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5.0 out of 5 stars Littler tales, 28 Feb. 2006
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Hobbit / Roverandom / Tales from the Perilous Realm: Boxed Set: WITH Roverandom AND Tales from the Perilous Realm (Paperback)
J.R.R. Tolkien is still best known for his groundbreaking fantasy trilogy "The Lord of the Rings." But he actually wrote several other books, ranging from dense fantasy histories to cute little picture books. This three-pack brings together his first published novel, a charming fantasy romp, and a collection of stories and poetry.
"The Hobbit" hardly needs introduction. This fantasy classic introduced us to Middle-Earth, hobbits and the One Ring: placid hobbit Bilbo Baggins is suddenly dragged away by the wizard Gandalf and thirteen dwarves, to help "burgle" treasure from a malevolent dragon. But Bilbo ends up in a lot more trouble than that -- especially when the treasure sparks off a massive war.
"Tales From the Perilous Realm" includes two novellas: "Farmer Giles of Ham" is a delightful mock-hero tale about a farmer and a not-so-frightening dragon, while "Smith of Wootton Major" is about a faery star that changes the life of a young man. It also includes Tolkien's poetry about Middle-Earth, ranging from fun songs about Tom Bombadil to the bittersweet "Last Ship," about a girl longing to follow Elves over the sea.
Tolkien wrote "Roverandom" to comfort his then-four-year-old son Michael, when the boy lost his toy dog on the beach. It tells the story of Rover, a little pup who runs afoul of grumpy wizard Artaxerxes and ends up turned into a toy. Encountering another wizard, Rover (soon called Roverandom) gets spun off to the moon, encounters a talking whale, a sea serpent, and the Man in the Moon.
This can't exactly be called a collection of Tolkien's lesser-known works -- I mean, everyone knows about "The Hobbit." Better it be known as Tolkien's more whimsical works, since even the most serious of these stories has a touch of fairy-tale whimsy and magic about it. Not flashy magic, or gooey whimsy, but the real thing.
As always, Tolkien's writing is entertaining and well-plotted if it's a story, just fantastic if it's a poem. (Although some of the poems have plots too). Anyone expecting the depth and intensity of "Lord of the Rings" will be disappointed, except in the final chapters of "Hobbit." These stories favour cute characters, whimsical imaginings, and the sort of unfettered imagination that usually deserts people after they leave their childhood behind.
Tolkien's more charming, whimsical storytelling comes out in this three-pack of novels, stories and poetry. They won't change your life, but they will make you smile.
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