An Unexpected Journey

Fëanor and the Silmarils: Rings of Power's tragic backstory matters more than you think

Don’t worry about cracking open The Silmarillion: Here’s what non-book readers should know about Fëanor’s feud with Morgoth.

Charles Edwards stands in a forest as Celebrimbor in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

From the introduction of Khazad-dûm to Galadriel’s (Morfydd Clark) encounter with a sea monster, Episode 2 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power features more than its fair share of memorable moments. That said, the scene that may get the most attention from fans is the brief conversation Elrond (Robert Aramayo) and Celebrimbor (Charles Edwards) share early on.

The pair’s talk revolves entirely around the history of Middle-earth and, specifically, the conflict between the Elven king Fëanor and the Dark Lord Morgoth. Fëanor’s feud with Morgoth led to countless Elven deaths and created untold suffering among Fëanor’s descendants, but Episode 2 glosses over the details.

Fëanor’s Hammer

Charles Edwards as Celebrimbor and Robert Aramayo as Elrond in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

Ben Rothstein/Prime Video

In The Rings of Power Episode 2, viewers are taken to the Elven kingdom of Eregion for the first time. It’s there that Elrond not only looks on in awe of Fëanor’s hammer, which is kept enshrined in Celebrimbor’s study, but also reflects on the impact it had on Middle-earth. After remarking that the hammer forged the Silmarils, Elrond says, “Strange, isn’t it? How one object could be responsible for creating so much beauty, and so much pain.”

In response, Celebrimbor notes that the Silmarils were said to be so beautiful that Morgoth became enraptured by them. “Fëanor’s work nearly turned the heart of the Great Foe himself,” Celebrimbor says.

The conversation is an important one, especially considering the plans Celebrimbor has in The Rings of Power. But it would be understandable if the scene left casual viewers wondering what exactly happened between Fëanor and Morgoth.

The Legacy of the Silmarils

It’s said that the Light of Valinor burned inside the Silmarils.

Courtesy of Prime Video

Fëanor was the eldest son of Finwë, the first King of an Elven clan known as the Noldor. He was born during the Years of the Trees and, over the course of his life he created several notable objects, including the palantíri. However, Fëanor’s greatest creations were the Silmarils, three gems that contained some of the light from the Two Trees of Valinor.

The Silmarils were so beautiful that they caught the attention of Melkor, the most powerful of the Valar and the first Dark Lord of Middle-earth. After he and a primordial spider known as Ungoliant successfully managed to destroy the Two Trees of Valinor, Melkor went to Fëanor’s home when the Elf was away, killed Fëanor’s father, and stole the Silmarils for himself.

Upon learning of Melkor’s actions, Fëanor renamed him “Morgoth” and took his father’s place as the new King of the Noldor. He and his sons then swore the Oath of Fëanor, vowing to kill anyone who tried to withhold the Silmarils from their family.

It was Fëanor who led many Elves out of the Undying Lands.

Courtesy of Prime Video

In the aftermath of the Oath, Fëanor led his followers into a battle against one of their fellow Elven clans, the Teleri. The Noldor emerged victorious and used the Teleri’s ships to sail from the Undying Lands to Middle-earth.

Fëanor and his fellow Elves were quickly attacked by Morgoth’s forces following their arrival in Middle-earth. While Fëanor managed to fend off some of Morgoth’s attacks, his pride and rage made him push too far into Morgoth’s domain. He was subsequently swarmed by several of Morgoth’s Balrogs and ultimately slain in the battle that followed.

His sons, however, still found themselves bound by their Oath to recover the Silmarils. Not only did Fëanor’s pursuit of Morgoth lead to many Elves coming to Middle-earth for the first time, but the Oath of Fëanor also inspired his sons and descendants to perform several short-sighted, foolish, and violent acts throughout the rest of the First Age of Middle-earth.

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power has already set the stage for Celebrimbor’s tragic fate.

Ben Rothstein/Prime Video

The Inverse Analysis — It’s important to know the story of the Silmarils if you want to truly understand the history of the Elves in Middle-earth. However, Celebrimbor’s conversation with Elrond about the Silmarils is also noteworthy because Celebrimbor is, at the time of The Rings of Power, the last member of the House of Fëanor.

His connection to Fëanor, whose downfall was caused by his own arrogance and pride, only makes Celebrimbor’s eventual fate seem that much more tragic.

New episodes of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premiere Fridays on Prime Video.

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