Recently, a friend sent me The Quenta Silmarillion, (translated as, ‘the history of the Silmarils,) a book written by J. R. R. Tolkien about the first and second ages of Middle-earth. Tolkien considered it his most important work, but it was not published until four years after his death. Unfortunately, he never quite finished it, even though it was begun before the Lord of the Rings. I have been reading it for the past month and I really, really like it. It is now my second favorite-book – well, I haven’t finished it, but I am almost done and unless the plot changes drastically within the last few chapters, it will remain my second-favorite book.
While reading it, I noticed several interesting likenesses between Tolkien’s works and ancient mythology. To those of you who have read it, I would like to mention how the name Avallone, you will remember, a city built in Tol Eressea to which the Elves sailed in later years, has a great resemblance to Avalon, an island in King Arthur, to which Arthur went, after receiving his death wound. And another resemblance is Melkor; though he later became a spirit of darkness, first endeavored to have Light under his dominion and use Light, instead of Darkness for his evil schemes. His greatest enemy, Varda, being the Queen of Light, rendered this plan unsuccessful, but it is interesting to point out that Lucifer was the Angel of Light before his downfall.
Considering how it corresponds with the theme of my blog, I decided the Silmarillion deserves a post. For those of you who have not read it, I will give a short summary. (the book is written in somewhat archaic language, but trust me, it is more than worth reading.)
The book centers around the creation of the Silmarils, three priceless jewels made by the Elf Feanor.
The Silmarils are stolen by Melkor, a ‘Vala’ (very much in resemblance to Sauron, only of greater power.) The greater part of the book is spent on recounting the pursuit of Feanor and his sons, and their incredible quest to regain the Silmarils. Tragedies, misfortunes and tremendous battles follow each other, one after another until, in the end, the Silmarils are wrested from the iron crown of Melkor, only to be lost, one in sea, one in the earth, and one in the heavens. Among others, woven into this magnificent tale of bravery and heroism, is the moving romantic saga of Beren and Luthien;
Also a powerful narrative of the incredible Wars of Beleriand, the tale of the destruction of the great island of Numenor, and the marvelous quest of Earendil, the mariner. The book also contains an amazing account of the creation of the Ainur, of the making of Middle-earth and Valinor, the awakening of Elves and Men, the rebellion of Melkor and the War of the Powers.
Are you enthralled yet, or should I continue about the creation and destruction of Utumno; the great underground fortress of Melkor, the Music of the Ainur, the making of the sun and moon, the Two Trees of Valinor, Ungoliant; the great spider, the Valaraukar; demons of fire and shadow, and legend of Tol Eressea; the Lonely Isle?
Besides The Lord of the Rings, it is the highest on my top list of recommended books. It is truly a wonderful tale of courage, suffering and valor.