I can honestly say that I did not enjoy this book whatsoever and was immensely relieved to have finished it. While it doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with the Lord of the Rings books (it can be a standalone) it was sitting on our shelf and I felt compelled to read it and finish the books we owned written by Tolkien.
The Silmarillion is a compilation of stories, history, lore and other things of the elves in the time before the Lord of the Rings series takes place. There are also stories about the dwarves and men of the world as well, but they are not focused on as heavily. Within these tales are little stories of some of the peoples, wars, and goings on in the world at that time, not to mention, a sneak peek at the early lives of Celeborn, Galadriel, and Elrond. Towards the end it also goes over how the rings were made and how they came into the hands of the different people who bore them. There is even a very brief mention of Frodo’s part in the histories.
There are so many characters in this novel that none are really fleshed out and to be honest its hard to tell who’s who in this book. Most of the people are similar in name and deed and this gets to be very confusing as the book moves along. Indeed, none of the characters stood out to me because of the way this book is put together. I would have liked to hear more on Elrond or Galadriel but instead we are introduced to so many characters in so short of time (and most without interesting stories) that it was like seeing a slide projection of someone’s vacation photos; there might have been a few interesting things, but largely you are bored to tears and trying to be nice about the whole experience.
The writing is overly descriptive and does read like a history book. History is not my favorite subject and this made the read excruciating for me. As mentioned before there are so many people, places things that the book is largely unfollowable without a notebook to track what is going on. While there are some glimmers of a good story that caught my interest, they are so short and so few between that it wasn’t enough to redeem this book in my eyes. While I recognize that it was probably a personal labor of love for Tolkien, it may not have been the best choice to release the book as is.
I like to read but in this novel I just could not keep up with who, what, where, when and why and it really took from my enjoyment. Die hard fans of Tolkien and history buffs may derive pleasure from reading this book, but I certainly did not.
442 pages including appendix