This book was Tolkien’s life’s work. It was not released until after his death, put together by his son Christopher. I call it the Old Testament of Middle Earth. While it is not as exciting as the Hobbit, or even as fast-paced as Lord of the Rings (which is itself a bit slow at times) it is rich and fantastic.
To me, it is this book which sets Tolkien in a world apart from his successors. George Martin has done a wonderful job in creating a world in Westeros that feels lived in. The story in the background of Game of Thrones and its sequels is a story that could be described as Tolkien-esque (which may be why some of these stories will be coming to HBO). But where Martin is giving us modern stories, more rooted in detail and seeking to be realistic, Tolkien gave us myth. The Simarillion reads like a myth, beginning in creation and leading into our present day world.
Its not an easy read. The names of elves and gods (well…valar and maiar) are confusing. I set it aside for a long time. Then I worked through it. It was the second time through, knowing what to expect, that I was blown away. Tolkien’s my favorite (we’ll be seeing him again this top ten) and The Silmarillion is a must read for Tolkien fans and fantasy fans alike.