Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien

The SilmarillionThere was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Iluvatar; and he made the first Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought, and they were with him before aught else was made. 

The Silmarillion is what you might call a prequel to the events in The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien considered it his most important work, and it's basically a collection of legends about the creation of Middle-earth. "...this is the ancient drama to which the characters in The Lord of the Rings look back and in whose events some of them, such as Elrond and Galadriel, took part. The three Silmarils were jewels created by Feanor, most gifted of the Elves. Within them was imprisoned the Light of the Two Trees of Valinor before the Trees themselves were destroyed by Morgoth, the first Dark Lord. Thereafter, the unsullied Light of Valinor live on only in the Silmarils, but they were seized by Morgoth and set in his crown, which was guarded in the impenetrable fortress of Angband in the north of Middle-earth.The Silmarillion is the history of the rebellion of Feanor and his kindred against the gods, their exile from Valinor and return to Middle-earth, and their war, hopeless despite all their heroism, against the great Enemy."

A lot of it went over my head; I'm not a huge Tolkien fan, and the beginning of The Silmarillion (as you can see) was really Biblical. Plus, there were so many very similar names of the different Ainur that I didn't really absorb most of them. I'm sure if you gave me a test on the characters I would fail utterly. Nevertheless, The Silmarillion was quite good, though definitely my least favorite of Tolkien's works.

The story itself is really interesting. It tells of the creation of a whole new world and a really complex system, and of the epic fight between good and evil. A lot of it stylistically reminded me of Norse epics: long-winded and with many, many names. Really, as the book progressed, I couldn't keep anything straight. It was all so confusing. The Silmarillion could have done with a lot less names, and a lot more straightforward action. Still, I can see how a particular friend of mine is really obsessed with it; there are so many different threads of The Silmarillion that can be thought more about and written about and talked about. It just wasn't that compelling for me.

Still, I can certainly see why Tolkien considered it his most important book. It sets the whole foundation for the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy. If none of these things had ever happened, none of the subsequent adventures would have taken place. So yes, The Silmarillion is quite important, it's just not my type of fiction.

I'm glad that I made my way through it, though. I enjoyed parts of it, and the story itself was a really good one. It's definitely worth reading if you enjoyed The Lord of the Rings. The Silmarillion is basically this big book of legends, and it's of great value. I didn't love it, but I did like it, despite it being difficult to get through.

Read The Silmarillion:
  • if you like J.R.R. Tolkien
  • if you like fantasy
  • if you like mythology
304 pages.
Very Good! I would recommend this book!

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