17 September 2009

The Silmarillion

(I’m sorry this post is late. I was recently abducted by brain-slurping aliens. Only after a pitched battle in which I used an umbrella, a soap dispenser, and several yards of floss to fight off these non- Earthlings was I able to escape. Hence, I wasn’t able to post my review in a timely fashion. Or, maybe, I had a few major tests this week, and I just now finished the book…)

Whether or not you’re a J.R.R. Tolkien fan, you’re probably familiar with the Lord of the Ring trilogy and could tell me all about the Ring of Power and Frodo and his little road trip to Mordor. And, if you’re even just a casual Tolkien fan, you’ve probably read The Hobbit and could tell me how the ring landed into hobbit hands in the first place. Right? Very good, but not so fast, batman! Where did the rings come from in the first place? How did the insidious Sauron ascend to power? Where did the Orcs and Elves and Dwarves come from? Why the heck do the Orcs and Elves and Dwarves hate each other so much? For the answers to these Middle-earth questions, you must turn to The Silmarillion.

I’m indebted to Scott for bringing this book to my attention and suggesting I review it. (Thanks!) I’ve loved Middle-earth ever since I first read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Ring when I was thirteen. Even though it’s been a few years since I’ve read any Tolkien, I loved this book! Whereas Tolkien’s more popular books focus on the hobbits and that pesky ring, The Silmarillion concentrates on the elves and the Silmarils, a set of jewels that prove just as problematic as the ring. This novel, which is a prequel of sorts to the other books, starts with the creation of Middle-earth and ends where The Lord of the Ring begins. Along the way, the ever inventive Tolkien introduces us to some amazing mythic characters (such as the heroic Beren, the tragic Turin Turamber, and the diabolical Morgoth, Middle-earth’s resident bad guy when Sauron was still a villain in training.) and some very cool creatures, i.e. Orcs, dragons, werewolves. I’ve always loved Tolkien’s characters, but I also love the attention to detail that forms such a major element of his work. The painstaking attention he gives to genealogy, history, languages, and maps always fascinated me, and The Silmarillion gives Middle-earth addicts an ample dose of them all. But this book also has a great story – there are epic battles, heroic deeds, dastardly betrayals, and crafty political maneuvers galore.

This is a very involving novel though. You don’t have to have read Tolkien’s other books to read this one, but you won’t get as wrapped up in the action if you haven’t. (A lot of the fun comes from recognizing characters and names that are mentioned in passing but play huge roles later on.) The one exception to this is if you’re into mythology. If so, you will love this book! Tolkien uses a lot of traditional mythological stories and characters in this book. It’s fun to see how Tolkien takes all of them and puts his own innovative, fantastical twist on them.

The Silmarillion is an epic fantasy novel and an important description of pre-LOTR Middle-earth history. If you love Tolkien, you must read this book!

(P.S. I love getting book recommendations. If any of you have read a good book lately, always feel free to tell me about it in the comments, even if the book has nothing to do with what I’m reviewing. I’ll try to get around to your recommendation as soon as I can. As I mention on my sidebar, I have really eclectic taste in books, so as long as it’s not one of those hideous Harlequin/Silhouette defamations, I mean, romance novels, I’ll probably enjoy it. zellakate)


  1. Yay, you read it!
    I'm so glad you liked it. It did drag a little for me in some parts but getting to the end was worth it.
    Ooh, if you're not too busy I would definitely suggest reading Going Postal by Terry Pratchett. You would love it, especially if you love eclectic books. :D

  2. Scott, thank you for telling me about The Silmarillion! I did enjoy it. (I thought a few parts were a bit slow too, but, as you said, it was worth it.)

    I looked up Going Postal on the internet, and it sounds really good. I also checked our library's online catalog, and we do have it! It may take me awhile to check it out (I'm a little behind on my reading), but I will definitely read it the first chance I get!

    Thanks again! :)

  3. No problem Zella.
    You will loooooooooooooove Going Postal. Never slow. But take your time. :D

  4. Scott, When I saw that Going Postal was a comic fantasy, I was immediately intrigued, and when I read a description of it, I thought it sounded hilarious! I am looking forward to reading it!

    As soon as I work my way through that stack of books on my nightstand, I will read it! :D

    I really appreciate your book recommendations! :)

  5. Oh no problem, Zella. You will love Going Postal. You might love it too much. It is by my all-time favorite author Terry Pratchett. I could not say enough about him. :D
    Dear lord, I'm so worked up over this that I can't even wait to read your review of it! WAHOO!


  6. I'm really looking forward to it! I am happy to say that I have worked through a couple of the books on my list, so I should get around to it quicker than I thought! (This was partially a strategic move on my part, so that I could read Going Postal ASAP!) :D