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.