March 24, 2012

Eregion Part II: The Ring Lore of Eregion

Or, "Why Exactly Did the Elves Help Sauron Make His Rings of Power?"

Or, "Sauron is Evil?  But He's Soooo CUTE!"

Who hasn't run the School and/or Library at Tham Mírdain over and over again?  Who hasn't read about the Doors to Moria and wondered what the text meant, beyond the simple translation?  Who hasn't sought after a Symbol, or Worn Symbol, of Celebrimbor in order to craft a yummy legendary item?  Who hasn't run through the latter Books of Volume I, encountering that rotten Amarthiel seeking her ring, Narchuil, and wondered how a nice Elf girl like Narmeleth could have ended up the way she did? 

The timeline of Appendix B to the Lord of the Rings shows us that Eregion was settled by the Noldor Elves in the year 750 of the Second Age.  Fortunately for us, we are able to learn more in other sources, usch as the Silmarillion.  However, the version here is largely from Unfinished Tales, and I love the extra details it provides on Eregion, Sauron's relationship with the Elves there, and the Rings of Power.  However, we do need to note that at times there are minor discrepancies between what appears in the account in Unfinished Tales and the information in Lord of the Rings, and I will try to point those instances out when they occur.

We learn that it was Galadriel and Celeborn who settled Eregion.  With them they brought a talented Elven smith named Celebrimbor, who is described as having "an almost dwarvish obsession with crafts," and who became the head crafter in Eregion.  His love of crafting made him a natural ally of the dwarves next door in Moria, particularly one named Narvi.  (Sound familiar?  "I, Narvi, made them.  Celebrimbor of Hollin drew these signs."  Some of the words found on the western door into Moria.)  A strong relationship was enjoyed between the Elves of Eregion and the Dwarves of Moria, with both sides benefiting immensely (although Celeborn still didn't care much for Dwarves).

This was taking place about 700 years after the end of the First Age and the overthrow of Morgoth.  One of his great Lieutenants, Sauron, had fled and laid low for a few hundred years.  At around year 500 of the Second Age, Sauron began to stir again and eventually became aware of the Elves settling in Eregion, establishing Mordor as his own "seat" of rule in the year 1000.  Sauron hated the Elves.  He did try to destroy them in the First Age, after all.  They just didn't care about Middle Earth in the way HE cared about it, you see.  In the Second Age he hoped to again attempt to bring them under his dominion.

Sauron as Anatheron
In the year 1200, Sauron went to visit the Elves of Eregion in the guise of Annatar, a beautiful emissary of the Valar, supposedly sent there to provide aid to the Elves.  Sauron used all of his charm and art to ingratiate himself with Celebrimbor and the other artisans of Eregion, who by this point had formed a tightly knit and powerful society called the Gwaith-i-Mírdain.  Somehow Galadriel and Celeborn, without of course realizing who he was, remained immune to him and maintained a suspicious view of him.

In this fair guise Sauron taught much to the Gwaith-i-Mírdain, drawing them closer and closer to him, and shockingly convinced them to revolt against Galadriel and Celeborn.  According to Unfinished Tales this occurred some time between 1350 and 1400 of the Second Year.  At this point, Galadriel left Eregion, passing through Moria, into Lorien (this account indicates she took her daughter, Celebrian, AND her son, Amroth with her - for a history of Amroth and whether or not he was really a child of Galadriel and Celeborn see my prior post on Lothlorien).  Celeborn, however, was a Dwarf-hater and would not enter Moria, thus staying behind in Eregion, scorned by Celebrimbor.  It was at this time that Sauron had the Gwaith-i-Mírdain begin forging the Rings of Power, without their knowledge of what they were being created for.

Sauron then returned to Mordor, and crafted the One Ring in the fires of Orodruin.  Celebrimbor, who had been blind but never "corrupted in heart or faith," now learned who Annatar was and of the existence of the One Ring, and went to Galadriel for guidance.  They unfortunately "failed to find the strength" to destroy the Rings of Power.  Galadriel instructed him to give the Three for the Elves, since they were made by Celebrimbor alone, without the aid of Sauron, to Elves for safekeeping.  Hence she received Nenya, the Ring of Adamant, and the other two Rings were given to Gil-Galad.  Gil-Galad later passed Vilya, the Ring of Air, to Elrond and Narya, the Ring of Fire to Cirdan the Shipwright, who then passed it to Gandalf.

Mural venerating Anatheron.
Once Sauron learned his disguise was blown and Celebrimbor had abandoned him, he became enraged and set forth to attack and destroy Eregion.  Gil-Galad learned of the plan, and sent Elrond forth with a host to help defend Eregion, but they were too far away and too late.  Celeborn briefly drove Sauron's vanguard back, but the main host was too large and powerful - the devastation of Eregion thus occurred.  Sauron was able to capture "the House of the Mírdain, where were their smithies and their treasures"  and took the Nine Rings for Men, but did not find the Seven for the Dwarves (for the first time ever, Snow White just popped into my mind) or the Three for the Elves.  He captured Celebrimbor and, under torture, learned where the Seven were.  (Appendix A indicates the belief of the Dwarves that the Ring received by Durin was not among those tainted by Sauron.)  Celebrimbor would not reveal the location of the Three, however, and was killed by Sauron.

"In black anger he turned back to battle; and bearing as a banner Celebrimbor's body hung upon a pole, shot through with Orc-arrows, he turned upon the forces of Elrond.  Elrond had gathered such few of the Elves of Eregion as had escaped, but he had no force to withstand the onset.  He would indeed have been overwhelmed had no Sauron's host been attacked in the rear; for Durin sent out a force of Dwarves from Khazad-dum, and with them came Elves of Lorinand led by Amroth.  Elrond was able to extricate himself, but he was forced away northwards, and it was at that time (in the year 1697, according to the Tale of Years) that he established a refuge and stronghold at Imladris.  Sauron withdrew the pursuit of Elrond and turned upon the Dwarves and the Elves of Lorinand, whom he drove back; but the Gates of Moria were shut, and he could not enter.  Ever afterwards Moria had Sauron's hate, and all Orcs were commanded to harry Dwarves whenever they might."

In LOTRO, Turbine could not use the name Annatar because it is not mentioned in the LotR; instead we get to meet him as Anatheron in the Session Play "Daughter of Strife" - where we see the LOTRO character Narmeleth representing how easily swayed the Gwaith-i-Mírdain must have been.  Thanks to LOTRO-Wiki for the photo as I can't get back in there to take one myself!  Also thanks to One Wiki to Rule them All for the mural photo.

So much Lore tied to Eregion - how it was first settled by Elves and what drove Galadriel and Celeborn to later move to Lorien, the roots of the brief good relationship between them and the Dwarves of Moria, how the Rings of Power came to be crafted and the Three ending up with their eventual owners, even the origins of Imladris tie in here.

Sources:  Lord of the Rings Appendix A, Appendix B; Unfinished Tales, The Silmarillion


  1. Great piece!

    I think the Elves forged all the Great Rings for themselves, rather than some for each race.

    After Sauron took those rings other than the three greatest which Celebrimbor saved, he then gave them to Men and Dwarves to enslave those races since the Elves were now on to him.

    Then the verse about the Three, Seven, Nine, and the One was written by the Elves afterward.

  2. you can use the 'Chronicle of Events' table at Rivendell's 'Spire of Meeting' to get back into Session Play events.

  3. I love your blog! So much great background information here, meshing LOTRO with the books. My main is starting to quest in Eregion; in fact I#m just about to do "Daughter of Strife". You really help to flesh out the game with Tolkien lore - thank you!