The Silmarillion – I’ve tried a few times to read this book and never managed to get all that far until recently, and I did finish it today. I can’t say I could really sum up the plot, but in a way it didn’t exactly have a plot. J.R.R. Tolkien deeply developed the mythology of Middle-Earth, and this volume is a collection of some of these myths. It’s sort of Tolkien’s version of Genesis, combining elements of Catholicism, Norse mythology, and of course his own vivid imagination. I definitely have to admire Tolkien’s dedication to his craft, but I didn’t find the writing here to be particularly engaging. In fairness, he never did complete it to his own satisfaction; what we have is essentially an unfinished work brought into some semblance of completion by his son Christopher. It starts out telling of the creation of the world by Illuvatar and his Valar, basically the Middle-Earth names for God and the angels. The Satan figure is Melkor, also known as Morgoth, who is eventually bound and succeeded by his lieutenant Sauron. The origins of Elves, Dwarves, and Men are addressed, although the Elves receive the most attention. There are some quite clever ideas here, like the world only becoming spherical in order to protect the paradise of Valinor, and a land based on Atlantis. It’s definitely worth researching these aspects of Tolkien’s fantasy land, but I wouldn’t say the book itself is a must-read.