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4.5 out of 5 stars396
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on 8 February 2000
It took me three attempts to get past the first chapter - the song of creation in which the world is formed - but it the effort was worth it.
The full majesty of Tolkien's vision unfolds in this book, which was only hinted at in Lord of the Rings. The Silmarillion tells the history of the Elves, the Dwarfs and the Men - who were born into paradise only to see it spoiled by their own weaknesses and the machinations of The Enemy.
The Silmarillion explains the glory of the Elves, and why Tolkien loves them so much, but also allows for the triumph of Beren, a mere Man who achieves the greatest feat in Tolkien's history.
If you have read Lord of the Rings, you have to read the Silmarillion - and then read Lord of the Rings again!
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on 30 July 2008
I would not consider myself a Tolkien fan- I put Lord of the Rings down half-way through The Two Towers. To be even more frank, I felt apprehensive about reading this book. It has the aura of being the nerdiest book ever written; even thinking about reading it threatened my self-image. Fortunately, my curiosity overpowered my insecurities, and I picked up the book.

The first thing potential readers should be aware of is this is not a novel. I think the book puzzled the big wig critics because they expected a novel. The closest thing to The Silmarillion that I've encountered is the Bible. The Silmarillion is an anthology of various works about Middle-Earth. It contains a creation story, a sort of theogony, and a collection of stories that give the history of Middle-Earth. Tolkien fans may be quick to praise the book for the depth it gives to Tolkien's world. I think the fans are right, but to stop at such a vague description would be to overlook the genius of the book.

In the Silmarillion, Tolkien constructs an entirely new worldview that we, as his readers, can experience. We do not simply read stories but we gain a new metaphors through which to see the world from his pantheon of god-like beings and his history. But the book is not heresy; it is purely imaginative fun.

I enjoyed Tolkien's Silmarillion because of how it immersed me in what I experienced as a new and unique worldview. Perhaps medievalists or mythologists will find it familiar, but to the layman, this book offered an entirely unique experience. It allows readers to see through the eyes of an inhabitant of Middle-Earth. The experience will stay with me for a long time. So, I recommend this book to the open and adventurous. Don't expect a novel; expect to immersed in a new world. For this reason, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
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VINE VOICEon 30 January 2003
The Silmarillion is basically the history of middle earth and its surrounding lands, from the view point of the goings on in the war of jewels, the Silmarils, 3 precious jewels that contained the light of Valinor, the light of gods of E,A, the creators of middle earth. That were stolen by the evil Melkor, one of the lesser gods turned to evil ways. From the very beginning you are thrown into the very mythology of Tolkien’s world from the start and creation of the earth.
At times the book can be a little to difficult to follow, and it does take some perseverance at times, as they are so many different tribes of elves each with their own characteristics, and as the book continues the names of so many get confused as often the names of people and places are changed with only a little hint as to when or why. Each chapter is like a little story, and tells of the different people’s of middle earth and their own dealings with the evil Melkor, who in time was renamed Morgoth. The first dark lord and how also his servant Sauron was seduced by him to turn to evil ways with him.
Within the book you get to learn about the creation about all the creatures of middle earth, and how the Orc’s came to being, and also Balrogs and dragons, made by the cruel hands of Morgoth. At this time the map of middle earth was different to the one more commonly looked upon in the tale of the ring, but also you get to learn why it was this way and how it changed over the years.
The book covers much of the history of middle earth starting not only with the creation of the earth but also the first age right up until the end of the third age, where the popular names such as Aragorn and Gandalf are now part of, but also the book covers the first war of the ring when Isildur cut the ring from the hand of Sauron and his reluctance to destroy it there after which does make for good reading. I don’t think that this is the best of Tolkiens work, as it was edited by his son Christopher, and most of these compelling stories aren’t in detail, which sometimes is a little tricky to grasp in parts, but some of the stories are quite excellent and make for gripping reading, as all the stories written in the Silmarillion are written in their full version in other books, but here you have a collection of the important happenings of middle earth and still are bound together well as they all have their importance in making this book into a extremely interesting climax. In general if you want to know more about the history of middle earth and don’t fancy reading through the whole host of 12 books, then this book is for you, as here is a collection of stories that become crucial to the outcome of all the peoples of middle earth in later times, and sets up the mythology for Tolkiens great tale of the Lord Of The rings.
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on 24 January 2004
There are some things in life which you almost avoid, but when you finally get round to it, you wonder why it took you so long. The Shawshank Redemption springs to mind for me; I'm sure you have equivalents.
The Silmarillion may just be a book like that. I have seen my father's version on the shelf for years, but despite reading The Lord of the Rings several times, I just never got round to The Silmarillion - if this sounds like you, READ THIS BOOK!
Never before, nor again I imagine, have I been immersed in a world of such depth and imagination. It has been said this book is dry, this is somewhat true, but let your imagination run wild and the bare-bones structure which is laid out becomes colourful and entertaining.
If you are looking for a light, quick book then you should look elsewhere, but if you want a book to lift the spirit this is it. You will have to pay attention though; characters come and go frequently.
Tolkien's Catholicism is brought to the front several times, and many parallels can be drawn between traditional religion, mythology and his creations. However, everything is presented with Tolkien's usual genius, and it all seems fresh.
In summary, I would definitely try this book. You may find that it is 'not you', but the risk is definitely worth the rewards.
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on 6 February 2010
If you really enjoyed TLOTR and read/studied the Prologue and the Appendices in particular, you would thoroughly enjoy The Silmarillion which carries on the theme of grandiloquent historical prose but delivered in a more biblical style. It provides the solid and deep foundation on which TLOTR sits so comfortably.

Taken together, TLOTR and the Silmarillion represent a titanic and unparalleled literary achievement fulfilling Professor Tolkien's objective which was to create a new English language mythology to join the pantheon of ancient Greek and Norse tales and I genuinely feel he has surpassed them all. He was a deeply learned man and his work in this respect bears testimony to his staggering academic, scholastic, linguistic, historical, creative and narrative perseverance. The book does not seek any meaning outside its own realm but in many ways it offers fable and philosophy in a very simple and pure way.

One interesting observation is that despite the enormous temporal scope of the book (I've worked it out as something like 10,000 years, give or take...) there is very little evidence of any technological development or evolution throughout even though the characters and peoples are clearly depicted as being possessed of the deepest wisdom and creativity and yet the whole thing still hangs together; amazing!
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on 6 January 2006
This is a masterpiece of mythical grandeur that fully deserves 5 stars. Ok, so its not easy to read, and the flow of the book is not like that of LOTR, however somehow this adds to the enjoyment. This is not a book to be rushed through, it is easy to pick it up and think because it is not as long as LOTR that it will be quicker and easier to read. This is a falsity.
If you're going to buy this book take your time reading it and your the enjoyment of The Silmarillion will be much greater. Tolkien feeds you beautifully crafted information throughout the book, a little like a documentary would. The historical and philosophical background of Middle Earth is explained is wonderful detail, and is intricately interwoven with the story of LOTR.
I recommend this book to everyone and anyone who has an interest in Tolkien's world. However if you have not yet read LOTR or The Hobbit then this is perhaps not the best place to start as a grasp of Tolkien writing style, and an understanding of his philosophical underpinnings are useful when starting The Silmarillion.
But what really makes the Silmarillion stand out is its contribution the shear historical 'massiveness' of Tolkien's world.
Wonderful, brilliant, superb.
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on 13 July 2006
Few words can truely describe the complexity of the world that Tolkien created...only hinted at in the Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit. Even though this book goes into a far broader depth and narrative your still left with a feeling that this is but the tip of the iceberg; a sapling from which Tolkiens grandest creation only began to develop, and you want more by the end of it.

The Silmarillion is a book of eloquence and beauty; Truely epic on a scale that no other fictional book has and perhaps will achieve again in such short a number of pages. From the forming of the world by the music of the Ainur, to Beren's first awestruck glance at Luthien dancing in the moonlight. It's content is so broadly whispered, that it leaves nearly every character and story an element of mystery, deepening the wonder and leaving you eager to read more.

Creating such a detailed and believable mythology, it boggles the mind to think of Tolkien's genius considering that before this, there was nothing else to go by other then ancient mythology...which is exactly what he has created here - His own mythology. And it's always important to remember that every fantasy author out there does owe something to Tolkien, if only in the most subtle of ways.

The books plots are centred around races as a whole: primarily the Elves who are a wonder to read about. It's obvious from reading that they were Tolkien's foundation for the whole world; of which it's origins can be derived from a language - Elvish. A race grew around that language (Elves) and finally a world formed around the race...It's a perspective and angle of creation that I can't imagine anyone else ever pursuing. Tolkien being primarily a linguist at heart...the fact that he had an amazing imagination, a talent for writing and an ability to tell a damn good story aswell, simply makes this a one of a kind.

People have branded this a difficult read. My opinion is simply that if your interested in Tolkiens world and you appreciate and understand what he was trying to achieve here, then you'll find it hard to pull yourself away. Opening the pages of this book takes you somewhere else, where paradise, beauty, heroics, love, suffering and treachery all co-exist, spanning thousands of years. You'll know great happiness and bliss and then be taken into tragedy and despair.

I would certainly advise people to first read The Lord of The Rings once or more times and perhaps The Hobbit before attempting this. Of course with the great movies out now (though a shadow of the books glory) it's even easier to get some background on Tolkiens world, which you will certainly need if you do not want to be utterly confused by aspects of the book. You do certainly get used to the language of the book and names that at first sound very much alike do get easier to recall - and be warned...there are A LOT of names in this book.

One thing I will say regarding the book is the "Of Beleriand and its Realms" chapter detailing the vast and mind blowing geography of the land. As amazing as it is to think Tolkien had nearly every tree and hill visualised in his mind, it's difficult for us as readers to comprehend what the scene looked like on such a detailed level. Names of geographical features flood this chapter and all but a few have any relevance to the story...it does however add to the believable mythlogy.

A truely awe-inspiring book of epic proportions and a fascinating creation, born from the mind of just one man.
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on 12 February 2004
This is a truly beautiful book. I've read Lord of the Rings twice now, and I wanted to know more about the history of Tolkein's world, before the events of Lord of the Rings, and I wasn't disappointed! It starts of with the beginnings of the world, or Arda, and an account of the Valar and their different qualities and powers. Then there's the main Silmarillion which tells of the curse of the Silmarils and the Noldor division of the Elves, and their battle against Melkor, the Dark Enemy of the World.
It is quite heavy going, to start with, and it took me two tries to read the whole thing, but trust me, it is worth it. I particularly love the stories of the lives of Luthien Tinuviel and her lover Beren, and of the life of Turin.
After the Silmarillion, there is the history of the island of Numenor and the Dunedain, from whom Aragorn (in LOTR) is descended, and some background about the making of the One Ring and other events of that time.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the background to Tolkein's world, although it would probably be better to read the Lord of the Rings first, since then the events in the Silmarillion will make more sense to you.
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on 5 April 2002
Firstly a note on the text;...this is not a book to begin your reading of Tolkien with. But that does not mean you shouldn't continue with it. It is very different to the other two of the 'Tolkien Three', namely the Hobbit and LotR. Far grander in scale than even LotR, more alike to a history than a story (as again has been said many times). The prose (and the surprisingly scarce poetry) is archaic, which deters some people, but you soon become accustomed to it, and begin to enjoy it (well I did anyway). It is certainly, in my estimation at least, a book worth persevering with...
Secondly a note on the copy: The 16 images are Tolkien's own hand-drawn emblems, representations of which are easily found, but those contained in this are more difficult to obtain.
The postcard is, as the box describes, just stunning and it will take me a long time to find a worthy occasion to use it for.
The Map and booklet are contained in a book-like thing, the booklet describes the book adding more of Tolkien's inspirations than the blurb. It also contains descriptions (or similar) of places on the map of Beleriand. Which brings be nicely along to here: The map is an artist's impression, rather than a cartographer's work. But that artist is John Howe. Also it means you have a larger 'map' of Beleriand (the land lost to the sea prior to the events of LotR), which is generally overshadowed by maps of Middle-earth.
It is wonderful to hear someone, especially CT, reading the chapter. Also good to polish up your pronunciation: Eldalië anyone? And they couldn't have picked a better chapter. I have heard that Martin Shaw's performance is better, but I can't find flaws in CT's!
Finally(!) the book itself. This was the only part which I as slightly disappointed about (hence the 4), it is a hardback...technically, but the paper isn't particularly nice and seems more paperback-ish. But it is light, and the covers are appropriate. As an aside the book and box are actually a lightish grey/gray, rather than the white it seems to photograph as. It is a pleasant colour, though.
In short it is ironic that the CD is advertised as free, as that struck me as one of the strongest points of the package. But if you want this to be THE copy that you own, I don't recommend it: that said I do think it's worth having, if just for the extras. And the price, I think, is just.
And if you don't buy this copy, buy another at least. I won't say you won't be a serious 'Tolkienite' without it, but it won't hurt. Even that aside this is a beautiful book; thanks Proff :o)
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on 24 July 2004
This is a masterpiece and although you have to REALLY concentrate to 'get it' its well worth it, there are many fantastic stories in the Silmarillion.
Martin Shaw is fabulous also, his voice is majestic which suits the stories perfectly.
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