Friday, February 5, 2021
Weekend Reads: Tales from the Perilous Realm by J.R.R. Tolkien (Sarah)
Since childhood, I’ve been a Tolkien enthusiast, reading and re-reading his books countless times over the years. While he’s best known for The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, Tolkien also has collections of short stories, novellas, and poetry that provide engaging glimpses at other worlds—at times more whimsical ones than those he captured in his Middle Earth stories. Tales from the Perilous Realm is one such collection.
It begins with Roveradum, the story of a hapless young dog who earns the displeasure of a wizard and finds himself turned into a toy—and the adventures he undergoes to gain back his real form (including a trip to the moon).
Then it chronicles the hilarious exploits of Farmer Giles of Ham, an unlikely hero (a farmer armed with his faithful blunderbuss, and later a sword dubbed Tailbiter) who is pressed into hunting down a marauding dragon.
Next in line comes The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, told in verse. Despite the title, only two of the poems feature Bombadil, and the rest cover various faery and fantasy related topics.
The penultimate story is Smith of Wooten Major, the haunting tale of a boy touched by faery. He receives a star that allows him to travel through Faery, but eventually his time comes to an end and he must pass it on.
And last in the collection is Leaf by Niggle, which explores art, beauty, and creativity through the life of Niggle, who is driven to paint an immense, detailed tree. In this tale, Tolkien touches on creation and subcreation a popular theme for him.
After the fictive works, there’s an appendix containing Tolkien’s essay On Fairy Stories, which is well worth reading for any lovers of fantasy.
On the whole, it’s a delightful anthology filled with characteristically Tolkien works. It’s further enhanced by a smattering of black and white illustrations by Alan Lee. Whether you like poetry or prose, reflective tales or ridiculous romps, you’ll find something to enjoy here. Since it’s a collection of short works, it’s easy to pick up if you don’t have much time and want something to dip in and out of easily. If you enjoy Tolkien or find pleasure in fairy tales, definitely give this a try!
Are you a Tolkien fan? And if so, which of his works outside The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are your favorites?