The Silmarillion Project: A New Way to View Tolkien



The Silmarillion intimidates me. It’s one of those Moby Dick-esque books that I’m sure I’ll love, but I still gotta make myself sit down with it, you know? Still, the same text that intimidates me clearly serves as a great inspiration to artist Aaron Diaz. In fact, he’s in the process of illustrating the whole thing with “The Silmarillion Project.”

Once he’s done, he’ll have created a painted image accompanying each chapter, in addition to other pieces depicting Tolkien’s characters and the world they live in. Not only is this an insane amount of work, but it should illuminate some neglected elements of Tolkien’s work, specifically his depictions of women and “minorities,” if that word applies to a fantasy story:

“…the ‘everyone is white’ trend in adaptations is a symptom of other people ignoring what’s in the texts. Additionally, all of Tolkien’s writings are presented as if they’re written from a limited and flawed historical perspective (LoTR and The Hobbit were ‘written’ by Hobbits, etc). The position of my adaptation is to present what ‘actually’ happened- the events upon which the flawed or biased history is based.”

I’m sure I’ll appreciate this a lot more after getting around to reading the book  (maybe later this year?), but honestly, the artwork is good enough to appreciate regardless. Wanna see a brave artist take on the collected mythologies of Middle Earth all by himself? Check it out here.

  • Frothy_Ham

    I know what you mean about the Silmarillion. I “read” through it 18 years ago when I was in 7th grade (dear god, that sentence makes me feel like I should be getting social security already) and barely understood a thing. I’ve always wanted to try it again now that I’m seemingly more mature but the thought kinda scares me.

    This artwork is amazing though, Aaron is an awesome artist and someone great to follow on Twitter.

  • JBattistella

    This article is another reason why I read Unreality on a daily basis. Such a wide variety of interests represented on this page. I recently began the book and am enjoying it immensely thus far. It amazes me how much of an immersive world Tolkien created. After reading the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series, I was genuinely curious about The Silmarillion. However, I was intimated by it as you have said. But, I am now happy to have jumped into it. So take the leap!

  • Luke Martin Shimek

    I know a lot of people have problems with The Sil. Personally, it is my favorite piece of Middle Earth. I enjoy the historical nature of the story which occasionally delves into individual lives; it parallels the flow of the old testament nicely.