Silmarillion Readalong: November Post

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

You know how people talk about the holidays being an extremely busy time? For some reason, I have never really experienced that before. I was busy, but I was so used to being busy anyway that I suppose it didn't feel any different. WELL, this year, I'm feeling it. My parents hosted Thanksgiving at their house for the first time ever, meaning that Thanksgiving was crazy busy, we are going on a cruise in two weeks, meaning I need to get Christmas ready and I feel like I need to squeeze 25 days worth of traditions into 18, and of course, the ever-present finals blues are already sinking in. I have slept 9 hours of the last 48. I guess 9.5, if you count the illicit nap I took this afternoon.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I am making excuses for my woefully short and poorly thought-out post on the Silmarillion. Yeah, if I am going to write woefully short and poorly thought-out blog posts, I should probably just skip the post altogether. But... here it is anyway:

So, the Silmarillion is an LOTR nerd's paradise. It gives background into the origins of the Elves, before men ever came to earth. We learn about the early lives of characters like Galadriel and Elrond. We also receive glimpses into some of the songs and stories that are told when the characters are journeying. For this, my inner nerd rejoices.

However, occasionally it is guilty of giving a little bit more information than I care about, I am finding. For example, there are paragraphs and pages of information about the division of the lands, the rulers of the different areas, etc. etc. I avoid maps at all costs, so these chapters were like chloroform for me. Also, there are many, many Elven characters whose names start with the letter F. Fingolfin, Feanor, Finwe, Felegund, shall I go on? I occasionally become confused, trying to keep track of which character offended the Valar and which character lead the Noldor and which type of Elf (I feel like I never see "Elf" in the singular in Tolkien's books... seeing it in the singular makes me think of elves as in Santa) lives where. My book is very convenient in having a glossary at the back, but occasionally I get tired of looking things up. Even though I am a closet LOTR nerd, sometimes I don't care quite enough to study the material. I just want to read it, if that makes sense.

However, there are certainly good moments. There are two stories in particular that I have read over the last month that are intriguing and passionate -- I loved reading about Aredhel and the way she grew tired of her home, went into the shadowy forest, and fell into an unhappy, oppressive marriage -- stories like that seem more relatable than the epic battles sometimes. And I'm right in the middle of the story of Luthien and Beren -- that is an exciting tale. I love that Luthien goes right into the center of the action with Beren -- no standing back and waiting to be rescued for this lady. I also absolutely adore the hound Huan, even though I am a self-professed hater of "dog books" -- this character is so faithful and human-like and endearing.

To sum up my experience this month, there are a lot of pages that I have been skimming... yes, I admit it... but there have also been a few that have great stories, stories that I might even revisit. There is plenty of good material in The Silmarillion if you are willing to dig a bit.

If you are participating in the read-along, feel free to link up below!


  1. "the Silmarillion is an LOTR nerd's paradise." Laughed my socks off at this. And I SO agree.

    Unfortunately, I have eaten my word and not even started rereading The Silmarillion. Sorry.

    It's true all those names are confusing until you have read it at least a couple of times. But then it's awesome to how large proportions Tolkien developed his myths.

    The Beren and Luthien story is one of my favourites, too - I like Luthien being an active female character. I haven't thought about Aredhel's story in your way till now, but you have a point there.

    Interesting, you mention your dislike of maps and all the lands descriptions. I am just the opposite. I am the kind of reader who looks up the places I read about in a map. I'm weird like that:)

    Great post! You mentioned all the important things. I am reading The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun as the fourth book and I hope to review it soon. And then I might even feel like getting to The Silmarillion.

  2. You are fine! If the book isn't working for you right now you shouldn't have to read it. That is funny that you really enjoy the descriptions -- they drive me crazy! I have a copy of Sigurd and Gudrun -- I hope I have time to read it next year.

  3. Amazing! For the past few days I have been rereading The Silmarillion for the first time in probably something like 30 years. I remember first reading it shortly after it came out in the late-70s. I am really, really enjoying this reread too. It is a beautifully written--poetically so--mythology of Tolkien's Middle Earth.

    It is interesting (to me, anyway), but I made my way back to Tolkien's Middle Earth via my immersion in his 1925 work editing the Middle English Arthurian epic poem, Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight, and his subsequent translation of the poem published posthumously in 1975.

    I also strongly recommend his The Children of Hurin and The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun too. They are both superb works of literature. The Children of Hurin is a much longer fleshed-out version of the chapter in The Silmarillion entitled, "Of Turin Turambar" and is so tragic and so beautiful. The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun is Tolkien's brilliant efforts at retelling some of the Old Norse sagas in the alliterative style of Beowulf or the Poetic Edda.

    I hope you enjoy the rest of your reading of The Silmarillion. Have a wonderful weekend. Cheers! Chris

  4. I had to laugh at your point about Elf singular... I am not at all a LOTR person so I think of Santa Claus anytime anyone mentions them, usually in a LOTR context...

  5. @Christopher - I just finished the chapter about Turin Turumbar and now I am so excited to read The Children of Hurin. I have it in my stack of things to read, along with Sigurd and Gudrun, which I am also excited for because I want to learn more about Norse mythology. Thank you for your insights!

    @Yvann - Haha that is awesome. It's the right time of year...


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