It reads like the Bible. That was my first thought, and originally I disliked it. Now, having thought it over, I can appreciate the benefits which came from the choice to structure it in this manner, and I can see why Tolkien chose to do so. The Silmarillion, you see, is less a story, and more a history of Middle Earth. Starting with the creation myth, it tells the tale of Middle Earth through the three ages. Admittedly it only touches on the Third Age, with a brief account of the Rings of Power, but it adds context and detail to Tolkien’s most famous works.
The Silmarillion is something which, I think, you only read if you are really into Lord of the Rings. We don’t actually have it in the school library, so I’m hiding it in the reviews for The Magical Worlds of the Lord of the Rings. I say hiding. It’s the only review. I do happen to be ‘really into Lord of the Rings’ so I bought it (much to the disgust of my mum who thinks I’m getting obsessed. “Obsessed?” I question, deliberately not looking at the top shelf of my bookshelf.) and read it. Within one day I was informed by a fellow student that they couldn’t finish it, and that it was a difficult read. I Took this as a challenge, and knew that I would finish it or die trying. Obviously I didn’t die, so here are my thoughts:
I didn’t find it that difficult. Once I had got over the writing style, it was fascinating, and while I maybe can’t remember as much about it as I can about The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, I’m chalking that down to the fact that I’ve read them all multiple times, and this only once. Despite the obvious difficulties (the number of Quenya and Sindarin names was frankly impossible to keep track of, but I had fun flicking to the back of the book to translate them) I learned a lot, and I particularly enjoyed it when I came across bits of history that I already knew. Finding Galadriel and Celeborn was particularly fun, as was the discovery of Elrond. It was truly fascinating, but mildly irritating to realise that I have been pronouncing Celeborn incorrectly, because I skimmed that section of the appendices.
Other parts were sad to the point of being heart-breaking. The story of Beleg and Turin was especially sad, and I think that it may be beneficial for me to read The Children of Hurin next, because I think that they are related. In an effort to avoid spoilers, I will not reveal why it was so upsetting; suffice it to say that I nearly cried, and that I will be re-reading it as soon as possible.
Overall it is an interesting read, but probably only for those who already like Middle Earth in a rather drastic manner. Not a good introduction to Tolkien but superb if you want to find out more. Also, I bested someone else! Always a good thing.