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Smith of Wootton Major & Farmer Giles of Ham Mass Market Paperback – January 12, 1986

4.6 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Two bewitching fantasies by J.R.R. Tolkien, beloved author of THE HOBBIT. In SMITH OF WOOTTON MAJOR, Tolkien explores the gift of fantasy, and what it means to the life and character of the man who receives it. And FARMER GILES OF HAM tells a delightfully ribald mock-heroic tale, where a dragon who invades a town refuses to fight, and a farmer is chosen to slay him.

About the Author

J. R. R. Tolkien (1892 1973), beloved throughout the world as the creator of "The Hobbit", "The Lord of the Rings", and other tales of Middle-earth, 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. His books have been translated into more than fifty languages and have sold many millions of copies worldwide.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reissue edition (January 12, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345336062
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345336064
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.4 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382,808 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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Farmer Giles of Hamm is a hilarious tale in the spirit of the lighter passages of The Hobbit. The Little Kingdom of this story has much in common with the Shire where Bilbo Baggins wandered. It should be read for the shear pleasure of the journey.
Smith Of Wooten Major is something else entirely. Though once again we travel to an ancient England that has much in common with Middle Earth, here we find a tale for grown ups. Though most reviewers say that the tale is about what the gift of fantasy adds to the life of those who receive it, I believe that it really speaks of the rewards that come to those who choose to live life on a deeper level. What makes the book difficult to describe is that in story form Tolkien paints a picture or an illustration of the faith and the grace that were such an integral part of who he was as a person. Travelling with him you feel that you have encountered something more deep and wonderful than words can tell. The journey is not for everyone, but for those of you who take it and begin to glimps its meaning, like Smith's magic star, it will become an integral part of who you are.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
While most of his genius went into the world of Middle-Earth and its fantastical history, JRR Tolkien produced a number of smaller stories during his life.

Two of the best-known examples: "Smith of Wootton Major & Farmer Giles of Ham," which pairs together a beautifully fantastical fable that drips with Tolkien's love of fairy tales.... and a wacky story about a not-very-frightening dragon and the hapless hero who is after him. While these two novellas are very different in style, they have Tolkien's love of mystery and magic, language and humor.

"Smith of Wootton Major" takes place in a little town "not very long ago for those with long memories, not very far away fro those with long legs." The Master Cook of that village takes a vacation, and returns with an apprentice in tow. But something odd happens at the Feast of the Cake -- the cook stirs in a "fay-star" with little trinkets in the cake, and it's accidentally swallowed by a boy there.

The boy (later called Smith) is changed by the fay-star, which sparkles on his forehead. When he grows up, Smith ventures into Faery itself, and even meets the Faery Queen herself. The message she gives him is for her mysterious, missing husband, the King -- who turns out to be the last person anybody in Wootton Major would have expected.

And in "Farmer Giles of Ham," 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.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book contains two complete stories, each of which illustrate a fundamental aspect of all good fantasy: to inspire and entertain.
'Farmer Giles of Ham' is a fanciful story of a farmer who, through no fault of his own, is embroiled in a series of Adventures. It is a story of wit, humor, and wry commentary that any lover of 'The Hobbit' will appreciate and enjoy.
'The Smith of Wootton Major' is about many things. It is about the love of Beauty, of those things both higher and deeper than ourselves. It is about humility, honor, and, in the end, courage, sacrifice, and loss. It is about loving something so much that you let it go. It is a simply told story -- an autobiography -- yet no less deep and moving for its simplicity.
Some may wonder that two such different stories were bound together in the same spine, but each of these stories represents a necessary part of Fantasy and together they brilliantly illustrate why fantasy is a necessary and proper part of human existance.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Yes, I really do wonder why, because the stories are as different as one can imagine. Basically, "Farmer Giles of Ham" is a rather simple, fun story filled with good sense of humor. It's a fine parody on great legends of kings, knights, dragons and generally ceatures of myths Tolkien was so fond of. The magic sword in the story is quite unique, and I should note the typical for Tolkien wonderful play with words. One would be hard pressed to find any deep meaning here, however; looks like Tolkien was just having fun. Still, the result is hilarious.
As for the "Smith of Wootton Major", the whole thing is completely different. I value this relatively short novel very highly and place it on the pedestal together with "The Lord of the Rings" and "Silmarillion". It is highly symbolic and extremely beautiful; actually, it is filled with wisdom even deeper than the most of "The Lord of the Rings", for the latter is full of politics, wars, adventures, etc., which somewhat cloak the main message. It is fine that such elements are present there, but the deep meaning becomes apparent slowly, in no hurry, and the great in size no less than in content book such as LOTR can afford it. In the "Smith of Wootton Major", Tolkien compresses his ideas considerably without crushing them, so to speak, and the result is the masterpiece of enormous beauty, sadness and hope. It is way better than fun and nice, yet childish "Hobbit", of course, and if they looked carefully, readers would find in the text many a piece of ideas later fully developed in LOTR and "Silmarillion". What else can I say? Buy it, read it, cherish it.
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