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Smith of Wootton Major & Farmer Giles of Ham Mass Market Paperback – January 12, 1986
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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.
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.Read more ›
'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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Some of Tolkien's best writing -- "Farmer Giles" was originally written as a show piece for a professional meeting. "Wooten Major" is a sweet, dreamy fairy tale.Published 1 month ago by Barbara
A very enjoyable and exciting book by Tolkien. 2 short stories with plenty of funny moments. Great for children and adultsPublished 14 months ago by marc
I have long been familiar with J.R.R. Tolkein’s famous books – The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings – but, this cute little book shows that just about everything that he put his... Read morePublished 16 months ago by The Reviewer Formerly Known as Kurt Johnson
Some of Tolkien's lesser-known tales. Both have a very sweet story and it's a good book for children as well as adults.Published 23 months ago by LautuLoman
I think this book is a pretty good read. Both stories were good but I have to say, I personally liked Smith of Wootton Major better. Read morePublished on December 7, 2013 by D. Bernhart
JRR Tolkien is a wonderful writer. This book is one of the many books that he has written. Great find.Published on May 14, 2013 by Joyce Woodward
Far less violent and dark than other works by Tolkien. I'd start a child off on these tales, then move up to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.Published on March 15, 2013 by shawna m smith