Houghton Mifflin, 2001 (originally published 1977)
Oh. Stars. As a Tolkien fan for literally half my life, I'd never read The Silmarillion. Friends have talked about how tough a read it is, that it took three tries (or more) to finally slog through. They cautioned me about my pre-reading enthusiasm, and hoped I wouldn't be disappointed. Readers, I fell in love. From the earliest pages, I was caught hook, line and sinker. Head over heels.
I'm not even going to try to write a "formal" review. This isn't a book to be "reviewed" -- it's a book to be read, to be absorbed, to be loved. Richly, intricately detailed The Silmarillion is the history of Middle Earth's most awesome residents: the Elves. (Okay, so there's quite a bit of basic Middle Earth history too, but let's be honest: It's all about the Elves). At the risk of sounding like a mad woman, at times I felt as if I was reading my own history; that's how deeply I connected with this book. It's a novel, but not. It's a tome of history, but not. It's a collection of short stories, but not. It's, quite simply, Tolkien. With characters to love, to honor, and to abhor. With so many minute details and complex family relations that things become muddled even as they fall into clarity. It sets up the Tolkien most of us "know" with astonishing cohesiveness.
I think, having read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings several times before, and thereby coming into this reading having some knowledge of the significance of what was happening, aided greatly in my understanding. The plan now is to reread those books again (very soon, we hope, since I read this back in August (oops)), and see what new elements I pick up on.
Book provided by my personal library.