This book tells of the creation and early history of middle earth. The work was originally in five parts. Tolkien didn’t finish the book prior to his death so his son finished it. In some cases his son had to actually create new material to fill in the gaps.
Ainulindale is the first section. This is the creation of Middle Earth. Iluvatar is the Supreme Being in this series. He first creates the Ainur who are sort of gods and goddesses. There are several pair of the greater Ainur known as Valar. They are brought forth from Iluvatar’s thought. The Ainur were base to sing. Melkor who was the greatest in power of the Ainur decided to make his own song. This caused discord in the song on three separate occassions.
Iluvatar eventually stopped the song and showed the Ainur what the music had created namely Arda and its people. Iluvatar also created the Fire which Melkor greatly desired for himself.
Iluvatar brought the vision of the song into being. He sent the Fire into the void to create Arda. The Ainur went to Arda to fulfill the vision. As a condition of their going their power became inextricably bound to Middle Earth. In addition to the Valar Maiar who are lesser gods went to Middle Earth.
Melkor reeked havoc on all the Valar created undoing much of their work. Despite his thwarting efforts Middle Earth took shape.
The Quenta Silmarillion recounts the First Age.
Because Melkor contiually tried to destroy their work the Valar made their home in Valinor to the west of Middle Earth.
When the Elves awoke the Valar decided to defeat Melkor to keep them safe. They brought him back to Valinor captive. Only three families of Elves came to Valinor- the Vanyar, Noldor, and Teleri.
An elf named Fëanor creates the three Silmstils which is a repository for the light from the Trees of Valinor. Melkor seemingly repentant is freed but steals the Silmarils, kills Fëanors father and destroys the two trees by means of Ungoliant.
Fëanor and his seven sons swear a terrible oath of revenge and against Melkor and anyone who kept one of the Silmarils away from them. Thus a number of the Elves left Valinor to return to Middle Earth. The oath the Noldor swore operated as a curse. In fact one of the first things that went wrong is that the Noldor killed fellow elves for ships to return to Middle Earth. Note: Galadriel was one of the elves that departed Valinor not for revenge bit because she wanted a domain to rule.
This book also tells of the awakening of men.
Meanwhile Melkor was constantly kicking up a ruckus. The Noldor were pretty successful in the main against Melkor. But melkor did drive them back. In the aftermath of this battle we see a human named Beren escapes. He ends up in Doriath and falls in love with Lúthien. Thingol the king of Doriath agrees to let Beren a mortal marry his Elven daughter provided that he can obtain a Silmaril from Melkor. Beren takes the challenge aided by Lúthien. Thingol by desiring the Silmaril for himself dooms his land which had been protected by his Maiar wife Melian. Beren and Lúthien do marry. They are the first human/elf marriage. Their child is Dior whose child is Elwing. The second human/elf pairing is Idril and Tuor. Their child is Earendil.
During this time period the tale of Hurin takes place. You can read more about that here.
Melkor was able defeat the Elves using treacherous men. Earendil and Elwing used the Silmaril Beren torn from Melkor’s grasp to go to Valinor. The Valar defeated Melkor and ousted him from Arda. Thus concluded the First Age.
It was at this point that Earendil, Elwing, Elrond, and Elros were given a choice. See men were not permitted to Valinor as they were not given immortality. But these four presented a problem as they were half mortal and half elf. They were given a choice to either be Elf or man. Earendil, though reluctantly, and Elwing chose to live in Valinor. Elrond chose to be Elf and Elros choice mortality for he and his descendants. Elros became the king of the Edain which were the three loyal houses of men. The Valar created islands for them known as Numenor. The Numenoreans had greater than average lifespans. In fact Elros lived 500 years total. They were given a ban. They were not permitted to sail west out of sight of Numenor. Their down fall was brought about by Sauron who tried to take over Middle Earth. When Sauron realized that he could not defeat the Numenoreans, he allowed them to take him captive. He eventually convinced the king of Numenor to build a fleet and go to Valinor. The Valar destroyed the fleet and drowned Numenor. They also removed themselves from the world. I believe it was at this point that Middle Earth became round except to the Elves who could find the way to Valinor. The survivors created Arnor and Gondor.
Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
Tells how Sauron created the Ring of Power and the Alliance of Elves and Men that defeated Sauron the first time. This concluded the Second Age. Then we know how Sauron was ultimately defeated in the Lord of the Rings.
Ok, yes I was speechless. Not necessarily in a good way. It was way too much information in a short period of time. There were just way to many names to keep track of. And for crying out loud, some of the names were so similar I was sitting there thinking, “I thought this guy died 30 pages back.” I was confused. I believe Christopher Tolkien expanded this book into at least a nine part work. Some day once I’ve widdled down my reading list, I might try reading the series. Also the language was trying. It’s like trying to read the King James Bible.
Anyway, I believe Tolkien wanted this book to be the English mythology as to how the world came to to be. Now that I think on it, I don’t know that the English have mythology the way that the Greeks and Romans do. It did explain where people had the idea that the world was flat. According to his mythology, the world originally was flat.