The Silmarillion (Volume 1)

Version: Unabridged
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Narrator: Martin Shaw
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction & Literature
Publisher: Random House (Audio)
Published In: July 1998
# of Units: 4 CDs
Length: 4 hours, 37 minutes
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The Silmarillion tells of the Elder Days, of the First Age of Tolkien's World, when Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, dwelt in Middle Earth, and the High Elves made war upon them for the recovery of the Silmarils, the jewels containing the pure light of Valinor. It is to this ancient drama that the characters in The Lord of the Rings so often look back to.

The Elf-Man Túrin Turambar, the last of the great heroes born of man but fostered by the Grey-elves of Mithrim, was fair and strong and marked by sorrow. A dragon-slayer, he was also a curse unto his kin, treacherous to foes, faithless to friends, and husband of his sister. During Túrin's time and long past, Ulmo, King of the Sea, came to Valinor out of the deep waters, and spoke of the need of the Elves and the overpowering might of Morgoth. And the War of Wrath began. At its end the Silmarils found their homes: One in the airs of heaven, one in the fires of the heart or the world, and one in the blackness of the waters, and all Middle-Earth was peaceful for many years.

Peace reigned until the rise of Sauron, greatest servant of Morgoth, who recovered the rings of power and wore the Ruling Ring until it was cut from his hand. At the bidding of Mithrandir, the Great Ring of Power was cast into the Fire of Mount Doom from where it was wrought. Men grew strong and prospered. But the power of the Three Rings was ended and the world grew weary and grey to Elven-kind. They departed by ship into the high airs above the mists of the world, a whisper of harp-sound moving through the Ancient West. And an end was come for the Eldar of story and of song.

The Silmarillion, considered to be Tolkien's most important work, is the story of the creation of the world and the happenings of the First Age, clearly setting the stage for all his other works. With a superb performance by Martin Shaw, this final installment of three volumes will thrill and delight Tolkien fans of all ages, and listeners will treasure this extraordinary presentation for years to come.

Reviews (10)

Yes, sagas are for listening

Written by Nancy on February 13th, 2015

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I'm a longtime Tolkien reader, so the Silmarillion was not unfamiliar to me, but it's been a while since I've read it. Loved the oral presentation - which is how people first heard their epics. There are two things to remember about this book: first, Tolkien, as a linguist, was inventing languages (note the word stems such as "Mor-"; and second, he never got to finish the book - his son worked it over. Despite the latter, it does hang together and connects well with the later books. There is repetition, which perhaps the author would have eliminated, but it sure is helpful when listening to a long story. I am most struck by the alternative Creation epic (which is quite orthodox, actually); the successive temptings by Morgoth, which rely on pride and envy (nothing new there); the light-devouring Ungoliant; and the horrific kinslayings. (The sad and terrifying tales of the Children of Hurin and the fall of the elves' kingdoms are in subsequent volumes.)


Written by Anonymous on April 9th, 2011

  • Book Rating: 1/5

Too many names. No real story. I could not finish it.

not bad

Written by jonathan on July 8th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 3/5

This particular title is not bad. A lot of backtracking in this book. You can get lost easily if you aren't paying attention. Its not as inspiring as Lord of the Rings.

Silmarillion Volume 1

Written by TR on September 17th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 3/5

This book started off very hard to listen too. As with other Tolkien works the names he uses are very similar and hard to follow. There is so much information in these 3 volumes it is easy to get overwhelmed. But once I bacame familar with the name the story became much more interesting. My favorite volume was #3, because it involved more of the characters I was more familar with from the Lord Of The Rings.

'Fork in the eye' BORING

Written by Anonymous on August 14th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 1/5

I have read the Hobbit and LOR books so I thought I knew what I was getting into with The Silmarillion. I was exited to know the 'history' of Tolkien's world and get a better understanding of the characters I've read about. I tried 3 times to listen to this book and each time my eyes glazed over in a matter of minutes. There are so many names and too intricate of detail to hold my attention. I even tried jumping to the middle of the book. Although there were more recognizable names scattered about, it still failed to keep my attention. This book is for the serious J.R.R. Tolkien fans who have a map of Middle Earth and family trees of each character by their side.

The Silmarillion III

Written by Sharon Allen from Keizer, OR on June 12th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I enjoyed this volume more than the other two. The Silmarillion should almost be read backwards for greater comprehension. Characters and events in the more recent past are much more familiar, and therefore more understandable. I highly recommend this volume to even moderate Tolkien fans. It provides depth to the history and mythology only hinted at in LOTR.

The Silmarillion II

Written by Sharon Allen from Keizer, OR on June 12th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 4/5

This volume contains the much-touted Lay of Beren and Luthien, a truly heroic and sad story of lovers on a desperate quest. Listening to the story brings it to life more than reading it could. I enjoyed this volume more than the first since more of the characters were already familiar from LOTR.

The Silmarillioin, Volume I

Written by Sharon Allen from Keizer, OR on May 24th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 4/5

I am a mid-level Tolkien fan, have read The Hobbit and LOTR numerous times, and even took a college literature class on the subject just for fun. I have tried a couple of times to read The Silmarillion but kept getting bogged down in the names and relations of the first few chapters -- even with the support of David Day's wonderful illustrated Atlas of Middle Earth. This audiobook was the solution! Listening to the narration got me past the confusion and helped make sense of the events and key players. I am looking forward to Volumes II & III!


Written by Howeln from Alpine, CA on December 11th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 3/5

First the good. The books do give you a background on middle earth and history leading up to the hobbit. Basically, you find out why every one is the way they are (the races that is). The bad, LOTS of names, and then more names. It can be confusing at times, as well as a little dry, though it does get better after a few CD's....out of the 12. In general, sorry for anyone that has issues with this, but it it is kind of like reading the Bible. First, in that it starts out on the making of the gods that make middle earth, creating middle earth, the stuff on it, and then the plants and creatures, and then the races. It is also as general as the Bible, while being fairly specific in other cases. And then making it a rather dry read. I gave this a 3, 5 for the info and background for the other books, 1 for the dry multi-name length of the whole thing. Essentially, Tolkien could have made several books over the info in this one.

Silmarillion Vol 1 UAB

Written by Marcia on March 28th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 2/5

Like much of Tolkien this is a very difficult read. So many names becomes confusion; however, the informaion this creation story is valuable when reading other Middle Earth titles. I gave it 2 stars for the reading difficulty and the drag, but it is an excelent reference source for any Middle Earth fan.

Author Details

Author Details

Tolkien, J.R.R.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on the 3rd January, 1892 at Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State, but at the age of four he and his brother were taken back to England by their mother. After his father's death the family moved to Sarehole, on the south-eastern edge of Birmingham. Tolkien spent a happy childhood in the countryside and his sensibility to the rural landscape can clearly be seen in his writing and his pictures.

His mother died when he was only twelve and both he and his brother were made wards of the local priest and sent to King Edward's School, Birmingham, where Tolkien shined in his classical work. After completing a First in English Language and Literature at Oxford, Tolkien married Edith Bratt. He was also commissioned in the Lancashire Fusiliers and fought in the battle of the Somme. After the war, he obtained a post on the New English Dictionary and began to write the mythological and legendary cycle which he originally called 'The Book of Lost Tales' but which eventually became known as The Silmarillion.

In 1920 Tolkien was appointed Reader in English Language at the University of Leeds which was the beginning of a distinguished academic career culminating with his election as Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford. Meanwhile Tolkien wrote for his children and told them the story of The Hobbit. It was his publisher, Stanley Unwin, who asked for a sequel to The Hobbit and gradually Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings, a huge story that took twelve years to complete and which was not published until Tolkien was approaching retirement. After retirement Tolkien and his wife lived near Oxford, but then moved to Bournemouth. Tolkien returned to Oxford after his wife's death in 1971. He died on 2 September 1973 leaving The Silmarillion to be edited for publication by his son, Christopher.