Alec’s Summary of The Silmarillion

AlecWe at Atherton’s Magic Vapour like to save you, our readers, trouble, whenever we can do so without much trouble ourselves.  As a public service, therefore, I present my boyfriend’s summary of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion.  I do this to spare you, my devoted readers (there are seven of you, at least judging by my list of subscribers.  But, as Thomas Love Peacock tells us in Nightmare Abbey, “Seven is a mystical number, and the omen is good. Let me find the seven purchasers of my seven copies, and they shall be the seven golden candle-sticks with which I will illuminate the world.”  If you replace “purchasers” with “subscribers,” you have an approximate portrait of my own feelings on the subject), from the pain and trauma of reading The Silmarillion yourselves.  I haven’t read it myself, but I hear it does not repay attention.

Without further ado, therefore…

Beren son of Barahir, dispossessed as a result of the Dagor Bragollach, lived in Dorthonion, where he made so much trouble for the realm of Angband (not the same as Angmar) that he was worth the same bounty as Fingon, king of the elves. Eventually he had to flee from Dorthonion to Doriath (not the same place) where he met an elf named Luthien but generally called Tinuviel. Tinuviel was the daughter of Thingol, king of the elves (not the same elves of which Fingon was king, though). Thingol set Beren the task of recovering a Silmaril from the crown of Morgoth (actually Melkor). After many adventures, in which Beren would have died except for the help of Finrod (not the same as Fingon) and Huan (an occasionally talking dog), Beren and Luthien killed Sauron’s girlfriend, Thuringwethil, and his pet wolf, Draugluin (the biggest wolf ever). Then they skinned them and wore the skins. I can’t stress that last part enough.

Thus disguised, they reached Angband, where Beren cut a Silmaril from the crown of Melkor with his knife Angrist (not the same as Orcrist), and they escaped by threatening Morgoth’s guards with the light of the Silmaril. This worked until a giant wolf, Carcharoth (also called Anfauglir, and really the biggest wolf ever – Draugluin was a false alarm), bit off Beren’s hand and swallowed the Silmaril. Eventually Beren (and others) killed Carcharoth and recovered the Silmaril. Afterward Beren was called Erchamion, because he had only one hand, and Camlost, for no especially good reason.

UPDATE:  My spies inform me that this is not the whole plot of The Silmarillion, but only an episode within a larger and more convoluted work.  Alec speaks darkly of further summaries.  We shall see.  We are, in these matters, In The Hands Of Fate.

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  1. Hahaha~ The Simarillion was on my reading list for this year, but I was mobbed by Tolkien fans and told I was not, under pain of torture, to read Simarillian first of his works. That’s all well and good. There are many other books I could be reading instead.

  2. Believe it or not, I actually read the Silmarillion many years ago, but I remember very little about it. Your laugh-inducing summary makes me want to dig it out again.

  3. Melanie Atherton Allen

    NJ- I think that your mob of Tolkien fans give sage advice. I haven’t read The Silmarillion myself, but Alec’s remarks on the subject (not all of which were included in this post, by a long shot) make the thing sound fairly grim.
    Lori- you are a braver woman than I. I commend your reading stamina!

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