Sunday, October 18, 2015

"The Silmarillion" by J.R.R. Tolkien

I have finally finished this!!!  I started it way back in April to participate in the Tolkien Trio Reading Tradition hosted by James at A Tolkienist's Perspective.  And yes, it took me six months to read it.  I know it's fiction, but most of it read an awful lot like non-fiction.  In fact, it reminded me of reading some sections of the Old Testament.  Particularly if you've never read the OT before, and you don't know any of the people in the stories or what they're going to do.  Then it's lots of strange names and kind of hard to keep everyone straight.

It's also a lot like the OT in that it's a story of creation.  It involves angels and fallen angels, under different names, and eventually a kind of flood that changes the form of the earth.  Of course, it's a fantasy-based version instead, but you can draw a lot of interesting parallels if you so desire.

I did quite like lots of this -- some of the stories captured me, especially the story of Beren and Luthien, which I at least knew a little about from reading the appendices of The Lord of the Ring.  And I felt very sad for Eol, the Dark Elf.  I also really enjoyed seeing how everything worked into the story of the One Ring eventually.

Although it took me a long time to read because I kept getting sidetracked by other books, I'm really happy I've read this at last, and I know that the next time I read it, I'll understand it much better and get through it a lot faster.

Particularly Good Bits:

But of bliss and glad life there is little to be said, before it ends; as works fair and wonderful, while still they endure for eyes to see, are their own record, and only when they are in peril or broken for ever do they pass into song (p. 95).

Among the tales of sorrow and of ruin that come down to us from the darkness of those days there are yet some in which amid weeping there is joy and under the shadow of death light that endures (p. 162).

"Many are the strange chances of the world," said Mithrandir, "and help oft shall come from the hands of the weak when the Wise falter" (p. 301).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG for some mild violence.
This is my 27th book read and reviewed for The Classics Club.

19 comments:

  1. Nicely done. Yes, you'll get more the next time, but don't rush it. There are so many stories within the Silmarillion waiting to be written into story form...this is in truth a fictional history book. The Children of Hurin is an excellent excerpt put into story form.

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    1. I meant to add....it took me many months my first read as well.

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    2. Thanks, Joseph! And yes, I figure it'll be a few years before I tackle this again. I almost picked up a copy of The Children of Hurin the other day :-)

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  2. I'm so glad you read this! My favourite stories are The Children of Húrin (of course), and the Fall of Gondolin. Tolkien created such a beautiful world. I had actually missed all the Bible parallels that you pointed out, which is quite unbelievable. I tend to read Tolkien from a Finnish pagan myths angle and it's very absorbing :D

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    1. Manette, I did like the stuff about the children of Hurin too, though it was very sad :-(

      I need to learn more about Nordic mythology! Any suggestions of books that give a good overview of such things, but aren't too dry?

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  3. Ah, I keep meaning to read this! Those quotes are beautiful.

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    1. Meredith, it's definitely worth reading!

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  4. Congratulations!
    When I was reading this some years ago, a friend of mine inspected what I was reading and exclaimed: 'But this is just like reading the Book of Kings!' So yes, that Old Testament parallel is definitely there in my mind as well.

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    1. Birdie, it definitely had a similar flavor for a lot of it.

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  5. Congrats for finishing it! I've never actually read The Silmarillion, probably because I'm intimidated from what other people have said about it. If I were to belong to a society in Middle Earth, it would be hobbits, and so I would much rather read stories about them than the elves. Still, I will force myself to read it someday, and I may just love it.

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    1. Carissa, yeah, I was pretty intimidated by it too, but I guess that makes me all the more pleased with having finished it myself, lol. It's got a sort of austere majesty to it, if that makes sense. I do quite like elves, though, so at least they did interest me. Elrond is in it toward the end, which I really dug.

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  6. Well done! :)

    I've only read 'The Silmarillion' once and that was about four or five years ago so my memories of it are a bit rusty. Looking back I didn't find the book as entertaining or as fun as 'The Hobbit' or the LOTR because I sometimes got overwhelmed by the sheer amount of history and names ("Wait, *who* is this person again?!) :D But I still think that it's an absolutely incredible work of fiction and that it's probably Tolkien's greatest achievement.

    The parts of this book that I especially love are the creation story, the descriptions of Valinor, the fall of Numenor, and the Beren-Luthien story (oh if only someone would make a film out of it!)

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    1. Thanks, Hannah! Yes, the number of unknown-to-me names really got tough sometimes, and most of it didn't grab me in the "I want to find out what happens next!" way, though some parts did. But I think it's a book you read more to learn from than to just enjoy, if that makes sense.

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  7. This is one of my favorites from Tolkien! It's coming up for the Inklings series and would love to have you stop by! :)

    Tolkien is seriously the best.

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    1. Jamie, how cool! I'll be looking forward to that discussion :-)

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  8. Yaysies! Doesn't it feel so nice to have it finished?! Never fear, it took me at least six months, too. I would read a bit and then slack off, on and off for a long while:-/

    Haha! YES! It is like reading the Old Testament! And I know, wasn't the creation story he wove into it so cool? I really liked the story of Beren and Luthien, too (the quote from pg. 162 was one of my favorites:D), and I enjoyed learning more about Galadriel.

    I had fun reading your thoughts!:)

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    1. Yes, Olivia, it's a big thing crossed off my mental to-do list.

      Galadriel was pretty cool in this, but I was much more interested in all the stuff about Elrond and Elros, I must admit.

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  9. I just ordered my copy and am so excited to read!!! I've heard a little but about it before, but I'm so ready to go in depth!

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    1. Jacqueline, how cool! It is definitely in-depth, and very rewarding :-)

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