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Tales from the Perilous Realm Paperback – 1998

4.4 out of 5 stars 133 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Collins; New Ed edition (1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0261103431
  • ISBN-13: 978-0261103436
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,444,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In this wonderful volume (small and inexpensive enough for frugal hobbits to give away on their birthdays) three short stories and one collection of poems are to be found. The collection of poetry, "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil" is drawn from the many poetic examples found in the Red Book of Westmarch and were written or compiled by Bilbo, Frodo, Samwise, and their families. Tom Bombadil is, of course, a well-known figure to those hobbits living in Buckland, and is a figure providing much comic relief. Some of the other poetic examples, however, are darker and more serious in nature. "Leaf by Niggle" is a wonderful short story about a little man (very hobbitlike in his habits) who is a painter whose dream and ambition far exceed the level of his talent. "Farmer Giles of Ham" discusses the adventures of a small farmer living in a town not unlike Bree who gets the best of a devious (but not overbold) dragon. "Smith of Wooten Major" tells the story of how an ordinary man is drawn into the perilous realm of faerie. All in all, this is a book that hobbit fathers would love to share with their children in the evening in front of the fire. I highly recommend this volume.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In Tales From the Perilous Realm we have five short stories or novellas by J.R.R. Tolkien, plus his very famous lecture "On Fairy Stories". Only one of the selections has a direct connection with Middle earth: the poems which make up "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil". The other four are "Leaf By Niggle", a short tale with deeply moving theological connotations which originally accompanied the Fairy Stories lecture; "Roverandom", a story written by Tolkien to comfort one of his sons who had lost a toy dog while at the seashore and not published until 25 years after the author died; "Farmer Giles of Ham," a rollicking tale set in early Britain featuring a bumbling farmer, a near sighted giant, and a dragon which was originally published in the late 1940s; "Smith of Wooton Major", a beautiful story published in the 1960s which is usually interpreted as being Tolkien's acknowledgment that his life was coming to a close and his gifts must be returned or passed on to others.

All of these stories have been published before in different formats, and I have loved them all for many years. I purchased Tales From the Perilous Realm in the interests of completing my collection but with some trepidation, because I knew the illustrations would be different. The late Pauline Baynes illustrated Farmer Giles, Smith, and Tom Bombadil, and her vivid interpretations are so marvelous that I dreaded seeing any depictions by any other artist. But as soon as I opened Tales From a Perilous Realm my fears were allayed. Alan Lee's pencil illustrations are enchanting in their own right, allowing the reader to experience the stories anew with additional pleasure and delight. I will always love Pauline Baynes' illustrations, but Alan Lee's efforts evoke Tolkien's worlds just as vividly. This will be a book to be treasured.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Tolkien's four greatest short stories (well, three acutally, plus the poetry) together in one volume.
"The Adventures of Tom Bombadil" involves two long poems with Tom as the main character, a number of poems from "The Lord of the Rings" as well as other assorted poetry concerning Middle Earth.
"Farmer Giles of Ham" is an extraordinary tale about a wise farmer who outwits a wicked (but not overbold) dragon. A wonderful story for children -- and full of delightful (and deliberate) anachronisms for the alert adult.
"Leaf by Niggle" is a profound and powerful story about death, life, Purgatory and eternity. It should be read in conjunction with Tolkien's non-fiction essay "On Fairy Stories".
"Smith of Wooten Major", one of the last works by the Master, tells the story of a very ordinary person who is given a very extraordinary gift. (The story also suggests the presence of the sacramental in the act of feasting).
Altogether, a wonderful collection, and one that is sure to delight. Only those far gone in the desubstantialization of the human race could fail to appreciate these stories.
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Format: Hardcover
Is this collection worth purchasing?

Tom Shippey's introduction is, as always, incisive and insightful, packed with quotable phrases and interesting observations placing these shorter pieces within Tolkien's oeuvre. But it is aimed at the new reader of these works - it is a guide to how to read them, not ground-breaking new scholarship.

I am personally not a fan of realism in illustration of Tolkien's works; I find that a more stylized approach better suits the atmosphere of his writing. This is perhaps purely a matter of personal taste, but I can't read the stories included in this collection without a deep longing for the original illustrations by Pauline Baynes - particularly for Farmer Giles, where Tolkien himself said he felt her artwork reduced his text to a commentary on the drawings. To my mind, Lee's pale, washed-out pencil drawings hardly hold a candle to Baynes' ability to convey the humor, enchantment, and melancholy of Tolkien's shorter works.

All of the included works by Tolkien are readily available elsewhere. Roverandom, Farmer Giles, Smith, and On Fairy-stories have recently appeared in excellent stand-alone editions with critical commentary and, when applicable, the original illustrations by Baynes or Tolkien himself. All but Roverandom and Smith are included in The Tolkien Reader, which is still in print, though alas only in paperback; I imagine this collection is meant to replace it in hardback.

If you are a fan of Alan Lee, the answer may be yes, though for most of the tales there are actually only two drawings each.
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