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Customer Review

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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