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Old 10-27-2006, 02:18 PM   #1
Durelin
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Silmaril Why is it so difficult?

I see this come up a lot, but I don't think there's actually been a thread about it before. Just tell me if I'm wrong.

A lot of people say they find The Silmarillion difficult to read, or that they find it boring, or maybe just less exciting that The Lord of the Rings. (And I know probably just as many people like it more than LotR.)

What is it that makes The Silmarillion more difficult for you (or anyone) to read? What makes it (more) 'boring' (to some)?

I think, in a way, it takes someone who is at least moderately into either history or mythology (or both) to be interested in it. It might be more difficult to read than typical mythology (at least, Greek and Roman mythology, which I am most familiar with - but from what I've read of say, Hindu mythology, I think it's similar in that respect), too, if only because it is so lengthy and in-depth. Greek and Roman mythologies, and I think most others, come in the form of short, entertaining stories, because they were, in fact, written down only after years and years of being told orally, and when stories were told orally, they were meant to entertain, and obviously would have been constructed differently from something that was straight text.

Or is it just that history is boring? (This is being asked by someone who considered being a history major, so watch how you answer.)

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Old 10-27-2006, 02:28 PM   #2
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Well, I always hated history in school because the history books were so blamed boring. I love history in itself...but when the history books about history are boring...

The Sil., when I first picked it up, was difficult for me because it was in that historical form type writing at first. It's not like a regular novel or book of fiction. However, when I finally picked it up and read all of it, even though it took me a long time to read, I found that it was and incredible book.

It's not like the LotR or the Hobbit, that you can just sit and read it for hours and hours at a time. It takes more thought and there's a much bigger load in it than just a tale of a few characters being told. It's the whole world's story that's being told. The characters come and go...you grow attached to one man and in ten pages, he's gone.

History is not boring. It's just...you can't read it the same as a piece of regular fiction.

-- Folwren
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Old 10-27-2006, 04:28 PM   #3
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I love the Silm but I believe some have difficutly because while it is all connected it's not a very cohesive story line. Unlike most books the start and finish is with one character or group of individuals and their quest or story. The Silm is based on the objects not the people.
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Old 10-27-2006, 05:21 PM   #4
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It took me a few tries to read the Silm. Each time was difficult for a different reason. First attempt: gave up due to the idea that "Oh Freaking What The? It's like reading a direct rip off of the Bible. And in the beginning there was... Gah!"

Second try I got through Eru and collapsed at the lists of people's children. I didn't want to take notes to keep track of characters. I was supposed to be reading for the fun of it.

Third try I couldn't stomach trying to keep everybody that was running around Belariand in the correct order and location.

Fourth try I managed it, but it was tough.

Now I view it as an unfinished work that vaguely annoys me to try and read as a whole. Basically, if I want to know something, I google it or ask Formendacil. It's, quite frankly, easier.
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Old 10-28-2006, 12:27 AM   #5
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The amount of times I have heard people say: I liked LotR, but couldn't get into The Silmarillion. I now tell them that once reading LotR again go straight to the back of The Sil and read Of The Rings of Power and The Third Age. Therein they meet familiar Characters and Places, and also new ones, you can almost read the chapters backwards, like researching your family history. Everyone who has read LotR should have an inkling of what The Downfall of Numenor is about. I think there are three different parts of The Sil, they are:

1. The Beginning: Nearly impossible to take in at first, an alien story.

2. The Middle: The Edges of your mind and memory are touched by the faintest beginnings of recognition.

3. The End: Hey I know that name, I've heard this somewhere before.

I really quite like the old book now.......HOOOOOOOM
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Old 10-28-2006, 01:03 AM   #6
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Nice idea narfforc!

The 'shock' some people get is from passing from something with such a great plot and narrative right into the Sil that's written in a very different style. Plus as narfforc says, unfamiliar characters!

A tip: photocopy the maps and family trees, use 'em as book marks and then you've a handy reference to refer to when you get confused with all these new names and places that Tolkien throws out at a rate of 100 per page (or it feels like that anyway).

I think that once The Children of Hurin is published there will be a 'bridge' between LotR and the Sil, in terms of a story that takes the unsuspecting reader across that big gap of style.
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Old 10-28-2006, 02:27 AM   #7
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This coming from one who had just recently tried to re-read the Silm completely...and failed...

Too many names. At first it was easy, when you could distinguish OlwŰ and ElwŰ from FinwŰ and IngwŰ and you were about done, but when Tolkien started expounding on almost everyone's life stories (naturally inevitable) and kept adding new names to the mix it started to get kind of confusing. Especially when those pesky Mortals joined in the fun...

Also, there's something about the different literary style that's not too...captivating. Granted, LotR also tends to be on the boring side, but at least the conversations were a bit closer to home. And not everyone has English as a first language.

Reading Silm, though, was an excellent warm-up to crawling through Leviticus and Numbers and 1 Chronicles.

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Old 10-28-2006, 07:30 PM   #8
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I started reading the Silm right after I finished LOTR, at age eight. I was torn between being awestruck by the timespan and magnitude of the events being covered, and bored because the stories simply weren't told in the detailed manner of the LOTR - the style issue you mentioned. It made it very difficult for names to become characters and places I could visualize. I have the same problem with history: I enjoy it when it depicts the details of people's experience, but when it's condensed to the point of a list of names and generalizations, it does get tedious.
As for my Silm reading project, I lost the book halfway through. It's high time I bought another and finished it - it may not seem so difficult anymore!
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Old 10-30-2006, 09:13 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lal
A tip: photocopy the maps and family trees, use 'em as book marks and then you've a handy reference to refer to when you get confused with all these new names and places that Tolkien throws out at a rate of 100 per page (or it feels like that anyway).
That almost makes it sound like homework.

Actually, I enjoy looking at maps and family trees... I know this book has a bunch of family trees in the back: The Complete Guide to Middle-earth.

And then there's this awesome book for maps (which I know pio especially has suggested many times): The Atlas of Middle-earth.

The problem is, using so many books (okay, so only two, specifically) just to read one book makes one feel less like their reading it for fun, even if it is enjoyable.

In at least my copy of the Sil there is a glossary of names in the back, so at least that helps. Really, though, I find myself completely capable of reading about people even if I forget who they are, or reading about an event even though I have no real idea when it occured in relation to other events. But then when it comes to looking at the big picture, I'm at a complete loss. Is it about the big picture, though? Is there something that the Sil as a whole relates about ME, or is it just a lot of pieces of history, each relating to ME in their own ways? Is it incredibly cohesive, or can you read parts of it separately (then, of course, you're not getting the big picture, but how important is the big picture?)?

Having too many names is a common complaint for not only the Sil but other fantasy books. One fantasy series in particular that I hear people complaining about a lot in the way is The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, because there are so many different characters...
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Old 10-30-2006, 10:01 AM   #10
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Why is it so difficult?
It's laziness on my part. Ironically I like history-the whys and hows. But I've been out of school awhile and hate when I have to research or take notes on anything unless I really, really want to.

I read Silm once-and it was a struggle. I read it for entertainment value and because of its choppiness it didn't hold my attention. Don't get me wrong, I came through with a better understanding of the background to LOTR and there were a few good stories within it but to recommend it or read it through again, no thank you!
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Old 10-30-2006, 10:21 AM   #11
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I was kind of like Fea and morm combined, and this is probably why I only read the Sil completely through once.

It's really a story I didn't enjoy, or not in the way that I enjoy Lord of the Ring. I think this is where the problem occurs of reading the Sil.

As morm says it feels incohesive. Yes, there's this timeline of events, but it's not really one set storyline like there is in LOTR. We also have to remember the manner in which The Sil was put together. As CT talks about, doing so was a huge and difficult task, as trying to fit together the best and most cohesive story as was possible. The Sil was more or less a collection of stories that took place over a long period of time. He wanted to put together the Sil into a rough timeline creating a clear story. But, it doesn't work to the same effect LOTR did, because it's a collection of mini stories.

I didn't get the same feel as I do when reading LOTR. LOTR there is a lot of progression as this is a story spanning a little over a year about Frodo's journey with the Ring and Aragorn's journey of becoming a King. Now there is some background and historical information, but it felt much more like a story and it was put together. This was easy to do, and to show developement and progress of the characters, because it focused around one story in a rather small amount of time.

With The Silmarillion, it is a history over several thousand years, so it feels choppy, I didn't feel as connected to the characters. I think Folwren referring to it as a history book fits in quite right. As The Sil is a group of stories spanning over a vast period of time...to do to The Sil what Tolkien did to LOTR would be virtually impossible.

Also as Fea put it, it's just so many facts and information to digest. To digest all that info I mean my mind would just simply explode. So, I treat The Sil more as something to refer to, if I'm looking for an argument to discuss/debate, rather than a story to sit down and read like LOTR.
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Old 10-30-2006, 11:44 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Durelin
That almost makes it sound like homework.
That's because it is.....Tolkien was not a teacher for nothing. He knew exactly how to keep us on his Straight Path....

Seriously though. There's no need to stress out over the Sil, as it does not have to be read as a 'novel', in fact its often better read in chunks or sections, even just in chapters, as Boromir88 and narfforc have suggested. Just select tales you like and read those to begin with, if that's something you're more comfortable with. Don't worry too much about all the names and places, just enjoy each story, as each one has its own narrative and structure, and each one is different.
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Old 10-30-2006, 11:44 AM   #13
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Tolkien

Well, I haven't read the Silmarillion yet, but my friend who did isn't a fan. Like everyone else said, he thought it was 'alright'. I'll get around to reading it one day and judging for myself.
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Old 10-30-2006, 11:46 AM   #14
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Quote:
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Well, I haven't read the Silmarillion yet, but my friend who did isn't a fan. Like everyone else said, he thought it was 'alright'. I'll get around to reading it one day and judging for myself.
Give it a go, it's worth it!

My mate thinks its better than LotR, and I'm sure there are people here who would agree.
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Old 10-30-2006, 12:40 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LalwendŰ
My mate thinks its better than LotR, and I'm sure there are people here who would agree.
A lot of it's just formatting. It's not so much the lack of continuity or the info lists in the Silm that are scary hard. It's that it's all structured in such a way as that you look for continuity in vain. It would be an easier read, I think, if seperated into sections or "short stories" instead of chapters.

At the same time, the difficulty of the read insists upon a certain level of commitment. You finish it feeling - So what if you don't remember any of the names? - a certain level of pride and accomplishment.
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Old 10-30-2006, 12:49 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LalwendŰ
Give it a go, it's worth it!

My mate thinks its better than LotR, and I'm sure there are people here who would agree.
Aye. I tend to like it better but that does waiver from time to time. Overall I like some of the stories in The Silm better than LotR...can you imagine that one of those is the story of Turin?
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Old 10-30-2006, 01:21 PM   #17
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Silmaril

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lal
My mate thinks its better than LotR, and I'm sure there are people here who would agree.
Neither better nor worse. They're just too different to be compared.

I read the Sil for the first time a few years ago. The beginning was horrifying. The first few chapters incredibly dragged. Sure, you get to know about Elbereth and the dwarves and it's all quite interesting, but it's really painful to read through it. And then comes the ultimate character overkill in "Of Eldamar". I guess the only way to keep on reading at this point is to completely forget about all the names: each of them will be introduced again, in a proper way and mostly seperate.
Things got more interesting when I reached the Rebellion of the Noldor. Now I finally had a plot to follow and actually started wondering what might happen next and my reading sped up. By the time I reached the 'classic' hero stories of Beren and L˙thien and T˙rin I was into it. Every evening I read one chapter and even though the chapters are only loosely connected, I still felt the story flow.

When I was through at last I immediately read it again, and finally the early chapters made sense and it became a whole. narfforc's suggestion to read from end to beginning might really be worth a shot.

To me, The Silmarillion is much more of a 'fantasy story' than The Lord of the Rings. The LotR presents you a fantastic story that you can just read from beginning to end without interruptions. The Sil clearly demands a little more from its reader. You actually have to utilise your own imagination and fantasy to make it come to life. Imagine the Sil was written with as much detail as the LotR. It'd be of the length of the whole HoMe, just plain story, no notes, no repetition. But the Sil doesn't present this to the reader, the reader has to do it itself.
Well, this is the way I see the Silmarillion. I hope this does not sound as unpleasurable as homework. It certainly wasn't (and is, I'm still 'writing' that story in my mind) for me.
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Old 10-30-2006, 01:42 PM   #18
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I think it's actually quite fair to say that it can seem like homework, because so many of us have been conditioned into feeling like "this is work, and this isn't." These days (gah, I used the phrase! First, it is an abused phrase. Second, I am only 17 years old and I know quite well that I am not justified in saying it. But I'm using it anyway! Just try and stop me!) anything that really stimulates the mind isn't largely considered enjoyable. When I tell people (normally around my age) that I enjoy very much simply reading and writing, they look at me like I'm nuts. This is how many people look at it, but certainly not all (otherwise I really wouldn't get along with anyone). There is plenty of example of people (around my age) who don't look at it like that here on the 'Downs...


Quote:
To me, The Silmarillion is much more of a 'fantasy story' than The Lord of the Rings.
That's really interesting, because I think the opposite. I feel like LotR is a fantasy story, while the Sil is more like a myth. But I find defining those to be difficult.

And personally, I think LotR takes quite a lot of imagination and thought to really realize and visualize it. I almost think that, though the characters and the plot itself is easier to follow (because it's one overall plot and one overall set of characters) in LotR than in the Sil, keeping up with the physical descriptions can be tiring. A strong ability in spatial reasoning is not something I possess, and I found it difficult to imagine settings when Tolkien described them, and he spent quite a bit describing them, I think.

As for writing the story yourself, I think we do that all the time in the RP forums.
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Old 10-30-2006, 02:46 PM   #19
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Perhaps I gave the wrong impression. Yes, it is like a History book, but I never considered like some bit of homework.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MatthewM
Well, I haven't read the Silmarillion yet, but my friend who did isn't a fan. Like everyone else said, he thought it was 'alright'. I'll get around to reading it one day and judging for myself.
Do read it. It is excellent. It took me a long time (and two tries) to read it, but when I finally finished it, I was more than happy I'd read it.

Some of my favorite books takes a long time to read and long time to get into. For instance, Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is an incredible book and I love it, but I've only read it once, because it is difficult to get into. Same as the Sil. That book is awesome, really it is, it's just...harder. And yet, it seems, many, many times in life, the harder something is to accomplish, the greater the outcome.

-- Folwren
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Old 10-30-2006, 03:20 PM   #20
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I think a lot of the problems people have with the Sil is that Tolkien wrote it in the style of genuine Mythology. Pick up a copy of the Mabinogion and you will experience the same style, slightly distant and 'high', a sense that the text was not written in the same century which produced The Hobbit. This is a huge shock following close on the heels of one of the greatest and most readable narratives of all time, LotR.

But once you get over the shock, there are some beautiful and terrifying stories to be found inside. This is Tolkien's Dark Work, and has some amazing ideas within. Spider beings which devour Light. Incest. Vampires. Werewolves. Revenge. Some of the stories bring us things which we might not have expected to find in Tolkien, such as Byronic figures; there's one in Eol, who has always appealed to me as a dark male figure, living alone in the woods, enchanting a beautiful woman (bit like Mr Rochester at the end of Jane Eyre, possibly?). Brrr.

So yes, if struggling, approach it in another way. Begin at the end. Or with the tale that most interests you.
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Old 10-30-2006, 07:50 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LalwendŰ
So yes, if struggling, approach it in another way. Begin at the end. Or with the tale that most interests you.
Yes, that actually works. Sometimes when I jump to specific tales on certain characters just because I want to remember what happened, I couldn't stop reading more; it's always, "Oh yeah, then what happens after this again?"

Sometimes even just going through the index can prompt one to read the book again!
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Old 11-03-2006, 11:38 AM   #22
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I don't like it as much. As mentioned by others earlier in this thread, there are too many small stories. Also, it is a depressing read. It becomes clear very early on that the good guys are always going to screw up, at every opportunity, and let the bad guys win. Even when the victory seems final, it never is, but I guess that's just a dose of reality.
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Old 11-03-2006, 03:52 PM   #23
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I first bought my copy of The Silmarillion in June 2002. I think it was a result of joining the Barrow Downs. Before joining, I hadn't really even heard of the book, but it was so talked about on the Downs. I felt absolutely clueless in some discussions and decided it was necessary to read it. Besides, I was curious. I read the first chapter and admit I found it incredibly boring. I didn't attempt to continue and instead got myself distracted by another fantasy series I still enjoy. I didn't pick up The Silmarillion again until the beginning of 2003- I decided that it was time I finally read the darned thing.

Getting through The Silmarillion was tough- it took months to finish it. Perhaps my difficulty with it was partially due to my age, after all I was only fourteen at the time. Like others who have posted on this thread, I found the book complex, full of too many characters and stories. Often, I felt like I was reading a history textbook, sometimes skimming through the most difficult parts. But as soon I was ready to give up on The Silmarillion, I would find a chapter that intrigued me. Such examples were the stories of Turin, and Beren and Luthien. Such chapters were what drove me to the end. And though I finished The Silmarillion still puzzled by much of its content, ultimately I was glad I read it. While some of the book was confusing, I still learned a lot and understood Middle-earth in ways I hadn't before.

Almost four years later, and I'm thinking it's about time I re-read The Silmarillion. After all, over the years I've seemed to forgotten much of its content. Even the story of Turin has grown cloudy for me. Besides I found through my experiences of re-reading LotR, that reading a book a second time can truly help one to understand it better. After re-reading The Silmarillion, perhaps I'll even start on HoME. I've owned the first book for years, yet it has remained untouched, save for when I took it with me to college. (Then my perfectly conditioned book became partially ruined from water damage due to the poor handling of my checked luggage- that happened three months ago and I'm still bitter about it. Anyways, that experience is a long story and I won't get into it....)
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Old 01-02-2007, 01:41 AM   #24
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Firstly,history is never boring.At least I think so.
Secondly,I think that Sil is a little bit "dry",because it does not contain so much action,but merely facts.I think that those who read it just have to have the proper expectations.
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Old 01-02-2007, 06:03 AM   #25
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I didn't quit expierience it as boring, perhaps only the beginning about the creattion, it was sort of difficult to understand and I personally didn't find it quit intresting. Also it is af course not really a story, it's more a history reccord. It doesn't have any main character's or anything. Af course the Hobbit and LoTR are real story's perhaps some people are preparing for that when they start reading the Silmarillion? I've always been told it was very very boring when I starded reading it, so it was much better then I expected

Also I know people who found it so sophisticated that they kept notes to remember who everybody was, it is quit hard to keep up with everything because there are so many people featured in it. Personally I havae to admit that sometimes I didn't understand it because I forgot who exactly the person who was featured in that chapter actually was...

But af course after a while you get to learn everybody and you understand everything better, but I did find it very hard to keep up how all people were related together... I think for instance that from the biggest part of the sons of Feńnor I only found out they were sons of Feńnor like half way through the book, when the eldest of Feńnors sons died or and it said that the elf was now the eldest son of Feńnor....

Though after reading it all I only found the beginning of how all was creatted confusion and perhaps a little boring...
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Old 01-03-2007, 02:55 PM   #26
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Pipe

I loved reading the Silmarillion. I have always been a history buff and reading the history of Tolkien's world was rather enjoyable for me.
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Old 01-25-2007, 10:25 AM   #27
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Come on the Silmarillion is brilliant - the image of Fingon's speech at the Battle of Unnumbered Tears 'Night is Over' stirs my heart, so does Hurin's stand against the trolls 'Day Will Come Again!' , the Shakespearien tragedy of Turin, the beautiful love story of Luthien and Beren 'Tinuviel, Tinuviel', Earendil's final voyage... I've found a book so full packed full of brilliance.
The only fault is I'd wish CT had added more detail to the actual Silmarillion that was in the Unfinished Tales like the tale of Tuor and I found his description of hurin's defiance of Melkor magic!
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Old 01-28-2007, 04:16 AM   #28
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Palantir-Green

I first read the Sil a while ago, but only after reading about the various gods and stories elsewhere, like in the Encyclopaedia of Arda. This probably gave me some background to decipher the more complex texts and I had it read in a fortnight or maybe less. I was 13 at the time.

Much of it is beautiful, the Last Stand of Dor-Lomin stirs my heart. Hurin is my favourite character, over Turin and Fingolfin. I imagine vividly Earendil returning with a star upon his brow, can see the fire in Feanor's eye as he pursues Gothmog and Morgoth's forces. I like how Men are not considered pure, but easily tempted, and free to choose their own path. I also like how it isn't the goodies who get away with it, it's not predictable like most stories. One of my favourite things about it is that Aragorn's son (can't remember his name) is so far down the line he has a strain of Maiar, Teleri, Noldor, Vanyar and Dunedain (check it you'll see). I positively like the Silmarillion. It probably is a difficult book for most teenagers but I found it very intriguing.

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Old 01-28-2007, 10:24 AM   #29
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Pick up a copy of the Mabinogion and you will experience the same style, slightly distant and 'high', a sense that the text was not written in the same century which produced The Hobbit.
That's exactly right, and reading that book was the only way I got through the Silmarillion. I went from The Hobbit to LotR and from there I tried to go straight onto the Sil but got bogged down by the 347 names beginning with F somewhere in the middle. I moved on to Arthur and those stories and finally returned to the Sil many years later. It was still a struggle to get through it and it certainly warrants a re-read as I remember little of it, but many of the stories were excellent and I personally greatly enjoyed the beginning.
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Old 01-28-2007, 10:58 AM   #30
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I was looking at Waterstone's in-shop magazine yesterday (didn't buy it because it's ú1.99 and I'm tight) and there was a tiny paragraph about The Children of Hurin - it said something about "anyone who's ever struggled with The Silmarillion...."

Way to go Waterstone's! Not. I think that might put a few prospective buyers off Children... and judging by the amount of Harry Potter advertising all over the shop it looks like there will be no Children Of Hurin release date midnight opening....
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Old 01-28-2007, 11:03 AM   #31
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I do think we're rather convinced of what should be "entertaining" and what shouldn't be, as well as what should be difficult...and if it isn't difficult, then you're a loser nerd with no friends.

And I see people have been assuming that I'm the one complaining - I'm not; I was just asking why others find it difficult, because I hear a lot about it being "work" for people. Personally, I have only not read the Silmarillion yet (though I've read pieces) because I have not found the time, sadly. Too many books to read, too little time...perhaps that's the real difficulty.
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Old 01-28-2007, 02:06 PM   #32
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It comes down to what I heard on a different thread, there's those who like the LOTR story and those who like the LOTR world. If you like the story but not the millions of place-names and dates, don't read the Silmarillion. If you're over the story (like me) but still want to learn about the world, by all means read it.
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Old 01-28-2007, 02:42 PM   #33
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Silmaril

Interesting question.

It did take me a couple tries to get through the Sil. I think it is the style, mainly, that makes it a little harder than LOTR. It's written in a more archaic style, which can make it a little less accessable.

My initial response was like Fea's: This reads like the Bible. I didn't make it through that time.

The second time I picked it up, I skimmed over the first part about the creation, which I think was a good move to make. It gets less Bible-ish later on, or perhaps I just became accustomed to the style quicker. I discovered that I really enjoyed the story of Turin...but the rest had taken too long to read, and there was still quite a ways to go. And I gave it up again.

The third time I started Sil, I read the thing from start to finish (almost). Something just clicked with me, and I felt myself falling into Middle-earth again. The last chapter or two remain unread, not because I gave up, but because I was struck with the realization that this would be the last new Tolkien I would ever read. So I stopped. I wanted to save it. For what or until when, I don't know...but I didn't want to read it. Because after that, it would be all over, and I didn't want it to end.

I still haven't read those last pages. Now, there is a "new" book coming, so I think that over spring break, I'll pick Sil up again, start from the beginning, and read all the way to the end.

I think that a lot of what's so difficult about Silmarillion is that it is different from Lord of the Rings. LOTR reads cohesively. It is highly descriptive, and doesn't get bogged down in long lists of who is related to whom. Silmarillion is a more episodic story, spread out over a much wider range of time. Everything connects, but you could pick it up, open it to a chapter of your choice, and start there, and probably be no more lost than you would be if you started at the beginning.

I think another problem could be that it's something like the issues people have with Shakespeare: It sounds different! It's too hard! I can't read this!...when really, it's pretty much the same language as our own, and it's only really difficult because everyone says it is--just the power of suggestion. The style may take a little longer to figure out at first, but once you get into the rhythm of it, it flies right by.

I think it's hard, also, to find the chunk of time required to read the Silmarillion. It took me longer to read than LOTR, partly because increased demands of school meant that I couldn't just curl up with a blanket and the book and spend my days lying on the couch and reading...and partly because it took me some time to get accustomed to the style differences. If you can find the appropriate window of time to dedicate to the effort, it's worth the read.
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Old 01-29-2007, 10:42 AM   #34
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Didn't find it particularly "difficult" at all. I'd actually read it before reading LoTR, over 20 years ago, and have since re-read it many more times than LoTR. It's just a matter of letting go of your preconceptions of novelistic convention, and being prepared to go with the flow rather get too hung up on who's doing what at any particular moment.

Of course, once the Silmarillion bug bites, it bites for good.
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Old 02-03-2007, 03:30 PM   #35
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It's written from a third person perspective and much denser style writing than TLOTR, and the story line is not as interesting as in the Rings .
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Old 02-04-2007, 02:18 PM   #36
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I'd beg to disagree, but it's just a difference of opinion.

The storyline has far more potential to be interesting, but it's told in a more detached manner. It's obvious that if one got up close enough to see the whites of their eyes, Beren & Luthien (to pick an example) could very easily make a book as long as LoTR, and with as much incident and excitement in it.
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Old 01-11-2008, 09:18 AM   #37
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They're both first rate books. But I think the Silmarillion is more of a text book of history and Lord of the Rings/Hobbit are stories.

I think one of the reasons that it is so confusing is because it has Belierand in it, and for someone who has just read the Lord of the Rings that can be very confusing.

I still remember that I spent the first four chapters trying to find out what Belierand was.
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Old 05-19-2009, 01:46 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by narfforc View Post
The amount of times I have heard people say: I liked LotR, but couldn't get into The Silmarillion. I now tell them that once reading LotR again go straight to the back of The Sil and read Of The Rings of Power and The Third Age. Therein they meet familiar Characters and Places, and also new ones, you can almost read the chapters backwards, like researching your family history. Everyone who has read LotR should have an inkling of what The Downfall of Numenor is about. I think there are three different parts of The Sil, they are:

1. The Beginning: Nearly impossible to take in at first, an alien story.

2. The Middle: The Edges of your mind and memory are touched by the faintest beginnings of recognition.

3. The End: Hey I know that name, I've heard this somewhere before.

I really quite like the old book now.......HOOOOOOOM


My first attempt on The Silm (sounds' like I'm trying to conquer Everest here, and in some respects the analogy is true), was about 30 years ago when I was a teenager with lots of spare time on my hands.

I had just completed & enjoyed both The Hobbit & Lord Of The Rings, so felt in the mood to carry on with Tolkien's adventure and purchase The Silm, rather naively expecting it to be a standard novel either following on from LOTR or some kind of backfil between the two tomes. How very very wrong I was!

I think by about page 30 I just gave up. Clearly this was no story in the typical or logical sense, but just a collection of random ideas, sketches & disorganised ramblings, was my initial critique of the book. And I believe it sat on my bookshelf gathering dust for another 15 years or so before I attempted the same task again.

But even second time around I found it to be quite inaccessible, confusing and generally quite frustrating with even trying to complete a couple of pages! So again I gave up the ghost and moved on.

I consider myself to be of average intelligence and enjoy books of all kinds; I even completed Stephen Hawkins' "A Brief History Of Time" twice and loved every moment. However, The Silm, is just out there on its own as a book I have failed to complete. But then after reading some of the opinions on here, I guess my expectations were set too high and that perhaps this book should not be read in the usual front2back way; but is a book to be dipped in back & forth. It is not a story in the true sense just a collection of historical events portrayed in various time lines and from different points of view.

I feel encouraged to read LOTR again very soon, but on completion I will then continue with The Silm, but this time taking the advice of Narfforc and read the chapters concerning The Third Age and The Rings of Power to begin with, and then more or less read the book backwards, which will hopefully accommplish my ambition if conquering The Silmarillion once and for all.
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Old 05-19-2009, 03:25 AM   #39
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To me, The Silmarillion is much more of a 'fantasy story' than The Lord of the Rings. The LotR presents you a fantastic story that you can just read from beginning to end without interruptions. The Sil clearly demands a little more from its reader. You actually have to utilise your own imagination and fantasy to make it come to life. Imagine the Sil was written with as much detail as the LotR. It'd be of the length of the whole HoMe, just plain story, no notes, no repetition. But the Sil doesn't present this to the reader, the reader has to do it itself.
A very good point here. To be read with enjoyment the Silmarillion absolutely demands that you utilize your imagination. Sit down in a comfortable chair, smoke a pipe for relaxation, and read slowly, very slowly. Ask yourself, how was it like on the plains of Ard-Galen on that cold winter night right before the Battle Of The Sudden Flame? What went through H˙rin's mind when he faced the bare walls of the Crissaegrim and realized there was no return to Gondolin or the high hopes of his youth. Try to imagine how it was like when Haleth and her people heard the horns of Caranthir just as the Orics broke though their last line of defence. Three lines in this book may contain events and character descriptions that would take up tree pages or more in LotR, and if you just rush on trying to finish the book, those events and characters are lost. In order to really enjoy all the fantastic storielines, you have read between the lines and capture them yourself.
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Old 05-19-2009, 06:09 AM   #40
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I definitely like LotR, Hobbit and the minor works more than the Sil, however I've found it to be helpful to read it with a specific interest in mind. I've recently gone through (= skimmed) almost all of Tolkien's works to find all references to music, and that has shown me interesting aspects. Suddenly there are connections between characters that I didn't see before.

So, if you are not the type of reader to take skip's advice and read it slowly, perhaps you will be able to get through if you read quickly and look for references to your favourite topic - dragons, swords, jewels, parent-children relationships, whatever. At any rate, use a copy in which you can underline interesting passages/quotes, so that you can find them when going back to the book.
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