The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4 stars

I have written a sort of first impressions post on this book, and have already stated how confused I was of it overall. Having finished the book, I can say now that what made this book downright confusing was 1) the lack of a specific timeline - it was a bunch of stories, legends, and tales told not in order and 2) the different names of the elves that I seem to have to remember. At times, I wasn't even sure who's who, and what the book was talking about anymore.

Despite this though, I have to say I did thoroughly enjoy learning from this novel. It was informative and highly interesting. I was hooked right from the start, despite it being sometimes confusing, and I just could not put it down.

However, it was just that. It was informative above all. And this aspect of The Silmarillion was what made me realize that this will never be the average "good book" to me. An average good book, meaning, that while I thought it was interesting, I didn't necessarily find it enjoyable, entertaining, or exciting. It simply did not have the same LOTR feel to it, which I was hoping for.
I also did not enjoy the writing as much - which I understand was partially Tolkien's son's work. I just thought it was overly descriptive for my liking. It truly gives off a history book feel to it, and at times, it was what made the book a bit painful to read. This is mainly why I can not give it 5 stars.

As a whole though, I have to say, I am completely amazed at the world Tolkien had created for himself and for his readers. I don't think there are words to describe a writer who is able to create such work! And really, just for that reason alone, I do highly recommend this to patient, LOTR fans. If you loved reading the series and would like to learn more about some of Middle Earth's extensive background, then I highly suggest you try this one out. Just try to read with an open-mind, with little to no expectations. Only then I think you can learn to appreciate its true, subtle beauty.

And if you would like to try out Tolkien's works for the first time, go ahead and dig into The Lord of the Rings series. I can not recommend them enough. And it's never too late to start reading them. I can almost (almost!) guarantee you would love it.


  1. Hmm, disappointing. I think I would be really frustrated by the lack of a timeline...especially with things happening out of order. I might put this one on hold until I go back and read the LOTR series again. Thanks for the review!

  2. I actually really loved the Simarillion, but we all have different tastes...I kind of liked the information dump he did, but that doesn't happen often. Great honest review :)

  3. +JMJ+

    Our reading lives are still running parallel, I see! I've started rereading this again and hope I can finish soon. =)

    As for the timeline issue: it's really only a problem because we aren't Elves. And I don't say that ironically! None of us has a real background for understanding elvish history. If we had to read Bible stories or Greek myths out of order, we'd handle the clumsy chronology better because we have some idea of the order in which the events took place. And that's why we can read the Bible out of order (especially at Mass) and enjoy books that jumble up the Greek myths, without missing a beat. Not so elvish history, I'm afraid--but that is not so much a poor writing decision on Tolkien's part as a nod to the authenticity of Middle-earth writings. An Elf would have no problem with the way the history is arranged in The Silmarillion; therefore, it is all right.

  4. Unfortunately, the comments that were on this post were removed because of the technical issues and problems Blogger was having this week :/

  5. I read The Silmarillion a long while back. In fact, I've re-read many potions of it again and again, especially the Ainulindale and the Valaquenta, the stories of the fall of the three hidden elven kingdoms, and the story of Beren and Luthien - essentially almost the entire book, I guess.:D

    It's true that this book is rather difficult to read in terms of language, but I think that was deliberate on Tolkien's part. It was meant to be read as a 'history' book, I think.

    Btw, his son didn't write this book; he edited it and 'compiled' the stories in a manner of speaking. The writing is really JRR Tolkien's. I love the language in this book. It often times reminds of the King James Version of the Bible. But, yes, I would never recommend this book to a Tolkien beginner. It's a book that can be truly enjoyed, or at least appreciated, by a fan.:)

  6. Now that the comments are back... :D

    Lizzy - I wasn't disappointed by it though. I expected it to be read as a 'history' book and exactly got that haha. It just wasn't as entertaining as I wished it would be.

    Melissa - I liked it too and really appreciate it, but I wasn't entirely entertained by it, if that made sense :)

    E - I could definitely see things clearer now that you've mentioned the whole 'We're not Elves thing.' It sounds weird, but it is true. I guess if Elves were to pick up a human history book or even the Bible they'd think we're boring too!

    Risa - Thanks for visiting and commenting, Risa! :)
    I really enjoyed this book as a form of a "history book," but not entirely as a work of fiction, if that made sense :) And yeah I know J.R.R Tolkien wrote The Silmarillion. However, when he died, his son had to take over and edit like you said - along with that job was the need to add in a couple of chapters to make the book flow better. So it was mostly J.R.R's original work, but the rest was all his son's.