Pack a lunch or twelve to get through this one. The scores of names/begets, theology of a fall from grace, and cataclysmic events that wipe out entire populations remind of the biblical Book of Genesis. And the impressive glossary, index, family trees, and other appendices give The Silmarillion
a textbook feel. For Tolkien geeks, reading this background history and mythology might be a blissful experience. But for someone like me coming late to the Middle Earth party, I found the read to be a long, sometimes interesting slog. An example--it takes till the final 4 pages for Gandalf, Frodo, Halflings, and Saroman to make an appearance. Granted, it's fun to learn more of their origins, but man, you pay a price of time and concentration to get there.
One final point on the theology of The Silmarillion
. Tolkien hits the "Fall" theme hard. The decisions of individual humans and elves doom entire populations, causing the "gods" to distance themselves from their ungrateful creation. Darkness looms over even the high times in Beleriand. Periodically, the slate of creation must be wiped nearly clean (Noah or Gilgamesh, anyone?) to start over with a more grateful bunch. But even then, evil and corruption are never far away. Are you a person of faith steeped in the traditions of "Fall" and "Original Sin"? If so, you'll more than likely enjoy reading The Silmarillion
. If you're more of the evolutionary or progressive spiritual type, you might cringe throughout. I ended up somewhere in the middle, hence the 3-star review. Happy (or unhappy) reading everyone.