The Silmarillion (J.R.R. Tolkien) Book Review

The Silmarillion is another of Tolkien’s books set in The Lord of the Rings universe. Most of his books are, of course, and all are brilliant. Every regular to this site knows of my love affair with Tolkien literature, so if you don’t want to read a review brimming with affection and enjoyment. Alternatively, if you found the Silmarillion too difficult to read, and are now searching the Internet for a bad review to make you feel better, you can leave too.

The Silmarillion is the story of Arda, the world, ranging from its creation through its elder history, the awakening of the elves and the coming of men and dwarves. It tells of the gallon of Melkor, who was the master of Sauron, and on through all the history of Arda – the world, through the Lord of the Rings trilogy era (summed up in about a page) ending with the last ship leaving the Grey Havens, as it does in the Lord of the Rings.

To say that the Silmarillion has a single plot is not strictly true. Technically, it does. It’s the chronological unfolding of the world through the ages. However, it is made up of stories. Stories of people and whole races. It is their deeds that forge the history, and it almost a collection of tales in order of their happening which build up the whole. Tolkien has done a most magnificent job of telling this tremendous story on a magnificent scale. Hell, he did amazingly writing it as well, it’s all in such definitive detail. The majority of books you read, the events of the storyline encompass perhaps a few weeks, months, or years at most. The Silmarillion is an entire account of the history of Ea (the world that IS) and thus spans thousands and thousands of years. Trust me, a lot of things happen in a week of most modern novels, let alone millennia upon millennia. The plotline can be hard to follow. This is Tolkien’s classical fantasy at it’s best, and it is brimming with information. It’s not an easy read, it’s one that you really have to dedicate yourself to, put your mind into and really read. It’s a novel you can really get into, you follow the evolution of races and the rise and fall of a whole line of kings, never mind a generation. If you like quick flick books you can read on the train journey home, this one isn’t for you. This is a book for those that want to get really deep into the plot and learn from it.

In the same way as there are many plots within the whole, there is no main character to the book. The tales are told of so many different characters and people that none hold much more sway than any other. Obviously, there are a whole host of minor characters, and to a degree manor characters too. There are influential characters and characters that govern lots of story-time but don’t really do much. However, this much is clear to me; the quality of the characters is without compare. No matter how fleeting the character is in the whole story, Tolkien will have made sure that that character has a story that begins before their screen time and ends well nigh after it. We can see this when characters dip back into the book many hundred years later, contributing again to the story (these are the immortal Avari remember). If you enjoy knowing more about the characters you read about, there are long appendices in the books full fo extra information, hierarchy, family trees and loads more information for you. I know I waffle on significantly and modern and classical fantasy, but I’m sure you’ll have picked up that I strongly believe the quality of the characters in classical books is of a much higher degree, and this book goes to prove my point.

In all, I think that the Silmarillion is a book for Tolkien fans, and fans of the Lord of the Rings universe. I can’t see somebody picking it up in a shop straight off to read it as a first Tolkien novel, or a one off. It’s for the Yolkien nerds who want to get down to the nitty-gritty of the histories and minor stories of middle earth and Valinor. Those who want to know exactly why the dwarves came to hate the elves, and why men are mortal. It’s all there for those who wish to look. I think that if you have read the Lord of the Rings novels you have A) the dedication to read a harder book such as the Sil and B) the will to read on in the Lord of the Rings story. I would reccomend the book to any such fellow, but be hesitant to do so for the average reader whom prefers to stick to single novels.

Either way, the quality of this book gives it a 10/10 in my books, another star-shone work from Tolkien.


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