The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The Silmarillion was first published four years after J. R. R. Tolkien’s death, primarily as a result of the editorial efforts of Tolkien’s son, Christopher Tolkien. Although this is Tolkien’s final work, one greater in scope than any of his previously published works, it is actually the first work of true fantasy that he began to write. During Tolkien’s rehabilitation after his experiences in World War I, he began to write poems concerning some of the primary characters who appear in The Silmarillion. The events within this book precede those occurring in his more popular works of fantasy, The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings trilogy (1954-1955). The Silmarillion, in many ways, can be viewed as the legendary prehistory that serves as a backdrop for those other works.

The book has five distinct sections: “The Ainulindalë,” “The Valaquenta,” “The Quenta Silmarillion,” “Akallabâth,” and “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age.” The first and second sections detail the genesis of Arda, the mythical world of which Valinor, Beleriand, and Middle-earth are a part, and also explain the names and attributes of the chief divinities, both good and evil, who inhabit Arda.

The third section, “The Quenta Silmarillion,” is the main part of the book. It covers the history of Arda from the beginning of time to a cataclysmic battle between the forces of good and evil, a battle that...

(The entire section is 562 words.)