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The Silmarillion Paperback – October 7, 2014
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The #1 New York Times Bestseller
The Silmarillion is the core of J.R.R. Tolkien's imaginative writing, a work whose origins stretch back to a time long before The Hobbit. This mythopoetic masterpiece is a must-read before you watch The Lord of the Ringson Amazon.
“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
The story of the creation of the world and of the First Age, this is the ancient drama to which the characters in The Lord of the Rings look back and in whose events some of them, such as Elrond and Galadriel, took part. The three Silmarils were jewels created by Fëanor, most gifted of the Elves. Within them was imprisoned the Light of the Two Trees of Valinor before the Trees themselves were destroyed by Morgoth, the first Dark Lord. Thereafter, the unsullied Light of Valinor lived on only in the Silmarils, but they were seized by Morgoth and set in his crown, which was guarded in the impenetrable fortress of Angband in the north of Middle-earth.
The Silmarillion is the history of the rebellion of Fëanor and his kindred against the gods, their exile from Valinor and return to Middle-earth, and their war, hopeless despite all their heroism, against the great Enemy.
“A creation of singular beauty ... magnificent in its best moments.”—The Washington Post
“Heart-lifting ... a work of power, eloquence and noble vision... Superb!”—The Wall Street Journal
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"A creation of singular beauty... magnificent in its best moments." — The Washington Post
From the Back Cover
The story of the creation of the world and of the First Age, this is the ancient drama to which the characters in The Lord of the Rings look back and in whose events some of them, such as Elrond and Galadriel, took part. The three Silmarils were jewels created by Fëanor, most gifted of the Elves. Within them was imprisoned the Light of the Two Trees of Valinor before the Trees themselves were destroyed by Morgoth, the first Dark Lord. Thereafter, the unsullied Light of Valinor lived on only in the Silmarils, but they were seized by Morgoth and set in his crown, which was guarded in the impenetrable fortress of Angband in the north of Middle-earth. The Silmarillion is the history of the rebellion of Fëanor and his kindred against the gods, their exile from Valinor and return to Middle-earth, and their war, hopeless despite all their heroism, against the great Enemy.
“A creation of singular beauty . . . magnificent in its best moments.” — Washington Post
“Heart-lifting . . . a work of power, eloquence and noble vision . . . Superb!” — Wall Street Journal
J.R.R. TOLKIEN (1892–1973) is the creator of Middle-earth and the author of such classic and extraordinary works of fiction as The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and Unfinished Tales. His books have been translated into more than fifty languages and have sold many millions of copies worldwide.
CHRISTOPHER TOLKIEN is the third son of J.R.R. Tolkien. Appointed by Tolkien to be his literary executor, he has devoted himself to the editing and publication of unpublished writings.
- Publisher : William Morrow Paperbacks; Reissue edition (October 7, 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 384 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0544338014
- ISBN-13 : 978-0544338012
- Lexile measure : 1150L
- Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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I first read Lord of the Rings when I was ten years old. Since then I've been a passionate fan, reading the books multiple times throughout the years. When I was eighteen, I tried to read the Silmarillion; it took a few tries, but I finally got past the rather heavy, slow beginning and had reached the part where Morgoth and Ungoliant escape from Valinor with the Silmarils. Then I lost the book and couldn't find it for a long time. By the time I did find it, I had forgotten a lot of what I'd read and couldn't seem to get back into it. So I put it aside, and the book was lost during a move.
I did purchase The Children of Hurin, which I loved and have read several times.
But I finally read The Silmarillion last month and now I'm like, why in the WORLD did I wait so long? This book is seriously epic. Even the beginning, slow as it is, is pure poetic prose. The names are magic. And so much that I hardly noticed in LotR, because I didn't understand it, makes sense now. Beren and Luthien: it's so much more than just a love story (and there's a heroic dog, too!). Earendil: I always had a hard time reading through Bilbo's song about Earendil because it was so long and didn't seem to make a lot of sense. Now that I know who he was and why he built the ship and journeyed through perilous waters, I love the poem and the story behind it.
And elves! By the time of LotR they are fading; you only get glimpses of who they really are or were. In The Silmarillion, they are full-on amazing. Tragic, stubborn, bull-headed, valiant, so many words to describe them. The human characters are awesome too. Hurin isn't just Turin's father; he is a mighty warrior in his own right, and faces Morgoth down and mocks him (with tragic consequences, unfortunately).
This stuff is epic in every sense of the word.
When I finished reading, I was reeling a bit from all the feelings it gave me. It was almost like experiencing Lord of the Rings for the first time, just this time I was older and able to appreciate it even more.
This is absolute poetry from someone who knew just the right way to make every word sound like music. It's also an amazing epic from a man who had some kind of crazy busy imagination.
The Akallabeth is epic too, but it's much more condensed and doesn't have the same weighty feeling of ancient history (though it too takes place long before LotR). It's valuable, though, because in it we learn about the Men of the West, where Elendil and Isildur came from, and also we see the first rise of Sauron after his own master's defeat. The Akallabeth has basically no elves; this is a story of men, of the rise and then terrible fall of the Numenoreans. I can't say that I enjoyed it as much as The Silmarillion; but of course it would be hard to top that!
In conclusion, I'm so glad that I read this at last; and though I sort of wish I'd read it sooner, the first-time experience of reading it was so amazing that I'm glad it was recent, as it still lingers in my mind. Go out and buy a copy of it, if you enjoyed Lord of the Rings. Persevere through those first chapters of set-up, and the payoff will be worth it. I promise.
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!
I read the first 80 pages or so of this book from June of last year to April of this one. I then read the next 300 pages in the last seven days. I absolutely could not put it down. While it is true that portions of this book are dull, dense, or wordy, I do not think these were reasons why it took me so long to get through the beginning. Rather, because of my perception of the book I attempted to read this book little by little as a side endeavor to my main reading. This was a mistake. I am not someone who can offer half-baked concentration to a book, and The Silmarillion is a book which demands one's full attention. But I want to make one thing clear about this book, because it has a pretty heavy reputation (as was made immediately clear whenever I brought up the fact that I was reading it). The Silmarillion is a must read. Yes there are a thousand names and sometimes it's slow and on occasion it feels like you're reading an encyclopedia of mythology. Those things aren't untrue, but they do not encompass this story. Understand that these things are (in my opinion) overblown, and beyond them is a vast reward.
If you are a fan of Tolkien's world you simply must read it. I can say nothing--offer no praise--in this review that has not already been heaped upon Tolkien a million times over; but he deserves it. I have never (not after reading The Hobbit, not after reading Lord of the Rings, both of which I love), ever been as enthusiastic about Tolkien's world as I am right now having just finished this book. It is an absolute masterwork. It is the most fully realized world I have ever had the pleasure to read, and was built by an absolute master of the craft. I know that people sometimes bounce off the language, as it comes off archaic, but what a disservice you are doing yourself! Tolkien is a linguist, and thus he comes at his creations from the very heart of things; the very origin of the workings of our thoughts and mind. He builds languages and worlds pour forth. He even commented in a letter to his editor that he felt that these stories were not merely inventions, but something that was being channeled through him. "...yet always I had the sense of recording what was already ‘there’, somewhere: not of ‘inventing’." The skill of his writing simply can't be understated. I mean, I could read the man's grocery list and be happy. There is a reason a book of his letters was published (and I'll definitely be reading it). Reading it after Lord of the Rings is the way do it I think, because it adds so much to it when you eventually circle back around. LotR throws around names and places and events that intrigue and astound, and ignite the fires of mystery within the reader. The Silmarillion fans those flames, and shows you how the fire was built. So I say again: if you are a fan of deep, realized worlds and expert writing, what are you waiting for?
But beyond his technical skill The Silmarillion is a veritable gold-mine for fans of Fantasy (and obviously fans of the Lord of the Rings). Tolkien takes those tantalizingly mysterious legends of the Third Age and weaves them into a complex and nuanced tapestry of mythic, tragic tales. This is the story of the First Age (and less so the Second and Third). The story of Arda. Stories of Iluvatar and the Valar and Maia. Of Melkor, later Morgoth. Of the Eldar and the Silmarils. Of the first Men. Of the Numenorean kings. Of oaths broken and oaths fulfilled. Tolkien crafts an entire mythos full of beauty and wonder. Full of grand deeds and creations. Full of love. But also full of corruption and hate; avarice and war. He is truly a weaver of myth and legend, and it is no wonder his work is still being read all these years later. In the Lord of the Rings one has the tangible sense that there is an entire world stalking the shadows behind this story. In The Silmarillion, that sense is proved true. Bravo.
Reviewed in the United States on December 15, 2017
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Many years later I decided I would try The Silmarillion again. This time I bought it in hardback, thinking that I could guilt myself into reading it as I'd paid so much for it. I knew I was having difficulty reading the first chapters so I forced myself to read two pages a day (not an ideal way to enjoy a book!). Then something magical happened. I found myself enjoying it. By the time I had reached chapter 6 "Of Feanor and the unchaining of Melkor" I was completely gripped and couldn't put the book down. I didn't want it to end. I actually felt quite bereft when I'd finished it. The stories of Feanor and his sons and the Silmarils, the fall of Gondolin, the love story of Beren and Luthien, the tragic story of Turin Turambar all completely enthralled me. It is difficult to put into words how completely captivating and engrossing these stories are. How one man had all this inside his head is beyond me.
I have one tiny gripe. Why on earth isn't Thangorodrim and Angband on the map included in the book? It's like leaving Mordor off the map of Middle Earth in LOTR. It's essential. In the end I bought Karen Wynn Fonstad's map book The Atlas of Tolkien’s Middle-earth so I could sort it out in my head.
So the moral of the story is if at first you don't succeed, try, try again. If you persist with this book you will be very well rewarded. It's the sort of book that will stay with you for a lifetime.
Although I barely read fiction these days, I thought it a great idea to bring the Silmarillion along on a holiday trip. That was a mistake. I was aware the book was never published during the author’s life and that it was completed and composed by his son. However it’s of much higher mythological content than for instance the start of the Lord of the Rings. To me the book just goes on and on about the Elderdays to which there are references in the Lord of the Rings. But the writing style is very different. And it reads more like a dry history text that heaps up exotic dwarf and elven names. To me it was all a bit incoherent or maybe I didn’t try hard enough to find the coherence. Yet I did make a serious effort!
Perhaps my setting wasn’t great as I like my holiday reading to be accompanied by a few beers or a good wine, but that doesn’t blend well with the nature of this book as it requires close attention. I never, ever do not finish a book. But the Silmarillion broke this rule, as I gave up after 1/3 and decide to leave it to the Middle Earth fanatics and started to enjoy my holiday.
Some people find the Silmarillion hard going. The point to note is that it is very different to the Lord of the Rings. Tolkien envisaged the Silmarillion as a compendium of Middle Earth legend and history transmitted in the later years of Middle Earth by Elvish and Numenorian scholars. The style of writing is therefore that of myth and legend, which some people find dry and difficult. But the Silmarillion is anything but dry - the tone is somber, the language beautiful and poetic and the tales both profound and often sad and exciting in equal measure. If you want to come to a deeper understanding of Tolkien’s world then the Silmarillion is absolutely indispensable. In essence this is a prequel to Lord of the Rings and once you have grasped both books the entire history of Middle Earth is laid open to you and many of the events in the Lord of the Rings can be grasped in their proper historical setting and significance.
The Silmarillion, more than the Lord of the Rings, was Tolkien’s major achievement. He worked on it his entire adult life. It was unfinished at Tolkien’s death and existed in many drafts (all of which are set out and thoroughly analysed by Christopher Tolkien in the History of Middle Earth). It was left to Christopher Tolkien to bring these drafts together in the published Silmarillion. He did an excellent job. Without Christopher Tolkien’s painstaking work then we would only have fleeting glimpses of Tolkien’s legendarium through the references in the Lord of the Rings and it’s appendices. We would not know about the Ainulindale, Tolkien’s beautiful creation myth, nor would we have the moving tales of Beren and Luthien or Turin Turambar in all of their glory. We owe the late Christopher Tolkien a huge debt of gratitude for his work in unveiling the full majesty and splendour of his fathers creation.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough and this de luxe edition, with Ted Nasmith’s superb illustrations, does it justice. However, in one sole respect both the de luxe and standard hardback of this edition departs from its otherwise high standards and that is on page xxiv (in the introductory letter to Milton Waldman) where there is a glaring error - the text of the footnote on that page is repeated in the main text of the letter, rendering the last part of that paragraph unintelligible (although no part of the main text is actually lost). Come on Harper Collins - you can do better than that.
It’s by far my favourite book of the year so far and I certainly look forward to rereading it in years to come.
It is a heavy tome, best read at a table or on your lap in bed with a good reading lamp. 'Best to take the dust jacket off when reading to keep it looking nice.
The print is just about the right size and the illustrations are works of art in themselves. There is a character index at the back to help you along as well as help with pronunciation of names and places.
The writing is a mix of a biblical style with the modern - typically Tolkien in quality, and it is this that makes it seem so 'real', 'ancient' or 'genuine'. This is serious fantasy writing - the book is almost like a method actor, immersing itself (and you, the reader) in the world and characters the writer has created for us.
All it needs is some fake dust and cobwebs to finish off the effect.
Superb, and highly recommended.