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Alakdhol began this thread with the following post.

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This has been asked in different topics a few times, but my question is a little bit different. My dad is a fan of the Lord of the Rings and when he was 17 or 18 or 19 or somewhere around there he tried to read the Silmarillion but he gave up because it was too hard. A friend of mine got the book from the local library and tried to read it, but it was too hard for her too. I recently bought it thinking that I could definetly read it, plus there are some parts in LotR that I need clarification on. I figure that the Silmarillion could help me out there.
Anyways, what I'm trying to say is, Is reading the Silmarillion worth the trouble of a hard read or is it just a dumb history that won't help me at all and that I should forget about it?
If you've read tell me what you think. Thank you!


Grondmaster replied

You should give it a try. If you don't feel like reading any more in one section, skip on to another, and maybe go back later. Some of the stories are quite exciting, some are very dry. Be sure to frequent the index at the back of the book, as it helps in keeping track of the many names. Smile Smilie

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Is reading the Silmarillion worth the trouble of a hard read or is it just a dumb history that won't help me at all and that I should forget about it?


Yes, I think you should try it. I am just now reading it for the first time too. At first I just skipped around and picked the stories that I wanted to read about. Things that clarified some stuff from LoTR. Now I am starting at the beginning. Because of all the different names the first bit can be a little difficult to wade through. (I personally enjoy that kind of stuff though) Then you actually get into stories it is a really good read. You may also want to read a chapter and then take a break and read something a lot lighter. This weekend I finised chapter 15 on Saturday. Sunday I read a Patrica Cornwell book, and then on Tuesday I started a Dean Koontz book. Then I will go back to TheSilmarillion.

There is one aspect of Tolkien, that is both good and bad. He actually makes you use your brain and challenges you. Sometimes that stimulation is great, sometimes you just gotta take a break and rest.

So, I suggest you read it a little at a time. Have fun with it. Don't stress over it. It is a book enjoy it any way you can! Read Smilie

[Edited on 22/8/2002 by MelliotSandybanks]
Greetings Alakdhol,

I thoroughly recommend reading The Silmarillion and I agree with Melliot that it is a read that requires concentration. Personally I read it from front to back. I find it is a book that you need to be prepared to stop and cross-reference things (either from the back or from previous pages read) as it can be quite confusing, especially in getting to know the names (both place and character).

A number of my friends find it a drag, but then again there are just as many who find it a most worthwhile and stimulating read. As for me, the depth of the history and scope of the stories are enough to make me want to keep reading it every couple of years.

PS It would be remiss of me not to say that The Hobbit and TLOTR have been read just as voraciously.
I personally adored the Silmarillion. But then I have a love for rich prose.

It leaves more to the imagination. There is no comfortable familliarity, that we see in LOTR. But the tales still stir the heart. Big Smile Smilie
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Personally I read it from front to back. I find it is a book that you need to be prepared to stop and cross-reference things (either from the back or from previous pages read) as it can be quite confusing, especially in getting to know the names (both place and character).


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But the tales still stir the heart.


Both of those statements are so true. And of course after I wrote that yesterday, I had to read more. LOL Forget, Koontz he is just not as satisfying.
Couldn't agree with you more Allyssa! Smile Smilie
I agree with everything that has been said about the Silmarillion. It's one of my favorites, it is good to read it in partrs with other books in between, but frankly, if you aren't enjoying it, don't make yourself read it.

[Edited on 25/11/2002 by Samwisegamgee]
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One of my good buddies, who is at least as Tolkien Geeky as me, if not more, gave me some advice that has helped me alot. Try to read it and hear the words in you head. Imagine that it is a storytelling and you're listening. This has actaully helped me a lot.


That is an excellent suggestion for reading the Sil. My first of 2nd semester of college, I had a Fantasy Lit class, that was amazing. My prof, was the best instructor I have ever had in my entire life. We were reading some of the Greek tragedies and for the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Illiad, she said they were stories told by bards, that were passed down by mouth. People gathered around a campfire, eating and drinking and listening to the bard tell his tales. She suggested when we read our assignments, for a group of us to get together, have a bottle of wine, turn out all the lights, and light a whole bunch of candles and take turns reading it out loud to each other. She said that would put us, as close to the same type of atmosphere, and frame of mind as those that heard it, when it was first told. It really worked, and we really enjoyed the stories so much more. We started doing that for every book in her class. Those of us that did that got A's, those that didn't really struggled to just get C's.

I like to imagine Tolkien, would have liked that idea too. I think it would make the whole story of the Sil come alive, even more. If you can't get anyone to take Mrs Odle's suggestion, then read it outloud to yourself too. That does work. The first time I did that, my family thought I was crazy, but then found out that I really was later. lol

Oh, if you are not old enough to drink, don't have the wine, but some cider or sparkling juice. I don't wanna get into trouble for encouraging under age drinking.
I had read bits and pieces of the Sil over a while and I finally got through it from beginning to end last year. It is very dense. It is really good, as well. The style took a lot of getting used to. I have just started reading it again a week ago. It's going a lot faster this time.

One of my good buddies, who is at least as Tolkien Geeky as me, if not more, gave me some advice that has helped me alot. Try to read it and hear the words in you head. Imagine that it is a storytelling and you're listening. This has actaully helped me a lot.

The truth is that the Silmarillion is what Tolkien prized the most out of his Middle Earth works. It is the great history created to contain the Languages that he made. I think that if he had lived and completed it himself, rather then his son having to bring it all together in a tremendous effort, I think it would have been huge, but an easier read. Christopher Tolkien is good and has done a huge amount of work, but he doesn't have his father's flowing style.

In the end, if you love LOTR and want to know the greater depth, it's worth reading. But it is not easy.

One of my biggest wishes is that Tolkien had finished the Lay of Lethian and it would have been published completely in the Sil. Beautiful epic poetry about the story of Beren and Luthien. Incredible, simply beautiful.
Val, I will start my comments after thanksgiving. won't have a lot of time before that.
I would recommend reading the Sil only if the history interests you. If your expecting a LotR type narrative though, you will be disappointed. And it's also important to take your time. It's VERY dense. The amount of information packed into that small book can easily overload you. The good thing is, it's one of those books you can read slowly, a chapter at a time with long breaks in between.

I think that it needs to be read more than once though. I've only read it once and I haven't retained a great deal of it. There's a lot to remember! Big Laugh Smilie
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I finished the Sil, a while ago maybe a month or so, and am re-reading it along with keeping up with the group, although I have not made any comments in there yet.
Please join us Mellie. Your insight and opinions would be most welcome.

The nice thing about this group is, it's leaving a trail people just picking up the book can easily follow. Because several of the group are first time readers, they are highlighting some of the problems many people have when first reading this book. What is now a discussion group, will hopefully have legacy of leaving behind a Silmarillion reading guide.
PT now has a Reading Discussion Group going on covering the Simmarillion. They have done the first 2 assignments and the third is also posted. Val, has broken the assignments into short segments that are easy to follow along. There are several that are taking the course and making comments quite often. What they have to say is very interesting and informative. It makes reading the Sil a lot easier to understand and not quite so complicated. Check it out. I finished the Sil, a while ago maybe a month or so, and am re-reading it along with keeping up with the group, although I have not made any comments in there yet.
I've read the Silmarillion twice and it is really good if you take your time.

I think that the story of Luthien and Beren would make a really good movie after LOTR is done.
Read The Silmarillion, it is the greatest of all of Tolkien's books. It gives you such an insight into his own character and romantism. Take Luthien and Beren, it is meant to be him and his wife, they even have Lurthien and Beren writen on there gravestone.
This is the most epic of all his books and well worth the read. It really makes you have empathy with the characters, even the characters that only have a small part to play!
If something is difficult you don't give up on it you see it all the way through, then you will see it for it's true baeuty
A long story about me and the Silmarillion:
3-4 years ago I had a big book-report to do and went to the library to find the books I needed. There I saw the three Tolkien books, hobbit, lotr and silmarillion. I had seen the real movie (with animated nazguls) of lotr on TV but it confused me and I gave up seeing all of it. I had no idea what the books were about only that it was fantasy and that Tolkien was famous. I read at the back that Silmarillion was the first book and thougt it was the first in a trillogy and had to be read in the correct order. It had a dragon on the cover and a tall white wall and I though "wow, it does look good!" and took it home. Big mistake! It was really really hard to read and for every other name I came upon I had to read in the appendix who they were and whos son it was. I stopped somewhere before the kinslaying I think. The story made no sense to me and was not what I expected. I also had to read the books for the report, and I couldn't waste more time on a book I didn't get. So I feft Tolkien for now.

About a year later I heard that a classmate had the lotr-cartoon movie and I got really happy beacuse I now would finally understand what the story was about, but it ended where fotr ended and just briefly mentioned Gandalf and Pippin joining some big fight in the end. Disapionted and confused I left Tolkien for the second time.

And THEN PJ came with the LOTR movie and I loved it loved it loved it!! I bought the lotr book (fotr, tt and rotk all in one) knowing that borrowing it wouldn't be enough for me. Then the need for Silmarillion came. I wanted to know more! Celebrian alredy had it and said it was great. And this time I loved it! No problems keeping up with the names, I understood who, what and where. Big Smile Smilie

The moral of the story is: Read the books in the order he wrote them and if you don't get the Silmarillion the first time, wait a while and try again. I sure wish I had PT to guide me earlier..
The first time I read Silmarillion I was just confused and didn't understand what was happening and because of that I found it VERY boring.
That was 1 year ago....
Now I'm reading it for the second time (I gave it a 2nd chance because of hearing the things from it that I couldnt remember, that sounded ver good) and all I have to say is WOW!
I'm confused of how I could be confused and bored, Im on the 'Of Beren and Luthien' chapter and I'm enjoying it alot.
Poor Beren...(I haven't finished the chapter yet)
Welcome to our forum Beorn, Standing Up Santa Smilie (in case I have missed doing so before.)

That is how it seemed to me also, until this my third reading of it, which I am doing in conjunction with our Silmarillion Reading Group which you can find under Reading Discussion Groups in our forum. The Introductions that Valedhelgwath our group leader, has developed for each reading section's chapters, keeps us from getting bogged down in all the character and place names. Being able to do it via the forum rather than chat also makes the discussion more verbose.
Welcome Beorn!

When I first tried the Sillmarillion I really struggled to get through it, there was so much to keep up with. But when I read it again I went slowly and read a little at a time and I was suprised at how much I liked it.
Just to echo the sentiments of many that have already been shared, the Silmarillion is absolutely incredible, and is a must read for any devoted Tolkien fan! Iím finally reading the book for the first time now, but I have to agree with Ross in that I think that the Silmarillion is Tolkienís greatest work. As I have recently stated elsewhere on this site, if you have been putting off reading this book (as I had), donít waste another day. If you are really into Tolkien, this book will take you to a whole new level, and completely blow you away!
Read Smilie
I have recently finished reading the Silmarillion and I am going to have to read it again just to get all of the content out of it. I am glad that I am getting my own copy soon. Big Smile Smilie

[Edited on 4/1/2003 by faramir]
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have recently finished reading the Silmarillion and I am going to have to read it again just to get all of the content out of it.
You'd probably like our Silmarillion Reading Discussion group then Faramir. Although the group is mainly for first time readers, we are exploring the chapters in quite some detail. Feel free to pop in and give us your opinions.
Say hello everone to Val the reading group plugger!
Never does he miss an oppertunity to plug the reading groups, what a star(fish) Big Laugh Smilie
Actually, the reading group was formed in response to a request from a member and Val very kindly offered to be our guide. It has been an immense help to those who are reading The Silmarillion for the first time and there has been really great discussions from everyone who has been or already has read the book.
I highly recommend it for everybody! Big Smile Smilie

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Say hello everone to Val the reading group plugger!
Never does he miss an oppertunity to plug the reading groups, what a star(fish) Big Laugh Smilie


Add Rednell to that as well! Tongue Smilie
You're welcome to join us too, Ross. One of the concerns I have when answering questions in this group is that they are my opinions, and are not necessarily correct. Input from other readers with a lot of experience of the Silmarillion is most useful.
I wasn't disrespecting you or anything. I think I'm a bit cantankerous for your reading discussion group (I'm a noutty you gitt).
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I think I'm a bit cantankerous for your reading discussion group
Big Smile Smilie

I do try to keep a stuffy classroom atmosphere in there, mainly because I believe the book is good enough to be discussed in detail on a serious level. Your input would be welcome, Ross. I might miss some of the finer points at times that other readers could pick up on.

What do you think of it so far anyway?
The Silmarillion is by far the greatest work of Tolkien, It was his lifes work and shows more of his character than any of his books or his children could ever know of.
HI DUDE:

well, let me tell you...., i devoured it....., I also think it is tolkienīs master piece of work....., but if you think it is just a tool to understand TLoTR, you might think it is kind of heavy.....though you could understand a lot about the enviroment that sorrounds all the middle earth.....

I have actually read it like 10 times just...., but as soon as I finish the one i am reading....., trusth me....., i will definitely read it again.....

just remember that in the silmarilion, tolkien created a whole new universe, full of history,adventures, religion(which i must say i believe is the most beautiful version of every religion on the 20th century)folklore,dramas,etc...., a paralell universe far beyond your imagination....., if you can remember that......, I hope you will share my opinion...

I can not tell "YOU must read IT", but if you really like tolkien, after you finish it....,°YOU WILL LOOK FOR THE UNFINISHED TALES!!!!!.... Big Smile Smilie trusth me....you will love it...

just remember that even if we are speaking about the same earth..., you will find characters that you might think they have no relation with TLoTR....,but they do...
The Silmarillion is, IMHO, the best of Tolkiens work, and a full appreciation of the Trilogy is impossible without it. I'm late; I hope the original poster has muddled through it. It's easily my favorite book, and the archaic prose is both enjoyable and a heavy influence on me.
I find myself agreeing with a lot of people today! And I agree with you too Morambar. On two points. First, the Sil is definately Tolkien's best book. Second, the LOTR wouldn't really have been that good without Sil. Even though we don't see many Sil characters in LOTR, the ones we do see have great influence, such as Galadriel and Elrond. What was sort of disappointing was that neither the Sil nor the LOTR gave us much information on some of the "just there" characters like Cirdan.
i agree, sil is an excellnt book to read if your a tolkien fan. it explains things in more detail about the past of middle earth. im reading history of middle earth at the mo, only on book 1! is it worth reading all of them?
Well, I haven't read all of them yet. But some of the HOME books I've read are sortta boring. Depends on what part of Arda youre intersted in. Book of lost tales 1 is ok, it tells mostly of the valar. And part 2 is good, or so I heard. The lays of beleriand I definately recommend. Morgoth's Ring is good, too. Though it's very much like the sil. I don't really know anything about the others...
Yeah, I can't speak for the others, not having read them, but LT2 is excellent. When I think of the Wars of Beleriand three seminal events stand out: the Fall of Gondolin, the Lay of Leithian, and Narn i Hin Hurin. The Narn is more thoroughly explored in UT, I think, but all three of these are the bulk of LT2. For those of us who want the kind of detail the Trilogy provides given to the Elder Days HoME is the closest we'll ever get this side of the grave.

Where we get a single sentence, and not even all of that, on Ecthelion vs. Gothmog in the Silmarillion, in LT2 we have the battle aright, as part of the epic that is the Fall of Gondolin. And the story of Beren and Luthien is almost unrecognizable, so definitely worth a read that is more than just rehashing of a familiar story (Beren a NOLDA?!!! It was so, once. ) LT2 also gives us the various versions of how the Redbook and the Quenta came down to us from the Elder Days and the Third Age, with some foreshadowing of the Great Wrack (though I understand there's much more of it in later volumes such as Morgoths Ring.)

Of course, when I first got my hands on LT 1&2 they were new, and I eagerly devoured them; then with the coming of Lays of Beleriand it seemed all of the notes on the old histories were exhausted, and we were left with the manuscripts of the Trilogy and the philological studies that fascinated Tolkien but (I'm sorry, Professor) bore me to tears. Needless to say, one of the benefits of PT, for me, is that I've been forced to reassess the later volumes. Now I just need to buy and read them. ;-p