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The Silmarillion Hardcover – November 15, 2004

4.5 out of 5 stars 1,820 customer reviews

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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) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2 edition (November 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618391118
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618391110
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 1.3 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,820 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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
As the reviews on this page show, this book is not from everyone. Indeed, it's not even for all Tolkien fans. If, however, you were hypnotized by the tantalizing references to the lost past that are scattered throughout The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, you will probably enjoy this. (By the way, people who stopped after twenty pages quit just before the story got exponentially better. Oh well, their loss.)
I was completely amazed when I read The Silmarillion. I was completely captivated by the story of the Noldor and their deeds in Beleriand. The story is written in truly masterful style, and even (primarily) without dialogue, the richness of the story grips the reader and immerses him in the Elder Days and the great War of the Jewels. The images of the story are powerful and will stay with the dedicated reader forever. I can still vividly picture Fingolfin doing battle with Morgoth, Yavanna crying over the ruin of the Trees, Beren in Thingol's hall, as well as Mablung sorowfully wandering the shores of the sea; and most of all I can see Feanor and his sons swearing their oath by torchlight in the court of Tirion.
Just a word on the content: this is not happy stuff. The world of LotR contained an aura of lost greatness and the certain knowledge that the world was in slow but irreversible decline. This story has that aura in spades, in addition to the fact that the reader gets to see the fall from greatness firsthand. The terrible sadness of the whole story and the tragedy of Tolkien's irreparably marred world is enough to make even the most dry-eyed (and I count myself as one of these) break down. (I cried at least four times during my last reading of The Silmarillion, which is perhaps the highest praise that I can possibly give it.)
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