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Old 01-02-2004, 03:44 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Nashville-ish
Posts: 2,328
Silmarillion Chapter Summaries/'Cliff Notes'?

Is there any where I can purchase and/or view chapter summaries of the Silmarillion? From what I've read so far, it's a great book, but I think I might be able to get more out of it if I read it alongside the Cliff Notes or some other such thing.
Old 01-02-2004, 09:39 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: London, Uk
Posts: 128
I dont think this is exactly what youre looking for but i found the e-book Parma Endorion and the Encyclopedia of Arda to be great guides any time the History of Middle Earth got me lost.
Old 01-03-2004, 12:04 AM
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Denver, CO, USA
Posts: 1,139
Between the maps, family trees and the 52 page long index of names the Silmarillion probably already has everything you need. I would photocopy the map of Beleriand and Finwe's family tree for reference and keep a notepad for a couple of names here and there. But that is probably all you need.

One thing to keep in mind is that for the first 60-70 pages Tolkien is writing a creation myth. Most of what happens in these first few chapters is unnecessary for understanding what happens for the bulk of the book. At least half of the Valar never play a role in the Silmarilian itself anyway. In fact I would recomend skipping the first few chapters at least on your first time through.

Here is a summary of what you would be missing:
Ainulindale - Eru/Illuvitar/God creates the Ainur/Angels. They sing about creation.
Valaquenta - The Valar/Greater Angels are described along with some of the Maiar/Lesser Angels.
Chpt 1 - Begining of Days - The Ainur create the world. Melkor/Morgoth rebels and destroys much of it. The Ainur repair what they can and flee to the far west making a divine fortress kingdom called Valinor. They make a couple of glowing trees while the rest of the world only has the stars.
Chpt 2 - Aule and Yavvanna - Aule gets bored of waiting for the elves to show up and makes the Dwarves. Yavvanna gets upset at this and has the Ents made. Eru approves both and allows them free will, but they are put into a sleep until after the elves awake.
Chpt 3 - Elves and Melkor - The elves wake up. Melkor is beaten up and imprisoned in Valinor. The elves are invited to move to Valinor. Some go, some don't, and some try but just don't make it.
Chpt 4 - Thingol and Melian - Elwe Thingol, an elf prince, meets Melian, a maia. The get hitched and setup a kingdom in Middle Earth a lot of his folk stay with him, some continue to Valinor.
Chpt 5 - Eldamar - A lot of elves are introduced.
Chpt 6 - Feanor and Melkor - The Silmarillian proper starts.

I would just browse Valaquenta and Chapter 5, so you have an idea of who all the prime characters are, and start reading at Chapter 6.
Old 01-03-2004, 02:05 AM
lee lee is offline
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Cook County, IL
Posts: 4,682
We should do a straight dope book reading of the Silmarillion. I'd love to read this again and discuss it chapter by chapter.

I do think it is a mistake to just start thorough reading at chapter 6. Too much about how things work is in the first part. You won't rightly appreciate the Silmarillion proper if you don't understand who the individual Valar are. The Valaquenta is not as difficult to wade through as some parts before and after.

I suggest reading a group of chapters and then rereading them before going on. First the Ainulindale and Valaquenta together, and then repeat. Ainulindale made a lot more sense once I read the Valaquenta.

The first time I read it I read and reread those first chapters until I knew who each character was. This helped me get used to the style as well as a good gounding in the world. I knew the first time I read the Ainulindale that I had not understood much at all and so I resolved to re-read it and any thing else I needed too. How can one appreciate the fall without an understanding of what was before?

The most important thing is to Be familiar with the story of Thingol and Melian before reading about Beren and Luthian. The story of Beren and Luthian is exciting and compelling, but if you don't know who Luthian is, why she is different, and have to thumb back to the beginning everytime a character is mentioned to see who they are it is not very fun.
Old 01-03-2004, 02:27 AM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Nashville-ish
Posts: 2,328
Wee thanks for the tips guys! I have a renewed outlook on the book now. Any other tips you have would be welcome as well.
Old 01-03-2004, 10:23 AM
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Posts: 6,602
Twenty-four years ago, The Silmarillion was the book I would read when I had trouble getting to sleep, though I started reading it with great expectations. I hoped this thread would convince me to try again. After all, I loved everything else I read by Tolkien. But all the above sounds like way too much work. Notepads. Re-reading. 52 page name index. I'm sorry, but if a book doesn't grab me and carry me off, I think it'll have to go on the list to try again in twenty years. Sometimes we just have to realize that even great authors can write no-so-great books, and move on to something else. I'm glad you all found something wondrous about it, but I'm not convinced.
Old 01-03-2004, 10:58 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,529
Personally, I just generally glaze over until the Noldorin return to Middle Earth and actual action starts happening. I mean, Feanor might've been a cool character if he had shown up more. But I do love the death of Fingolfin and the quest of Finrod Felagund in their tragic majesty. The Akallabeth is pretty cool as well, but not as cool.
Old 01-03-2004, 01:29 PM
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Central Pennsylvania
Posts: 36,058
I sometimes forget how much of a fictional-history geek I am. I LOVED all of the Silm and somehow even manage to retain who's who and what's what and what happened, years after I read it the last time (haven't owned a copy for a long while).
Old 01-03-2004, 03:50 PM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 323
OK, so I understand that Orcs are essentially corrupted elves, but does Silm talk about that in more detail?
Old 01-03-2004, 05:54 PM
lee lee is offline
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Cook County, IL
Posts: 4,682
Page 50 talks of how elves were captured by melkor and "by slow arts of cruelty were corrupted and enslaved"

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