Title: The Silmarillion
Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
Page Count/Review Word Count: 448
I wanted to give this book an 8/10, but I just can’t bring myself to give it that extra mark because of how taxing it can be to read. It’s typical of Tolkien, wordy and full of names and places that you sometimes struggle to remember, but the writing is also beautiful and moving, and incredibly evocative of a time in Middle Earth that you’ll struggle to read about anywhere else.
The Silmarillion is largely focused on following the story of the three Silmaril, the jewels that were created by Feanor and later set in to the crown of Morgoth, the dark lord who makes his abode in the fortress of Angband. That said, a lot of peripheral characters come in and out of the tale, and you’ve probably heard of them from elsewhere, perhaps in the tales of old that are sprinkled throughout the Lord of the Rings.
See, if Lord of the Rings covers Middle Earth’s equivalent of the First and Second World Wars, then The Silmarillion takes a look at the lores and legends of the ancient Celts, the Romans and the Viking invaders. And it’s not for the casual reader, although it’s also not as intimidating as a lot of people make out – if you enjoyed The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, then this is just part of the extended universe. It’s certainly no more or less difficult to read than any of Tolkien’s other work, and his son Christopher has done a fantastic job of assembling together a coherent collection of stories.
Because really, that’s what we have here – a collection of stories, roughly meshed together to form a history and a backdrop to the trilogy that the author is most well-known for. It’s like the Bible of Middle Earth, a necessary read for any serious fan but far too deep for the casual reader who’s only seen the films.
It comes with a few interesting extras too, like Tolkien’s thoughts on pronunciations, as well as a glossary of the names of people and places that are referenced within. One of the interesting things about Tolkien’s work is that names evolve with time, and something that once had one name will end up with another after a major event. Minas Tirith was once called Minas Anor, and Wikipedia notes that it’s also known as the White City, the City of the Kings and the Mundburg.
As long as you’re prepared to expend the necessary mental effort to keep up with things, then you’ll enjoy it. If not, better read something else.