Several weeks ago, inspiration struck me like a bolt from the blue. What began as a vague spark of an idea gradually morphed into an entire multifaceted project—I wanted to create a “field guide,” if you will, for The Silmarillion. This masterful work by J.R.R. Tolkien presents the origin story for the world of Middle-earth, and it’s not your typical novel; it’s a complete history of the world, spanning many thousands of years and numerous generations of Elves and Men.
I read The Silmarillion once before, but it was many years ago. The book, though fascinating, tied my brain up in knots, and a friend gave me “mad respect” for actually getting through it. I really did enjoy the book at that time, but I never thought I would read it again. As time passed, the lore of Middle-earth gradually slipped from my mind. When I was given an assignment to read a book and create a project for it, I decided to return to The Silmarillion, and this time I was determined to do it right.
I ordered The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth online, as well as my own copy of The Silmarillion. Using the Guide as a dictionary was extremely helpful if I came across an obscure location or person within the pages of The Silmarillion. I approached the book from the perspective of a reader who was trying to condense the book into an understandable form for other readers.
Perhaps you have wanted to read The Silmarillion, but the thought of wading through confusing Elvish names scared you off, or perhaps you once tried reading it but reached the last page with more questions than answers. In this series of blog posts, I will be attempting to shed some light on the book. The best part? It’s illustrated.
This phenomenal book of lore for the world of Middle-earth tells of the Beginning of Days and all that followed, from the music of the Ainur to the discord of Melkor to the coming of the Elves to the making of the Silmarils to the awakening of Dwarves and Men to the fall of Morgoth and everything in between.A Reader’s Guide to The Silmarillion
The SILMARILLION is divided into five main parts:
The Ainulindalë – The Music of the Ainur
Valaquenta – The History of the Valar
Quenta Silmarillion – The History of the Silmarillion
Akallabêth – The Downfallen
Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
“The tale of the First Age when Morgoth dwelt in Middle-earth and the elves made war upon him for the recovery of the Silmarils…” (Translation of the Tengwar script from the title page of The Silmarillion)
There you have my best attempt at introducing readers to The Silmarillion. The “title page” features three gems, my interpretation of what the Silmarils might look like. You see, this entire book centers around the Silmarils. Many evils were done for the sake of these gems, which shone with a pure light that burned the hands of any whose hearts were corrupt. This symbolism of light and dark is important throughout the entire book, a unifying aspect that makes it easier to understand seemingly unrelated events within the extensive timeline of The Silmarillion. I also copied the Tengwar script from the title page of the book on the top and bottom of my first page.
I am very excited to continue this project. Not only will I try to condense the book into a more understandable form, I will also be adding my own comments regarding the book’s allegory and symbolism. If you’re interested to see how I fill out the pages of my “field guide,” please leave a like and consider subscribing to my blog!
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next blog post, Lightbringers!