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The Silmarillion Hardcover – April 28, 2001

4.5 out of 5 stars 1,725 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The action of this volume predates even the above History titles as it relates the creation of Middle-earth, its beings and the coming of evil. Tolkien's Paradise Lost.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"It is beautiful... an enchanting tale of tragedy and triumph... The Silmarillion is magical in teh grand old style." The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Majestic!... Readers of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings will find in The Silmarillion a cosmology to call their own, medieval romances, fierce fairy tales, and fiercer wars that ring with heraldic fury... It overwhelms the reader." Time Magazine

"Heart-lifting... a work of power, eloquence and noble vision... Superb!" The Wall Street Journal

"Essential reading for Tolkien lovers and an important book." The Baltimore Sun

"A creation of singular beauty... magnificent in its best moments." The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Second Edition edition (April 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618135049
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618135042
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,725 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892.1973), beloved throughout the world as the creator of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, a fellow of Pembroke College, and a fellow of Merton College until his retirement in 1959. His chief interest was the linguistic aspects of the early English written tradition, but even as he studied these classics he was creating a set of his own.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In the Tolkien canon, "The Silmarillion" is the most highly contested of all his works. Constructed as a prehistoric history of the Universe, the book has the cultural significance of the Bible in Tolkien's universe. It is Tolkien's primary work, but it's also his most troublesome, in more ways than one. One thing you need to know. In Tolkien scholarship, there are two primary ways to refer to the "Silmarillion". One is the Silmarillion, the legendarium proper, and then the 1977 "Silmarillion", which may or may not be what Tolkien envisioned.

"The Silmarillion" , the book Tolkien spent all of his adult life writing, was, sadly, incomplete when Tolkien died at the age of eighty one in 1973. Naturally, this begs the question why did it take him decades to write the book, and it still be unfinished after all that time? Well, to understand that, you need to understand two things: the scope of the project, and how Tolkien worked.

The scope of the book was a complete imaginary history, a totally self-contained mythology, all written and developed for his home country, England (my home country as well). Imagine the Greek and Roman mythologies, all those myths and gods, developed by one man. Imagine Homer completely inventing all the gods for his stories. Imagine how hard that would be to come up with your own mythological traditions as such. No wonder Tolkien had such a hard time completing the work.

Now, the scope (which is extremely ambitious for any artist) was compounded by how Tolkien worked. First, he was a philologist first and foremost, and so before the stories he invented languages.
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Consider this -- J.R.R. Tolkien's fantastical epic "Lord of the Rings" is only the tail end of his invented history.

Yes, Tolkien spent most of his adult life crafting the elaborate, rich world of Middle-Earth, and coming up with a fictional history that spanned millennia. And "The Silmarillion" was the culmination of that work -- a Biblesque epic of fantasy history, stretching from the creation of the universe to the final bittersweet 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, and the creation of Elves, Men, and Dwarves (hobbits are 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 attempts of the demonic Morgoth and his servant Sauron (remember him?) to corrupt the world.
*Feanor and his sons, and the terrible oath that led to Elves slaying one another.
*The Silmarils, the glorious gems made from the the essence of the Two Trees that generated the world's light.
*Elves of just about any kind -- bad, mad, dangerous, good, sweet, brave, and so forth.
*The creation of the many Rings of Power -- and the One Ring of Sauron.
*And finally, the quest of the Ringbearer, Frodo Baggins, and the final battle that would decide the fate of Middle-Earth.

If you ever were confused by a reference or name mentioned in "The Hobbit" or "Lord of the Rings," then chances are that "The Silmarillion" can enlighten you about what it meant. What is Numenor?
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Format: Hardcover
"The Silmarillion" is perhaps the most unique and difficult-to-explain book I have read. It is among the books I love the most, but this might not be the case if I had not read it in a bizarre way that I can hardly recommend to anyone else, and yet may be the best way to read it. For ten or twelve years I skimmed through "The Silmarillion," "The Hobbit," "The Lord of the Rings," and many of Tolkien's posthumous books (many of which present the stories of "The Silmarillion" in different forms which Tolkien wrote at various times in his life) without reading the books verbatim. Only in the last twelve months have I read these books all the way through.
This was a wise way of approaching Tolkien's most famous works because of the odd nature of "The Silmarillion," which must be understood by anyone desiring to enjoy it. "The Silmarillion" is not a "novel," as are "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" (Tolkien preferred the word "romance" to "novel" for LotR). "The Silmarillion" is well described by the subtitle on the front of the jacket of the Ted Nasmith-illustrated edition: "The Myths and Legends of Middle-earth". "The Silmarillion" is the equivalent, for the imaginary world in which "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" take place, of a work like Hamilton's or Bulfinch's "Mythology". It does not tell one single story; rather it tells many stories in a briefer form, almost as though the stories are being synopsized rather than told.
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