Order in which to read Tolkien's works

Discussion in 'Annals of the Eldanyárë' started by Rivendell_librarian, Nov 17, 2018.

  1. Rivendell_librarian

    Rivendell_librarian Member

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    Restricting (initially) to The Silmarillion (S), The Hobbit (H) and The Lord of the Rings (L) what is the best order to read these 3 works and which order did you read them?

    Rivendell librarian:
    I read them in the order LHS but now consider the best order SHL.
     
  2. Barliman

    Barliman Active Member

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    Ummm...Bree, where else?
    I read The Hobbit, The Lord of The Rings, Farmer Giles of Ham, Smith of Wooten Major then Silmarillion.
    Had no choice with The Silmarillion since it hadn't been published.

    For just the three I'd suggest to a noob HLS as in that order the level of detail, background and reading difficulty increases.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2018

  3. Rivendell_librarian

    Rivendell_librarian Member

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    But I now realize that reading The Silmarillion first gives you important background to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. So maybe SHL is the order to re-read them in.
     
  4. Valandil

    Valandil High King at Annuminas

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    I would suggest first-time readers go HLS, and then recommend SHL for re-reads. Or... if you've read HL and waited awhile - then try SHL, to get the S and re-read HL. :)
     

  5. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Skulking near Archet

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    I'm with Valandil on this; I have to wonder how many people, coming upon S cold, would be willing to struggle through it (I'm thinking of general readers, here, not fantasy fans -- I know several of our members started with it). And then go on to LOTR!

    We should keep in mind that when LOTR came out, Fantasy as a genre was essentially nonexistent; and that was still the case ten years later, when the paperbacks were finally published -- I'd bet that the majority of people who picked up either of those two early editions had never read a work of "adult" fantasy in their life. That this one took off the way it did is due in large part to Tolkien's skill in drawing readers into the world of Middle Earth through the low mimetic Hobbits of the Shire, an accomplishment probably not recognized as much as it should be, in these days of Fantasy as "mainstream" literature.

    I was one of the "second wave" (paperback) readers, and therefore there was no S to read. But for some reason, I decided to dip my toe in Tolkien, before committing myself, so my first purchase was this:


    81KegOaWjiL.jpg
     
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  6. Valandil

    Valandil High King at Annuminas

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    For each of these three main works - I started it, left it unfinished, then returned to it sometime later and started over, eventually reading it all. For me, the start of each book was difficult - just because it was so hard to get into at first. I've concluded that this is due to the high level of detail in each, especially at the beginnings. A funny thing happens as we continue on though... the very level of detail which makes us struggle (or made me struggle) from the start, is what pulls us in and makes us treasure these books - and this creation - so much.

    When I finally read The Silmarillion, I intended to do a re-read of the other two (coincidentally - just a little before I learned the movies were coming out) - and simply determined that I was going to read The Silmarillion this time, and that I would read it first - so I would have the stories from it fresh in mind when I encountered references to them in the other books.
     
  7. Miguel

    Miguel Active Member

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    What he says at 00:50 is pretty much how i read it, although i think that's how it naturally happens given the nature of this book. However, it wasn't until i started hearing the audio book that my comprehension of the whole thing became deeper. That's just how it happened in my case.

    He does some mistakes like calling Melkor "Melkior" and such but oh well.


    While i prefer to experience Middle-Earth in English i consider this audiobook to be absolute gold. Music scores from many different movies and other works are used in it and while a number of tracks are to be immediately recognized, they are used very well and blend with the narrative beautifully to the point that i forget they're from something else. It's extremely atmospheric and has a top quality yet really pleasant home made feeling to it. Narrator is from Argentina, i think his voice was perfect for this.

     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2018
  8. Gothmog

    Gothmog Lord of Balrogs Staff Member

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    He also makes a mistake by working hard to make the Silmarillion Explicitly Christian despite not only the way it is written but also Tolkien's own words on the matter.
     
  9. Miguel

    Miguel Active Member

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    ;)
     
  10. Rivendell_librarian

    Rivendell_librarian Member

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    Thanks to all those who have contributed to this thread. I like The Silmarillion as dark chocolate analogy. I like dark chocolate (90%) but only eat two pieces (1/5 of a bar) at any one time. Similarly I only read one chapter of The Silmarillion in a day. Some of the chapters were stuffed with action and characters.

    I agree that HLS is the right order on first reading but I did LHS.
     
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  11. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Skulking near Archet

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    Nothing wrong with that, and I think many did it the same way.

    In fact, the caveat I mentioned earlier could apply to HLS order, in the other direction: I knew people who read, or tried to read, H first, and decided they had no interest in a "children's story" -- and certainly not a three-volume version.

    I hope some of them eventually had their misapprehensions cleared up.
     
  12. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    Strangely, I am reading L-S-H-S.


    Weird I know, I was on a roll with S, but stopped when Turin's story began.


    So, now I am on H.

    One man described it to me quite nicely:

    "L before H?? That's like getting a PhD before a Bachelor's Degree!"


    I mean, I don't disagree....:D:D:D


    CL
     
  13. Rivendell_librarian

    Rivendell_librarian Member

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    Even in the pre-Peter Jackson era, LOTR was a higher profile book for adults and that may explain why many people read it before The Hobbit.
     
  14. Phil Lewis

    Phil Lewis New Member

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