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The Silmarillion Hardcover – October 27, 1998
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The Silmarillion is J.R.R. Tolkien's tragic, operatic history of the First Age of Middle-Earth, essential background material for serious readers of the classic Lord of the Rings saga. Tolkien's work sets the standard for fantasy, and this audio version of the "Bible of Middle-Earth" does The Silmarillion justice. Martin Shaw's reading is grave and resonant, conveying all the powerful events and emotions that shaped elven and human history long before Bilbo, Frodo, Gandalf and all the rest embarked on their quests. Beginning with the Music of the Ainur, The Silmarillion tells a tale of the Elder Days, when Elves and Men became estranged by the Dark Lord Morgoth's lust for the Silmarils, pure and powerful magic jewels. Even the love between a human warrior and the daughter of the Elven king cannot defeat Morgoth, but the War of Wrath finally brings down the Dark Lord. Peace reigns until the evil Sauron recovers the Rings of Power and sets the stage for the events told in the Lord of the Rings. This is epic fantasy at its finest, thrillingly read and gloriously unabridged. (Running time: 14 hours, 6 CDs)
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.
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First, I'm not what people call a "Tolkien purist" or a "Tolkien fanatic" or whatever. I read "Lord Of The Rings" only once (liked it a lot), "The Hobbit" only once (liked it, but less than "Lord Of The Rings"), watched the movies, and, only now, I stared "The Silmarillion" in the eye!
And I loved it. With all my heart. The book is majestic, breathtaking, excting. Let me get to some points:
a. I completely understand those who not enjoy the writing style or the book itself, even thoso who KNOW that this is not a novel, but almost a history book of a fictional mythology.
b. There is violence. A lot. A lot of violence. It's tragedy after tragedy after tragedy, after betrayal, etc. But there is no gore. There are no cheap George R.R. Martin moments here.
c. The Glossary is amazing. All one needs to do, in order to rembember all the names that appear in the book, is to consult the glossary at the end of the book.
d. I think one should understand the following, about the writer's writing style: for Tolkien, EVERY WORD COUNTS. There's no verborragia, no filler. He is set on a mission to tell a fable, and he does so with economy of word, but with deep impact.
The negative aspect of reading this book is that, day after day, I enjoy LESS the movies!
The lion's share of this book, and the reason for it's title, is the history of the Silmarils, jewels of surpassing beauty that capture the essence of the long lost light of the trees of Valinor, from before there was a sun and moon. The story of their creation, subsequent theft by the dark lord Morgoth, and the many acts of bravery, heroism, sacrifice and betrayal involved in the quest to recover them, form the most compelling narrative of the book. And, make no mistake, it is very compelling at times. It can also be confusing and overwhelming at times.
This is not an easy read. The sheer volume of character and place names the reader needs to keep track of is enough to turn many readers away. (In dealing with this, I found the Kindle version, with its easy access to x-ray and wikipedia references, invaluable.) The prose style can be off-putting as well, written, as it is, from on high. In a tale of this scope, there is little time for in depth character exploration and little thought of relatability. Though the tales are rich and fascinating, there is little danger that you will fall in love with any of the characters. It's not that kind of book.
In short, this is not a book for the casual Lord of the Rings fan. For those wishing to delve deeper into the rich world of that story, however, this is essential reading.
The Silmarillion, a posthumous publication from Christopher Tolkien in 1977, combines several myths, or five separate parts, written by J. R. R. Tolkien which remained unfinished upon his death. The stories take place in a time preceding The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings of Middle-earth. Though Tolkien began his work on The Silmarillion prior to writing The Lord of the Rings; each of the five sections had been intended as separate stories, but J. R. R. Tolkien wished them to be published as a single unit when it became clear they would not reach finished stories on their own. Because Tolkien had been so passionate about the works comprising The Silmarillion, he had numerous sources of notes and other material from which Christopher pulled (along with a few of his own necessary “gap-fillers”) to complete the book.
Ainulindale: The first story concerns the creation of Ea, the “world that is”, or the universe encompassing Valinor, Beleriand, Numenor, as well as Middle-earth. Eru (The One) creates the Ainur and commanded them to devise great music from a central theme. Among the Ainur is Melkor, the strongest of the demiurges, who rebelled by creating a song of his own and breaking the Ainurs’ harmony on three occasions. Eru granted the Ainur a vision of Arda and later offered that they may descend to Arda and rule.
The Ainur who ventured to Arda were bound to this world in physical form. The Valar were born of the greatest of the Ainur while the Maiar were of the weakest. The Valar did great work in preparation for the arrival of Elves and Men to Arda, but Melkor ravaged their work in order to keep Arda for himself. The fight between the Valar and Melkor consumes the majority of the Ainuliundale, but ends in the creation of the world.
Valaquenta: Part two tells the story of the mystical powers present in Ea, the Valar and Maiar. Detail is most focused to the Valar and Melkor as well as the story of Melkor’s rise to power over the Maiar who go on to identify as the Balrogs and Sauron.
Quenta Silmarillion: This is the longest tale of the book and describes Silmaril wars, the events leading to the First Age. In Melkor’s continuing destruction of the Valars’ work, the lamps tasked to light the world were obliterated. Leaving Middle-earth and Melkor in darkness, the Valar migrated west to Aman which would become their new home, Valinor.
As the Elves began to awaken, it was the Valor who defended them from Melkor. Many Elves then traveled to Aman as others stayed behind, namely the Sindar under the rule of Thingol and Melian.
Akallabeth: The fourth story occurs in the Second Age and tells of the Downfall of Numenor. The island kingdom of Numenor is granted to three loyal houses of Men.
Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age: The final section is familiar as it leads to the matters that become the subject of The Lord of the Rings.