Ladies and gentleman. This is the oldest Tolkien book in my collection.
It’s been 10 years since I bought my first book on Middle-earth. No The Lord of the Rings, nor The Hobbit would introduce me to the J.R.R. Tolkien’s storytelling.
I dived straight into the tales of the First Age.
It was early 2006 when I entered a bookshop, and this little book with a black cover and an intricate floral design on the front caught my attention. I obviously knew of the author’s name via the films, but I was unaware of any other stories beyond the Rings narratives.
Curiosity compelled me to extend my hand, grab this rather bulky book and read the description at the back. The words First Age, Elves, War and Precursor to The Lord of the Rings was enough to set me straight towards the cash counter.
Ten years is a feeble amount of time compared to other collectors and readers who may undeniably boast a fine range of works over half a century old, or even further.
There’s nothing better than a well-worn classic (except for a brand new one, perhaps).
Notice the weathering and colour stains round the edges. Look at the creases running down the spine and the lack of gloss on top of Lúthien’s circular motif (no doubt worn by the constant flicking and handling).
As a matter of fact, this decade-old book has started to assume the qualities of antiquity and history that reflect the stories in The Silmarillion.
It has become akin to a book out of a fantasy world: a wizard’s tome weathered through the ages, but still containing words capable of conjuring powerful magic.
Before this book’s purchase and the beginning of my reading passion, I still respected any book’s tangible presence as a work of art. Suffice to say, any reader will confess the arduous task involving thick paperbacks with small lettering.
As I waded through the tales of the First Age, the book was stretched and opened wider and wider. Eventually, the spine broke under the pressure of my frivolous re-reads. The book split in two: appropriately, half way through the chapter on the Battle of Unnumbered Tears.
Tears unnumbered would have run down my face had it been worse. Luckily, the covers and pages still clung together but, from then on, it became quite a task to sift through round the 200-page mark.
Oh the pain!
My heart bleeds when I accidentally let go of one half of the book. Watching it flip open at a 180-degree angle flat on the surface, is awful.
Yet, my yearly Silmarillion reading tradition would not be complete without this book.
I obviously own a hardback of The Silmarillion but, whilst beautiful to behold, it is not ideal for getting down and dirty with reading about Elvish rebellions and the stealing of precious jewels. My 10-year-old paperback has been with me through thick and thin.
If the hardback is the elite nobility, destined to adorn a bookshelf, the paperback is the commoner: a friend and a door into this vast world.
So long as the pages remain stuck together, I’ll always reach for the same book for years to come. The emotional attachment is too strong to let go.