The Silmarillion

By J.R.R. Tolkien. This is the prequel, as-it-were, to the Lord of the Rings. It covers the making of the earth, the early days of the elves and of men, and revolves in the center around the elves’ quest to regain the Silmarils, which were jewels stolen by Morgoth, a god who Fell from grace. It was Tolkien’s attempt to create a mythos for England, that is centered in things English, and also to provide a theological framework for his world of Middle-Earth. As a result, The Silmarillion reads much like the Bible, say, or the epic of Gilgamesh. It’s full of names, all of which are etymologically described in the glossary, and very confusing. It’s not so much of the X begot Y who begot Z, but more like X was angry at Y’s slowness and slew him, and thus began X’s exile from the lands ruled by Z, who was Y’s father. Complicated, to say the least.

Recommended for those seeking some relatively clean (well thought-out) mythology, but it’s not light or easy reading, and it’s not very swashbuckling. It’s kind of nice in its grandeur though, and a lot happens, even if it isn’t described in the most colorful way. Some of the mini epics and romances within the main story are beautiful in the way in which they mimic other cultures’ stories.

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