The Silmarillion Review
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Only the most determined Lord of the Rings fan will make it through this Middle Earth history, published posthumously by J.R.R. Tolkienís son Christopher. Donít get me wrongóitís got some great stories buried in it. Itís just that itís primarily history rather than story.

The Silmarillion begins at the creation of Middle Earth, introducing a huge number of characters (Valar, elvish, dwarf, and finally men and wizards) and taking you through three ages of the world. (Talk about your ambitious plot.) Since the Valar (who are a lot like angels) and elves donít die, you have to keep track of a lot of names through thousands of years, and since they keep reproducing, there are more names to remember all the time.

Reading this book
  
 
reminded me of reading the begats in the Bible and those primary ancient history texts, like The Epic of Gilgamesh, in collegeóworthwhile but exceedingly difficult. The naming and genealogy of the story is so complex that there are entire appendices in the back to help you keep track of it all.

Though this book gives good background to The Lord of the Rings, itís told in such a complicated manner that only the most determined reader will be able to actually keep it all straight. Iím glad I finally finished it, because now I donít have to read it again to get the background for the other books (which I re-read every so often because I like them so much).

I donít recommend this book for anyone who had the slightest difficulty getting through The Lord of the Rings books. And even though it tells about the beginning of the story of Middle Earth, itís definitely one to save for last. Start at The Hobbit instead.

Interested in Tolkien's books? Read my reviews of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Interested in the movies? Read Brian's review of The Fellowship of the Ring.



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