I’m not a crazy Tolkienite. I enjoyed reading the Hobbit as a kid. I started reading the Lord of the Rings after the movies, and thoroughly enjoyed them, but quit halfway through he Return of the King after I saw the film and was disappointed that nobody important died – it just felt weak that they all went through all that hardship and only Boromir dies – the crazy guy we didn’t really care that much about anyways and was played by Sean Bean (who always dies in his movies). I was hoping Sam would have tackled Frodo and Gollum as they wrestled in Mount Doom and the three of them would have toppled sacrificially into the fire. That would have been epic.
I picked up the Simerillion, Tolkien’s ever-evolving background historical mythology of Middle Earth (if you have no idea what I’m talking about stop, skip this review and start with the Hobbit), thinking I’d probably give up after a few pages of made up genealogies of made up elven creatures. I was wrong. Those genealogies were there, but there was so much more and it was told so well. I know Tolkien didn’t consider his stories to be allegorical, but I’ll be darned if the way he described the creation of the earth and the fall of that creation didn’t expand my horizons of what happened between Genesis 2 and 3.
And my main complaint against the LOTR – that no one I cared about had to pay the ultimate sacrifice in the service of a greater good – was heartily corrected. The tales of romance, chiveraly, treachery, courage and tragedy that JRR weaves in this work, rival some of the greatest classics I have ever read.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even though I often got lost in the minutia of who’s related to who and what. If you’re a fan of middle earth, don’t be intimidated by the Silmarillion.