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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2004
This is definitely one of the best books in my posession. The Silmarillion is astonishing in its philosophical and theological depth. It should not be labeled as merely "phantasy".
While this book is about all kinds of creatures, it is definitely also a metaphor on the human condition, with all its highs and its many lows. One failure after another of the elves and men trails through the history of middle earth, and once in a while, a hero redeems his or her race by a spectacular act of goodness. Important questions about our mortality and Tolkien's christian ideas about the meaning of our lives are woven into the stories without becoming a lecture.
This book is more than a "historical" background for the Lord of the Rings. It could stand alone as a collection of fables in which JRR Tolkien provides more than merely the mythology to the Lord of the Rings.
I do not recommend this book to the casual reader, for they will be dissappointed. I had to read this book twice to begin (!) to appreciate it, and as with the Lord of the Rings, I expect I will discover new things, whenever I re-read this book.
It should be noted that the Silmarillion is a collection of stories by J.R.R. Tokien, masterfully edited by his son Christopher Tolkien, to approach some semblance of continuity between chapters. As C. Tolkien writes in the foreword, however, the Silmarillion is not one cohesive story, but a collection of several stories, written by J.R.R. Tolkien over many years.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 29, 2004
I was so lost for words the first time i ended reading this book. Close to tears, even. I actually highlighted all terms i found significant. Almost the entire book is actually highlighted! Read it, love it, read it again and so it will NEVER come to pass when you'll grow tired of such wonderful material...
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2005
It is quite difficult to write something about "The Silmarillion" when there are already so many people that have read it. But to write something about this new illustrated edition is completely different.
The whole book is a work mayor fantasy, created by J.R.R. Tolkien and it has been for all of us possible to read it, thanks to his son Christopher. The book should be read after having been read "The Hobbit" and The Lord of the Rings in that order, because if not its reading it could a bit difficult. Doing it this way you can feel as if you live each one of the histories like something that was made for us to know, but somehow didn't fitted in the previous books.
Now let's take this classic book and let's add it illustrations... Can someone request for more? This edition overcomes the previous by arriving to 45 marvelously painted illustrations, made by Ted Nasmith. Some of the paintings are awesomely real. They caught my eyes from the very beginning. It's a pity that some paintings made by Nasmtih, like the ones entitled "Eärendil Searches Tirion" and "Luthien Escapes the Treehouse" haven't been included in the final edition. On the other hand it was a big surprise to see the high-scaled map of this one. Not even the illustrated edition of LOTR has such a big and wonderful map.
To tell the truth it's a privilege to have this book in my bookcase beside the illustrated editions of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings".
Once again thanks Tolkien for give us such a wonderful world to live in, and thanks Mr Nasmith for put it into images.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
It's more than slightly staggering to consider: the epic fantasy "Lord of the Rings" to be the tail end of Tolkien's invented history. The "Bible" of Middle-Earth, the "Silmarillion" stretches from the beginning of time to the departure of the Elves from Middle-Earth.

A complete summary is impossible, because the book spans millennia and has one earth-shattering event after another. But it includes the creation of Tolkien's invented pantheons of angelic beings under Eru Iluvatar, also known as God; how they sang the world into being; the creation of Elves, Men, and Dwarves (hobbits are, I think, not really covered); the legendary love story of Beren and Luthien, a mortal Man and an Elf maiden who gives up her immortality for the man she loves; the demonic Morgoth and Sauron; Elves of just about any kind -- bad, mad, dangerous, good, sweet, brave, and so forth; the creation of the many Rings of Power -- and the One Ring of Sauron; the Two Trees that made the sun and moon; and finally the quest of the Ringbearer, Frodo Baggins.

Many old favorites will pop up over the course of the book, such as Elrond, Galadriel, Gandalf, and so on. Fans of Elves will find plenty to feed their hunger; fans of Hobbits or Dwarves will not find as much here. It will also answer some questions that "Hobbit" and LOTR may raise, when references to long-ago incidents and people are made -- what is Numenor? Who are the Valar? This includes those things, and much more.

The writing style of Silmarillion is more akin to the Eddas, the Bible, or the Mabinogian than to "Lord of the Rings." It's more formal and archaic in tone; Tolkien did not get as "into" the heads of his characters in Silmarillion as he did in LOTR, and there is no central character. Needless to say, this is necessary as a more in-depth approach would have taken centuries to write, let alone perfect. If readers can bypass the automatic dislike of more formal prose, they will find enchanting stories and a less evocative but very intriguing writing style. This style strongly leans on the Eddas, collections of story and song that were unearthed and translated long ago. Though obviously not as well-known as LOTR, it is clear that these collections helped influence the Silmarillion.

It's clear to see, while reading this, the extent of Tolkien's passion for his invented history. Someone who had a lack of enthusiasm could not have spent much of his adult life writing, revising, and polishing a history that never was. It's also almost frighteningly imaginative and real: It isn't too hard to imagine that these things could actually have happened. In a genre clogged with shallow sword'n'sorcery, Tolkien's coherent, carefully-written backstory is truly unique.

If you can take the formal prose and mythical style, this is a treasure, and a must-read for anyone who loved LOTR or "Hobbit." Only after reading "The Silmarillion" can readers truly appreciate Tolkien's literary accomplishments, and the full scope of the Middle-Earth that is glimpsed in his more famous books.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 26, 2001
Most fantasy works can be read by the general populace, especially the genre specific populace and easily enjoyed. This is not true of "The Silmarillion"
"The Silmarillion" is one of those books that gains GREATLY from rereading - this cannot be said enough. At first read it is a confusing selection and notes and names with little real story. Later sections (especially Beren and Luthien but also Turin) have a more connected story, are closer to the Tolkien we have all grown to love.
This disjointedness is the Silmarillion's greatest weakness and one of the reasons I cannot give it five stars (although I would rate it that way for myself). The other is that only true Tolkien afficando's are going to enjoy it. Anyone who loves Tolkien will probably love this - they will enjoy an opportunity to see the back history of Middle Earth, to some of the legends and Elder Days mentioned in the Lord of the Rings. Thus for those that have read Tolkien, this will be a great book.
My other complaint with this book is that I doubt Tolkien would have ever published it. He spent such effort polishing his work, I do not think he would have published something as disjointed as this. And although I am glad to see it, that also detracts from the pleasure.
Anyhow, the Silmarillion is an interesting collection of myths and legends of the Elder Days of Middle Earth - of the War of the Jewels. It is tragic and reminiscent of Norse mythology and great for those interested in the Lord of the Rings. For everyone else though I would say don't bother.
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on March 28, 2014
I usually re-read the Lord of the Rings once a year so I've come to terms with the sometimes difficult writing style and the descriptive nature of Tolkien. It can get to be like reading molasses but non the less I love it. The Silmarillion was much the same but more so written like a religious text, which for the most part it is. I found myself re-reading chunks and heading to the appendix at the back of the book to make sure I remembered who was being featured at the moment and if they were Valar, Elf, HUman, etc. The sheer number of characters, for lack of a better word, is quite a lot and it reads less like a story and more like a lecture of the history where Tolkien (and Christopher Tolkien) guide you personally through the hierarchy of gods and notable characters/events of the events prior to LotR.

For me none of the above meant that this was a bad experience. A few times I felt bogged down and couldn't see how something fit into the whole, but the creativity and depth behind the writing kept me interested until the end. The little tid-bits that related more directly to LotR were great to come across and the forging of the rings was particularly interesting.

The physical copy was perfect as always. A great buy for those wishing to know more about the history of Middle Earth and don't mind Tolkien's writing style.
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on January 2, 2012
The writing in this book in quality far exceeds that in the more popular "Lord of the Rings" in my opinion. It has an eloquence and beauty in it's words. Also this story does not get caught up in small details which I do like. On the other hand it comes across much like a history and passes through years like some books pass through hours. It does tell tales, though they may span many generations.

This book begins with the tales of how middle earth and the world around it came into being. And tells also in brief of those beings who created it. It speaks also of the first days of the elves, and their journeys, trials and divisions.

This leads into the main plot line of the Simarillion which spans several centuries. However interwoven into this grand tale are many smaller stories. Some tales are of Elves, but as it progresses more and more often it tells of mortal men and women whose fate becomes intertwined with the elder race.

The book also contains relatively short tales from the Second and Third ages: The Downfall of Numenor, and the tale of the Rings of Power (much briefer than the lord of the rings but covering a longer time) I think it should be said that the tales of the second and third ages combined make up a tiny fragment of the book, and in fact the appendixes (which are extensive) contain more pages than these two combined.

I do not know if this book would appeal to someone who does not already love middle earth. All of my experiences in reading it are colored by my own knowledge and love of the world Tolkien told us about. That said, I do find it a funner read than "The Lord of the Rings". When I tried to read "The Lord of the Rings" a second time, I got bored and lost motivation in the second half of the two towers. On the other hand, since that day I have read this book twice and loved every word even more on the second reading.

I say this is a funner read than "The Lord of the Rings" but I do not say it is an easier read. I did find myself skipping back and forth to remind myself who exactly I was reading about at times. there are a lot of characters and some of them are introduced, left for a while and pulled back in later. A reader like myself whose memory is short may become confused or lost if they plough ahead without looking back. I think the first time I read it, several years ago, I read it right through, and I missed a lot of the references, and missed parts of the relationships between characters. I still liked it a lot but a more careful read allowed be to love this book.
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The Silmarillion is not for the neophyte or faint of heart. It is the core of the mythological world created by Tolkien. In fact, Tolkien began this work well before he began to weave it into the more familiar Middle Earth of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. He dispaired of its ever being published, and yet desired its publication more than any of his other works. It was not until LOTR achieved greatness that this could be released to an audience already demanding more of Hobbits and the Middle Earth.

Few but the most die hard fans are aware of the background of how Tolkien created this world. A philologist, (study of language development) Tolkien took the Elven language he had created as a young boy and teenager and determined that no language could truly develop without a corresponding mythology. The two were inseperable in his understanding.

The Silmarilian is that Mythology. It is a labor of love and one, while no doubt influenced by the Norse mythology and life long pursuit of Sir Gawain and the Green Dragon, as well as Beowulf, it is more than that. A work of genius by one of the greatest and most influential writers of the 20th century, it demonstrates the love and attention to detail that have set apart the works of Tolkien from all others in the Genre.

Buy it, read it and marvel at the creativity and machinations that most readers are introduced to in the narrative greats of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. You'll come to understand why those stories, monumental as they are, are only the tip of the iceberg waiting to be discovered.

After you've read the LOTR and Hobbit and other of Tolkien's smaller works, come to this work and when you've read it, you'll read the others again with greater understanding, appreciation and even a sense of awe that were not there the first time. You'll have the pleasure of reading these great books like you read them the first time!
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It's more than slightly staggering to consider: the epic fantasy "Lord of the Rings" to be the tail end of Tolkien's invented history. The "Bible" of Middle-Earth, the "Silmarillion" stretches from the beginning of time to the departure of the Elves from Middle-Earth.

A complete summary is impossible, because the book spans millennia and has one earth-shattering event after another. But it includes the creation of Tolkien's invented pantheons of angelic beings under Eru Iluvatar, also known as God; how they sang the world into being; the creation of Elves, Men, and Dwarves (hobbits are, I think, not really covered); the legendary love story of Beren and Luthien, a mortal Man and an Elf maiden who gives up her immortality for the man she loves; the demonic Morgoth and Sauron; Elves of just about any kind -- bad, mad, dangerous, good, sweet, brave, and so forth; the creation of the many Rings of Power -- and the One Ring of Sauron; the Two Trees that made the sun and moon; and finally the quest of the Ringbearer, Frodo Baggins.

Many old favorites will pop up over the course of the book, such as Elrond, Galadriel, Gandalf, and so on. Fans of Elves will find plenty to feed their hunger; fans of Hobbits or Dwarves will not find as much here. It will also answer some questions that "Hobbit" and LOTR may raise, when references to long-ago incidents and people are made -- what is Numenor? Who are the Valar? This includes those things, and much more.

The writing style of Silmarillion is more akin to the Eddas, the Bible, or the Mabinogian than to "Lord of the Rings." It's more formal and archaic in tone; Tolkien did not get as "into" the heads of his characters in Silmarillion as he did in LOTR, and there is no central character. Needless to say, this is necessary as a more in-depth approach would have taken centuries to write, let alone perfect. If readers can bypass the automatic dislike of more formal prose, they will find enchanting stories and a less evocative but very intriguing writing style. This style strongly leans on the Eddas, collections of story and song that were unearthed and translated long ago. Though obviously not as well-known as LOTR, it is clear that these collections helped influence the Silmarillion.

It's clear to see, while reading this, the extent of Tolkien's passion for his invented history. Someone who had a lack of enthusiasm could not have spent much of his adult life writing, revising, and polishing a history that never was. It's also almost frighteningly imaginative and real: It isn't too hard to imagine that these things could actually have happened. In a genre clogged with shallow sword'n'sorcery, Tolkien's coherent, carefully-written backstory is truly unique.

If you can take the formal prose and mythical style, this is a treasure, and a must-read for anyone who loved LOTR or "Hobbit." Only after reading "The Silmarillion" can readers truly appreciate Tolkien's literary accomplishments, and the full scope of the Middle-Earth that is glimpsed in his more famous books.
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on January 8, 2009
There have been complaints about this book being boring, dull, hard-to-get-through, etc. This book is obviously not for everyone, but no book ever is. To all who love 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings', be forwarned that this doesn't resemble them, meaning hobbits are entirely absent, which does take away from the story. However, we finally get to read those legend and tales which were so teasing and tantalizing to us in 'The Lord of the Rings'. We learn where Aragorn came from, the Witch-King, Sauron, Morgoth, Elrond, and many others. It is well worth the read! I for one, LOVED this book, and have read it over again, though not as many times as 'The Lord of the Rings'. I would say the most difficult part I found was the beginning, where the earth is created. For some reason I couldn't get into that, but as soon as it moves past that, the books becomes more alive. Oh, and another thing was all the names. There are a lot of Elvish names that begin with 'F', all related of course, and for me it was a bit hard to keep track of who was related to whom. Names such as 'Feanor', 'Fingolfin', 'Finarfin', 'Finwe'...etc. In the end I made a rough and hasty family tree, just to make sure I knew who actually was where in the universe! But all in all, this is a satisfying and wholesome work. I just wish Tolkien had more time to complete it!
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