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Old 08-04-2021, 09:09 AM   #1
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Silmaril The Great Tales as introduction

I think we've probably all seen people lamenting that they just couldn't get into the Silmarillion. Personally I've always loved the style of the Ainulindale/Valaquenta, but it does put a lot of people off. Standard advice across the internet seems to be some combination of 'just stick with it' and 'dip in to random places' (with one intriguing 'use it as an encyclopedia and just look up the stories as they're mentioned in LotR'). Fair enough, but I don't think I'd be inclined to pick up a book if people kept telling me that sort of thing.

But with the upcoming Amazon series, I'd expect to see at least a little uptick in people wanting to read about the Elder Days (it happened after the movies, after all!). So I was wondering: does anyone have any opinions on whether the standalone Great Tales would work as 'introduction to the First Age' books?

I know Children of Hurin is the only one that hangs together as a single story. My memory is that it was intended to be understandable without the Silm... but I've only read it once, because Turin. I've just glanced over Beren and Luthien, and I think it's likely to be too scholarly for this sort of thing: it has the Lost Tales version written out straight, but then intersperses the Quenta and Lay accounts with Christopher's commentary, rather than trying to use them just to tell the story. I don't remember what The Fall of Gondolin did, but I think it may have been even worse.

Am I wrong? I'd love to be able to recommend Beren and Luthien; I have pin-badges of them, and have been asked about them at least once, so it would be great to say 'there's a book!'. But I just don't know that it'll work.

(In an ideal world, whoever inherited the literary executor position would publish a Numenor book, pulling together the Description, Aldarion & Erendis, and Akallabeth, possibly with the Lost Road fragment and anything from the upcoming Hostetter book as well. I'd happily put that on my bookshelf, and it would serve as a perfect entry-point for viewers of the Amazon series. But that's probably just a dream.)

Have you burned the ships that could bear you back again? ~Finrod: The Rock Opera
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