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The Silmarillion cover art

The Silmarillion

By: J. R. R. Tolkien
Narrated by: Martin Shaw
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Summary

A thoroughly enchanting tale that sets the trajectory for the cosmos of J.R.R. Tolkien's magnificent fantasy series Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Like the dark matter at the centre of every origin story, this is a must-listen for fans who want to delve deeper into this mythical world.

The complete unabridged audiobook of J.R.R Tolkien's The Silmarillion.

The Silmarillion is an account of the Elder Days, of the First Age of Tolkien’s world. It is the ancient drama to which the characters in The Lord of the Rings look back, and in whose events some of them such as Elrond and Galadriel took part. The tales of The Silmarillion are set in an age when Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, dwelt in Middle-Earth, and the High Elves made war upon him for the recovery of the Silmarils, the jewels containing the pure light of Valinor.

Included in the book are several shorter works. 'The Ainulindale' is a myth of the Creation and in the Valaquenta the nature and powers of each of the gods is described. 'The Akallabeth' recounts the downfall of the great island kingdom of Númenor at the end of the Second Age and 'Of the Rings of Power' tells of the great events at the end of the Third Age, as narrated in The Lord of the Rings.

©1977 The Tolkien Estate Limited and C.R. Tolkien (P)1977 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"How, given little over half a century of work, did one man become the creative equivalent of a people?" ( The Guardian)
"Demanding to be compared with English mythologies...at times rises to the greatness of true myth." ( Financial Times)
"A creation of singular beauty...magnificent in its best moments." ( Washington Post)
"A grim, tragic, brooding and beautiful book, shot through with heroism and hope... its power is almost that of mysticism." ( Toronto Globe & Mail)

Featured article: Aragorn - a Lord of the Rings character guide


From his time as the ranger Strider to his ascension to King of Gondor, this guide has everything you need to know about the hero Aragorn. Perhaps one of the most mysterious and intriguing characters in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Aragorn is known by many names: Strider, Elessar, Estel, and finally Aragorn II, heir to the throne of Gondor and Arnor. From a shadowy tracker who mysteriously comes to Frodo's aid to an essential member of the Fellowship of the Ring to the long-awaited king who restores harmony and peace to Middle-earth, Aragorn plays many important roles in the fantasy epic. And he has quite an interesting history.

What listeners say about The Silmarillion

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Great book. Shameful production.

The stories were great, but that's to Tolkien's credit and not the creators of the audiobook. Numerous times throughout the audiobook I encountered glitches in the track where suddenly the narrator would be repeating the title of the chapter or other pieces of the story in the background, thus resulting in near gibberish as the doubled tracks made it impossible to hear what was being said. I went back a few times to check if it had simply been my phone that glitched out but found that each instance of this glitch occurred consistently at the same timestamp. In other words it's a production error. And considering how many times this occurred, the production company have no excuse not to be absolutely ashamed of their work. Had it happened once I would have shrugged it off as a simple mistake, but when it happens just about a dozen times it becomes negligence. I recommend Tolkien's The Silmarillion, but I can't say I recommend this particular edition of the audiobook.

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181 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great but with random audio glitches...

Great way to read the silmarillion as the book itself can be a bit impregnable to read. Great performance as well, but one thing that did start to get a bit annoying was the frequency of audio glitches throughout. Examples being:

- Chapter intro music playing randomly mid chapter
-The chapter title repeatedly being said over the top of the narrator.
- Audio jumping in the final few chapters.

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82 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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awesome

fantastic listen, only issue is that in one of the (luckily) more boring chapters, the title replays about 20 times

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72 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Mixed Feelings

I remember the day this much anticipated book came out in the late seventies. In my late teens I was a Fan - I read a library copy of LOTR under the bedclothes with a torch, marvelling at the map and captured by the magic of it all. Four years later I'd probably read it eight or nine times, a twice annual practice which continued until my mid twenties.

In my weekly trawl of Liverpool's bookshops I'd purchased everything else by Tolkien I could: Leaf by Niggle, Farmer Giles of Ham, Smith of Wootton Major. With saved pocket money for odd jobs, I'd paid for the Silmarillion at Philip, Son & Nephew before it was published, and on the day it arrived I was there, patiently waiting in the queue for my own copy.

And yet I was disappointed.

The Silmarillion was not a work of fiction primarily designed to be read, listened too, or enjoyed. Even at seventeen or so I realised that it was more a matter of Tolkien working through the background for his world - a sort of hobby horse for himself to form the basis for the world which his languages inhabited. He was working on the Silmarillion before he wrote LOTR, and it shows.

The Hobbit and the LOTR are both stories. The Silmarillion is a History, and an imaginary history at that, presented in a format styled by a medieval style author, storyteller or bard. On the written page this comes across as overblown and pretentious. There are passages in LOTR that also read like that, but they are broken up by the unfolding of events and the characters. In the Silmarillion the style just steamrollers you.

Much of it is simply lists of names and is exceedingly dull. There are high points -the tales of Hurin and Turin spring to mind. As a teenage fan I was somewhat let down: this WAS more Tolkien and Middle Earth, but in effect it was more appendices rather than narrative. Useful for the fan, glad its there and all that - but not really what I'd hoped for.

Forty odd years later I decided to give it another go, this time read by Martin Shaw. Having a narrator is an improvement, but it also highlights the weaknesses of the book. The initial sections of the book are still boringly dull lists of odd names, guaranteed to frighten off anyone but a Tolkien fanatic.

The Silmarillion is essentially background reading, for the truly dedicated only. It will not replicate the experience of LOTR or the Hobbit. I would say the same for all those things Tolkien scribbled on the back of old cigarette packets, later collected into 'Unfinished Tales' et. al.

The Silmarillion is the work of a literary genius, but is not a work of genius in itself. It is something Tolkien essentially wrote for himself, which was eventually published.

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65 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Only for Tolkein fans.

If you aren't really into middle earth, this isn't for you, but personally I enjoyed it, it's well performed and interesting.

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26 people found this helpful

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Martin Shaw

... Is the best casting decision I've seen on Audible to date. Can't praise the narration enough. As a kid reading it and ever since, the inflection and cadance I had in my mind is served up wonderfully by Martin Shaw. Two thumbs up.

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Get yourself a map

Brilliant, the world from the begining of middle earth. Do have a map handy though and perhaps a pen and paper to write some family trees. It certianly fills in a few blanks from There and Back Again.

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A Tale of Good, Evil , Gods and Men

I've always wanted to read The Silmarillion, but could never get past the first chapter as the story was so complicated. Listening to it via Martin Shaw's soothing tones enabled me to keep a grip on the characters and plot. I may even read the book, now!

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23 people found this helpful

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Fantastic

Truly loved it, though it was a struggle to get into at first. Martin Shaw helps bring to life one of my most beloved epics in such an engaging and atmospheric way.

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18 people found this helpful

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Epic Stuff

Great mythic tales on a grand scale from the master of ancient storytelling.
LOTR is but a an episode to the scale of The Silmarillion.

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11 people found this helpful