I have read many books throughout my life, and I have to say, The Silmarillion is my favorite book of all time. This book has some really amazing stories, and it’s unique creation and publication made me love it even more. To start with, this book is NOT for everyone. Also I would definitely suggest to anyone wanting to read this book, to NOT rush through it. Thus said, this book is absolutely amazing. When I first saw the Tolkien Society website giving tips on how to read this book, it initially made me somewhat worried. While the writing style in this book is definitely “old school” or “biblical” as many people seem to say, I absolutely loved every portion of it.
I took my time reading this book, in fact I actually re-read a good chunk of the book twice to fully understand it. The fact that this book is somewhat challenging to read to fully understand, I feel that once you understand how the stories are being told, you’ll truly appreciate the beauty of how they’re being described by Tolkien.
I find it really interesting that many readers often compare The Silmarillion to the bible, and or being the bible equivalent of Tolkien’s legendarium. Given’s Tolkien’s religious background, I can see why many people make these comparisons.
One thing to keep in mind, is that this book doesn’t necessarily have a central protagonist. Although, I think the most important character The Silmarillion is the elf Fëanor, whose actions ended up changing the history of the world forever. I can see why certain readers would prefer The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings over The Silmarillion. Instead this book is divided into five parts:
- The Quenta Silmarillion
- The Akallabêth
- Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
Unlike The Lord of the Rings, were people who read that book that didn’t liked, and bitched about how slow pace that book is. Well, in The Silmarillion the stories are incredibly fast pace. This book covers the first few thousands of years of the “Arda” (the world). Also, this is not quite a spoiler, but it’s well worth mentioning is that they’re aren’t NO hobbits in The Silmarillion.
Overall, with the exception of the love story of Beren and Luthien, this book is fairly dark and filled with tragedy. It’s somewhat saddening to read of the fate that many of the characters in this book ultimately have. Speaking off, there is a massive amount of characters in this book which is certainly confusing. In fact, Christopher Tolkien mentions this in the Foreword and suggested seeing the family genealogies outline to avoid confusion.
I found a very informative video on YouTube in which Christopher Tolkien talks about The Silmarillion. Watching this interview made me love The Silmarillion even more.
The Silmarillion was not finished during J.R.R. Tolkien’s lifetime, and it was his son Christopher Tolkien that finished it (and later also edited and published other writings of his father). The fact that this book took J.R.R. Tolkien’s entire lifetime to write, is what captivates me the most. In the above video Christopher Tolkien explains the history of creation of The Silmarillion, and the reason why his father was not able to finish it.