Crell comes from Southwall, like Dirk and Sholto, and is a friend of theirs. He went to the Keep of Weld to enlist with Dirk, but chose not to at the last minute. This earned him the scorn of his peers and the disapproval of the Warden. However, instead of going home, Crell stayed in the Keep and founded a newspaper called The Lantern. This idea was stemmed from the Warden's rejection of Tallus' lantern idea which was meant to create a better defence against skimmers; Crell thought that if the story was publicised, the Warden would be forced to accept Tallus' petition for a test run of his theory.
Crell is not an outwardly heroic type. Though he chooses not to become a Volunteer, and is seen as a coward, he instead chooses to rebel against the system in his own way by publishing a newsletter, The Lantern, to help Tallus gain support in his quest to combat the skimmers. He is a kind person at heart, and of a scholarly bent, as revealed in The Third Door.