I'd say it's more like a history or a religious text than an epic in the vein of Beowulf, personally, which is of course why I love it, as a scholar of history and a lover of mythology. But it is absolutely a dense read and the glossary in the back is an absolute necessity to get through it. It's still the most amazing tale I've ever read, by far. I've said this before and I'll say it again: if you start reading LotR after reading The Hobbit and expect the same thing, you're going to be disappointed. The same if you're going from LotR to The Silmarillion, or LotR to The Hobbit, or The Silmarillion to anything (though seriously who reads that one first?). All three of them are very different in style and have very different purposes behind them. The Hobbit wasn't even originally intended to be part of Tolkien's mythology, and it shows. It's a children's adventure book, pure and simple. It's something you can read (or be read to) as a kid and enjoy the hell out of because it's a fun story with an endearing whimsical style. Then you have LotR, which is much more like an epic in the line of Beowulf (but oh so much bigger) than The Silmarillion. That was written originally for adolescents and young adults (though really Tolkien wanted it to be read by everyone to help further this idea of an English mythology). And then you have The Silmarillion, which I honestly can't think of any way to describe it more apt than it's a blend of the Bible and the Norse Sagas and Eddas. If you're reading that book, I'd argue that you'll get the most out of it not if you're reading it as a piece of fantasy, but as a scholar reading an ancient and honored text. Because it's really NOT just a simple work of fiction, and Tolkien didn't intend for it to be one. So all three of these books really have to be approached differently to get the most out of them, and all three of them are great works for entirely different reasons because they rely on different strengths. I do have to say the if you liked LotR you'll probably find The Silmarillion interesting, but it will certainly be a hard read the first time round because you really do have to read it as though you're studying it, and not purely for enjoyment. On a semi-related note this brings up something that has got me worried about the Hobbit films. Not about the films themselves, but more about audience expectations. I'm quite worried that general audiences are going to go there without knowing about the tonal differences between them and LotR, and that it will ultimately hurt sales, because people going to see Lord of the Rings Before Lord of the Rings are going to be greatly disappointed when they find out it's not remotely like that. That was touched on by one of the reviewers about how it's the problem with prequels. I disagree with him on it being like The Phantom Menace, but it will certainly be a much more childish tale and I don't think most people going to see it are going to expect that. All of us know better, sure, but we're not the normal moviegoer. I think we can all acknowledge that.