Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's universe of Middle-earth. This article also contains information on the Return of the Noldor, and on the Oath of Fëanor.

Table of contents
1 Life in Valinor
2 The Return of the Noldor
3 The Tale of the Oath

Life in Valinor

Fëanor, also known as Curufinwë, was the greatest craftsman, gem-smith, and warrior of the Noldor, and very briefly their king. He is famous as the creator of the Silmarils, the Tengwar script, possibly of the Palantíri, and - unintentionally - of great evils. But he was not evil. He lived most of his life in Tirion. He was the son of Finwë, the High King of the Noldor, and his first wife Míriel Serindë. Fëanor drew so much of Míriel's life-energy when he was born that she promptly fell ill and died. Finwë remarried, and had two more sons, Fëanor's half-brothers Fingolfin and Finarfin. He married Nerdanel, who bore him seven sons: Maedhros, Maglor, Celegorm, Caranthir, Curufin, Amrod and Amras, in order of age.

At this time, Melkor was living in Valinor as a "wolf in sheep's clothing." He undertook to corrupt the Noldor, and Fëanor in particular, and make them tools of his malice. He succeeded.

Fëanor captured the light of the Two Trees to make the three Silmarils, also called the Great Jewels, and considered to be the most beautiful objects ever to exist, save perhaps for the Trees themselves. Under Melkor's influence, he guarded them, and would let nobody see them besides his family. Fëanor's naturally unstable temperament grew ever worse, and on one occasion he pinned Fingolfin to a wall and threatened to run him through. For this, the Valar exiled him to a place called Formenos. He took a substantial treasure there, including the Silmarils, which he put in a locked box.

The box did not deter Melkor. Finally deciding to put an end to his pretense of goodness, Melkor came to Formenos, slew Finwë, and stole the entire treasure. He then pretended to flee to Middle-earth, but went instead to the land of Avathar to seek out Ungoliant. The two returned to Valinor, destroyed the Two Trees, and escaped via the Helcaraxë, or Grinding Ice, to Beleriand.

The Return of the Noldor

At this time, Fëanor, like everyone else, perceived Melkor's trickery, and gave him the name Morgoth, or Dark Enemy. Now the King of the Noldor, he delivered the most impassioned speech ever given in Arda, which he unwittingly filled with Morgoth's taint. He railed against the Dark Lord, of course, but Morgoth's influence caused him also to rail against the Valar. Quite mistakenly believing that the Valar were sitting idle in the face of this great tragedy, he persuaded the vast majority of the Noldor to go with him to Middle-earth and fight the Dark Lord. About one in ten decided to remain, including Finarfin. Fëanor then swore a terrible blood oath - in which all seven of his sons joined - claiming sole ownership of the Silmarils, vowing to fight anyone and everyone who withheld them, and invoking even Ilúvatar as a witness.

Seeking a way to get to Middle-earth, he went to the shores of Belegaer, where the seafaring Teleri lived, and demanded the use of their ships. A great misunderstanding ensued, in which the armed and impassioned Noldor massacred the unarmed Teleri and stole the ships. There were not enough ships to carry all of the Noldor across the sea. Fëanor and his sons led the first group. Upon arriving at Losgar, in the land of Lammoth, in the far west of Beleriand, where Morgoth and Ungoliant had passed not long before, they decided to burn the ships and leave their compatriots behind. The burning took place at night. The earth being flat in those days, the remaining Noldor saw the flames, and perceived that if they were to go to Middle-earth, they had no choice but to cross the Grinding Ice. This they did under the leadership of Fingolfin, and suffered great losses along the way. Thus, there was animosity within the ranks of the Noldor.

They had come for battle, and battle they got. Morgoth summoned his scattered armies and attacked the encampment of the Noldor in the land of Mithrim. This battle was called the Battle under the Stars, or Dagor-nuin-Giliath, for the Two Trees had been destroyed, and the Sun and Moon had not yet been raised. The Noldor managed to win the battle, and disperse Morgoth's armies. Fëanor, still in a great rage, pressed on toward the stronghold of Angband with his sons, and was attacked by Balrogs. He fought mightily and managed to drive them off, but he had received mortal wounds. His name meant Spirit of Fire, and it proved true unto the end. Upon his death, and before his sons could bury him, his body burst into flames and was consumed.

The Tale of the Oath

Fëanor's well-meaning deeds continued to bear evil fruit long after his death. Fingon's rescue of Maedhros, together with Maedhros's renunciation of the kingship of the Noldor in favor of his uncle Fingolfin, helped to heal the injury done by the burning of the ships, but there was great evil in the Oath of Feanor. Some time after the swearing of the oath and the Noldor's decision to depart, an emissary of the Valar - possibly Mandos himself - appeared atop the Pelóri. He warned the Noldor of their folly, and particularly he spoke to the house of Fëanor. He foretold that evil would come of the Oath.

Evil came indeed, for Beren and Lúthien stole a Silmaril out of Angband. They kept it until their death, and the Sons of Fëanor withheld their attack out of reverence to the two greatest heroes of the Age. After that, it passed into the kingdom of Doriath. Doriath was protected by the powerful magic of the Girdle of Melian, which the Sons of Fëanor did not risk attacking. However, when Thingol the king was slain and Melian returned to Valinor, Doriath lay open. Bound by their oath, the Sons marched into the forest, slew Dior the new king, and brought an end to the kingdom. The Silmaril escaped them, and was taken south to the forest of Nan-tathren. The Sons of Fëanor saw the repugnance of their Oath but struck again, and again the Silmaril escaped. It was taken to Valinor by Eärendil, and set in the sky as the "star" of Venus.

That Silmaril was now out of their reach, and the other was still guarded beyond all hope in Angband, so the Sons could rest. But their rest was brief, for the Valar led a great army to Middle-earth, defeated Morgoth, and captured the Silmarils. Five of the Sons of Fëanor had been slain in their wars, leaving only Maedhros and Maglor. The two of them decided that they must enter the encampment of the Valar and attempt to capture the two remaining Jewels. Eönwë, the chief of the camp, chose not to shed any more Elven blood, and ordered the guards to stand back.

The Silmarils, however, rejected their new masters, and burned their hands with a great pain. Maedhros, despaired of his life, threw himself into a great chasm and was swallowed by the earth. Maglor threw his Silmaril into the sea. His death is not recorded, and he is said to still wander the shores of the sea, lamenting his loss.