BOOK REVIEW: Before the One had Ruled them All!

Every story has a beginning. Every great story has an amazing beginning. And every saga has a generating force that makes its journey magnificent; for this is how I felt even from the first page of the “Silmarillion”, or to be exact the “Quenta Silmarillion”, written by the amazing, one-of-a-kind, master of the words, fairytales and epic stories J.R.R. Tolkien.

As some of you may know, “Quenta Silmarillion” is a collection of fantasy legends, written by the high fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien, and completed and published by his son, Christopher, due to the fact that Tolkien had passed away before completing his masterpiece.

The title “Quenta Silmarillion” can be translated as “The tale of the Silmarils”. The collection though contains, aside from this central story, a few other legends referring to how all those beings of Middle-Earth were created, how they managed to get into Middle-Earth, where they used to live before, who was the one who created, not only them, but also every land they stepped into, and of course, who was the great antagonist of the First, the Second and the Third Age of their existence. Those of you who have read the “Lord of the Rings” may think of Sauron, but you’re probably wrong.

“Quenta Silmarillion” is divided into five pieces, each of which refers to a different period in the magnificent universe that Professor Tolkien created. Those are Ainulindalë, Valaquenta, Quenta Silmarillion, Akalabêth and Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.

The first four titles may seem strange to you. It is because their written in the Elvish language, Quenya. And this is where the magic begins; right from the titles. Because apart from creating a superbly unique and outstanding, fantastic universe, Tolkien created many different languages, each of which was spoken and written by the different species that inhabited in Middle-Earth.

Aside from that, which is of course mesmerising, Tolkien has also created the essence of history; what I want to say is that he narrates in a way that makes you think you are truly reading about historic events. All those genealogy trees, the different families, the different kinds of human-ish beings, even the detail of the phases of the moon; all those elements create the feeling of cosmogony, like those events had truly happened in a far and distant past.

Starting with Ainulindalë or the “Music of the Ainur”, Tolkien introduces us to the creation of Arda; the place we would call “Earth” and the true home of the first and eldest of Elves, who would later start their journey to Middle-Earth. According to John Gardner, “Music is the central symbol and the total myth of the Silmarillion, a symbol that becomes interchangeable with light (music’s projection)”. Tolkien is talking about theogony in that part of “Quenta Silmarillion” and reflects in a way his religion. Even if he did not want to make religion intervene in the world of fairytales, apparently he took into account previous reviews which were referring to the fact that there was no Higher Power in his novels. And that’s what makes an artist stand out; to actually listen to what his fans have to say about his pieces of art.

Coming up to Valaquenta or the “Tale of the Valar”, the author provides us a middle-ground link between Ainulindalë and Quenta Silmarillion itself, referring mostly to the characters the readers will come across later in the novel. Those are the Valar, the Maiar and the Main Antagonists of the story. What I wanna point out is that each name stands for the characteristics of the person who has it; it is by no means incidental.

After having been introduced to the main myth and characters, it is time for some real action. Quenta Silmarillion leads us to the decision of the first Elves to travel to Middle-Earth, the different tribes that were created because of that decision, the Sun and the Moon, and the arrival of Men.

As if that wasn’t magnificent and outstanding enough, Tolkien provides us with the ultimate love story! No spoiler alert here, although those of you who are fans of Lord of the Rings, may already know to whom I’m referring.

What’s more, there is adventure, courage, epic battles and sacrifice, all of which lead eventually to Númenor and the Rings of Power.

This novel is an amazing, epic saga, it is a masterpiece of literature and a classic symbolism of the everlasting battle between good and evil.

At first, it may seem a bit tiring, because of the amount of names, new words and different ages. Give it some time. There is pure magic hidden inside those pages, waiting for you to find it.

There are also maps and a quite big glossary, standing by you and helping you understand and appreciate this superbly complex universe that J.R.R. Tolkien created.

To me, “Quenta Silmarillion” is a novel that needs to be part of every bookcase! A masterpiece without compare! Read it! You simply have to!


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