on 24 January 2004
This stuff goes under the listing of "things most people don't know Tolkien wrote," along with things like "On Fairy Stories," "Bilbo's Last Song" and the charming bedtime story "Roverandum." It's a good collection of Tolkien's lesser-known material, including some cute short stories and poems.
In this slim volume is: "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil," a collection of poems. Some focus on the weird and wonderful Tom himself, and some are poems that are (or might be) in Middle-Earth, like the creepy "Mewlips," the sweet "Princess Mee," and melancholy "Last Ship." There is "Leaf By Niggle," the tale of a painter straining to live up to his hopes. "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 a deeper, more subtle story about fantasy in a person's life.
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). If you're expecting the depth or grimness of "Lord of the Rings," then you'll disappointed; these are more like "The Hobbit" or "Roverandum" in tone, although there are hints of "Rings" in some of the short stories like "Leaf" or "Farmer Giles."
Why four stars? Well, the cover is a bit odd-looking, a bit smudgy for my taste. And the paper felt a bit odd, as if it could have been better. And buyers should be forewarned: If you have purchased the "Tolkien Reader," then know that this book has some of the same stuff compiled in it. Specifically, "Father Giles" and "Adventures."
This is a good compilation of several of Tolkien's lesser, non-"Lord of the Rings" works, and fans shdould check them out. In fact, so should non-fans.
This is a simply beautiful book, a wonderful collection of faery stories complemented by Alan Lee's sublime illustrations. In this collection of 'Tales from the Perilous Realm' you are treated to no less than five stories from the wonderful imagination of JRR Tolkien: Roverandom, Farmer Giles of Ham, Leaf by Niggle, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Smith of Wootton Major. All have something to say - whether it is about life in general, human nature, society or just plain wonderment...
I can heartily recommend to fans of Tolkien, of magic and of 'faery', of Alan Lee or to those wishing to explore Tolkien but who are not yet ready to tackle the mammoth mountain of literature that is The Lord Of The Rings! This collection is fun, at times frivilous and can be read fast. Perfect for relaxation when you don't want to be too taxed!
Try it...you may find you'll fall for it!
on 30 March 2007
"Leaf by Niggle" is the closest JRRT ever came to true allegory, and is something of a spiritual autobiography. The tree that Niggle tries to paint but keeps being distracted by details represents his Middle Earth Legendarium, particularly the Silmarillion; Mr. Parish represents his 'secular' responsibilities as a professor, husband, father, citizen, etc. The Journey is, of course Death. The Workhouse is Purgatory. The valley with the tree is the Earthly Paradise, and the land beyond the mountains is Heaven.
"Farmer Giles of Ham" on the surface seems to be a pleasant Midaeval adventure tale, but there are subversive elements to it. In this sort of story one expects the Brave Knight to be the hero; however, in dealing with the dragon the King and his Knights are worse than useless, and the person who is able to take care of the matter is a fat, redheaded farmer who doesn't like tresspassers.
"Smith of Wooton Major" is also semiallegorical, with smithcraft standing in for JRRT's professional obligations as a professor at Oxford (in which his son Christopher followed his father's footsteps, as Smith's son became a blacksmith, too.) Some of the images are odd and disturbing, but beautiful, too.
The miscellaneous poems are great fun. Some, of course, refer to his private mythology; many had appeared in different forms in various magazines and private printings over the years before they were assembled in this anthology. "Princess Mee" is a retelling of the Narcissus story; "The Shadow Bride" is evocative of several old myths, including Persephone, but doesn't quite fit with any of them. "The Hoard", although using tropes from Norse and Celtic mythology is, essentially, an antimaterialist statement--the gold, silver and precious gems that are taken from the earth cause nothing but misery, corrupting everyone who comes to own them; peace comes only when they are returned to the earth in the old King's tomb. "The Sea Bell" and "The Last Ship" are to be read together. Both the speaker in the first poem and Firiel in the second have a vision of another world that stands over against our own--a world of enchantment and beauty in contrast to our mundane existance; the speaker in "The Sea Bell" tries to snach and cling to that other world, and so looses the good of both that world and this, while for Firiel it is enough for her to know that it exists. (Neurotics build castles in the air, as the old saying goes, while psychotics try to live in them.)
The two poems about the Man in the Moon are expansions of two nursery rhymes, allegedly the original forms thereof, and great literary fun. Of the two poems about the trolls, one is from LOTR and the other fits well into it as it refers to places in the Shire. Of the two animal poems, "Oliphaunt" and "The Cat", both are great fun, and the latter is one of the best cat poems I know (more about that below.) "The Mewlips" is a creepy-fun piece, good for a Hallowe'en recitation.
"The Cat", although it seems like a simple little animal poem, is a lot more. The Roman poet Horace said that a poem "begins in delight and ends in wisdom", and this is a perfect example. "The fat cat on the mat. . " contains about the first rhymes a child learns to make, but the poem ends--after a description of various large felines (lions, leopards) ends: "Far now they be/and fierce and free/and tamed is he;/but fat cat/on the mat/kept as a pet/he does not forget." When you put aside considerations of size, long hair or short, striped spotted or solid, a cat is a cat is a cat; the most pampered housecat is a miniature leopard, and the fiercest tiger is a great big kitty.
"Farmer Giles", "The Hobbit" and to a great extent "The Lord of the Rings" are all the stories of small, ordinary people who are placed in extraordinary situations, where they find that they are a lot braver and cleverer than anyone (including themselves) thought they were capable of being. This refers back, I think, to JRRT's WW I experience; he was an officer in a Birmingham-area militia; the men in his company were farmhands, factory workers, shop assistants, schoolteachers, bank clerks, college students--very ordinary young men, thrown into an extraordinary situation; they found themselves doing all sorts of things that they never expected to do--some of them wonderful, many of them horrible, but all of them outside of their normal sense of what should be. The three stories above are all like that. "The Cat" comes into it thus: your ordinary Englishman who might be teaching school or working in a bank or keeping a shop probably has among his ancestors Norman crusader knights, Viking longboatmen, Celtic and Saxon warriors, and perhaps even Roman legionnaires, and the spirit of those ancestors, although deeply buried, under the proper circumstances can come out.
on 9 August 2000
The four stories in the book are all different, but all classic Tolkien. Farmer Giles of Ham tells of the rise of an unassuming Farmer to become King through perilous bravery and valour. Filled with humour. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil are an excerpt from Book one of LotR. Leaf by Niggle is an enchanting tale, which leaves you wondering about many things. By far the shortest and best of the set. Simply Amazing. Smith of Wooton Major ultmiately is a story about respect, but is told by Tolkien in a most moving way. GO and buy it. Then tell all your friends.
I don't understand why the Tales has been called a collection of children's stories (as in alexcapel's review). As an adult - middle aged - and a voracious reader of anything to do with fantasy, these short stories had a sense of depth and perspective that I seldom find in children's books.
I have to say that my favorites were "Leaf by Niggle" and "Smith of Wotton Major". I was profoundly affected by both of them. Tolkien manages to insert moral points without seeming to preach from a pulpit.
"Farmer Giles of Ham" had an interesting twist to it. Here again Tolkien treads the fine line of morals superbly. I have to say that the poems on Tom Bombadil were disappointing. I was expecting something that went further back into history. Something that told me where he was from and what he was. But, then, that is how stories are. Authors often take me where I have not expected to go, and thank God for that.
A superb read.
on 10 August 2011
When I got my Kindle there were certain books that I just had to buy - starting with Tolkien, and I was particularly thrilled to find six of his shorter works together in this collection.
This is a wonderful opportunity for Tolkien fans to discover some stories outside or peripheral to the great saga of Middle-Earth and contains (amongst other gems)the delightful story of Farmer Giles of Ham. Taken by many readers to be no more than a children's story, it was actually written by Tolkien as an entertainment - full of literary jokes aimed at friends and colleagues - and was illustrated by the late Pauline Baynes. The story was told that Tolkien noticed some of her drawings when visiting his publisher and insisted that she should be asked to provide the illustrations for 'Farmer Giles', when the book was published he commented that Pauline Baynes's were so delightful that they "reduced my text to a commentary on her drawings" and from that day on she was his preferred illustrator.
How very disappointing therefore, that these wonderful drawings have been omitted from this collection. As a result much of the pleasure (and in the case of 'Farmer Giles', much of the humour) has been lost, and the poems of 'The Adventures of Tom Bombadil' have lost so much that they are a shadow of their original selves. The greatest beauty of Pauline Baynes's work was the elegance of her line, although she used colour wonderfully it isn't essential to see her illustrations in colour in order to enjoy them - the majority of the illustrations in these books are monochrome - and they could therefore have been reproduced in Kindle format. I for one would cheerfully have paid twice the price to have been able to enjoy these stories with their original illustrations.
Come on Amazon - no more cutting corners!
on 15 March 2007
If some people (and i understand this truthfully) find the likes of The Silmarillion and to an extent Unfinished Tales a bit hard to digest, then Tales from the Perilous Realm is a great alternative.
A selection of four short stories based in and around a land called Faerie that are inclusive of old faithfuls (the Hobbits) and a rather mean old dragon or wyrm, a strange painting that...I've said enough i dont want to wreck the plots.
Though considered short stories these four works of literary art are surprisingly in-depth. Of course they are by no means as in-depth as the likes of LOTR, The Hobbit, The Silmarillion and Unfinished tales but what a delightful addition to your library.
I read with horror that somebody referred to these as 'childrens stories' to which i feel a little aggrieved. Sure these stories are ideal for younger readers, what with the easily digestible plots. There is nowhere near as much 'Elvish language' to confuse people. However that is not to say that these stories cant be enjoyed by older readers...I am 20 yrs old and will undoubtedly re-read with the same pleasure and stimulated imagination when i reach 60 as i have at this age. If you find yourself enjoying this little selection then i recommend Roverandom.
For the price and the quality that it brings Tales from The Perilous realm shoud be great addition to anybodies bookshelf.
on 7 July 2012
I bought the product after I had read Lord of the Rings because I was intrigued by this Tom Bombadil fellow. I saw this book contained more stories about him so I bought it hoping to learn more about Old Man Willow and other mysteries surrounding Tom and the Withywindle.
Unfortunately, the section named 'The Adventures of Tom Bombadil' is largely nothing about him! The story has 16 chapters and it is written as a poem. Two chapters are about Tom himself but the other are about random things such as a fat cat on a mat!? So on this front I am disappointed.
However, I found the other stories fantastic! That is why I gave 4 stars, the majority of the book is great. Farmer Giles is very 'unputdownable' and the action begins right from then start. So even though I did not get what I was looking for! I got something much, much more. I would still be delighted if some could tell me where I can learn more about Tom Bombadil!!!
on 11 January 2014
Tales from the Perilous Realm is a beautiful collection of some of Tolkien's finest but most obscure works, illustrated (in my copy, at least) by Alan Lee. Lee also worked with the Tolkien estate on The Children of Húrin, which was edited by Tolkien's youngest son Christopher, and I was impressed by that as well.
Here, five of Tolkien's short stories are gathered together alongside an essay of his On Fairy-Stories - despite being an essay, it's highly readable and a fascinating insight in to both the way that Tolkien's mind worked and the secret history of the fairy tale. You'd be surprised at what is, and what isn't, a fairy tale, for example.
In fact, this entire collection is very easy-to-read and surprisingly enlightening - I'll admit that I struggled through The Lord of the Rings, and I often found it tedious when Tolkien went off on a tangent. Here, he's lucid, entertaining and ready to please children and adults alike with his wonderful words.
In particular, be sure to check out Roverandom, the first story in the collection and possibly the finest. It tells you the story of an adventurous dog who's magicked away on an adventure after biting the leg of a crochety old wizard - along the way, he meets the Man on the Moon and his dog, discovers an underwater kingdom where the wizard has been appointed 'PAM' (Pacific-Atlantic Magician), and learns that 'Rover' is a pretty common name, for a dog.
Farmer Giles of Ham is also pretty epic, a story about a simple farmer who ends up battling giants and dragons to save his honour - it ends happily, and I'm pretty sure it contains a moral, although I'm not sure what that moral might be. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil follows, but it's not as good as you might expect - it's written in verse, and grows tedious after the first thirty pages.
Smith of Wootton Major and Leaf By Niggle round out the collection, and though they're both strong stories, they're not as strong as the others. Still, they're the finishing touches on a killer arsenal that will make you fall in love with Tolkien all over again, a book that's easily enjoyed by anyone, whether they're a fantasy reader or not.
on 19 January 2011
This handy, cheap collection of Tolkien's fairy tales is a must for everybody who enjoyed the writer's humourous vein of The Hobbit's fame, as well as for Middle-Earth completists. But there's enough there for fans of epic fantasy too, thus for more traditional Tolkien fans, especially because of the hobbit poems from the Tom Bombadil book.
Farmer Giles of Ham is a delicious satirical fairy tale about a farmer who unwillingly, but wittingly becomes a hero of the land by luck and cunning. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil is pure Middle Earth lore, as it presents itself as a collection of hobbit poems about Tom Bombadil and many other subjects. More than the poems themselves, the entertainment value rests on the volume being made as a scholarly anthology of poetry. The introduction to Adventures is especially merciless, often stating the simple and derivative nature of the poems, written in some cases by no less than Bilbo, Frodo or Sam Gamgee, that fans of Lord Of The Rings will devour with almost religious fervour.
Leaf By Niggle is the most poetic, allegorical of the bunch. Almost kafkian at some point, it turns into a touching defense of art and literature, as well as of the simple, common-sense based nature Tolkien praised and satirised so often in other cases.
Smith Of Wootton Major is the most traditional of these modern fairy tales and the perfect ending to the collection.
This book is a bit uneven, but overall absolutely charming and very pleasant to read. On the plus side is also its being perfectly suited for children, because there are all sides of human nature here, but the tone is definitely all-ages, and everything is fairly (and fairy-ly) presented.
In closing, a mention of honour to the book's introduction, which is an extract of a 1939 lecture he gave.
In there, Tolkien the scholar poetically gives you the reason why fairy tales are also cautionary tales and tales of beauty, that speak to the heart more than to the mind, and must thus not be questioned too deeply (in the cold logical sense or in everyday pettiness), lest the magic be lost.