by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Silmarillion is Tolkien’s first book and his last. Long preceding in its origins The Lord of the Rings, it is the story of the First Age of Tolkien’s world, the andcient drama to which characters in the Lord of the Rings look back, and in which some of them, such as Elrond and Galadriel, took part. The Silmarillion was begun in 1917, and Tolkien worked on it, changed it, and enlarged it throughout his life. Edited by his son, Christopher Tolkien, the book finally appeared four years after the author’s death.
Now this novel out of all the Tolkien’s novels, I was worried the most about. I’ve tried reading it in the past a number of times and never could make. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why. I love Tolkien and the Middle Earth. But I just could not make it through this novel. Then I realized I need to tae it on like a history book and not a adventure/epic story novel. While yes it is a story and there are MANY stories through out this book, it does not read that way. I had to approach it like I did for the History of the Lord of the Rings or the first part of The Lord of the Rings. In fact is also like reading a ancient scroll or even a Bible of the Middle Earth at points.
The Silmarillion is the source for the First Age of the Middle Earth and the downfall of the Kingdom of Númenor. It is composed of five different parts:
- The Ainulindalë – Creation of Eä (Tolkien’s universe), the Timeless Halls, and Ainur by Eru Ilúvatar and the corruption of Melkor
- The Valaquenta – Description of the Valar and Maiar, the supernatural beings.
- The Quenta Silmarillion – Events before & during the First Age, which is the bulk of the collection
- The Akallabêth – The history of the Second Age
- The Rings of Power and the Third Age
If you take the The History of Middle Earth and Unfinished Tales, with The Silmarillion you get more of the narrative of the universe that Tolkien was trying to express in the The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Within’ this novel there is also 4 Great Tales that were summarized:
- “Of Beren and Lúthien”
- “Of Túrin Turambar”
- “Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin”
- “Of the Voyage of Eärendil and the War of Wrath”
Now Tolkien’s son Christopher Tolkien finished putting together Middle Earth Challenge: The Fall of Gondolin, Middle Earth Challenge: Beren and Lúthien, Middle Earth Challenge: The Children of Húrin. You can follow the link to find out more details about them. But those stories definitely expanded more on the The Silmarillion adn the history of the First, Second Age of the Middle Earth. Now from what I gathered, Christopher Tolkien had some problems with The Silmarillion material. Mostly caused by Guy Kay who helped Tolkien’s son put this together. Stating:
“This story was not lightly or easily conceived, but was the outcome of long experimentation among alternative conceptions. In this work Guy Kay took a major part, and the chapter that I finally wrote owes much to my discussions with him. It is, and was, obvious that a step was being taken of a different order from any other ‘manipulation’ of my father’s own writing in the course of the book: even in the case of the story of The Fall of Gondolin, to which my father had never returned, something could be contrived without introducing radical changes in the narrative. It seemed at that time that there were elements inherent in the story of the Ruin of Doriath as it stood that were radically incompatible with ‘The Silmarillion’ as projected, and that there was here an inescapable choice: either to abandon that conception, or else to alter the story. I think now that this was a mistaken view, and that the undoubted difficulties could have been, and should have been, surmounted without so far overstepping the bounds of the editorial function. ‘Apart from a few matters of detail in texts and notes that have not been published, all that my father ever wrote on the subject of the ruin of Doriath has now been set out (…) If these materials are compared with the story told in The Silmarillion it is seen at once that this latter is fundamentally changed, to a form for which in certain essential features there is no authority whatever in my father’s own writings.”
In the later books that I list above, Christopher would go back and introduced the details his Father planned on. There were a number of other issues that Christopher had, like the slaying of Thingol(High King of the Teleri). Again Christopher like to blame Guy Kay… At this point I’m growing tired of Christopher Tolkien. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the work he has done. But there comes a point where you need to stop riding your Father’s coattails and blaming other people. If there questions or something didn’t set right with the Silmarillion, why publish it? Why wait year down the road, let everyone think one thing about the Middle Earth history. It’s just not the books, it’s everything dealing with the Middle Earth universe. Sorry, after reading and writing about this for a couple of months now. I’m starting to see a patter with Christopher Tolkien and his selfish/possessive behavior or dare I say holier than thou? Yes, yes I do..
But at any rate, back to the slaying of Thingol.. Christopher had this to say:
“In the story that appears in The Silmarillion the outlaws who went with Hurin to Nargothrond were removed, as also was the curse of Mîm; and the only treasure that Húrin took from Nargothrond was the Nauglamîr – which was here supposed to have been made by Dwarves for Finrod Felagund, and to have been the most prized by him of all the hoard of Nargothrond. Húrin was represented as being at last freed from the delusions inspired by Morgoth in his encounter with Melian in Menegroth. The Dwarves who set the Silmaril in the Nauglamîr were already in Menegroth engaged on other works, and it was they who slew Thingol; at that time Melian’s power was with-drawn from Neldoreth and Region, and she vanished out of Middle-earth, leaving Doriath unprotected. The ambush and destruction of the Dwarves at Sarn Athrad was given again to Beren and the Green Elves [following my father’s letter of 1963 quoted on p. 353, where however he said that ‘Beren had no army’] and from the same source the Ents, ‘Shepherds of the Trees’, were introduced.”
The game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, a story of a ranger leading a garrison on the Black Gate is killed along with his family, shortly after he is revived and a wraith Celebrimbor takes host in his once dead body. As told in the last section of The Silmarillion, Celebrimbor is killed after protecting his forged rings of power from Sauron. These two sharing a body both seek revenge and redemption.
This is a vary important novel to have with LOTR & the Hobbit. I would also pick up the other three novels I listed earlier. they stories are fantastic.