The Silmarillion

J.R.R. Tolkien
Christopher Tolkien

The Silmarillion is an essential reading for any hardcore fan of Tolkien. A true Tolkien geek knows who’s who in The Silmarillion. In this volume Christopher Tolkien collects and edits his fathers writings of the first and second ages of Arda and Middle Earth. From the creation of Arda in the music of the Ainur to the War of Wrath as the Valar take pity on the Noldor and cast Morgoth out of Middle Earth.

It is a long book, and hard, akin to reading Greek mythology, Biblical genealogy and Arthurian legend. But it is well worth the read if you really enjoyed the depth of Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings and want to know why it is the way it is. If you want to peal back a few layers of the mystery without removing the awe that is woven throughout the world of the Lord or the Rings.

The Silmarillion includes the the great stories of the first age: The Fall of Gondolin, Turin, Beren and Lúthien that provide the glory and tragedy of the world of the elves in the first age, the deep sorry that seeps through in the fading of the elves in LOTR. While also providing the backstory of the men of Numenor and the forging of the Rings of Power. So much is filled in and, at the same time, so much is left unfinished. The Silmarillion is an imperfect work like something pieced together from fragments in old libraries, half lost texts and different versions of histories. Which, in fact, is what it is. And that imperfection, like real history, makes the Silmarillion that much more authentic and great.

The Silmarillion is not for everyone. If you are looking for more of the Lord of the Rings, this is not it, if you are looking for more about the world of the Lord of the Rings, then this is for you. Most people don’t get through the Silmarillion the first time, but if you preserver you will be rewarded. For those that do find something in the Silmarillion, the road goes on; you can peel back even more layers of history and meaning in the 13 part History of Middle Earth.