The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien, is an epic fantasy book based in the world of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. It was published after Tolkien’s death and edited by his son Christopher. What this isn’t is a novel. It’s the history of Middle-Earth and Valinor from the creation of the world, and mostly about the First Age.
In this book, there are several tales: Ainulindale, the creation story; Valaquenta, the story about the Valar and Maiar; Quenta Silmarillion, the main story in this book about the Silmarils and the First Age of Middle-Earth and Valinor; Akallabeth, the story about Numenor; and Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, which is self-explanatory. Some familiar characters from Lord of the Rings appear, such as Sauron, Galadriel, and Elrond. There’s a bit about Gandalf, and a very short bit about the Hobbits, naming only Frodo. Basically, Tolkien considered The Silmarillion to be his most important work.
I went into this book knowing that it does not read like a novel. It reads like a holy book and history book combined. Tolkien used language that was poetic, as well as very descriptive. This can turn some people off, so just be aware of this.
It’s difficult to describe the characters in the book, as they’re written as historic figures, so we don’t get a detailed account of what happens. However, we do get to know their personalities and thoughts. There is a lot of sadness and grief for many of them, as there’s a large amount of destruction and death. It features all of the races from Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, though only touches on the Hobbits and Gollum’s people. There’s a vast number of characters, which can be hard to keep straight. However, the genealogical tables and index really help.
Tolkien painted a vivid picture of Middle-Earth, Valinor, and Numenor in this book. The history was extremely detailed and developed very well. He developed languages for it, as he was a philologist and was very talented linguistically. Included in this book are maps and a section on languages and pronunciation. It’s packed with information.
I found this review a bit difficult to write, as it’s completely different than any other book I’ve read. However, I thought it was beautifully done and absolutely fascinating. I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s a Tolkien fan or really enjoys world building.
This gets a full 5 stars. Great stuff!