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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best!
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...
Published on Aug. 28 2004 by Michael Stolz

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3.0 out of 5 stars Dry but Informative
So vast is the history of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy realm of Middle-Earth, that it spawned over a dozen offshoot volumes editted by Christopher Tolkien from his father's notes. The largest and most acclaimed of these is "The Silmarillion." It is most defineately complete... the scope and detail is utterly astonishing. However, to date I have not been able to...
Published on March 17 2002 by Adam Lenhardt


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5.0 out of 5 stars The complete back story of "Lord of the Rings", April 24 2002
By 
Bob Stout (Houston, Texas USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Silmarillion (Hardcover)
In another review, I rated LOTR as "simply the finest work of fiction in the English language". One reason for this is the rich and totally credible alternate reality created by Tolkien. Before he could write LOTR, he had to create in his mind and entire alternate Earth, complete with its own mythic history and multiple races, each with its own set of unique characteristics. Each race, therefore, had to have its own language, its own lifestyles and architecture, along with a compatible environment. Hence, he made maps, providing habitats (hobbitats?) for each of his races - from the caves of Moria to the forests of Rivendell.
Having created all this, Tolkien picked the most compelling portion to retell with both more depth and breadth as LOTR. As an instantly classic epic, LOTR has resonated with multiple generations.
However, it was not until after professor Tolkien's death that his "research notes" were published as "The Silmarillion". Their organization and final form were established by his estate, so this is not 100% Tolkien, although all the ideas and most of the words are his. As such, it provides a panoramic view of Middle Earth before, during, and after the events of LOTR.
Note, hoever, that the same caveat applies to "The Silmarillion" as LOTR, only more so - this is not an easy read! Just as engrossing, it is nevertheless much drier than LOTR - reading much like a textbook for a mythology course. It also has the same cast of characters as LOTR, plus other characters and races which have come and gone and play no role in LOTR. In other words, there's a lot more to keep track of!
Still, for anyone who loves LOTR, this is indipensible reading.
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4.0 out of 5 stars For the serious fan only, April 20 2002
By 
Will (outside of Richmond, Virginia) - See all my reviews
I will start by saying that it took me a while to read all of The Silmarillion. Of course part of that is that I was reading it when I was too young. That being said I think that it is a wonderful book. However, because of the way it was written and later edited, it is not a book for casual Tolkien fans.
The stories in the Silmarillion predate the Hobbit by millennia and are like other mythological stories; they add a depth to Middle-Earth, but are rather dry in their telling. Tolkien worked on the Silmarillion off and on from its inception around the time of the First World War to his death. From what I read he never imagined it to be published, yet I think Christopher Tolkien did an admirable job in piecing together his father's notes to show just how much detail, just how rich his father thought Middle-Earth was.
And all of this, from Tolkien's essays on Sir Gawain and the Green Night to the Hobbit to the Lord of the Rings to the Silmarillion all show his love for Language. He created his Middle-EArth to show how Language grows with the telling of stories; good and bad, dry and dynamic. We have what we have and it all must be taken as a whole, not as individual pieces.
Looking at it that way one can truly see the genius of John Ronald Ruel Tolkien.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Superhuman Epic of Magic and Passion, April 18 2002
By 
Kent Wittrup (Lynn, MA United States) - See all my reviews
I've read the first hundred pages (through chapter nine) of The Silmarillion once, and the rest of the book more times than I can remember to count.
Tolkien's 1938 "Faery-stories" lecture defined the modern fantasy story in terms of its climactic "eucatastrophe," not exactly a happy ending necessarily but a moment of heartbreaking joy, which he variously demonstrated in each of his fictions. The Silmarillion's is even better than the one in Unfinished Tales, precisely because the "Quenta Silmarillion" proper is Tolkien's most tragic saga, a superhuman epic of magic and passion. Nothing can quite prepare you for it, because there isn't anything else quite like it.
The "Quenta Silmarillion" is also Tolkien's purest tribute to the medieval literature that didn't survive. It reflects the centrality of the Old Norse Elder (or Poetic) Edda (a cycle of songs accidentally discovered in Iceland, which imply far more of both mythology and metaphysics than they actually record) in Tolkien's critical view of medieval literary history. Paragraph one of chapter ten demonstrably scans in Sievers staves.
It should be noted that the shorter sequels following the "Quenta Silmarillion," "Akallabeth" and "Of the Rings of Power," require knowledge of the first two appendices to The Lord of the Rings. My own personal hypothesis is that the "Quenta Silmarillion" was metahistorically written by Galadriel, its most domestic character, at Gandalf's behest, when he first arrived in Middle-earth, a thousand years before The Lord of the Rings.
It's not true that there are no hobbits in The Silmarillion, but it wouldn't make much difference if it were. I'm waiting to see them make a movie out of this one: there's no conversational dialogue at all, only speeches. And yet there are great love and great wisdom. Readers of both the Classics and the Bible will be better prepared than most.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Superhuman Epic of Magic and Passion, April 18 2002
By 
Kent Wittrup (Lynn, MA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Silmarillion (Hardcover)
I've read the first hundred pages (through chapter nine) of The Silmarillion once, and the rest of the book more times than I can remember to count.
Tolkien's 1938 "Faery-stories" lecture defined the modern fantasy story in terms of its climactic "eucatastrophe," not exactly a happy ending necessarily but a moment of heartbreaking joy, which he variously demonstrated in each of his fictions. The Silmarillion's is even better than the one in Unfinished Tales, precisely because the "Quenta Silmarillion" proper is Tolkien's most tragic saga, a superhuman epic of magic and passion. Nothing can quite prepare you for it, because there isn't anything else quite like it.
The "Quenta Silmarillion" is also Tolkien's purest tribute to the medieval literature that didn't survive. It reflects the centrality of the Old Norse Elder (or Poetic) Edda (a cycle of songs accidentally discovered in Iceland, which imply far more of both mythology and metaphysics than they actually record) in Tolkien's critical view of medieval literary history. Paragraph one of chapter ten demonstrably scans in Sievers staves.
It should be noted that the shorter sequels following the "Quenta Silmarillion," "Akallabeth" and "Of the Rings of Power," require knowledge of the first two appendices to The Lord of the Rings. My own personal hypothesis is that the "Quenta Silmarillion" was metahistorically written by Galadriel, its most domestic character, at Gandalf's behest, when he first arrived in Middle-earth, a thousand years before The Lord of the Rings.
It's not true that there are no hobbits in The Silmarillion, but it wouldn't make much difference if it were. I'm waiting to see them make a movie out of this one: there's no conversational dialogue at all, only speeches. And yet there are great love and great wisdom. Readers of both the Classics and the Bible will be better prepared than most.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Modern mythology adds new dimension to LOTR, March 22 2002
By 
netman "netman" (St. Louis, MO United States) - See all my reviews
I had heard and read a number of reviews of this book. Most seem to agree that the book was dry at times and not as good as the LOTR trilogy. Reading the first few chapters, I would strongly agree. There are a great number of people and places and it soon becomes challenging to keep them all straight. However, have no fear...the rewards are great. The reader soon realizes that this book is more than just a historical supplement for the LOTR trilogy. In fact, Tolkien has created an entire mythos comparable to Greek and Roman mythology of old.
Be prepared, for the text reads like mythology. The stories move quickly and there is lots of action but little detail. My favorite story is that of "Beren and Luthien." Seriously, this is one of the best stories that I have ever read and worth working your way through the beginning of the book to get to it.
If you liked the LOTR trilogy, I would strongly recommend this book as it does provide good background and answers most of the commonly asked questions from the series. In addition, there is a handy glossary in the back of the book that helps the reader keep track of all the names in places in the series.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Dry but Informative, March 17 2002
This review is from: The Silmarillion (Hardcover)
So vast is the history of J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy realm of Middle-Earth, that it spawned over a dozen offshoot volumes editted by Christopher Tolkien from his father's notes. The largest and most acclaimed of these is "The Silmarillion." It is most defineately complete... the scope and detail is utterly astonishing. However, to date I have not been able to complete it. After "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings", I had expected perhaps a more personal tale with "The Silmarillion." Not so. Unlike the previous two, this is written more like a history novel... entire wars pass by in a few pages, characters come and go in the blink of an eye. This makes for incredibly dry reading... only the devoted Tolkien fan would be able to really enjoy.
Still, the scope is perhaps the greatest of all the Tolkien literature, and the detail and richness of his world is really expanded here, fleshing out references made in 'Hobbit' and 'Rings.' If you enjoyed those, you should give this a try.
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5.0 out of 5 stars challenging but rewarding, March 11 2002
By 
faolin (New England) - See all my reviews
I've heard many people say they envy those who are reading "The Lord of the Rings" for the first time, because the excitement of that first discovery is unique. That's how I feel about "The Silmarillion". I like LotR, but I love "The Silmarillion". Every time I dip into it, I discover something new. It never loses its freshness.
Do be aware that "The Silmarillion" is NOT "Lord of the Rings". It reads more like the Old Testament, with stories that are fully described without being fully fleshed in the way a novel might treat them. It is the mythological underpinning of Middle-earth, and the style will not be to everyone's taste. You don't need a Masters in Education to appreciate it, mind you, but it remains a challenging read... and vastly rewarding. (The excerpt available here would not have been my first choice. It's from what is essentially the Silmarillion's Book of Genesis, to continue the comparison to the Old Testament. I'd judge it more daunting than the balance of the book, where the Elves and Men and Dwarves take center stage.) Anyone entranced by "The Silmarillion" would do well to read "Unfinished Tales", which includes expanded portions of the stories of Tuor and of the Children of Hurin, as well as other short pieces that complement the mythology pre-dating LotR.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Slow going, but breathtakingly beautiful....., Feb. 4 2002
By 
Scott Cross "of the Ka-Tet of Love" (North Hollywood, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
"The Lord of the Rings" is my favorite book ever. I have to start with that statement. I was not planning to read "The Silmarillion." I had heard how slow-going it was. But as my love of Middle-Earth grew, so did my lust for more knowledge of the characters I so loved.
I am extremely glad I picked up "The Silmarillion." Everybody I listened to is right. It is a slow read. There is almost no fast-paced action, and many sections read like chapters of an International Bible. But these are not downfalls of the book by any means. This is a wonderfully crafted writing. I take my time reading it, so that I may absorb the history of Arda (Tolkein's Earth) more easily. I read each chapter with anticipation of reading "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" again with a deeper understanding of where many of the characters came from. For instance, I now have a much deeper appreciation of the Elves.
I would not recommend this book for everyone, but if you have a little patience and a great love for Middle-Earth, buy this book now.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Several Classics of World Lit Combined into a History!, Jan. 29 2002
By 
Let's get this out of the way right away. This is not The Lord of the Rings nor is it The Hobbit. It is not written in the same style. It is not attempting the same goals. Don't go into it expecting more adventures of hobbits, in depth characterizations, or lengthy descriptions of the landscape.
This owes more to Herodotus the father of history than to Dunsany. You can tell that Tolkein was fulfilling the scholar within him for this work. It is the result of the compilation of poetry, stories, and songs which he wrote over many years. For perspective, the year or so of adventure in the three books of the Lord of the Rings only take up about twenty-five pages of this book.
That being said, one must then notice that if J.R.R. Tolkein had attempted to put the detail of the Lord of the Rings into the other adventures in this book, he would not have been able to finish within his lifetime!
This is an overview of many beautiful stories and myths in Elven lore. Their version of the creation of the world. The splitting of the Elves into Light, Dark, and Twilight. The rise of the first Dark Lord, Morgoth and his eventual downfall. Not to mention the creation of the Dwarves, Men, the Ents, the giant Eagles, the spiders, the Dragons, the Balrogs, and just about everything else you encounter in the Lord of the Rings.
It is all told in a style reminiscent of the Old Testament fused with elements of Homer, Herodotus, Mallory, Tennyson, and the unknown authors of Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
My personal favorite is the tale of Beren and Luthien Tinuviel. It has elements of classic romance with definite twists, the female lead saves the male at least twice!
All in all, a fascinating read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars It's good, but really one for the diehard Tolkien fans only., Jan. 26 2002
This review is from: The Silmarillion (Hardcover)
Three things one should say about this book:
1) It is really only for the die-hard Tolkien fans. It's long, complicated, intricate, and written more like a historical/mythical geneology, than a novel. There are many people who manage to get through The Lord of the Rings, but not this book, which is written in a very different style.
2), However, if your are one of those diehards-like myself-you'll love it.
3) The illustrated edition by Tolkien artist Ted Nasmith, is probably the best edition to get.
It is divided into 4 sections.
1) The Creation of Arda-(ie the world)-being the time before the "First Age";
2) The "Quenta Silmarillion"- which is essesntially the "First Age" of "Middle Earth";
3) The "Second Age" including the "Alkallabeth"-whhich is the Downfall Of Numenor and
4) "Of the Rings of Power and The Third Age" (ie a background to the Lord of the Rings).
It is really a prequel to the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, upon which much of their material is based. Viewers of the recent "Lord of the Rings" movies will learn more about Balrogs, for example and their origins, wizards, orcs, the seeing stones, and Sauron's original master-Melkor of the Valar-the Ainu, or "Gods" to men. Elrond, and his ancestors, where Gandalf comes from, the origin of dwarves, elves, men and others, are all there.
4 of the main stories include:
1) the ancient elvish race of the Noldor, attempting to get back their Silmarils-beautiful light giving gems-from Melkor who stole them,
2)the tale of Beren and Luthien who fall in love and get back one of these Silmarils, and
3) the tale of Turin Turumbar who destroys the first and mightiest dragon, but is also caught in the corruption and doom of the Noldor, who become accursed in their greed to retain the Silmarils.
4) Another major story is the Alkallabeth which describes the origin of Aragorn's race in Middle Earth, coming from an Island Kingdom -Numenor-destroyed by the Valar (Gods) because of their ultimate corruption by Sauron.
J.R.R.Tolkien wrote these books well before he wrote the Lord of the Rings, mostly for his own benefit, since he saw little hope for their gaining popularity in general. After the "Lord of the Rings" was a success, The Silmarillion was published, (after his death), to which the Lord of the Rings looks back in time.
It is highly mythic, with grandeur and romantic elegance, for those interested in the deeper and ancient things of Middle Earth. In many ways it is deeper and more mythic than even the Lord of the Rings, but it is not an easy book to read. It certainly has a romantic- poetic-even religious flavour to it, which gives solace to the spirit. Read it if you're keen on all things Tolkien, otherwise many try, but get lost half way through.
One point to note is that Mr Tolkien, being a classical linguistic scholar, borrowed much of his material from the ancient myths of ancient Europe-the Norse, the Celts, the Vikings, even the Greeks in part etc, so an alternative to these narratives of Tolkien is to read some of the ancient myths of these cultures themself, upon which many of his ideas are based. Some of these aren't too bad to reasearch-think of some of the ancient Greek myths made into some Hollywood movies- eg Jason and the Argonauts, the Golden Fleece, or the Rings Saga of the Vikings and Germanic tribes- which Wagner elucidated. What many of these ancient myths have in common is an understanding of deeper human nature, upon which much of our modern society(s) stems. "The Silmarillion" is no different.
Good luck.
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Silmarillion
Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (Paperback - Dec 15 2008)
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