Lisa's Reviews > The Silmarillion

The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
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's review
Feb 22, 2013

it was amazing
bookshelves: middle-earth, fantasy
Read from February 08 to 22, 2013 , read count: 2

It's hard to know where to start with this review. Fans of Tolkien probably already know that The Silmarillion was Tolkien's life work and that the more famous and iconic Lord of the Rings is only a short tale within the confines of The Silmarillion. It's probably also worth posting a disclaimer: if you love LOTR, you won't necessarily love The Silmarillion. It's a big, complex book that is hard to read and digest.

This is the second time I've read The Silmarillion, the first time was when I was 13 and found LOTR only likeable because I ADORED the movies. I admired Tolkien for his success in having one of the very few fantasy novels that feels like it has actual roots in history and reality. Part, if not all of ths success, comes down to the immense world he built, the basics of which can be found in The Silmarillion.

Eleven years later, I'm a more mature reader, and I love both LOTR and The Silmarillion for themselves, rather than the achievements of an author whose writing I didn't quite "get" or for their film adaptations. While The Silmarillion is big and difficult, it's not the fault of the writer – it's because of the sheer mass of history that it contains.

To give a little perspective, the 300+ page book The Children of Húrin is summarised as a 36 page chapter in The Silmarillion, and even more startlingly, the full tale found in The Lord of the Rings covers about three pages, and that's probably overestimating it.

I should probably point out that The Silmarillion is very much the Noldor Elves' take on things, so people looking for a history of hobbits, dwarves and Men should probably look elsewhere. But it does give a deeper appreciation of the history of the Elves only mentioned in LOTR, especially for characters like Sauron, Elrond, Galadriel and even Isildur (spoiler: he's not half the prat the movies made him out to be) and where Frodo goes to at the end of LOTR.

There is SO MUCH to appreciate and admire about the world Tolkien created. So many times I just went, "oh, of course, that's brilliant". It's sometimes hard to remember that Middle-Earth/Arda wasn't designed to be this fantasy world utterly separate from ours, but a history and/or mythology of the origins of our world. And Tolkien does achieve it, for the most part. You get the feeling that, maybe, one day, historians could be talking about The Silmarillion the way they talk about The Iliad today.

Look, I'm not going to sit here and say YOU HAVE TO READ THE SILMARILLION OR YOU'RE NOT A REAL TOLKIEN FAN. I know it's difficult and scary. But if you're interested in the world of Middle-Earth and it's complex history, it's worth a try.

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Reading Progress

02/07/2013 page 15
3.0% "Treating this as a "new" read for 2013 since I read it once over 10 years ago and remember nothing except Feanor was a dick."
02/12/2013 page 99
22.0% "Just past this section of The Silmarillion:


Feanor has just reached the height of his dickishness. Now it's his sons' turn."
02/21/2013 page 341
76.0% "Just one last chapter left ('Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age'), but I'm pretty sure the entire plot of the book can be summed up as:

02/21/2013 page 445
100.0% ""...and an end was come for the the Eldar of story and of song.""
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