“Then through all the years that followed he traced the Ring, but since that history is elsewhere recounted, even as Elrond himself set it down in his books of lore, it is not here recalled.”
This must have been incredibly frustrating for anyone reading Fellowship of the Ring when it was published. It wouldn’t be until twenty-three years later that this was fully(ish) recounted in the Silmarillion. Sure, we get some of the story in his chapter and a bit in the Appendices, but for the full story, the reader would have to wait until 1977 to read “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.” Three years later, with the publication of Unfinished Tales, even more of the story, complete with contradictions and anomalies, would see the light of day.
When studying the differing variations of Tolkien’s stories and how they changed from before, during and after the writing and publication of Lord of the Rings, usually it’s understood that he concluded much of what he started in the writing phase after the publication (or at least the final draft). As an example, while he explored a bit of the “Quest for Erebor” in the Lord of the Rings, he went much deeper a decade or so after finishing the book (the full version of which didn’t see the light of day until the Annotated Hobbit was published a few years ago).
In the case of Elrond’s tale about the Ring, which was “elsewhere recounted,” much of it was written over the varying drafts of this chapter. Once that got too weighty, he compiled the accounts and wrote “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age,” which he wished to have placed in the Appendices. When even that became overflowing, it was simply dropped and would have to wait for son to plop it down in the Silmarillion.
But the spinning of this tale took time. As far as the narrative is concerned, the Elves of Eregion were friends with the Dwarves in Moria. However, they had also become ensnared by Sauron. One, named Celebrimbor, had made three Elven rings, but was on to Sauron, who made the One Ring to rule over the three. Celebrimbor hid the three Elven rings, “and there was war, and the land was laid waste, and the gate of Moria was shut.”
The character of Celebrimbor existed prior to the writing of The Lord of the Rings, though he was merely mentioned in passing as the son of Curufin. He was first used by Tolkien in his initial draft of the “Mines of Moria” chapter, when Gandalf said that “Celebrimbor of Hollin drew these signs” (meaning the “Speak friends and enter” script above the door). He wasn’t brought up in the Council of Elrond or into the story of the One Ring until the very final draft. This was probably because Tolkien wanted to take the whole thing to the Appendices.
In late 1951 or early 1952, Tolkien started rewriting his “Tale of Years,” an expurgated version of which would appear as Appendix B. It was into this, from all I can tell, that Celebrimbor was folded.
And even that story evolved. In one of the early drafts, the year 1500 of the Second Age is given as when “The Three Great Rings are made by Celbrimbor of the Silver Grasp.” Also, the Ruling Ring was made by Sauron in Mordor. By the publication of Lord of the Rings, it was the “Elven-smiths instructed by Sauron” who made the Rings of Power, which weren’t finished for another ninety years. Ten years after that, Sauron forged the One Ring in Orodruin, and “Celebrimbor perceives the designs of Sauron.”
As strange as it might seem, Tolkien wouldn’t return to the Celebrimbor tale until the late 1960s when he wrote “Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn” (which appeared in Unfinished Tales). Tolkien had several different origin stories for him, all which he fiddled with around that time – fifteen years after the Lord of the Rings was published. Sometimes Celebrimbor was of Noldorin origin, other times he was of the Teleri. Hell, he was even once a Sinda descended from Daeron. Whatever, Tollers. Whatever.
Okay, I really got off track. Basically, at the point when Tolkien wrote that the history was “elsewhere recounted,” it actually existed, though probably only as an outline for his drafts of “The Tale of Years.”
So if you want to know the story as “elsewhere recounted,” you’ll have to pick up the Silmarillion and read the final chapter. Then, if you really want to delve, hit up “Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn” in Unfinished Tales. But as you do keep in mind that the Silmarillion chapter was never finished by Tolkien. From what I understand (and I can’t find a source for this) it was finished by his son, Christopher Tolkien. Also keep in mind that the bits from Unfinished Tales were written near the end of his life, and probably don’t reflect whatever he was thinking when he wrote Lord of the Rings.
That’s how it works, folks. Good luck!
A Few Notes
- There’s a hell of a lot of guessing going on here, and much of what I wrote isn’t very clear. There’s no history that I could find about the essay “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age,” so I had to piece together what I could.
- Celebrimbor was also mentioned in the 1969ish essay “Of Men and Dwarves.” Tolkien collected and explained the references in Appendix F as well as Faramir’s talk in The Two Towers‘s chapter “The Window on the West”. This can be found in The Peoples of Middle-Earth.
- I really hope you made it through this. Just re-reading it, the whole thing seems pretty dense. I’m sorry about that. Tomorrow, I’ll be better!
About the Photo
I guess I’m not really sure. Maybe something about ideas splitting or coming together or running parallel. Maybe?
- Day 118
- Miles today: 5
- Miles thus far: 591 (137 from Rivendell)
- 330 miles to Lothlórien
- 1,188 miles to Mt. Doom
Today’s stopping place in the narrative: Book II, Chapter 3. Marching south along the western foothills of the Misty Mountains. Seventh night out from Rivendell. January 1 – 2, 3019 TA. (map)