“Hey, this guy stole our name!”
The Silmarillion, or the Silly Marillion as it is affectionately nicknamed, is a very famous documentary on the creation of Eä, better known as The World, including Middle-Earth and that Other Continent which only Nerds Know the Name of. Written by J.R.R. Tolkien at various times before his death, it was published posthumourously by his son, St. Christopher Tolkien.
The Five Parts
Since five is an ideal number for this sort of thing, The Silmarillion is made up of five parts:
- The Ainulindalë (Rock 'n' Roll of the Ainur) Reveals that the gods of Eä are mad awesome arena rockers, possibly rivaling Queen in sheer awesomeness. Their dynamite sound rocked the universe's socks off, and created it.
- The Valaquenta (Accounting) is the really really boring part, with all the financial records of Eä. Unless you like accounting, skip this part. Indeed, this details such facts as the number of sprinkles on a leaf, and includes the answer to the age-old question ("if a tree falls in the woods...", the answer being: "go ask Fangorn, I'm too busy".
- The Quenta Silmarillion (The Actual Silmarillion) Is the really big part, the one with all the actual history of the world before and during the First Age.
- The Akallabêth, the depressing tale of the downfall of Númenor. Kind of like the fall of the Roman Empire, but with divine wrath and stuff. At this point, Morgoth wishes it to be known that Sauron had nothing to do with it watsoever, and that his shape laughing madly as the earth (or the sea, in this case) split in two was merely a trick of the light as the last remnants of Númenor got sucked down to the bottom of the Middle-Earth. Ahem.
- Of the Things of Power and the Nerd Age is a short account of what follows The Lord of the Rings. In it, Tolkien prophecies with startling accuracy the rise of LOTR and their powerful blogs. Very interesting, since blogs in Tolkien's time were little more than something that didn't exist.
The Silmarillion is an incredibly cerebral work that includes a vast array of themes like Olde Englysh, ancient Hebrew texts, Norse stuff, Celtic stuff, more Olde Englysh, and a bunch of other sources that many experts believe are made up.
About the Text
Tolkien started his work as early as World War -I, but since there was a war on, he got confused and wrote The Hobbit instead. Encouraged by it's success, he sought to please his fans by writing another book, one that would be infinitely more complicated and entrenched in Celtic mythology. However, his publisher's brain exploded, so he wrote The Lord of the Rings instead.
Being a total die-hard, Tolkien didn't give up on his precious silly Marillion. He considered it extremely important to Middle-Earth, which was suffering an energy crisis at the time, and was embroiled in a controversial war against terror in the Middle-East.
For the most part, The Silmarillion contains Tolkien's HUGE notes and sketches of everything that did not actually happen in The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings, but everything leading up to that point.
Unfortuanately, he never quite got to finish his work, for reasons that cannot be parodied because it would be stupid and unfunny. Therefore, this fact is ignored, and we can move on to...
What Happened Next
J.R.R. Tolkien's son, Kris "Kringle" Tolkien, undertook the long and arduous task of compiling The Silmarillion into a final narrative that people could read. (Why? For the sake of nerds all over, that's why!) By digging through his late father's notes and older versions, Kris created a final publication for the LOTR nerds to obsess over and memorize so they could be better nerds than the "casual readers" of Tolkien's other works.
Some experts (or freaks) dispute the Silmarillion's word on many key plot points, including the genders of certain Elves (Maedhros, Figwit) and spawn huge discussions regarding questions such as the identity of Gil-galad's dad. Some disagree with the Silmarillion's canon which denotes Fingon and insist it was really Orodreth, implying an incestuous relationship with Gil-galad's mother, his sister Galadriel. Still others argue that it was Sauron, but that this was changed after George Lucas threatened to sue (Sauron's original last words before he vaporized Gil-galad, according to an old manuscript found in Tolkien's private urinal, were "Ereinion, I am your father!").
The title The Silmarillion is an Elvish construct, with the words "The", which is Elvish for "A Book", and "Silmarillion", meaning "About Some Pretty Jewels that Everybody Wanted." Not that you actually wanted to know that.