The Silmarillion

by J. R. R. Tolkien
Reviewed date: 2017 Aug 16
Rating: 4
480 pages
cover art

The Silmarillion covers eons of history, but most of that history is passed over in a few brief sentences. Thousands, perhaps millions or billions of uncounted years rush past before the Elves appear, and suddenly everything is about them. I wonder what great stories happened in Eä that the Elves chose not to record, or that the Valar never told to them.

* * * *

Manwë and the Elves

Manwë was tidying up his workshop in Ilmarin when he heard the commotion. He turned as the workshop door burst open and a dozen Elves rushed in. Finwë led the pack, as usual. He was holding something, proffering it. Manwë set a bat'leth down gently on the workbench, wiped his hands, and greeted Finwë. "Welcome, Fin."

"It's a book," cried Finwë, and it was. "I invented writing, and I made a book, and now I'm going to write a history." He paused for effect, and to catch his breath. "A history of everything."

"Very good, Fin." Manwë was pleased.

"And since you were here from the beginning, you can tell me what happened and I'll write it down."

"Story time, then?" asked Manwë. Finwë nodded and sat down on the floor expectantly. The other Elves sat down beside him.

"Well," said Manwë. "Eru Ilúvatar created Eä from the Void, and he created it vast and full of wonders. Many deeds were done in days of old, but few so noble as during the War of the Stars. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, the Jedi Knights fought for justice."

Finwë interrupted. "These Jedi. They were Elves?"

"No. Champions of the Force were they, mighty warriors of renown."

"Perhaps a different story," suggested Finwë. All the Elves murmured their agreement.

"There is another tale," Manwë began slowly. "In this present age Eä has two great continents. In the east lies Middle Earth. In the west is Aman, wherein lies the land of Valinor, where we are now. But in past ages there was to the far south another land." The Elves' rapt faces focused on Manwë as he continued. "This land was eternally in winter, for it was under the spell of a great magic, and Ilúvatar permitted that this would last until the coming of four kings and queens."

The Elves broke out in smiles and Finwë wrote in his book. "Elven kings and queens," he said.

"Not Elves. This land was inhabited by talking beasts, and the kings and queens--". Manwë stopped. Looks of disappointment showed on the faces of the Elves. Finwë carefully crossed out what he had written. Manwë gazed at him for a moment.

"Perhaps instead I could tell you of Eddore and Arisia." A scintillating, bejeweled bracelet appeared on Manwë's arm, twinkling and sparkling, racing through all the colors of the spectrum in an instant, before abruptly vanishing into the ether. "No."

"I can tell you about the luckdragons."

"Tell us about when you prepared," suggested Finwë.

"Prepared. Yes." Manwë thought a moment. "We Valar came first to Eä," he intoned. "And Eru Ilúvatar charged us to prepare--"

"For the coming of the Elves," cried Finwë. "You prepared for the coming of the Elves."

"Er, well, yes, later we did spend a time preparing for the Elves. But before--"

"Ages! You spend Ages preparing for the Elves!"

Manwë sighed. Give me patience, Ilúvatar, he thought, or I will smite these Children of yours. The Elves watched him intently while Finwë wrote furiously in his book. Manwë sighed again.

"Oh yes, we spent ages preparing for the Elves."

* * * *

And that's how we got The Silmarillion.

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