The Most Underappreciated Work of Fantasy Ever – THE SILMARILLION – Part 2 of 4

So, in Part 1, I unapologetically lavished praise on J. R. R. Tolkien’s masterpiece—a masterpiece among masterpieces, yea a towering feat of literary and fantasy profundity: The Silmarillion.

A few of you chuckled compassionately.  A few of you nodded gravely.  A few of you rolled your eyes.  To all of you I say: read it again!

Ungoliant (ancient ancestor of Shelob) traps Melkor, and demands that he feed her the silmarils–the stolen jewels that contain the last light of Valinor. Illustration by Kip Rasmussen.

And now, as promised, I shall tantalize Lord of the Rings fans with a “Did You Know?” apéritif that should get you to order up the main course at your favorite book store.

Did you know…

…That Sauron is second in command to the real Dark Lord?

…That he used to be quite a handsome chap?

…That he abased himself before a distant relative of Aragorn?

…That Aragorn is not exactly… human?

…That the world used to be flat?

…That there are different species of elves?

…That the first dragons had no wings?

…Why the eagles sometimes sweep in miraculously to save the day?  (People like to poke fun at this bit of seeming deus ex machina, but there are good and cool reasons why it happens the way it does…)

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…Why ents can walk and talk?

…That orcs are afraid of water?

…Who built Saruman’s tower?

…Why Galadriel is so mighty and so haunted, and that she left and returned to Middle Earth thousands of years before even Elrond was born?

…That there are MANY epic female characters in Tolkien’s universe?  (As my bro pointed out to me, props to Jackson ‘n friends for bumping up Arwen and Eowyn’s roles in the movies, etc., but only the uninitiated could be tempted to say that Tolkien’s work is lacking in female characters…  The Silmarillion is full of amazing ladies.  In fact, perhaps the most dynamic in the entire book—in all of literature—is female.)

…And, perhaps most importantly, do you know what actually lies in the “West” that Frodo sails off to at the end of LOTR?

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(You can get that song here.)

Those are just a few of the countless “Did-You-Knows” that should get any LOTR fan worth their lembas to dust off or buy the book…  (You’re welcome to add any others in the comments section below.)

And if you’re still holding back, in Part 3 or 4 (I haven’t decided which) I’ll tell you the surefire way to get into that thick Silmarillion prose and love it.

(And thanks again to Kip Rasmussen for the use of his beautiful artwork in these posts.)

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 Shameless P.P.S.

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