93 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The bible of Middle-Earth
It's more than slightly staggering to consider: the epic fantasy "Lord of the Rings" to be the tail end of Tolkien's invented history. The "Bible" of Middle-Earth, the "Silmarillion" stretches from the beginning of time to the departure of the Elves from Middle-Earth.
A complete summary is impossible, because the book spans millennia and has one...
Published on 28 Feb 2006 by E. A Solinas
68 of 77 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor Deluxe edition
I have purchased the deluxe editions of the LOTR, and the three volumes of the History of Middle Earth. All of these books are superb and are printed on fine India paper. However unlike these books the Silmarillion deluxe which I bought is printed on much heavier, poorer quality paper. The print quality in the first few pages was also very dissapointing. Although...
Published on 6 Jan 2004 by MR S CONNOR
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Silmarillion" a must have for Tolkien fans,
I read The Silmarillion after watching the movie and reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The background to the epic tale is astounding. This book gives the reader more insight into the World of middle earth than any other written. Many people I know only know of the Hobbit, and the Lord of the Rings. which only glances at the total scenario of Tolkiens' world.Many things that were mysteries to me from the other books are explained vividly. This book is one of the best Ive ever read. It is truly mesmerizing and egulfs the reader into a world that is on a biblical scale. any true Tolkien fan should read this book and I assure you that your whole thought and being for the J.R.R.Tolkien saga will be dramatically changed.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent tales, excellent story-teller,
This review is from: The Silmarillion Gift Set (Audio CD)
The Silmarillion is a collection of wonderful stories about the creation and history of Valinor and Middle Earth. I've enjoyed reading the book: borrowed copies, old copies with flies and earwigs preserved (probably mummified) between the pages and, most recently, my very own copy. Now I've also listened to the audiobook read by the very competent Martin Shaw. I've been trying to get hold of this audiobook for ages and finally I have it. And it's just as terrific as I hoped it would be. I'm not surprised that Martin Shaw reads it well. I've enjoyed his reading of The Hobbit, so knew what to expect.
I highly and whole-heartedly recommend this audiobook to all who love Tolkien's tales of Middle Earth - but with one small reservation. There are some very long descriptions of the lay-out of Valinor and Middle Earth. There are great lists of unfamiliar place names, described as being north of this place, south-west of that place, below this range of mountains, to the east of that river and so on. It can be very confusing when you have no map to refer to, as you can when reading the book. The book also provides graphic representations of the genealogies of the elves and men in the stories. The stories tell of many many characters, some with similar sounding names. It's easy to get confused. I had access to the maps and genealogies in my book and that was fortunate for me because I would find it difficult to keep track otherwise. Under the circumstances (there being so many descriptions of distance and location) it's surprising that there is not a map included with this audiobook. There are maps in the book because they are extremely useful - indispensable for people with little or no spatial ability, like me. The BBC's audiobook of Lord of the Rings includes a lovely big copy of the map of Middle Earth from the book. Unfortunately, that won't help you to find your way around the Middle Earth of The Silmarillion because great floods and upheavals have drowned and distorted the land by the end of the second age. If you have a good imagination for geographical data and a good memory for names (unlike me), none of this will seem to be a problem. Otherwise, you'll enjoy some parts of this audiobook more if you have access to the book with its maps and genealogies.
There are 13 CDs in the box and the reading time is about 14.75 hours.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A treat for Tolkien fans (especially those who like Elves!),
This review is from: The Silmarillion Gift Pack (Boxed Set) (Hardcover)
This was my Christmas treat, and I'm extremely glad that I received it. Just to work on what some other people have said in their reviews as regards 'The Silmarillion' itself: it's highly recommended that you read both 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings' before you try this, unless you have the kind of reading tastes that mean that the Bible and Old English tales are the top of your list. The language is delightful if you like this sort of thing, and especially if you are interested in the Elves of Middle-earth (be warned that there's not many Men & no Hobbits in these tales!), but if you are looking for your first slice of Tolkienian literature, I wouldn't start here. If you are unsure, then you can read some samples of the beginning of the book at Tolkien.co.uk.
As a recently revitalised fan of 'LotR', this is my first copy of 'The Silmarillion', and it is worth every penny. The book itself is actually smaller than I had imagined, at around the size of a normal paperback, but the cover is minimalistic and tasteful. The delights of this particular edition, though, are the bits and pieces that come with the book: the Map of Beleriand (which is the size of your average Ordinance Survey Map and wonderfully illustrated!), small poster of the heraldic devices, postcard of Taniquetil, and - of course - the CD of Christopher Tolkien reading the tale of Beren and Lúthien. The CD alone is worth half the price of the gift pack.
The new edition of the book comes complete with an edited version of a famous letter from Tolkien to a gentleman who had asked for a "brief sketch of [his] stuff". The resulting 40 or so pages have been cut down for this version, but can be read in more detail in 'The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien'. It is a magnificent summary of Middle-earth, its history and its peoples, and serves as a brilliant introduction.
This pack is for those who are still intrigued about Middle-earth following 'LotR', and who want something extra special. This set will be proudly adorning the front of my bookshelf for many years to come.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book that will help you appreciate LotR better,
One of the things that puts most people off reading The Silmarillion is that it isn't written in the same style as The Lord of the Rings (LotR) or even The Hobbit. It comes across as more of a history text book or even a religious text filled with pages on how the world was created and who was related to who. Don't let this put you off. It really fleshes out all the brief references to the great heroes, Kings and Queens etc of ages past you've read about in LotR and The Hobbit which for me was fantastic. Knowing a little more about the history of the earlier ages of the world and all that's gone before give you a greater understanding of the task that Frodo et al have to accomplish and just how hard it is. After all, if some of the great Elven lords couldn't take down Sauron then what hope does Frodo have?!
The Silmarillion is a great standalone read but it will probably help a bit if you're familiar with The Hobbit and LotR.
If you do read this and enjoy it then I heartily recommend Unfinished Tales. Just expands further on what's been laid down in The Silmarillion.
edit: Wow, 10 years since I wrote this review! Reread this book at least 10 times since then and its still as fresh as ever.
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Breathing life into the Elder Days,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Silmarillion (Hardcover)
Unlike 'The Lord of the Rings', 'The Silmarillion' is a collection of disparate tales, rather than a continuous narrative. Filling in some of the details of the history which, tantalisingly, is hinted at in 'Lord of the Rings', this work covers a far greater span of time. It deals with the creation of Middle Earth, the arising of evil, the disobedience of the Firstborn (the Elves) in choosing to fight the evil, and the disasterous consequences to them which flow from that choice. It is a very moral tale, and draws on strands from various myths of creation, not least the Scandinavian legends, as well as the Biblical accounts.
The book does not have a storyline in the manner of 'The Lord of the Rings'. Instead, it tells the history of a number of the characters involved in the great events of the Elder Days - that age of the world which, in 'The Lord of the Rings', is defined as the period prior to the destruction of Morgoth, the Dark Enemy.
It is a much closer examination of the events of that period than anything which is to be found in 'The Lord of the Rings', and to some extent this does rob the Elder Days of the romance and mystery which is afforded to them by the distance at which they appear in 'The Lord of the Rings'. Also, the stories are related as a history, or rather a series of histories, not as an unfolding narrative, so the tales emerge from reported accounts of what occured. Unlike in 'The Lord of the Rings', for example the battles at Helm's Deep or on the Field of the Pelennor, there is no feeling of "being there". The immediacy is missing.
Nevertheless, Christopher Tolkien has done a remarkable job in editing his father's writings, which in terms of the material covered in 'The Silmarillion' had been begun in 1917 and had continued on and off until 1973, to produce so cohesive an account of the Elder Days. Much that was only fragmentary, or at least incomplete, could not be included, and was defered to form part of the many later volumes which have been published since 'The Silmarillion' saw print in 1977 - the series which commences with Tolkien's "Unfinished Tales".
Accepting that in purely narrative terms 'The Silmarillion' will not satisfy in the way that 'The Lord of the Rings' does, this book nevertheless succeeds in what it sets out to do, to expand on the background elements in 'The Lord of the Rings' and set that book in its intended context. This is an enjoyable read, illuminating many corners of the story, but it is advisable to have read 'The Lord of the Rings' first.
That is not to say that 'The Silmarillion' has no merit on its own. On the contrary, it has a beauty of language and imagery, and a high style and grace. But there is no getting away from the fact that events have cast this book as the 4th volume of the saga, and the three volumes of 'The Lord of the Rings' need to be read first, for 'The Silmarillion' is at many points an explanation of matters arising from those three volumes. Nevertheless, this is a very enjoyable excursion into many of the areas which, for want of space, could only be hinted at in 'The Lord of the Rings'.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tolkien products moves from strength to strength,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Silmarillion Giftpack (Audio Cassette)
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote this as a saga, and so the story should to be spoken as well as read. Martin Shaw allows you to close your eyes and a travel to Middle Earth. If you have read book and wish to vist it again from a diffrent angle then this is for you.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Shows the depth of Tolkien's universe,
For people who have been brought up on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, there will be many unanswered questions: Where did Sauron come from?, Why do the Elves have to leave Middle-Earth? And where are they going? How come Aragorn lives so long? How did his ancestors get to become Kings?
Most of these answers can be found in The Silmarillion, a book which was pieced together by JRR Tolkien's son Christopher from his father's unfinished writings. People expecting a neat 'start to finish' story may be disappointed as The Silmarillion reads more like a history (or, dare I say it, like the Bible) than a novel.
It does contain some exciting stories (such as the Tale of Beren and Luthien, or the story of the downfall of Numenor), but it is more important as a volume that demonstrates the full extent of the universe that Tolkien created. After reading the Silmarillion, you will probably find that you understand The Lord of the Rings much better (both the book and the movie).
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have edition of Silmarillion for any Tolkien fan,
This review is from: The Silmarillion (Hardcover)
This review is regarding the 2004 Ted Nasmith illustrated edition of 'The Silmarillion'. I got my copy of this masterpiece finally yesterday, after a month-long agonising wait. Since this edition will, in all probabilities, be bought only by avid fans who already own a less expensive edition of 'Silmarillion', I will restrict my review to my impressions of this edition, and not the story. (Anyways, as far as the story is concerned, I can say with confidence that, so far, no other book had so much of influence upon me than the 'Silmarillion'. 'LoTR' simply pales in comparison to this in my eyes.)
Among the renowned Tolkien artists, I rate Ted Nasmith's illustrations of Silmarillion as probably the best. John Howe and Alan Lee may have an edge in "LoTR" and "Hobbit", but they cannot beat Nasmith in "Silmarillion". His portrayal of characters might leave much to be desired, but his depictions of landscapes are too beautiful. And this new 2004 edition has over 45 of his renowned paintings. The book is a bit heavy and seems very much durable. The papers are of the glossy type that might give a little trouble in certain lighting conditions, but is otherwise quite elegant. Thus, in all ways, this book is the counterpart of the 3 volume Alan Lee illustrated box set edition of "LoTR" which, incidently, I happened to receive together with this. I think I can treasure this gem for the rest of my life.
But I have got a complaint with this edition as well. I sorely missed two of Ted Nasmith's most beautiful artworks. One is the picture of Luthien clad in a blue dress dancing in the forests of Neldoreth. Whenever I think of Silmarillion, the picture that first flash through my mind is this. I was once quite shocked (a pleasant shock, really) to see it as the title picture of a music program in a local Malayalam language TV channel in India. (Maybe the producers had no clue as to whose picture it was. They may have used it as they found it to be quite beautiful.) Instead of this, the book has another picture of dancing Luthien that does not quite measure up to the one mentioned above. Another picture I missed was that of Tuor looking upon Gondolin across the fields of Tumladen. These were pictures that captured my imagination when I saw them on a website before I knew anything about Silmarillion.
I do not know why the publishers omitted these. These were some of Ted Nasmith's best. Maybe they did not blend with the tone of the rest of Nasmith's paintings in the book. But if that was the case, they could have at least used these as the front and back cover for this edition. (They would have made a damn good cover better than the current one.) Moreover, the existing cover paintings are redundant as they are included inside the book as well.
Other than this, the 2004 Ted Nasmith illustrated edition of "The Silmarillion" is a must-have in any Tolkien fan's library.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful edition of a fantastic book,
This review is from: The Silmarillion (Hardcover)
This is not a review of The Silmarillion!
Instead, I want to concentrate on the artwork and the quality of the product itself. Ted Nasmith is a renowned Tolkien artist and he certainly brings to life some of the may evocative descriptions that Tolkien has created in the Silmarillion. Nasmith's landscapes are luminescent and gorgeous and one is transported immediately to distant, mythical lands.
I'm not sure that Nasmith is the greatest painter/illustrator of figures, particularly humanoids. There seems to be a certain stiffness in his illustrations and some of the scenes lack drama despite their gorgeous backdrops and dramatic content.
Having said that, the illustrations achieve their purpose, which is to bring to life selected scenes from the Silmarillion. Combined with the beautiful white paper and the hardback binding, this is a great book to read both for its story and the presentation.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sprawling, part Genius, part Confusing,
The Silmarillion, had it gone through the same writing process as LotR, would have been the better book. However, Tolkien was never quite able to get his arms around it and the final manuscript (heavily editted) can be both illuminating and frustrating at the same time. The earliest stories about the Creation of Arda and the Valaquenta are quite frankly boring. There is as much drama as the Bible's 7 days, which is to say, not very much. It's not until about midway through the Quenta Silmarillion that Tolkien finaly descends below the airy realm of myth to get down to telling some stories, and the stories are absolutely amazing.
Beren and Luthien, Turin Turambar and the Fifth Battle utterly eclipse LotR in their scope and import. If the entire book had been written this way it would be a few thousand pages long, and you'd see nothing but 5-star reviews. These stories are richly imagined and go far beyond the sketchlike quality of many of the stories that preceed them. The First Age was larger than life and one gets the feeling from reading these particular stories that Tolkien was in the process of expanding the entire work out to be far longer and more complex than LotR. Evil takes on a more personal face as well: Glaurung the Dragon actually has some good lines, something that is sorely lacking in many other sections of the book, where we get only a couple of sentences from a main character amid paragraphs of description.
Morgoth's schemes become more personal, rather than the vague "take over the world" plan he has in earlier sections. And Maglor and Maedhros become hopeless tragic figures. Great stuff.
Ok, so how does it connect to the world of LotR? Only loosely, I'm afraid. There aren't any hobbits in the Silmarillion, and you won't find out much about wizards or the origins of the Nazgul either. Sauron makes several appearences, but he's only a toadie for Morgoth for the most part. And of the Origin of the Rings there's really not much more than you can get from reading LotR very closely. Tolkien seems to have had only a vague outline for his Second Age: some 2000 years of Numenorean History are recounted in a handful of pages in the Akallabeth.
The editing attempts to bridge the gap between the two works, but it's a mighty thin bridge. There's really no character or specific action that connects the First Age (Silmarillion) with the Third Age(LotR).
Is it worth it? Oh yes. As a framework for Arda and Middle Earth, it's incredible. Your mind will go far beyond what's written here to imagine all sorts of stories that could be told about the characters and places in this book. It will pose a lot more questions than it answers, however. Don't expect everything to be neatly laid out as it is in LotR. In fact, don't expect it to be anything like LotR at all! The best way to approach the book is to imagine yourself in Rivendell, searching through the ancient manuscripts, trying to piece the story together from a hundred different sources, long after even the wisest of the loremasters have forgotten the master plan.
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The Silmarillion by J. R. R. Tolkien (Hardcover - 19 July 2006)