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20th of September, 2017

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Fourth Book of the Year

“Unfinished Tales: Of Numenor and Middle-earth” (J.R.R. Tolkien)

If you tried to read The Silmarillion, and were put off by its biblical prose and Byzantine character mesh, then stay away from this book. It’s basically the same style, minus the cohesion of the completed book.

Me, I’m what you might call a Silmarillion guy. When I first read that book, I was in a trance for days afterward, completely blown away by its texture and tone, and by the absolute solidity of the world it presented. The Chorus of the Valar at the Creation is one of the most stunning stretches of fantasy writing ever.

Tolkien’s stuff is the only fantasy or science fiction work that I can totally geek out on. I can tell you without much accuracy but with many details the relationships between Sauron and Melkor, the Rings and the Jewels, how that creepy-ass Galadriel turned away from the light of the Trees with the rest of the Noldor. Knowing the backstory, it’s that much cooler to see a Balrog come out of its hole in Moria to lay down some old-school First Age whoopass on Frodo; that must have been like seeing a Tyrannosaurus Rex showing up on a Civil War battlefield. I love that stuff.

So, I was sad to see the Silmarillion come to the Third Age and lose the distance from Frodo and Co. that the massive timeline of Tolkien’s Middle-earth makes possible. The ‘Tales is more of the same, with that great, lumbering voice that I bet Tolkien wished he could have written in all the time. You’ve got to love a book that has you looking up names in the index at least once per paragraph. And props to whoever decided to put Ulmo on the front cover up there with Tuor. He never did get the word count he deserved.

I wasn’t really planning on writing about the Silmarillion the whole time, but that’s basically what the Unfinished Tales represents. Put the two together, and you’ve got the Extended Director’s Cut Edition. But you know, maybe it’s time I read something this year that doesn’t have its own booth at DragonCon.

Comments

Libby

I loved all those prequel books too. I've probably read everything by or about Tolkien at least twice.

thebastidge

I've never met anyone in person who has read the entire Silmarillion. I thought Iwas the only one...

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