SJay's Reviews: The Silmarillion
Forget what you read in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Forget even the Children of Hurin. If you're picking up The Silmarillion and expecting just another Tolkien mind blowing story... you're going to be hugely disappointed. Don't get me wrong, this book is mind blowing, to say the least, but it's not a story. It's more like a religious tome. So read it as you would read mythical tales or historical manuscripts.
The myth developed in this book is fascinating, how Eru Iluvatar - the equivalent of our God - created the world from music, how his Valar/Ainur - or our archangels - took charge of making Eru's vision come true, and how Melkor - or Lucifer - wanted to disrupt the music and create music of his own. It took me a few months to go through the book. Not because it's boring, but because I started reading it expecting a thrilling tale such as the other mentioned books. And when I was faced with the many names and simple statements of 'history' that sort of slowed me down and I put the book aside for a while (I was very busy and didn't feel so 'hooked'). Then, after a month I decided to pick the book up again. I had read about a third of it. And that's exactly where the story got juicy.
So ,The Silmarillion discusses the history of creation of all that is: Valar, Eldar (the first born, the elves), Edain (men), Naugrim (dwarves), as well as the whole world as it was, before it settled on Middle Earth. The book tells the wars of elves, and how they finally defeated Melkor. It also tells of the famous characters among elves and men, though the story focuses mainly on elves. Furthermore, the world this book sucks you into is just marvelous. Tolkien, as ever, has written an impeccable story that is perfectly described. It seems to the reader that this author can actually see the world he describes, and writes these events from memory.
One amazing thing about this book is how it seems to merge every mythical and biblical religion in the western world. It introduces God as the all mighty, with his archangels, which people mistook as gods themselves. These 'valar' have an uncanny resemblance to Norse gods, and they each represent an element in creation. They have seen God's vision and seek to make it come true. Also, there is Melkor, the one valar that did not want to obey and sought to create his very own music, and was furious every time he realized that he cannot create, but simply 'taint' Iluvatar's creation. Furthermore, the afterlife of elves is explained, yet that of man is left unknown, as Iluvatar didn't share this bit with the Valar. This shows Tolkien's respect for actual creation, as he did not seek to make up explanations, but left it to be explained by each person's own belief.
At the end of the book, I found my tears rolling involuntarily. The elves leave middle earth as their days are over, and this is maybe the saddest part of the book. Characters live and love and die and live again, and it's all sad... but the moment you read the last lines from The Silmarillion you feel a sudden depression landing on your chest because despite this being the dawn of a new age, it is such a sad thing that such a mighty race has to leave.
"In the twilight of autumn it sailed out of Mithlond, until the seas of the Bent World fell away beneath it, and the winds of the round sky troubled it no more, and borne upon the high airs above the mist of the world it passed into the Ancient West, and an end was come to the Eldar of story and of song."