In this article, we will tell you everything there is to know about the greatest craftsman in the history of Middle-earth, Celebrimbor. Who is he, what corrupts him, how he dies, his forging of the Rings of Power and everything else.
Celebrimbor was the son of Curufin, the fifth son of Fëanor. Aside from his grandfather, Celebrimbor was the greatest craftsman in the history of Middle-earth, and his forging of the Rings of Power led to the dominion and eventual downfall of Sauron in the War of the Ring.
Who is Celebrimbor
The early years of Celebrimbor are not known, but he was born in Valinor (and followed his father and grandfather into the Exile of the Noldor in Middle-earth. His mother stayed behind.
He probably fled to Nargothrond after the Dagor Bragollach. However, he took no part in the deeds of Curufin and Celegorm regarding Lúthien, Beren, and Finrod. He even repudiated his father’s deeds and did not follow him when the two brothers were cast out from Nargothrond by Orodreth.
After the Sack of Nargothrond, Celebrimbor lived for a time in Gondolin, where he was a great jewel smith for King Turgon. He may have created the Elessar of Eärendil, though other accounts name Enerdhil as the Master Jewelsmith and creator of the Elfstone, who perhaps taught Celebrimbor this art. He survived the Fall of Gondolin.
A legend says that during the Second Age Celebrimbor was in love with Galadriel who was pained at the state of Middle-earth. Celebrimbor remade another version of the Elessar at her behest, with less power than the original.
During the Second Age, he was lord of the elves of Ost-in-Edhil in Eregion. He was also the head of the Gwaith-i-Mírdain, a guild of elven craftsmen. Their skill was so renowned that they gained the admiration and friendship of the Dwarves of Khazad-dûm. Together with the dwarf Narvi, Celebrimbor crafted the Doors of Durin that guarded the West-gate of the Dwarven kingdom.
Celebrimbor making the Rings of Power
At around S.A. 1200 Sauron, calling himself Annatar (the “Lord of Gifts”) and claiming to be an emissary of the Valar, arrived in Ost-in-Edhil and offered his knowledge to the Gwaith-i-Mírdain.
Under the guidance and instruction of Annatar, Celebrimbor and the Gwaith-i-Mírdain made several lesser rings of power. A legend says that Celebrimbor gave one of those rings to King Durin III who reigned in Khazad-dûm.
Using the knowledge gained from Annatar, Celebrimbor also created Three Rings by himself, the greatest and fairest of the Rings of Power. These rings were thus free of Sauron’s corrupting influence, for only Celebrimbor himself touched them. Celebrimbor named the rings Vilya, Narya, and Nenya after the principal elements of air, fire, and water, respectively. Vilya and Narya were sent by Celebrimbor to Gil-galad and Círdan, respectively, in Lindon, and Nenya to Galadriel in Lothlórien.
Around S.A. 1600, Sauron secretly forged the One Ring in Orodruin, which would enable him to rule Middle-earth by claiming dominance over all the Rings of Power and their bearers. However, when Sauron put on the One Ring with the intention of dominating the wills of those wearing the lesser rings, the elves who bore the Three instantly became aware of Sauron’s deceit and his plan. He then prepared for war.
Fight against Sauron and Celebrimbor’s death
Sauron retaliated by attacking Eregion in S.A. 1695, laying waste to the realm. Celebrimbor was captured in the Sack of Eregion and was forced under torture to disclose where the sixteen were held, but he would not reveal the whereabouts of the three elvish rings. Sauron captured the other rings and used them as instruments of evil in later years, particularly against Men.
Celebrimbor, desperate, himself withstood Sauron on the steps of the great door of the Mírdain; but he was grappled and taken captive, and the House was ransacked.The History of Galadriel and Celeborn
Celebrimbor died from his torment in S.A. 1697, the last direct descendant of the line of Fëanor, with the possible exception of Maglor. His body, shot with arrows, was hung upon a pole and carried by the forces of Sauron as a banner as they assaulted the Elves.
Other versions of the legendarium
Celebrimbor was invented for the back-story of the Lord of the Rings with no background in the first edition (before 1966); afterward, Tolkien attempted to write a background to link him with the Elder Days: in a passage concerning Galadriel and Celeborn, he was described as a Noldo survivor of Gondolin, who had been one of Turgon’s greatest artificers.
He was prideful and had an almost “dwarvish” obsession with crafts, survived the Fall and later became a follower of Celeborn and Galadriel. However, in a note Tolkien put next to the text, he wrote, “it would be better ‘to make him a descendant of Fëanor’.”
Thus, an appropriate line is added in Appendix B of the second edition. Tolkien then proceeded to decide which of Fëanor’s sons would result to Celebrimbor; a note describes their wives and children, stating that, Maelor, Caranthir, and Curufin were wedded, concluding that “Curufin, dearest to his father and chief inheritor of his father’s skills, […] had a son who came with him into exile, though his wife (unnamed) did not.” Christopher Tolkien used this note as a basis for The Silmarillion, where Celebrimbor is the son of Curufin who remained in Nargothrond when his father was expelled.
However, apparently forgetting the published statement, Tolkien explored other ideas; in an essay dated 1968 Celebrimbor is referred to as a Telerin silver-smith who followed Celeborn to Middle-earth and ended up to Eregion being fascinated by the silver-like mithril. In Of Dwarves and Men (1969 or later) he mentions that he was a Sinda and descendant of Daeron of Doriath who continued to use his runic script in Eregion.
Celebrimbor’s portrayal in adaptations
2014: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Celebrimbor appears in the video games Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor and Middle-earth: Shadow of War, as the wraith assisting the ranger Talion in destroying the forces of Sauron. Developers have revealed that he assists Talion due to the guilt he feels for creating the Rings of Power, and thus he feels ultimately responsible for the trouble Middle-earth is in.
However, the Celebrimbor that appears in the game differs from the Tolkien Celebrimbor in that he not only makes the three Elf rings, but he crafts all of the Rings of Power, and when captured helps Sauron reforge the One Ring (via the inscription of the lettering of the Ring upon it) and assists him in creating the Nazgûl by accompanying Sauron to the men who eventually would become the Nine; he also gave the Ring a will of its own. However, once Sauron’s intentions were revealed to him, he stole the One Ring and used it to command an army of orcs and Uruks to fight Sauron and lay claim over Mordor.
In a final battle, Celebrimbor used the Ring’s power to defeat Sauron. However the ring wanted to return to the Dark Lord, and so it slipped off of Celebrimbor’s finger and onto Sauron’s, breaking Celebrimbor’s control over his orc army. Captured by Sauron, the elf was then tortured as punishment, such as witnessing his family tortured and killed in front of him, before finally being beaten to death with his own Mithril hammer by Sauron.
When the game takes place and the protagonist, Talion, is slain in a blood-ritual, Celebrimbor is bound to the ranger, which allows Talion to return from the dead (in addition to many other abilities).
He has no memory of his past, not even remembering his own name until they find an artifact that belonged to him (with the assistance of Gollum,) and with each artifact, they find more of his memory is restored. Gollum eventually abandons them, leaving them to find the last artifact in Udûn on their own.
They also assist a low ranking captain named Ratbag advance through the ranks until he advances to Warchief and kills all other Warchiefs (leaving Ratbag in charge of all the uruks in Udûn), which leads to his demise after he is blamed for failing to prevent the destruction of a monument to Sauron by the Hammer of Sauron, a Black Captain and a lieutenant of the Black Hand of Sauron (the leader of the uruks in Sauron’s stead). Talion (and Celebrimbor) is approached by Lithariel, the daughter of the Queen of the Tribesmen of Núrnen, who claims her mother has summoned Talion to her chambers.
Their job finished in Udûn, they make their way to Núrnen and have an audience with Queen Marwen (who looks similar to King Théoden when he was enchanted by Saruman), who gives them another artifact from Celebrimbor’s past.
This artifact gives the wraith and his host their key to confronting the Black Hand: branding. They begin building their army by branding the captains and Warchiefs of Núrnen (and optionally Udûn), thus enabling them to confront the Black Hand at his fortress of Ered Glamhoth, the strength of his forces depending on how many Warchiefs and captains he branded.
They return to the queen to tell her they are prepared to leave when suddenly the Queen begins forcing Celebrimbor out of Talion, saying that they can defeat Sauron “together.” As Talion dies, he tells Lithariel, Marwen’s daughter, to break the Queen’s staff, and when it breaks, the Queen becomes youthful again and reveals she went to the Istari Saruman for assistance in helping her people survive Sauron’s onslaught.
Celebrimbor suspects that Saruman may have gone rogue, and maybe desiring the One for himself. Marwen nonetheless assists Talion by acquiring them a smuggler, which they use to go to the Black Hand’s fortress.
When Talion enters the fortress, a skeleton bound to a pole by rope begins talking directly to Talion, and Celebrimbor reveals that the Tower of Sauron, another Black Captain, and the Black Hand’s right hand, is responsible for this, and thus is here in the Black Hand’s stead.
Talion approaches the Black Hand’s throne, and as he looks for the Tower, the Black Captain appears on the throne and reveals the Black Hand went looking for Talion. He addresses Celebrimbor directly, telling him Sauron forgives him, and if he casts off that “corpse” and becomes one with him, he will have his dreams fulfilled. Celebrimbor rebukes the Tower, saying that Talion and the wraith will never surrender.
Failing to deceive Celebrimbor, he reveals to Talion that the Ringmaker deceived Talion by pretending that the Black Hand of Sauron placed a curse on them, binding them together, where in reality Cerebrimbor chose Talion as his “host” and could have released him at any time. Talion insists that the Tower stand up and fight, to which the Tower obliges. He creates illusions of himself, forcing Talion to drain the illusions to sap the Tower of his power.
After the illusions are eliminated, Talion hears his wife Ioreth singing, and when he gets close to her, his wife is revealed as the Tower, who attempts to brand Talion. However, the ranger overpowers him and brutally kills him, stabbing him with his son’s dagger, Acharn, four times in the heart, before shoving his sword, Urfael, into the Tower’s laughing mouth. After the Tower’s death, Talion reveals his anger at Celebrimbor for his deceit, saying he wanted to be with his wife and son instead of being alone alive.
Celebrimbor points out though that the ranger wanted revenge, and thus he gave him the means to do so. The Ringmaker does admit that he can leave Talion if he wants. Yet before they can part ways, the wraith says that they must finish what they started by killing their true target: the Black Hand. Talion reluctantly agrees, and the pair set sail for Núrnen once more.
However, they find the Queen’s palace sacked, and blood on the throne. The queen’s crown, however, was left, and when Talion picks it up, another set of Celebrimbor’s memories are returned to him. They figure the Black Hand has them in Udûn, preparing an exchange for Celebrimbor for the Queen and her daughter. They arrive in the now-dark, ashed filled Udûn, where they find the Black Hand’s elite guards standing watch for the duo.
When the Talion arrives at the Black Gate riding a Caragor, his branded Uruks and Warchiefs are already fighting the rank and file Uruks. Then finally, with a Warchief and a set of captains, the Talons of the Black Hand reveal themselves, along with a host of rank and file uruks. To Talion’s sadness, The Talons reveal that they slaughtered all of the Núrnen tribesman, including Lithariel and Queen Marwen. After a brutal fight, the Talons are defeated, and the remaining branded Uruks that assisted Talion to remain behind to fight the Black Hand’s forces.
Meanwhile, the Gravewalker climbs the Black Gate, and find the Black Hand waiting for him. Then quite subtly, the Black Captain lures the wraith duo in and unleashes a blast of energy that gives Celebrimbor more of his memories: his confrontation with Sauron in the fields of Udûn ending in failure, the return of Sauron’s ring, and the brutal murders of Celebrimbor’s family before his eyes, before being murdered himself.
This gives Celebrimbor more power as a result. The Black Hand tells Celebrimbor that when he originally performed the blood ritual in an attempt to absorb his spirit into the Black Hand’s corporeal form (thus reforming an avatar of Sauron, though he would not be at full strength), he gave him a choice: to stand by Sauron’s side. He then tells the grave-walker duo that Talion and Celebrimbor have no choice in the matter, and surprisingly performs the blood ritual on himself, absorbing Celebrimbor into the Black Hand and forming the avatar of Sauron.
Sauron tries to kill the already dying Talion, but as Sauron is about to deliver the finishing blow, Celebrimbor uses his energy to temporarily stun Sauron. This gives Talion the chance he needed to kill the avatar of Sauron, and thus the Black Hand, with his sword.
Talion relieved that he has finally exacted vengeance for his family, sees Celebrimbor waiting, ready to go to the afterlife together. Talion, however, insists that together they should use their powers to combat Sauron because they both know as long as his Ring exists, he will return again, no matter in what form. Celebrimbor insists that fighting Sauron is mortally impossible because he tried once long ago and it couldn’t be done.
Talion asks the Ringmaker if he could die knowing there was a chance that they could defeat Sauron, but they didn’t take it. Celebrimbor simply disappears and doesn’t answer. Talion, looking at Udûn’s red sun, declares to himself and the wraith that it’s time for them to forge new ring, as his eyes glow with the wraith’s power.
The two then travel to Mount Doom and proceed to forge a new ring. Upon its completion, Celebrimbor is separated from Talion by Shelob, and Talion takes the new ring to survive without the wraith. He later finds him in Shelob’s lair within Cirith Ungol and gives her the new ring in exchange for Celebrimbor. The elven wraith dislikes this exchange, however, but Shelob’s natural powers amplified by the ring prove to be too strong to fight, and thus the duo shifts their attention to a new target; The Palantíri in Minas Ithil.
After the city’s eventual fall, Sauron sends 8 ringwraiths to force the new ring from Shelob. Realizing the danger that keeping the ring would cause to both her and to Middle-earth, she returns the ring to its forgers. The ranger and the wraith then proceed to Nurnen, where they use the ring’s power to build an army and take over the region; Subsequently, they are betrayed by an ally in the process, only to exact revenge on him with utter cruelty. Of course, Celebrimbor’s cruelty hints to Talion that the ring’s power is starting to affect the elf’s sanity.
Eventually, after conquering most of Sauron’s domain, defeating a Balrog with the help of Carnan, a nature spirit, and finding out the identities of some of the Nazgul, the duo takes their army and march towards Barad-dûr, only to be stopped by one of the ringwraiths, Isildur.
Upon his defeat, Talion decides to end the fallen hero’s torment and permanently kills him. However, Celebrimbor considers this an act of betrayal; he reveals that his plan has gone from simple revenge to tyranny, as he plans on brainwashing Sauron and ruling Middle-earth through him. As Talion objects to this plan, the wraith abandons the ranger’s body and takes over Eltariel’s, leaving Talion to bleed to death.
As Talion picks up Isildur’s ring, he becomes a ringwraith and decided to take back Minas Morgul, whilst Celebrimbor and his new host face Sauron. Eventually, Sauron, in his Annatar form, finds himself on his knees, and Celebrimbor begins to brand him. Sauron pulls out a blade and slices off Eltariel’s fingers, just like Isildur had done to him centuries earlier. With Sauron now having the upper hand, he consumes the wraith, but with adverse effects; they both become the flaming eye of Sauron, locked into a battle of wills. The two fought until the One Ring was destroyed in the War of the Ring, wherein the Dark Lord Sauron was finally defeated.
However, Celebrimbor did not fade from middle-earth as Sauron did, for, like Sauron, he had poured his own life force into his own ring. Thus, Celebrimbor was freed and the New Ring, now worn by the Elven assassin Eltariel, started expressing a desire to return to its creator…
Celebrimbor’s skills and abilities
Due to Celebrimbor’s Elvish heritage, he is very skilled with his bow Azkâr, which he used while he was alive and continues to do so after his death, as a Wraith.
As a Wraith, Celebrimbor does not use arrows of conventional physical materials but instead conjures insubstantial glowing blue arrows of Wraith-magic. These arrows can be magically set aflame by Celebrimbor or used to pin his enemies’ legs to the ground.
As well as being skilled with a bow, Celebrimbor is seen to be skillful with a sword, being able to cut through swarms of Uruks with little effort.
Celebrimbor, like Talion, is also capable of performing a number of acrobatic feats. He can climb large structures in a relatively short amount of time, and with little effort. He grants some of his athleticism to Talion, allowing him to run faster for a short amount of time. This speed is aided by his Wraith abilities to allow him to move quicker.
Due to his status of being a Wraith, Celebrimbor has gained a multitude of abilities. Some such abilities include the ability to move fast as a shadow and to control the minds of others. The Wraith himself being bound to Mordor until the One Ring or Sauron is unmade, Celebrimbor can also use these abilities to reform Talion’s body when he is killed.
Not only is Celebrimbor efficient in the art of combat and in the use of Wraith’s abilities but he is also a highly skilled smith, possibly the greatest smith in all of Arda’s history with at least three of the Rings of Power (the Elven rings) being crafted by him.
- The name Celebrimbor means “silver-fist” or “Hand of silver” in Sindarin, translated from Quenyan father-name; Telperinquar.
- Despite Talion and Celebrimbor sharing the same body the majority of the game, during moments of revelation, planning or conflict Celebrimbor takes his own separate, spectral form. This happens more often in the second game, and the first dialog with Eltariel suggests that Celebrimbor is supposed to be invisible while doing it.
- Celebrimbor is the main character in The Bright Lord’s downloadable content, which features his initial war against Sauron before his ultimate demise.
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