(Review) The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien

Publisher and Publication Date: Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. My edition-2001. First published in 1977.
Genre: Fantasy fiction.
Pages: 378 pages total.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of Tolkien stories.
Rating: Excellent.

Link for the book @ Amazon
The e-book is currently free for Kindle Unlimited.

Link for the book @ Barnes and Noble

A helpful place about this book: A Mega Guide to The Silmarillion. From The Tolkien World.

The Silmarillion is apart of a series titled Middle-earth Universe. The link is at Goodreads. It shares all the books in the series.

Summary:

From the first paragraph in the Foreword written by Christopher Tolkien.
“The Silmarillion, now published four years after the death of its author, is an account of the Elder Days or the First Age of the World. In The Lord of the Rings were narrated the great events at the end of the Third Age; but the tales of The Silmarillion are legends deriving from a much deeper past, when Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, dwelt in Middle-earth, and the High Elves made war upon him for the recovery of the Silmarils.”

The origins of the story began as far back as 1917. They are written in “battered notebooks.” Christopher Tolkien put all of his father’s writings, on this theme, together into one volume for publication. In this volume, there are a total of five stories: The Silmarillion or Quenta Silmarillion (and the longest of the stories), Ainulindale, Valaquenta, Akallabeth, and Of The Rings Of Power And The Third Age. Each of these stories are individual stories yet relate and combine as one flowing themed story.

The stories have a long list of male and female characters. Most of their stories are brief. Some characters are mentioned in a few sentences and others over several pages. Some examples of characters: Eru Iluvatar, Fingolfin, Feanor, Beren, Luthien, Rian, and Turin. The main antagonist characters are Melkor, Morgoth, Sauron, and Ungoliant.

Some of the characters are Elven and some half Elven. Some are called High Elves. Some are Men. Some are evil beings. Eru Iluvatar is the creator and supreme.

My Thoughts:

Before reading The Silmarillion, I had only a small idea of what this book entailed. I’d bought this book as a part of a collection of Tolkien’s books that I’m gathering and plan to read. My goal is to read all of them! That’s all of the published books Tolkien penned. I am including those Christopher Tolkien finished for his father.
The Silmarillion is a huge, epic, conglomeration of themed stories creating the stage for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books specifically. The beginning starts with the creation by Eru Iluvatar during the First Age of the World. Melkor who is later called Morgoth is a creation of Eru Illuvatar, but Morgoth turned against his creator and became a corrupt, evil, war mongering being. This sounds eerily similar to the Bible’s creation story.

My favorite story is Beren and Luthien. Their story is also one of the longest shared in the book. They remind me of ethereal type characters in their essence and story. A second favorite story is Feanor and his creations of the Simarils or the three great jewels. Of course his creations have long-lasting consequences.

Mary and the Words is hosting a four week readalong of The Silmarillion in March.
These are the links to read her lengthy thoughts on the book.
Week One
Week Two
Week Three
Week Four is this week and has not posted

Why do I love The Silmarillion?
Several reasons:
1. The ingenuity and creativity is huge-vast. I cannot wrap my mind around the imagination taken to create the long list of characters and their stories. And, how their stories tie into one another over many years, And, how the stories relate to the further writings of Tolkien. I am struck with amazement.
2. I became swept into the story in the Foreword! Of all places to be sucked in! Christopher Tolkien wrote the Foreword and my interest was sparked and continued to keep me reading.
3. I love the supplemental material: five pages of lineage profiles, helpful pronunciation guide, 52 pages of an index of names. The index gives a brief definition of the name and the page numbers where the names are found.
4. It can be easy to dismiss a character who only has brief stories. Their stories can be buried underneath so many other characters who are written about next. But, I remember many of the names and their heroic deeds. I remember their courage and valor. I remember their fearless disposition in the face of fearful evil beings.
5. The Silmarillion is a simple tale. The created fight against evil. It’s simple yet relatable to real life.
6. The Rings that were made by the Elves and Sauron are explained. The One Ring is in the further books of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. This background information of the origins of the Rings helps.

If you are a reader of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, I recommend reading The Silmarillion.

2 thoughts on “(Review) The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien

  1. Thank you for this review! It brings back many memories of my youth. I have an original copy of The Silmarillion, collected on the first day of publication. It was a red-letter day for me!

    Liked by 1 person

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