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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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great but only under the right circumstances
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...
Published on May 26 2001 by mearwhen


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4.0 out of 5 stars Requires repeated reading, Sept. 24 2006
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This collection of lose knit tales of the history of Middle Earth and those that live there. We learn many things as what different names of beings and places mean. This helps add a dimension to the stories that take place there.

I would say that it would help to read Lord of the Rings first because it is more comfortable when getting to know the area and characters. Then we can see where they came form; relationships are better understood.

Much of The Silmarillion can be taken in small bits and then sit back and contemplate how it could have been.

One does not just cut through any cultural history book for light reading and just shelving it. This is a cultural history book and will require rereading.

When people talk about the war I think back to which one they are talking about. Or are they just referring to one of the many orc skirmishes.

You do not have to be a Tolkien fan to find interest in this collection.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Requires repeated reading, Aug. 18 2006
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Silmarillion (Hardcover)
This collection of lose knit tales of the history of Middle Earth and those that live there. We learn many things as what different names of beings and places mean. This helps add a dimension to the stories that take place there.

I would say that it would help to read Lord of the Rings first because it is more comfortable when getting to know the area and characters. Then we can see where they came form; relationships are better understood.

Much of The Silmarillion can be taken in small bits and then sit back and contemplate how it could have been.

One does not just cut through any cultural history book for light reading and just shelving it. This is a cultural history book and will require rereading.

When people talk about the war I think back to which one they are talking about. Or are they just referring to one of the many orc skirmishes.

You do not have to be a Tolkien fan to find interest in this collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Old Testament of Middle-Earth, June 18 2003
Ok. For most people their opinion of The Silmarillion, I think, depends on one specific question. Do you like reading history? Now I'm not saying that you have to like history, but if you are a person who likes history you will love this book.
It begins with the creation of the world. Titled Ainulindale. It was very original for the time(and still is), and many writers have leaned heavily on it for their own creation stories.
It continues with the Valaquenta which is an account of the major gods and lesser gods of middle earth.
The book then proceeds with the Quenta Silmarillion. Now to me, the Quenta Silmarillion is the most original collection of essays/literary works that I have ever read. Except for a small portion, it covers the events of the first age. During which it concerns mostly the creation and history of the elves. I won't go into details because that would take up too much space. There is just too much knowledge in this book. If that is possible.
If you have read The Lord of the Rings and want to know more about the elves this book is for you, because this is their story. Later in the Silmarillion the race of men come into the picture. My personal fav is the essay on Turin Turambar.
In many ways these stories are very tragic, but that is what makes it all the more real. You become immersed in the story because the tragedy of it reminds you of your own lives and world.
The book ends with geneologies, an index of names, and an appendice on the different elements of Sindarin and Quenya names.
Of all the books I own. This is one that I read over and over again and never get tired of. It is a wonderful work of art. However, don't expect another Lord of the Rings. It is a work in its own class. Enjoy it as such.
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5.0 out of 5 stars SOME OF THE BEST READING THIS SIDE OF THE PELORI, June 8 2002
By 
This review is from: The Silmarillion (Hardcover)
This is an amazing story told in a grand and beautiful style. The lyric "Music of the Ainur", the painfully beautiful "Beren and Luthien" (my personal favorite-I'm sure I'm not alone) and the grand story of Numenor, hideously glorious, even in its fall are some-but not all-of the highlights. The geneologies are a bit confusing (I'm still not sure how Galadriel is related to Feanor, but I think she is his half-brother's daughter or something)but the characters- Valar, Maiar, Elves, Men, Dwarves, monsters, etc. are truly absorbing. From Feanor's challange in the royal square of Tirion to the fight of Huan and wolf-Sauron to the monumental voyage of Earendil to the awakening of elves at Ciuvienen to the enchantment of Thingol by Melian the Maia...This book is just absolutely full of grand and exciting moments. Don't be put off by the antique style, that is one of the beauties of the book. Also one last piece of advise-don't read about Ungoliant just before going to bed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tolkien's Bible..., May 28 2002
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (HALL OF FAME)   
This review is from: The Silmarillion (Paperback)
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 Rings of Power; 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; if you are fond of Hobbits or Dwarves, you will not find as much here. For those, you should check some of the other "lost" books of prior writings. It will also answer some questions that "Hobbit" and LOTR may raise, when references to long-ago incidents and people are made.
Be forewarned: The writing style of Silmarillion is more akin to the Eddas, the Bible, or the Mabinogian than to LOTR. 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 evident, while reading this, that 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. And in an age of shallow, cliched fantasy, 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 this can readers truly appreciate Tolkien's literary accomplishments, and the full scope of the Middle-Earth that we glimpse in his more famous books.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great book..., May 12 2002
By 
First off, let me say that if you couldn't read or didn't like the writing style in book 5 of Lord of the Rings, you won't be able to make it through this book. However, once you get past the distant, biblical writing style, you get the greatest prequel-type story I have ever read. The main reason I read this book was that I was extremely interested when reading The Lord of the Rings by Legolas, Aragorn, and the mysterious backgrounds of their races. Unfortunately, I turned first to Unfinished Tales to satisfy my craving for Elven and Numenorean knowledge. I read the book and greatly enjoyed the stories of Tuor and Turin... but without background info or a map of Beleriand I was lost as to where these tales fit in to the history of Middle-Earth. I finally bought the Silmarillion and read it in about a week. While it undoubtedly was in need of some editing by the original author, I am glad that Christopher Tolkien still made this available.
Simply put, this is a great book for anyone who has interest in the elves, especially the speakers of the Quenya and Sindarin languages, or for anyone who wants to learn about the mysterious West and the great enemy of old, Morgoth. Most people I have talked to are less interested in the elves than I am. I believe this is because their first introduction to the Firstborn was the conflicting profile presented in the Hobbit- are elves good or not?- while my first sight of an elf was of Glorfindel on the approaches to Elrond in the first book of LotR. This book taught me all I wanted to know about the history of the elves and the first and second ages. I knocked off the star for two main reasons: First, the book told me (I felt) far too little about the Dwarves, Numenoreans, and Hobbits. I realise this is a history mainly of elves, but it wouldn't have hurt to put in more than a passing reference to the Halflings. If you want to know about the men of Westernesse, buy Unfinished Tales. The information on the Dwarves is very interesting, but seems too little and slightly biased against them. Second, the narrative style of this book was a little too high and mighty/biblical for me. The similar names (Haldar, Haldir, Haldad, Haleth, Halmir, Handir, Hador, Hareth, Hathal, Hildor), the multiple names (Thingol is Sindacollo is Singollo is Elwe) and the lack of dialog (except in the notable stories of Luthien, Tuor, and Turin) all make this reading you have to really think about to like. However, this is still by far the best companion story to The Hobbit and LotR out there. If you are new to Middle- Earth and Tolkien, this is the order I would recomend reading the books in: The Hobbit, LotR, The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, LotR, The Book of Lost Tales (1&2), The Shaping of Middle Earth, The Lays of Beleriand, LotR. This is great stuff, the best I have read, and I would recomend it all to almost anyone.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Read this after LOTR, but don't compare it to LOTR, April 29 2002
By 
Engywook (Astoria, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Silmarillion (Paperback)
The Silmarillion is the king's road to all of the lore alluded to in Lord of the Rings. Many of the songs of LOTR, especially, retell the mythology and history of Arda (the world), and it's too bad those songs aren't so great... they attempt to capture some immense, rich stories.
This book isn't for all tastes. If you came away from LOTR yearning to learn more about the folklore, background, and language of the elves, this textbook is what you're looking for. But if you're looking for a good novel, look elsewhere. The elves, as in LOTR, seem more to be carved in stained glass than flesh and blood... but they are also portrayed as being far less perfect. I've knocked off one star because The Silmarillion didn't really have to be such a forbidding, scholarly volume. It could have been a children's book to knock the socks off of D'aullaire's Greek Myths or any book of stories from the Bible.
The Silmarillion is where Tolkien and son showcase J.R.R.'s godlike gift for inventing an entirely different world, and seeing all of it with omniscient splendor. Thingol, Feanor, Beren, and Luthien are mythological heros every bit as much as Heracles and Theseus.
You will spend a lot of time looking at the lineages in the back, and checking the index of names and especially places. But I for one came away from this with a full appreciation for the rich tapestry of Tolkien's invention, of which LOTR is only the most care-worn and tattered end. And I look forward to telling all of my friends the stories from the Silmarillion... I know they won't read it, but these stories must be told anyway.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not another LOTR, but fascinating, April 28 2002
By A Customer
THE SILMARILLION was Tolkien's first and last work of fiction. He began writing it during World War I as a way of providing a history for the "fairy languages" he had created. During his life he continued to refine these legends, but it wasn't published until his son Christopher Tolkien put together his notes after JRRT's death. Essentially, the Silm is like a Bible of Middle-Earth, recording its history from its creation through the epic conflicts of its First Age, thousands of years prior to the events in LOTR. Whereas that series was written like a standard close-quarter narrative novel, the Silm is written as though compiled from records and tales handed down over centuries - there is a feeling of distance and a lack of concrete detail. Despite that, many of the stories here are quite moving, including the massive battles of the Elves with the first Dark Lord (Morgoth) and the tale of Beren and Luthien, which is a prototype for the story of Aragorn and Arwen in LOTR. When the Silm is good, it's poetic and larger-than-life; when it's not so good, it reads like a history textbook. But this can definitely be an interesting book so long as one doesn't expect another book exactly like LOTR.
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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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Silmarillion
Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien (Paperback - Dec 15 2008)
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