silmarillion reader's guide

Celebrate Tolkien Reading Day 2014 by reading The Silmarillion! If you’re a first-timer, or you’ve struggled with the book before, you might want to consider checking out the Silmarillion Reader’s Guide, made by yours-truly. It includes summaries, maps, character guides, and a few handy appendices designed specifically to help make the Silmarillion as understandable and enjoyable as possible!

Tips For Reading The Silmarillion

YES. I am actually super dedicated to helping people get through The Silmarillion, because I struggled so much with it myself until one day it just, like, magically clicked and then it was so good and so worth it and I want everyone to read it, so:

  1. Don’t go in there alone. Take a look at The Silmarillion Reader’s Guide, which I made myself. You can even download it as a pdf or ibook. It’s designed to help new readers get through the book, mainly by providing summaries of chapters in case you’re having trouble with the language, or just staying focused. There are also a few appendices attached with guides to characters, locations, and a timeline. I know I’m biased, but I’ve actually had many people tell me that it was helpful, so maybe it can help you!
  2. If you’re probably not going to look at the Silmarillion Reader’s Guide, at least look at the first chapter, which you can even reblog right here as a photoset. It’s literally titled How to Read the Silmarillion, and includes a few strategies for first-timers, as well as a well-deserved pep talk.
  3. Now that you’ve got some summaries to fall back on, the most important part of reading The Silmarillion (in my humble opinion) is pacing. This is a weird book, most especially for its dense writing style and lack of central narrative. My first time reading it, there were days where I could read five chapters in single sitting, and that’s great. But there were also days where I’d read a few paragraphs and was just done for the day. And, as previously mentioned, sometimes I had to step away from the book for a couple days (once even for two whole weeks), just to let everything settle/recharge before I went back to it. So I guess my advice is just to let yourself read the book at your own pace. Don’t force yourself through a chapter a day if that’s not working - remember, this is supposed to be fun!
  4. Set the mood. Tolkien’s writing style isn’t what we’re used to reading these days, and sometimes you have to sort of coax your brain into a more receptive mood. The easiest way to do this, for me, is with music. There’s the beautiful Howard Shore soundtracks, a whole list of Tolkien-inspired music, as well as this rather large list of playlists designed specifically for The Silmarillion (from the Silmarillion Read-Along I hosted last summer.) Find something that works and transport yourself to Middle Earth.
  5. Be an active reader. The first couple of times I read The Silmarillion, I took a lot of notes while reading. Part of this was purely practical, as a way to keep track of all those names and family trees. But part of it was also me writing my reaction to things. There were a couple angry rants aimed at Feanor in that notebook, as well as some sad notes about Beleg and Finrod. By the end it was practically a journal, where I’d just write out what I was thinking/feeling after reading each chapter. I found it to be a good way to center myself and really let the story sink in. Plus, taking a more active part in the reading process helped me stay focused.
  6. Age might be a factor. I’m only saying this because it was true for my own experience, so if this sounds offensive at all I’m really sorry. I tried reading The Silmarillion a half dozen times before it finally clicked. The first failed attempt was when I was 12 years old. I tried again every year or two after that, and could never get past the first few chapters. It wasn’t until I was 20 that suddenly the passages I had previously found to be boring and abstract became beautiful and thought-provoking. I mentioned this to my dad and he admitted it had been the same for him - he’d bought the book in his early teens, but didn’t read it all the way through until he was in college. My theory is that there’s a level of maturity required for this book, and I just hadn’t had that yet. So if you’ve struggled with the book before, and you’re younger, then maybe it’s just… not your time yet? Just something to consider.
  7. Don’t give up! The Silmarillion is a challenging book, there’s no doubt. But when you finally get through it it is so worth it. The stories in that book are going to stay with you for the rest of your life (and knowing the story ahead of time is nothing compared to reading it in Tolkien’s own words.) If you ever get discouraged, just take a break, recharge, and try again. Or come talk to me! I’m more than happy to provide Silmarillion Pep Talks. :)

Okay, that’s all the advice that I could think of right now. If anyone else struggled with the Silmarillion but got through it, please add any advice/tips that worked for you!

2

Okay, so for those who don’t know, this is from Part I of the Silmarillion Reader’s Guide (which you can find here.) Also, for those who do know, and are now wondering where in the world is that final version that I promised you all a couple weeks ago… yeah, sorry about that. It’s coming, very soon, I swear.

Anyway, here’s a re-work of the “narrative flow chart.” The basic idea that I had in making this was that, with all of the sub-plots running through the Silmarillion, some people might find it helpful to either read the book out of order, or at least have some idea of which chapters are following which, as far as the plots go. Obviously, Christopher Tolkien ordered the chapters like he did for a reason, and you’ll get the most fulfilling emotional experience reading them in the published order, but it’s always nice to have options, right?

The Valar and the Creation of Arda:

  • Ch. 1 “Of the Beginning of Days”
  • Ch. 2 “Of Aule and Yavanna”

The Main, Central Plot:

  • Ch. 3 “Of the Coming of the Elves”
  • Ch. 7 “Of the Silmarils”
  • Ch. 8 “Of the Darkening of Valinor”
  • Ch. 9 “Of the Flight of the Noldor”
  • Ch. 13 “Of the Return of the Noldor”
  • Ch. 18 “Of the Ruin of Beleriand”
  • Ch. 20 “Of the Fifth Battle”
  • Ch. 24 “Of the Voyage of Earendil”

The Noldorin Backstory:

  • Ch. 5 “Of Eldamar”
  • Ch. 6 “Of Feanor”

The Sindarin Backstory:

  • Ch. 3 “Of the Coming of the Elves”
  • Ch. 4 “Of Thingol and Melian”
  • Ch. 10 “Of the Sindar”
  • Ch. 14 “Of Beleriand and its Realms”

The Origin of Men:

  • Ch. 11 “Of the Sun and the Moon”
  • Ch. 12 “Of Men”
  • Ch. 17 “Of the Coming of Men into the West”

The Gondolin Sub-Plot:

  • Ch. 13 “Of the Return of the Noldor”
  • Ch. 14 “Of Beleriand and its Realms”
  • Ch. 15 “Of the Noldor in Beleriand”
  • Ch. 16 “Of Maeglin”
  • Ch. 22 “Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin”
  • Ch. 24 “Of the Voyage of Earendil”

The Doriath Sub-Plot:

  • (Best if read after the Sindarin Backstory, see above)
  • Ch. 18 “Of the Ruin of Beleriand”
  • Ch. 19 “Of Beren and Luthien”
  • Ch. 22 “Of the Ruin of Doriath”
  • Ch. 24 “Of the Voyage of Earendil”

The Children of Hurin:

  • Ch. 20 “Of the Fifth Battle”
  • Ch. 21 “Of Turin Turambar”

Hope this helps, let me know if it still doesn’t make sense. :)

7

Congratulations! Segment 14 of the Silmarillion Reader’s Guide covers chapter 24 of the Silmarillion, which is the final chapter in the Quenta Silmarillion!!! If you’ve made it this far, you’ve just completed the major story in the book, and are about 2/3 of the way through!

See parts 1-13 here, in case you missed them. Next up will be segment 15, which will cover the Akallabeth, the next book of the Silmarillion.

8

Appendix B of the Silmarillion Reader’s Guide (aka Part 19 - see here for parts 1-18.) This one’s all about the geography of The Silmarillion - the locations, as well as the actual geographical changes we see happen. 

All of the maps are excerpts from Karen Wynn Fonstad's Atlas of Middle Earth. Please let me know if you see any typos - I think I caught them all, but you never know. ((EDIT: Oops, forgot the last page, but I’ve added it in.))

Next week is the final installment of this guide! It’ll include Appendix C (a timeline of all the events that take place), as well as some sort of Appendix D (I haven’t decided exactly what’ll be in Appendix D yet, so let me know if you have any ideas!)

Once the last installment is posted, I’ll get to work on revising the whole guide and preparing it to be posted as a single file. If you have any feedback, any at all, please let me know (ether via Tumblr or my email at askmiddlearth@gmail.com.)

I NEED HELP REVISING THE SILMARILLION READER'S GUIDE!

Okay, folks. The day I warned you of has arrived. I am officially done with the first draft of the Silmarillion Reader’s Guide (see all the posts here.) Which is awesome, and I admit that I’m kind of proud of myself. But I know that I can make it better. My eventual plan is to post a complete and final Silmarillion Guide as one giant, awesome file (probably pdf, but possible ibook as well.)

The Guide has always been about you, about making The Silmarillion more accessible, about making it easier and more fun to read. So, having read the book several times already, I’m not the best judge of this guide. The best judge is you - anybody who actually used the guide to read the Silmarillion. (Also, since I made it in the first place, I’m hugely biased.)

SO HERE’S WHAT I NEED:

  • Any feedback. Seriously, any at all. Good, bad, neutral, I’m happy to hear it all. No, seriously.
  • Details are much more helpful than general feedback (although general feedback is much more helpful than no feedback at all.)
  • What worked? What did I do well? Was there a particular section that really helped you understand something? Did you like the tone or style in one segment more than another? Did the layout of a particular page stand out to you?
  • What didn’t work? What did I do badly? Was there a particular section that is still really confusing, or did I actually make something more confusing? Did you not like the style, tone, or layout of a particular section?
  • What questions or concerns did you still have after reading The Silmarillion? Is there something I should have talked more about, or maybe added another appendix for?
  • Is there anything that you think I should change in order to make the Guide more useful and more enjoyable for new readers?
  • Seriously, any feedback guys. I’m dying here.

HOW CAN YOU REACH ME?

  • Reply to this post, I’ll be sure to keep checking it.
  • Send me a message (or even an ask) on my tumblr (Askmiddlearth.tumblr.com)
  • Send me an email (especially helpful for longer suggestions) at askmiddlearth@gmail.com
  • Shout your suggestions (in Quenya) to the stars, the Valar will deliver your message to me.

As a thank you for the huge help that I’ve no doubt your feedback will be, I’ll give you a shout-out in my Weekly Roundup here on the blog. There are over 2,100 people following now, so that’s a pretty decent bit of publicity, I think. (If you want, even include a sentence or two describing your blog, and I’ll include that with the shout-out.)

Also, I’ll be reposting this message several times over the next few weeks. If you didn’t read the Silmarillion, or are completely uninterested in helping with this, then go ahead and block the tag “sil guide help

Thank you all so much! I breathlessly await your feedback! And stay tuned for the upcoming Completely Awesome And Final Silmarillion Reader’s Guide.

NEED FEEDBACK PLEASE!

Reposting my request for Silmarillion Reader’s Guide feedback!

Okay, folks. The day I warned you of has arrived. I am officially done with the first draft of the Silmarillion Reader’s Guide (see all the posts here.) Which is awesome, and I admit that I’m kind of proud of myself. But I know that I can make it better. My eventual plan is to post a complete and final Silmarillion Guide as one giant, awesome file (probably pdf, but possible ibook as well.)

The Guide has always been about you, about making The Silmarillion more accessible, about making it easier and more fun to read. So, having read the book several times already, I’m not the best judge of this guide. The best judge is you - anybody who actually used the guide to read the Silmarillion. (Also, since I made it in the first place, I’m hugely biased.)

SO HERE’S WHAT I NEED:

  • Any feedback. Seriously, any at all. Good, bad, neutral, I’m happy to hear it all. No, seriously.
  • Details are much more helpful than general feedback (although general feedback is much more helpful than no feedback at all.)
  • What worked? What did I do well? Was there a particular section that really helped you understand something? Did you like the tone or style in one segment more than another? Did the layout of a particular page stand out to you?
  • What didn’t work? What did I do badly? Was there a particular section that is still really confusing, or did I actually make something more confusing? Did you not like the style, tone, or layout of a particular section?
  • What questions or concerns did you still have after reading The Silmarillion? Is there something I should have talked more about, or maybe added another appendix for?
  • Is there anything that you think I should change in order to make the Guide more useful and more enjoyable for new readers?
  • Seriously, any feedback guys. I’m dying here.

HOW CAN YOU REACH ME?

  • Reply to this post, I’ll be sure to keep checking it.
  • Send me a message (or even an ask) on my tumblr (Askmiddlearth.tumblr.com)
  • Send me an email (especially helpful for longer suggestions) ataskmiddlearth@gmail.com
  • Shout your suggestions (in Quenya) to the stars, the Valar will deliver your message to me.

As a thank you for the huge help that I’ve no doubt your feedback will be, I’ll give you a shout-out in my Weekly Roundup here on the blog. There are over 2,100 people following now, so that’s a pretty decent bit of publicity, I think. (If you want, even include a sentence or two describing your blog, and I’ll include that with the shout-out.)

Also, I’ll be reposting this message several times over the next few weeks. If you didn’t read the Silmarillion, or are completely uninterested in helping with this, then go ahead and block the tag “sil guide help

Thank you all so much! I breathlessly await your feedback! And stay tuned for the upcoming Completely Awesome And Final Silmarillion Reader’s Guide.

Silmarillion Guide Help (Hopefully Part 1 of Many)

In case you haven’t noticed yet, I’m almost done with The Silmarillion. I’m looking to revise the whole thing before posting it a final time (hopefully as one giant file, though i’m not sure how to do that yet.) I’m looking for feedback from you lovely readers. I’ll have a more formal post requesting help in the next week or so, but a couple of you have already started sending suggestions and corrections, which I seriously appreciate!

Thank you so much! I’m always really happy when somebody corrects a mistake I’ve made, since it gives me a chance to fix it! (Also, I’ll admit that it’s pretty gratifying to see that somebody’s paying attention, lol.) I’ve corrected the mistake - thanks again!

I am definitely using this idea! The geography in The Silmarillion is ridiculous, I think a separate segment for this would be really helpful! I wrote the conclusion (it’ll be posted Tuesday), and realized that just the character overview alone was way too long to be included, so I’ve already decided to do a couple appendices instead. So I’ll have an appendix for a character guide, and one for a geography guide. Does anybody have other ideas for appendices?

1 Day Until End of Hiatus!

Summer is ending, schools are back in session, the weather is (in some places) cooling down, and my blog is calling to me. I officially start with new posts on the 21st, but here are some of my favorite old posts, to help get us all in the mood. And, of course, let’s not forget that an almost embarrasingly large amount of my posts have very little to do with the books at all…

anonymous asked:

I'm 13 and I'm reading silmarillion. I probably should be reading this later since I can't read half of it, But I want to read it before I read and any other Tolkien books. it is indeed a challenge, but I like a good challenge. do you have any real quick tips on how to understand it And read it just a little better? I love your blog, by the way. it's helped me many times with various things. keep doing what your doing!

Greetings, young challenger! I have a couple posts you should check out:

Good luck!