The Silmarillion

J. R. R. Tolkien
The Silmarillion Cover

Almost Perverse in its Comprehensiveness


Consider this book the equivalent of Everything You Wanted to Know About Middle-Earth But Were Afraid to Ask. There hardly seems to be any point to it except to satisfy the curiosity of the thousands of Lord of the Rings fans of the time, who just couldn't get enough of Tolkien’s fantasy world. The book is a posthumously-published collection of stories and myths that Tolkien had scribbled on paper during his life, some of which were not even originally a part of his Middle-earth world. (Or rather, the characters of The Hobbit and LOTR were not originally meant to be a part of this other world, but came to be subsumed into it.)

Some parts of the book, which reads like the biblical book of Genesis on Norse steroids, are excellent and memorable. The creation account and the fall of the Elves are of particular note, possessing the mythic power of most ancient pagan mythologies. The story of Túrin Turambar competes with the Icelandic sagas for high drama. But too much of the book is cobbled together from stories that were never completed, and the effect is of a patchwork quilt with patches of fine linen and rags sewn side by side.

Anyone hoping to find an expansive section on the events of The Lord of the Rings will be disappointed. Frodo’s adventures warrant barely a footnote at the end of the book.