The Silmarillion gives a clear and comprehensive history of the mythological world Tolkien created to set his Lord of Rings trilogy. In five parts, he describes the world of which Middle Earth is a part, the spirits who rule the world (who the Men called gods), the making of Elves, Men, and Dwarfs, and the events that took place in the world, especially on Middle Earth from the First Age to the Third Age. In short, The Silmarillion can be safely described as a forerunner to the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Amidst the history, The Silmarillion also tells the dark story in the First Age, where Elves and Men in league battle with the First Dark Lord, Morgoth, to recover the “Silmarili” (three perfect jewels) which he has stolen from the High Elves. The bulk of the story (Quenta Silmarillion) is devoted to the heroism and valour of the Elves and Men in their terrible war against Morgoth, in the absence of the support of the ruling spirits (gods). Although I say there is a story (for there is), it is not a continuous and smoothly flowing story; in fact, the story is continued in detached episodes. Yet there is a sort of connectivity between the chapters to keep the readers on track with the story.
There are a huge number of characters, both Elves, and Men, without proper notes or charts that you cannot keep track of. The same can be said to places and battles. There were some helpful charts and maps in the edition I read which made the read a little easy. But I should have taken notes as I read along. That is something to remember when I return to it again (for I do plan to reread).
This was an interesting read, though I admit that it was one of the most difficult books that I read. What is amazing is the thoroughness that is displayed by Tolkien in creating this mythological world, the characters – Elves, Men, Dwarfs, Gods, Dark lord, and his creatures. The main characters being Elves and Men are described to the minutest detail including their different races and their descendants. It is really impressive. I have read that Tolkien always felt the absence of British lore and had felt the need to remedy the defect. I think his works quite compensate for that absence.
I did enjoy the read but I think I would have enjoyed it more had I given my full reading attention without other books getting in the way. So when I do return to this, I want to take proper time and space to read it.