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TomBombadillo began this thread with the following post.

I've only just bough the Sil and I'm planning to start reading it soon, but where should I start? Cos I remember someone telling me not to start at the beginning of the book, cos I would find it a bit dull, but I forgot where to start instead...
Can someone tell me where's the best place to start reading it? Please?

Boring replied

well a bit dull is quite an understatement, it;s all about the creation of middle earth bit it's nice to know.. I don't recall where the kewl stuff begins, I suggest start at the beginning and if you find it dull skip it to the next story and so on and so on

I personally love the start, and I have always read it from beginning to end, like you should. But Grondy often suggests starting at the end with the Rings of power bit and working your way backwards instead.
Yeah, I read it from the beginning too, but I agree with Grondie. It's better to start from the back, in case you get bored.
Bored, bored - whyady'a mean bored. OK confused, lost, even annoyed - but bored never; The problem is the genealogical trees, the similarities in the names etc.. However its fascinating. Because the "stories" are shorter I find they have an intensity and passion "missing" in the LOTR (missing is not the word I'm looking for - say dispersed hither and thither.
Afters years of reading all of Tolkien's literature, The Silmarillion and its characters is the most satisfying. Its not really easy, it's incomplete etc etc but its so full of ideas and energy. If you permit the comparison, it's somewhat akeen to classic Greek theatre- some of it is even like Ovid's "Metamorphosis". Apparently "Sil" is a book close to Tokien's heart also as he inscribed the names of Luthien & Beren on his wifes headstone when she was buried (well at least that's what I read in Humphrey Carpenters work)
Good reading - its a wonderful adventure
How can you just think about leaving a part out? I'm just about to read for the second time (I started with Tolkien's bokks only one and a half years ago, so son't blame me) and I think it's quite impotant. Just to know about that war between the Valar and Melkor and the beginning of all the evil...
Have fun, and take you time to review all the names in the appendices... otherwise it may be a bit confusing.
Reason why we said 'boring' was because a lot of people wrote in the old forum that they gave up after the first few attempts, because they found it:

i) Boring
ii) Confusing
iii) Difficult

So we figured that the best way to read Silm was from the back (Rings of Power). That way, the person can still identify with the characters from LOTR & yet be introduced to the general 'dryish' tone of the book. And then Akallabeth, so that they could understand the history of the Numenorians, plus they would still be able to identify with Elendil, Isildur etc since they were mentioned in LOTR. And then work their way slowly up to the front...hopefully by the time the had read the last two chapters, they would have been sufficiently drawn into the story that they wouldn't mind all the strange new names & characters (fourth reason why they gave up).

It works as well - I tried it on some friends & a few managed to finish the Silm. Some even re-read it again, but from the front. Smile Smilie
Think I'll start from the back then. Next time I read it I promise to start from the front (thus hoping to satisfy everyone)
Tata for all the answers! Big Smile Smilie
The Silmarillion it's a "chef d'oeuvre" so in my opinion it must to be read from the beginning! Trust on Me! Big Smile Smilie
if u have some probs with the names just check this oout: R.Foster "the complete guide to middle-earth" it's a must for Tolkien fans![Edited on 28/2/2002 by RomereX]
LOTR is a novel, Silmarillion is a saga (lika Icelandic sagas...), unfinished stories of Tuor and his coming to Gnndolin and Narn i Hin Hurin form UT are something in between... we are most habituated to novels, but it's worth while to make an effort and go through Silmarillion from the very beginning.
I don't really think one should begin in the end and work oneself backwards (of course if it makes you accually read the book which you would otherwise it ok Smile Smilie) but I'd recommend reading a little about the Valar so that you know what it's about and then start with the comming of the Eldars...
(personally I sometimes read only the part before the comming of the Eldars cuz I really like it... and I've read the Silmarillion atleast 15 times so...)
[Edited on 15/3/2002 by iago]
I've only read it once, and it took me about 5 months to get through it. but it is my favorite of all the books.. It was very slow at the beginning. and i cant contribute too much here, because i dont honestly remember too much of it.. there is a lot of information, and a lot of similar names to get confused with... HOWEVER... the day i finished it, i went to a book store, and came across a nice hardbound edition with great illustrations.. I can't wait to get started rereading it!! I think Beren and Luthien was the best story in it, and prolly my favorite story, couple, whatever... in all of his books.. though i havent read the unfinished tales yet... only Sil, LotR, and The Hobbit.
I have no intention whatsoever to read it now, but if I ever read it, I think I'll start with the most interesting stories. The ones that sound the most interesting, that is... Otherwise I'll never read it, I'm afraid. I normally never do this, but I think I have to now...
Hello everybody. I’m from Finland, so my english isn’t so good...but don’t notice it.

I’ve read it about a year was very good....and I think everybody should read it. It’s very interesting to know how Middle-Earth "born"...and what happened there when the world was young. The start of this book is a bit boring...but you can make it. It took about a month to me read it.
Can't argue with anything you have said Sam, except for the comment about your English: It seems good enough for me to understand. Smile Smilie
The beginning is NOT boring!!! Mad Smilie
Every time someone says it from now on, I'll be personally offended! Exploding Head Smilie
Honestly! Tongue Smilie
interestingly challenged?
Okay, okay...It isn’t’s just little hard to get over the start..I had no problems with the start, but it took a little bit longer than other sections in the book.

And thaks for you Grond...I think I have learnd something in school, perhaps...Wink Smilie I was able to study germany also...but I took english.
Hi Sam.
Don't worry too much about your English. You write it better than a lot of English people that I know. Smile Smilie
As for the Silmarillion, I guess it can be a little heavy going the first time, but the more you become involved with Middle Earth and get to know the characters and places, the better it becomes. I found writing the names down in the form of a family tree helped a lot. There are also books like Robert Foster's Complete Guide to Middle Earth (already mentioned) and Iron Crown Enterprises Lords of Middle Earth (3 volumes) which are a great help.
As for where you start reading it from? Well, call me strange, but I never imagined starting it anywhere other than the beginning (although I do jump about a lot in Unfinished tales).

[Edited on 2/7/2002 by Valedhelgwath]
Hey there Sam. Your English seems all right with me. Big Smile Smilie

Yeah, but UT is just a bunch of stories, so you can jump around in it easily. With the Sil, it's different. Nevertheless, I think I'll start with the back. If I ever start... Tongue Smilie
I allways start books from the start and I finish them at the end...

One thing in my english bothers me...I have allways problems with prepositions...wich one I should choose, when I should use it and so on...Of course the grammar is allways hard to learn...but the hardest thing is certainly prepositions...For you whose mothertongue is english it isn’t propably so I right? In finnish we don’t have prepositionsbut we have different "endings"...For example "floor" means in finnish "lattia" and "on the floor" is in finnish "lattialla" you can say to your friends that yuo can speak finnish... Wink Smilie
Well, I for one, have spoken English for all but about three years of my life, but until now had absolutely no idea at all what a preposition was. It seems such a long word to describe what are essentially the little words....
Welcome Sam, your English is perfectly fine. It appears we all understand you, so enjoy the forum.
Tom, read the Similarion but do it in small doses. I like Val's idea of writing the names in a family tree format as you read. There were so many names to keep track of and they were hard to pronounce so that is why I found it hard to read big blocks at a time. I do recommend beginning to end, however. Read Smilie
True confession: I still haven't finished and I started 7 months ago!
Val: I have studied english seven (7) years...and I’m still uncertain about almost everything what I say...
dont worry about it sam, your doing fine... You wanna hear something really funny, you should hear me trying to speak Spanish!!!! i finaly gave up!
It’s allso hard to answer in some places here...cos I have read LotR, Sil and Hobbit in Finnish, so I have to translate my toughts in my head...and it’s hard to explain my toughts in English. That’s why I’m not talking everywhere...I can’t say anything about for example Galadriel in english. But I’m glad for that I understand almost everything what you I try to answer as good as I can.
That practically makes you English then, Tom. Most of us get them wrong most of the time. Smile Smilie
It's going perfectly fine so far... Big Smile Smilie The hardest I studied in the English Grammar I still find the Tenses and Idioms. Silly things, both of them. And there are so many tenses in English, and sometimes I just don't know which to choose.
I tried to learn Greek once-upon-a-time: Whooee! Now there were some declensions and conjugations to wade through; I suppose Latin is similar; and you can't beat Russian for idioms, so I have been told. Wary Smilie
Idioms are interesting. They seem to be national and maybe even regional as I've seen many on this site that I've never heard before. The good thing about idioms is that you can usually figure out their meaning by the context that they're used in, otherwise us Americans might never figure out what those Brits are saying Wink Smilie

BTW, one that has never made any sense to me is 'head over heels'. Of course, I know what it means. But where did it come from? Anyone have any ideas?
Someone watching me last time I stubbed my toe and went 'arse over tea-kettle', would have seen in my physical act, a visual representation of 'head over heals', or visa versa. Once you're in motion there is no turning back. Love sometimes has the same power as gravity. Need I say more. Animated Wink Smilie
Idioms are very interesting indeed, but sometimes you just get lost, if you know what I mean... Tongue Smilie

"Arse over tea-kettle!" LOL! Very Big Grin Smilie
Nevertheless, I think I'll start with the back. If I ever start...
So assuming you finished reading the Silm (by starting at the back), Tommy, how are you getting on? Having finished it first, have you managed to finally reach the start yet? Mad Smilie
In your part of the world, is Father Christmas some nasty evil dude who steals the presents from the kids? Merry Christmas Smilie
Every kid knows that's the Grinch's job, Val. Ha Ha Ha Smilie
Been watching too much Red Dwarf again have we Val?
I am still reading the Sil, the last week I have not read at all, because I have been here. But that is changing tonight. I really miss reading it. It is great. Everyone was talking about the beginning being boring. It is NOT boring. It can be difficult to get through because of all the different names and places and stuff, a little confusing but NOT boring.

Val's suggestion
I found writing the names down in the form of a family tree helped a lot.

I thought I was the only one that did that. It makes it a lot easier to follow what is going on. If you have problems getting through the beginning check out the guide project in a few days. Some of the notes that I took while reading it will be in there.They should be rather helpful.
I do not recommend reading it backwards either. I read UT and Lost Tales 2 and there were so many references to the Silm that I would go and check out those sections. So, I guess I did read parts of it backwards. But when I started actually reading the book, I began at the beginning. Every page you read just gets better and better, it just pulls you in. Good Luck.
Been watching too much Red Dwarf again have we Val?
Nothing wrong with that in my book, Plastic. Unfortunately, the ex-wife kept that section of the video collection Sad Smilie
You have my deepest sympathy Val, that was one of the bits of my once proud vid collection that I actually got to keep. WOOHOO!
So assuming you finished reading the Silm (by starting at the back), Tommy, how are you getting on? Having finished it first, have you managed to finally reach the start yet? In your part of the world, is Father Christmas some nasty evil dude who steals the presents from the kids

I still think it's better to read Silm back to front. It makes more sense that way, since it last couple of chapters are more closely related to LotR than the earlier chapters.

And no, the Devil didn't leap out of the pages and chomp my arse either. Wink Smilie Lighening Smilie
I have read "Of the Rings of Power" but that's as far as I got so far. No time, I'm afraid. Very Sad Smilie
Pary Smilie Wahey! Well done Tommy! At least it's a start, isn't it?
Or an end! Wink Smilie
I'm starting at the beginning again to try and find the missing answers to Valedhelgwath's excellent great quiz. Smile Smilie (I've a sneaking suspicion I'd have to read HOME to get all of them.) Rolling Eyes Smilie
Hey, yeah! I saw the quiz the other day, but couldn't remember which post it was in when I went back to answer them Sad Smilie ...can someone tell me? Or is it too late? Very Sad Smilie Very Sad Smilie
It's in History of Middle-Earth, Golly. And I think Val said the answers should be in by the end of september, so you still have some time then... Animated Wink Smilie
Objections to the Ainulindale are the most common ones to the Silmarillion. All I can say is, "Get over it; it's seven pages." The cool stuff? IMHO, the "cool stuff" starts on page two and ends on page three sixty-five. What I think was meant though begins with the Unchaining of Melko; that's where the War of the Jewels really starts.