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Farmer Giles of Ham : The Rise and Wonderful Adventures of Farmer Giles, Lord of Tame, Count of Worminghall, and King of the Little Kingdom Hardcover – November 15, 1999


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This 1949 work is set in England of long ago, when giants and dragons roamed free. None of those beasts is a match for the wits of Farmer Giles and his magic sword.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

J.R.R. TOLKIEN (1892–1973) is the creator of Middle-earth and author of such classic and extraordinary works of fiction as The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. His books have been translated into more than fifty languages and have sold many millions of copies worldwide.


WAYNE G. HAMMOND is a leading expert on Tolkien and coauthor of the acclaimed The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, and The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide with Christina Scull.


CHRISTINA SCULL is a leading expert on Tolkien and coauthor of the acclaimed The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, and The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide with Wayne G. Hammond.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 127 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 50 Anv edition (November 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618009361
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618009367
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #404,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892.1973), beloved throughout the world as the creator of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, was a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, a fellow of Pembroke College, and a fellow of Merton College until his retirement in 1959. His chief interest was the linguistic aspects of the early English written tradition, but even as he studied these classics he was creating a set of his own.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
In addition to his epic "Lord of the Rings" and the surrounding mythology, JRR Tolkien wrote a lot of brief, often light little fantasy novellas.

And if "Lord of the Rings" is a seven-course meal, "Farmer Giles of Ham" (in the vulgar tongue) is a pleasant little hors-d'oeuvre whose flavour lingers on the tongue. Tolkien wrote this in a charming, arch style, and seems to have had fun subverting some of the fantasy cliches that he helped create -- particularly that of the dragonslaying hero and the dragon he must deal with.

Aegidius de Hammo (or in the "vulgar tongue," as Tolkien archly tells us, Farmer Giles of Ham) is a pleasant, not-too-bright farmer (a bit like Barliman Butterbur) who leads a fairly happy, sedate life. Until the day his excitable dog Garm warns him that a giant (deaf and very near-sighted) is stomping through and causing mayhem. Giles takes out his blunderbuss and takes a shot at the giant, and inadverantly drives him off.

Naturally, Giles is hailed as a hero. Even the King is impressed, and sends him the sword Caudimordax (vulgar name: Tailbiter), which belonged to a dragonslaying hero. By chance, the not-so-fierce dragon Chrysophylax Dives has started pillaging, destroying and attacking the nearby areas. Can a not-so-heroic farmer drive off a not-so-frightening dragon?

"Farmer Giles of Ham" is one of those Tolkien stories that seems to be aimed at very literate kids, or adults who haven't lost that taste for very British, arch whimsy. It's a fast, fun little adventure story with blundering giants, greedy dragons and unlikely heroes.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Emily Held on May 26, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Those expecting something like The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings may be disappointed, for this is nothing like it - both short and wryly funny. (And if you don't catch the references and jokes at once, the editors provide a sizable glossary at the back). I could have done without the wordy introduction, but considering the attention garnered by the films lately, it's understandable. The text is presented in facsilmile, something I like very much - a good book benefits from a few nice pictures, and the ones here are simply and beautifully drawn, including two color plates. This also includes a first draft, and Tolkien's outline for a sequel, which make for interesting comparisons.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Unlikely heroes, excellent characters, and timeless energy are all contained within the covers of this book. Children and adults will adore it. This is recommended for the Tolkein fans and non fans alike. Not being a Tolkein fan (yes, there are those of us who consider ourselves avid science fiction/fantasy fans who do not like him) I found this one of his best. There was no wordy (and seemingly useless) chapters to wade through - just simple fun. I first read this book when I was sixteen and have read it time and time again.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By BAW on January 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This can be appreciated by both children and adults. The story itself, children will delight in. JRRT's bilingual puns will delight the more educated adults. (When the Blacksmith says that the Feast of Sts. Hilarius and Felix was an 'unlucky' day, for example; for those who don't know Latin, 'hilarius' means 'funny' and 'felix' means 'happy.)

Through all the laughter, JRRT does make some serious points. In his definition of 'blunderbuss' (lifted from the OED, of which he was a compiler) it says that a blunderbuss has been 'superceded in civilized countries by more sophisticated firearms.' JRRT immediately points out that, as Farmer Giles' country had not yet been civilized, the blunderbuss was the only kind of gun around, and was fairly rare at that. This is a dig, of course, at those who would access how 'advanced' a society is by its technology, particularly weaponry. The fashion-conscious knights, the learned parson, and the young dragons who thought (and are now sure) that knights are 'mythical' also provide subtle commentary which children will not get, but adults will.

Another major theme is that of the ordinary man, living a quiet, comfortable life, who is forced into an extraordinary situation in which his eyes are opened to a larger world--some of it beautiful, some of it horrible--beyond the borders of his snug, smug little corner of it, and who finds out that he's a lot braver, and a lot cleverer than anyone (including himself!) thinks he is. This is the central theme of 'The Hobbit', and is told in a slighter form here.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By K. Jump on May 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Farmer Giles doesn't want to be hero, but when a deaf, near-sighted giant comes stamping on all his favorite cows, he grabs up his blunderbuss and becomes one anyway. Everyone sees ol' Giles in a new light after that, even the King, so when a dragon flies into the area to do what dragons will, there's no doubt in anybody's mind--except Giles's--who should play the dragonslayer. Is Giles up to the part? Or will he and his trusty old mare and loyal dog Garm end up as dragon-bait? Either way, you know it's not the end of the story...
...and a mighty fine story, it is. "Farmer Giles of Ham" is a simple delight, short and very sweet. Giles is a charming curmudgeon who just might have it in him to be a little more, and the various supporting characters (including the aforementioned animals, as well as the local miller, parson, and the doom-saying blacksmith)come to brilliant life with short, deft strokes of Tolkien's witty, ingenious pen, while the author's observations of courtly life and what it might do to a King and his knights are brilliant satire. Hardly the least interesting characters are the blundering giant and the not-so-terrible dragon, the last of which is one of the most delightfully memorable of his ilk in literature. No, it's not "Lord of the Rings," and anyone expecting that kind of depth or scale will be sorely disappointed. On the other hand, many of the fairy tale elements from this book are reminiscent of "The Hobbit," though they certainly carry a much lighter spin here. Highly suited for children, but fantasy fans of any age can and will appreciate it. The whole tale is a laugh-outloud-riot, and it's short enough to be consumed in only an hour or so. What, and a magic sword too?!? This one's got it all!
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