Thirty-five years ago, a friend loaned me his copy of The Silmarillion. The book had recently come out, and I eagerly opened the hardcover volume, looking forward to taking a great journey alongside Bilbo Baggins, his nephew Frodo, or some other Hobbit, Dwarf, or Human hero. Imagine my surprise when I discovered this was a collection of stories, highly mythological or historical in nature. Instead of easily following the narrative, I found myself lost, bewildered, and bored. I closed the book, and ultimately returned it to my friend. It remains one of the few great Science Fiction or Fantasy books that I gave up on, and never finished.
For as long as he could remember reading, Tolkien claimed he had been writing stories about different peoples, their cultures, and inventing their myths, legends, and languages. Those stories would make up The Silmarillion, which apparently cover the First and Second Ages of Middle Earth. Last Saturday marked the One Hundred and Twenty-Third anniversary of Tolkien's birth. Had he not died, J.R.R. Tolkien would be now be older than Bilbo at the beginning of The Lord of the Rings, which occurs during the Third Age of Middle Earth. It seems a fitting time for me to pick this book up again, and give it another try.
If, like me, you've always wanted to read to learn more about Middle Earth, why not pick up The Silmarillion and read it with me? I'd appreciate hearing your feedback as I undertake the demands of this dense tome. And if you've also had problems getting through the book, perhaps we can make better sense of it together. After all, neither Bilbo nor Frodo departed Hobbiton alone. Each had his faithful friends to travel with, and help make his journey more manageable and enjoyable. I'd be honored to have another hobbit to travel alongside on this great adventure. Or even a Dwarf, or a Human hero.