The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Born in Valinor during the Years of the Trees, slain I 1
Briefly accounted High King of the Noldor during I 1
Race
Division
Other Names
Titles
Meaning
From the Quenya fëanáro, meaning 'spirit of fire'
Pronunciation
feh'anor

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  • Updated 14 July 2007
  • This entry is complete

Fëanor

Greatest of the Noldor

Encyclopedia of Arda Timeline
Years of the Trees First Age Second Age Third Age Fourth Age and Beyond

High Kings of the Noldor

The eldest son of Finwë, and half-brother to Fingolfin and Finarfin, Fëanor was accounted the greatest of the Deep Elves. He burned with a fiery spirit, from which he took his name, though he had at first been known as Curufinwë. Such was his strength of spirit that his mother Míriel passed on to the Halls of Awaiting after his birth.

In Valinor his achievements were unparalleled. Learning much craft from Mahtan, the father of his wife Nerdanel, he created gems and jewels with astonishing properties, including lamps that glowed with their own light, and the palantíri that could see over vast distances. He was also a scholar of note, and invented the letters that carried his name. Most famously of all, he captured the light of the Two Trees themselves, within three lustrous jewels made of silima that came to be known as the Silmarils.

In the time the Silmarils were made, Melkor was held chained within Mandos' halls, but at the appointed time Manwë judged that he was reformed, and should be set free. Released, the Dark Lord soon came to lust after the Silmarils for himself, and started to plan his revenge against the Valar and the Eldar. Whispering and plotting, he set a network of lies among Fëanor and his people, awakening enmity and suspicion. It was at this time that the Noldor started the making of weapons, and Melkor was quick to give them guidance and help.

At last Melkor's lies drove Fëanor to confront and threaten his half-brother Fingolfin. In the Ring of Doom Melkor's treachery was uncovered, and he fled from Valinor, but for his part Fëanor was also banished. He travelled away from Valmar with his father and his seven sons to Formenos in the north of Valinor.

Melkor did not remain hidden for long. Allying himself with Ungoliant, he descended on Valinor and destroyed the Two Trees, then disappeared in a web of darkness, making his escape from the stricken land of the Valar. Learning that Melkor had also slain Finwë and stolen the Silmarils, an enraged Fëanor assembled the Noldor and led his sons in a dreadful Oath to seek revenge against the Dark Lord. Naming Melkor Morgoth for the first time, Fëanor led the Noldor out of Valinor on the long road to Middle-earth.

The journey out of the Valinor was a hard and dangerous one, fraught with betrayal and bloodshed, and many of the Deep Elves turned back, led by Fëanor's half-brother Finarfin. Fëanor himself drove onward into the cold north, denying even the Valar's warning to return, and passed across the narrow icy seas into Middle-earth.

Almost immediately, battle was joined. Morgoth's armies flooded through the mountains and descended on the host of the Noldor in Mithrim, but Fëanor and his sons were utterly victorious. That battle was fought for ten days in the darkness before the Moon's first rising, and is therefore called the Battle-under-Stars, Dagor-nuin-Giliath.

After the rout of his enemies, Fëanor's spirit burned hot, and he set out to assault Morgoth himself. With a tiny force, he charged forward, but before he could come to Angband, he encountered Balrogs. Gothmog their lord gave him a mortal wound, but was driven off by Fëanor's sons, who carried their father's body from the field. With his last breath, Fëanor cursed Morgoth, and called on his sons to fulfil their Oath and avenge him. When he died, the fire of his spirit burned away his body, leaving nothing but ash.

So the spirit of Fëanor passed back over the Sea to the Halls of Waiting, where it still remains. His legacy was to leave his people in Beleriand, sworn to the impossible task of overcoming the Dark Lord and recovering the Silmarils. From that legacy of Fëanor grew the legends of the First Age of Middle-earth.


See also...

Aman, Amarië, Angband, Angrist, Angrod, Aulë, Balrogs, Battle of the Haven, Battle-under-Stars, Belegûr, Caranthir, Celebrimbor, Curse of Mandos, Curufin, Curufinwë, [See the full list...]

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