrimëFinarfin
MaedhrosMaglorCelegormCaranthirCurufinAmrodAmras
Celebrimbor

Real-world origins

Tolkien visited the temple of Nodens at a place called "Dwarf's Hill" and translated an inscription with a curse upon a ring. It may have inspired his dwarves, Mines of Moria, rings, and Celebrimbor "Silver-Hand".[1]
Tolkien visited the temple of Nodens at a place called "Dwarf's Hill" and translated an inscription with a curse upon a ring. It may have inspired his dwarves, Mines of Moria, rings, and Celebrimbor "Silver-Hand".[1]

Further information: Nodens and Ring of Silvianus

In 1928, a 4th-century pagan cult temple was excavated at Lydney Park, Gloucestershire.[2] Tolkien was asked to investigate a Latin inscription there: "For the god Nodens. Silvianus has lost a ring and has donated one-half [its worth] to Nodens. Among those who are called Senicianus do not allow health until he brings it to the temple of Nodens."[3] The Anglo-Saxon name for the place was Dwarf's Hill, and in 1932 Tolkien, a professional philologist, traced Nodens to the Irish hero Nuada Airgetlám, "Nuada of the Silver-Hand".[T 4]

Apparent influence of archaeological and philological work at Nodens' Temple on Celebrimbor and other elements of Middle-earth[1]
Apparent influence of archaeological and philological work at Nodens' Temple on Celebrimbor and other elements of Middle-earth[1]

The Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey thought this "a pivotal influence" on Tolkien's Middle-earth, combining as it did a god-hero, a ring, dwarves, and a silver hand.[1] The J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia states that Mathew Lyons noted the "Hobbit-like appearance of [Dwarf's Hill]'s mine-shaft holes", and that Tolkien was, according to the Lydney curator Sylvia Jones, extremely interested in the hill's folklore on his stay there.[1][4] It adds that Helen Armstrong commented that the place may have inspired "Celebrimbor and the fallen realms of Moria and Eregion".[1][5] The scholar of English literature John M. Bowers notes that Celebrimbor is the Sindarin for "Silver Hand", and that "because the place was known locally as Dwarf's Hill and honeycombed with abandoned mines, it naturally suggested itself as background for the Lonely Mountain and the Mines of Moria."[6]

Adaptations

Card games

Celebrimbor's Secret is the title of an expansion, part of "The Ring-maker Cycle" series, for The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, a non-collectible customizable card game produced by Fantasy Flight Games.[7]

Video games

Celebrimbor reappears in the video game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and its sequel as a wraith who gives superhuman powers to the non-canonical ranger Talion when the two of them combine, as shown in the half-Man, half-wraith illustration.[8]
Celebrimbor reappears in the video game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and its sequel as a wraith who gives superhuman powers to the non-canonical ranger Talion when the two of them combine, as shown in the half-Man, half-wraith illustration.[8]

Celebrimbor appears in the 2014 video game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor where he is voiced by Alastair Duncan.[9][10] In order not simply to copy Peter Jackson's films, the game's makers Monolith Productions decided to combine a minor but significant Middle-earth character from The Silmarillion, Celebrimbor, with an original character of their own invention, Talion.[11][12] The game takes place sometime between the action of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings at which time Celebrimbor survives as an amnesiac wraith. After being bonded with Talion (a ranger of Gondor) the two become an immortal fighting team unable to leave Mordor. Over the game, Celebrimbor lends his abilities as a wraith to Talion, and the two recover Celebrimbor's lost memories of Sauron and the forging of the Rings of Power: Sauron comes to Celebrimbor to give him a powerful hammer to forge the rings, is betrayed by Sauron, is forced to inscribe the incantation in the One Ring but steals it, and is tortured and beaten to death by Sauron after an attempted coup. After the defeat of Sauron's captains, Celebrimbor describes defeating Sauron himself as futile and wishes to depart for Valinor, but is convinced to stay by Talion; he then mentions his desire to forge a new Ring of Power immune to Sauron's influence. This leads to the events of the 2017 sequel Middle-earth: Shadow of War, which reviewers described as "fun, inventive, exciting—and totally non-canonical".[8][13][14] In Shadow of War, Celebrimbor and Talion successfully forge a new ring of power that appears to be free of Sauron's influence and is stated to be equal in power to the nine rings of the Nazgûl without their corrupting influence. They use their new ring to take the fight to Sauron with an army of Uruks, with Talion noticing Celebrimbor becoming more aggressive and worn out. Eventually revealed to fully intend to overthrow Sauron rather than destroy him, Celebrimbor ends his bond with Talion and possesses Eltariel to use her to defeat Sauron. Talion survives by becoming a Nazgûl, and Celebrimbor is defeated when forced out of Eltariel and is quickly absorbed by Sauron trapping both of them in the form of a large flaming eye on top of Barad-dûr. Celebrimbor remains trapped as part of the Dark Lord until the One-Ring is destroyed, freeing the spirit as Sauron dies.[11][15][16][17]

References

Primary

  1. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Unfinished Tales, George Allen & Unwin, part 2 ch. IV p.235; ISBN 0-04-823179-7
  2. ^ Unfinished Tales, 4. "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn"
  3. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1996), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-82760-4
  4. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R., "The Name Nodens", Appendix to "Report on the excavation of the prehistoric, Roman and post-Roman site in Lydney Park, Gloucestershire", Reports of the Research Committee of the Society of Antiquaries of London, 1932; also in Tolkien Studies: An Annual Scholarly Review, Vol. 4, 2007

Secondary

  1. ^ a b c d e Anger, Don N. (2013) [2007]. "Report on the Excavation of the Prehistoric, Roman and Post-Roman Site in Lydney Park, Gloucestershire". In Drout, Michael D. C. (ed.). The J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia. Routledge. pp. 563–564. ISBN 978-0-415-86511-1.
  2. ^ Shippey, Tom (2005) [1982]. The Road to Middle-Earth (Third ed.). HarperCollins. pp. 40–41. ISBN 978-0261102750.
  3. ^ "RIB 306. Curse upon Senicianus". Scott Vanderbilt, Roman Inscriptions of Britain website. Retrieved 17 February 2020. funded by the European Research Council via the LatinNow project
  4. ^ Lyons, Mathew (2004). There and Back Again: In the Footsteps of J. R. R. Tolkien. London: Cadogan Guides. p. 63. ISBN 978-1860111396.
  5. ^ Armstrong, Helen (May 1997). "And Have an Eye to That Dwarf". Amon Hen: The Bulletin of the Tolkien Society (145): 13–14.
  6. ^ Bowers, John M. (2019). Tolkien's Lost Chaucer. Oxford University Press. pp. 131–132. ISBN 978-0-19-884267-5.
  7. ^ "Celebrimbor's Secret". Fantasy Flight Games. Retrieved February 18, 2021.
  8. ^ a b Takahashi, Dean (14 October 2017). "Middle-earth: Shadow of War: Creative director explains controversial endings (spoilers)". Venture Beat. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  9. ^ Mike Futter (8 August 2014). "Troy Baker And Alastair Duncan Discuss Voicing Shadow Of Mordor's Lead Roles". Game Informer. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  10. ^ "Celebrimbor Voice". Behinthevoiceactors.com. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  11. ^ a b LeJacq, Yannick (11 November 2014). "Shadow Of Mordor's Lore, Explained In Two Minutes". Kotaku. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  12. ^ Corriea, Alexa Ray (28 July 2014). "Why Shadow of Mordor's undead Elven hero and sexy Sauron are such a big deal". Polygon. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  13. ^ Plante, Corey. "'Shadow of War' Game Has Crazy 'Lord of the Rings' Canon Problems". Inverse. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  14. ^ Gerardi, Matt (19 October 2017). "The best way to beat Shadow Of War's final act is not to play it". AV Club. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  15. ^ Kollar, Philip (19 February 2015). "Play as the real Lord of the Rings (or at least their creator) in Shadow of Mordor's next DLC". Polygon. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  16. ^ Futter, Mike (30 September 2014). "Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor". Game Informer. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  17. ^ LeJacq, Yannick (24 February 2015). "Shadow Of Mordor: The Bright Lord: The Kotaku Review". Kotaku. Retrieved 17 February 2021.

Sources