Into the Book


This volume contains two of Tolkien’s short stories: Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham. Both of them are written in the same delightful style that makes the Hobbit so popular, and could be considered akin to English legends.

Smith of Wootton Major tells of a boy named Smith who swallows a faery star and as a result has access to the land of Faery. It tells of his experiences there and then of his planning with Alf, the Head Cook, to pass the star along to someone else. Alf, after passing the star along, leaves, for he is the Faery King.

Farmer Giles of Ham is a very different tale. Though it is also set in England, it is a very humorous and entertaining read. It tells the story of Farmer Giles of the village of Ham, who through a series of events becomes the king of the Middle Kingdom. He starts by shooting at a giant with a blunderbuss, which makes him a local hero. The king rewards him with a sword, and this sword moves itself to help Giles defeat a dragon and extract tribute from him. Eventually, Farmer Giles becomes more popular than the King and becomes the King of the land.

Both stories are very short but still well-developed and easy to read. Definitely lighter reads than The Lord of the Rings, they are short and fun. Children especially will enjoy reading these stories which were a part of Tolkien’s initiative to provide England with a set of legends and myths of its own.

They are definitely different from the Lord of the Rings. It is interesting to see Tolkien’s writing style in a short story, rather than a very long work such as his trilogy. It is also interesting to see how Tolkien still develops the characters throughout a much shorter interval. But the stories are still masterfully done.

All in all, this book was very enjoyable to read. The two short stories contained within still preserve much of Tolkien’s lovable style but are also a lighter and shorter read than most of his other works. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy or who has read The Lord of the Rings.

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Published on 19 August, 2010. Last updated on

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