Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Book 64 of 2014: The Simarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien

I have now officially reached the end of my book reviews for last year! The last book that I read in 2014 was J.R.R. Tolkien's The Simarillion. It was a slightly foolish venture, starting Tolkien's Middle-earth epic on Boxing Day when I am so determined to finish the books I start before the end of the year, but I managed it, finishing just a few hours before the end of the year.

The Silmarillion is the book that Tolkien wanted to publish after The Hobbit though he never got to see it in print in his lifetime. It goes right back to the very beginning, the actual creation of Middle-earth by the spirits that operate in the background but are never actually seen in The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit. It's actually a collection of shorter stories which together give an incredible depth to the world, some of which is only glimpsed on a very small scale in the more well-known works, like the story of Beren and Luthien.

The Popsugar Reading Challenge has broken my usual strict hierarchy of reading (where I work my way down my bookshelves, reading one book from each shelf until I reach the end and go back to the beginning again) but at the end of last year The Simlarillion wound up being the next book that I was supposed to read. And I was worried that I wouldn't get it finished before the clock struck twelve on New Year's Eve.

I wound up carrying this book everywhere with me, reading it whenever I got a moment to myself; in the car on the way to work, at work in breaks, waiting for tea, waiting for Jules Holland's Hootenanny to start on TV. And it worked. I managed to finish it with a few hours to spare. The one problem with this approach was that I had packed away my cheap paperback edition of the book, so I had to read my rather valuable first edition copy. Normally it doesn't leave the house.

As with all my regular rereads, I found myself focusing on different characters. On this read through I really enjoyed Galadriel's story, particularly her time with Melian. I love the understanding that this book gives you of some of the characters in The Lord of the Rings; I get the impression that Galadriel modelled herself and Lothlorien on The Girdle of Melian.

I did find the beginning a bit slow and heavy-going but once the action got underway I got through it quicker. It's funny because in the past I've loved the way it's almost like poetry, I guess this time around I wanted the action aspect. Another thing that I found kind of funny was the fact that the whole of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is basically summed up in the last three pages (when together they equal somewhere in the region of two thousand)!

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Let me know what you think. :-)