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Old 08-26-2013, 04:11 PM   #1
TheLostPilgrim
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How to simplify the Lord of the Rings and Silmarillion?

How can I simplify the depth, beauty, themes and story of The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion down for someone who has NO CONCEPTION of it? I tried reading excerpts of the Silmarillion to my fiancee and she was lost. She has no idea about the Rings or anything or how it all weaves together...She was lost with all the names and events....Is there any simple wiki or anything along those lines which simplifies it greatly?

She's interested and I want to break it down for her....
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Old 08-26-2013, 05:13 PM   #2
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The Sil, is an early history of the Elves, from when the Powers entered Ea and began to contruct it to when Eru created the Elves who're known as the Firstborn. Basically it revolves around the deeds of the Noldor who are a strain of the Elves who're the most skilled with their hands, as one can see with the most exemplary of their kind, in Fėanor. It has to do with them and their fight with Melkor who stole the Silmarils, although many of the Noldor did not come to Beleriand, which was drowned after the First Age, to get back the Silmarils. They wanted realms of their own to rule over. One thing you should note is the Oath of Fėanor which sneaks up constantly on the Elves in their battles with Melkor. We also learn of the ancestors of the Nśmenóreans, who were the ancestors of people like Aragorn and some of the people in Gondor, like the Stewards House and a few other houses of Dunedain left in the South Kingdom. Now even though a lot of the story is about the Noldor and Melkor, there are stories about other Elves, the Sindar who did not go to the West, heroes from among the Edain, 3 marriages of the Edain and Elves which resulted in the Nśmenóreans and Elrond. We also learn of where the Dwarves came from, a creation of the Smith "God" Aule who was impatient of waiting for the First-Born.

The 2nd part of the Silmarillion is apparently written by Elendil himself, and it's about the Nśmenóreans and the 2nd Age of Middle Earth, the rise and fall of that people, and the eventual overthrow of the 2nd Dark Lord. Their rise is due to their deeds in the FA [As allies of the Eldar- Elves] and in the 2nd, and their fall is their falling out with the Elves and the Valar do to their longing for immortality played upon by Sauron.

There is a 3rd part which is a basically a summary of the Lord of the Rings. You learn about the creation of the Rings, why they were created and their role in the events of the War of the Ring. Basically the Lord of the Rings is about the One Ring and how it should be disposed of, whether used or destroyed and of course the best course is to destroy it which will not be easy. Its destruction will in the end finally bring about a new age ruled by Men as there are 2 kingdoms ruled by bearers of 2 of the Rings which will no longer be free from the cares of Middle-earth after the One is destroyed since all Rings are tied to the greater One Ring.
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Last edited by Belegorn; 08-26-2013 at 05:31 PM.
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Old 08-26-2013, 05:21 PM   #3
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I'd say in the LotR think of Gandalf as the mover, a kindler of spirits with his Ring of Fire [one of the 3 Elven Rings], Frodo and his Hobbit companions along with people like Éowyn as small people doing big things, and people like Aragorn, and the Dunedain of the North and South as echoes from an enchanted past, where there were High Men as opposed to other Men like the Middle Men of Rohan or descendants of the Edain who never went to Nśmenor.
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Old 08-29-2013, 08:53 AM   #4
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Even if you did manage to summarise everything in short description; the only way to really appreciate the beauty of Tolkiens work is to read it all many times.
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Old 08-29-2013, 09:06 AM   #5
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I'd start with LOTR, which is more accessible and less distant. And I'd start with the hobbits, who discover their wider world as we do. Probably with a passage from "The Shadow Of The Past," in which Gandalf introduces, really, what the story is going to be about.

Or play her that passage from the BBC dramatisation.

Welcome to the Downs, Mornorngur.
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Old 08-29-2013, 09:35 AM   #6
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Or possibly the last part of the Silmarillion: 'Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age'; its only about 20 pages and reads quite nicely.

Greetings Pervinca Took, thanks for the welcome , glad to be aboard.
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Old 08-29-2013, 01:16 PM   #7
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Honestly, I think you should just hand her the Lord of the Rings and tell her to read it. There's no way to really describe it.

Or if she's not a massive reader (and to be fair, LotR is a massive book), why not make a shared project out of it. Listen to the BBC adaptation or an audiobook version together, or maybe you could read the book to her as bedtime-stories.

If this still seems too much, read her your favourite poems, show your favourite pieces from Tolkien illustrators and if you fancy the PJ or the Bakshi movies, watch them with her. Most importantly, don't flood her with information and names of people and places, and stick to LotR first. If she reads it and gets enthusiastic, then you can start talking about the Silmarillion, but mind you there are many people who love LotR but don't really care about Sil.

All in all, if she's already curious about it, it shouldn't be too difficult. Don't stress about it!
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Old 08-30-2013, 06:44 AM   #8
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Honestly, I think you should just hand her the Lord of the Rings and tell her to read it. There's no way to really describe it.

Or if she's not a massive reader (and to be fair, LotR is a massive book), why not make a shared project out of it. Listen to the BBC adaptation or an audiobook version together, or maybe you could read the book to her as bedtime-stories.

If this still seems too much, read her your favourite poems, show your favourite pieces from Tolkien illustrators and if you fancy the PJ or the Bakshi movies, watch them with her. Most importantly, don't flood her with information and names of people and places, and stick to LotR first. If she reads it and gets enthusiastic, then you can start talking about the Silmarillion, but mind you there are many people who love LotR but don't really care about Sil.

All in all, if she's already curious about it, it shouldn't be too difficult. Don't stress about it!
I would also add that to make her read the Hobbit first would be a bad idea; great book and story, but is nothing like LOTR and is rather childish in general.
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Then Sauron laughed: 'Patience! Not long shall ye abide. But first a song
I will sing to you, to ears intent.' Then his flaming eyes he on them bent,
and darkness black fell round them all.
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Old 08-30-2013, 10:19 PM   #9
Belegorn
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The Hobbit got the whole thing started for me 16 years ago and is an excellent read.
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:09 AM   #10
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Well the Films got everything started for me, but now that I have actually read the books untold times, I can see how poor the films actually are and would never watch them again.

I am not saying the Hobbit is a bad story, I also love the story. However compared to LOTR, it is rather childish and for me does not display the true beauty of Middle-Earth.
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Then Sauron laughed: 'Patience! Not long shall ye abide. But first a song
I will sing to you, to ears intent.' Then his flaming eyes he on them bent,
and darkness black fell round them all.
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Old 09-02-2013, 11:47 AM   #11
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There is no one way to turn people onto Tolkien.

I recall some years ago stumbling on a long discussion in a forum about getting people into jazz. The forum went on for pages. And the methods of persuading people was varied. But every so often a post would appear something like:
I want very much to get into jazz and have tried. I have many friends who are very enthusiastic about jazz. I understand what people get out of it. But I still just find myself not very interested in it despite my attempts. I guess I am simply not interested in jazz though I would like to be.
The same goes for everything. People just aren’t all interested in the same thing. What turns on one person simply doesn’t turn on another.

I got some email about the time the first Jackson film on The Lord of the Rings from a woman in Indonesia who had seen the film and was totally entranced by it and wanted to read the books, and to read them properly in English as she did not think much of many Indonesian translations of English and could read and write English, though her native tongue was Indonesian. Her credit cards did not work in foreign countries so she wondered if I would be willing to purchase the book version of The Lord of the Rings for her from amazon.com and exchange them for something I would like from Indonesia. I suppose she had got my email from some web-forum.

We discussed CDs. During the exchange of conversations, which went on for some days, I got the impression this woman was very much interested in reading works in the right order. So I suggested she also order The Hobbit. She thought that reading the first book first made complete sense. Then I suggested The Silmarillion as the real first book. She thought that also made sense.

We agreed on editions, and I mailed the books to her. The CDs came to me from Indonesia shortly. Then she wrote me that the books had finally come. About a month later I wrote asking how she had found them. She told me that she was still on The Silmarillion and loved it. She was so busy at work she had not had time to read all of it. But she enjoyed The Silmarillion so much that every time she had reading time, she would start it again as she just loved reading it so much. She had at one time got up to the story of Beren.

Soon after the shopping center she managed was destroyed in a riot and she lost her job. I have not heard from her since.

Here was someone who was obviously perfect for the books as they were written.

For TheLostPilgrim’s case it is obvious that excerpts from The Silmarillion won’t do. As Christopher Tolkien has mentioned, The Silmarillion has a reputation for being “strange and inaccessible in mode and manner”. Many people who love The Lord of the Rings just can’t get into The Silmarillion. Excerpts are likely to be worse.

Tollkien’s style in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is very different. IF that doesn’t impress her, she may simply not be able to be impressed by Tolkien, at least at this stage in her life.

Last edited by jallanite; 09-28-2013 at 02:15 PM.
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Old 09-03-2013, 09:34 AM   #12
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As Christopher Tolkien has mentioned, The Silmarillion has a reputation for being “strange and inaccessible in mode and manner”.
I remember when I lost my copy of the Silmarillion on a train in London some years ago, I was very upset as i had had that particular copy for many years and it meant alot to me. My cousin suggested that he would buy me another copy for my birthday that was coming up. He told me that he went into Waterstones and the guy at the counter asked him if he was sure he knew what he was buying, and informed my cousin that it was a very very difficult read and that he would put it in the catergory of masterclass. My cousin was infact very offended by this, thinking that he was being called stupid or something. so he tried to read it and just couldnt grasp the way in which it is written and set out, but after awhile and many attempts, he started to love it and bought himself another copy. he told me that for him the hardest thing to get to grips with was the amount of names within the story, and that he could only make sense of it once he had become familiar with all the names.
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and darkness black fell round them all.
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