Tales from the Perilous Realm: "Farmer Giles of Ham", "Leaf by Niggle", "Adventures of Tom Bombadil" and "Smith of Woott

by J.R.R. Tolkien

Paperback, 1998



Call number




HarperCollins (1998), Paperback


The definitive collection of J.R.R.Tolkien's four acclaimed modern classic fairy tales, each reflecting an aspect of what Tolkien himself called "The Perilous Realm of Faerie." The fat and unheroic Farmer Giles of Ham is called upon to do battle with the dragon Chrysophylax; Niggle the painter sets out to paint the perfect tree in Leaf by Niggle; hobbits, princesses, dwarves and trolls partake in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil; and Smith of Wootton Major journeys to the Land of Faery via the magical ingredients of a giant cake.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Michael.Rimmer
The Perilous Realm of the title is Faerie Land, but Tolkien has not people it with diaphanous butterfly-winged sprites, but by dangerous and enchanting elves, dragons and giants. The four branches of the book are each different from the other, despite the thematic connection.

Farmer Giles of Ham is
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the most straight-forward of the stories, the tale of a "little man" (though of great girth!) who is reluctantly forced into a heroic role. It is a humorous and somewhat satirical tale, easily enjoyed by children for the adventure, and by adults for the characterisations.

The Adventures of Tom Bombadil is not a story, but rather a collection of poetry. The conception is that they represent poetry and rhymes written by Hobbits in The Shire, so they are intimately linked to Tolkien's Middle-earth but do not necessarily deal with scenes from the Legendarium. The quality is uneven, but that is deliberately so as they are intended range from more deliberately crafted works to pieces of folk-rhyme

Easily the best, in my view, is the title poem, but Errantry is excellent, too, and all the poems have something to recommend them.

Leaf by Niggle is an unusual choice for inclusion, as I don't really consider that Faerie enters into it at all. For me, this was the most surprising story in the collection as it is utterly unlike anything else I've read by Tolkien. It has a dystopian and Kafkaesque opening and is set in an industrialised society, not at all a legendary, Dark Age or Medieval locale. It later moves onto more metaphysical, even theological, ground. Despite Tolkien's avowed dislike of allegory, that's what this story seems to be. I really liked it. If Tolkien had not been consumed by his Middle-earth conception, could stories of this nature have been what he was known for?

Smith of Wootton Major is the most faerie-tale-like of the four branches. Smith's journeys into Faerie are haunting and the sense of lurking mortal peril is the most pronounced in this story. It put me somewhat in mind of the works of Lord Dunsany and George MacDonald.

The thing I missed from this particular edition of the stories was the illustrations of Pauline Baynes, which I had constantly in mind as I was reading.
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LibraryThing member SimoneA
A nice book to have in your Tolkien collection, but it doesn't really add anything, except a bit of light entertainment.
LibraryThing member Nodosaurus
This is a collection of short stories, and performed in a radio play format. The play format really helps the story along, I enjoy having the various voices and occasional environmental sounds. There are four stories:
* Farmer Giles of Ham
* Smith of Wootton Major
* Leaf by Niggle
* The Adventures of
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Tom Bombadil

All the stories are fantasy, but only the Tom Bombadil story has any noticeable relationship to Middle Earth as we recognize it. A

Farmer Giles of Ham is an interesting twist on the dragon hunter story. Farmer Giles is a reluctant dragon hunter, having shot (but not even injured) a giant while using a blunderbus, he is pulled into the role of dragon hunter due to some twists on rumors of his giant encounter, and not being able to admit his own fears. He and his talking dog face danger and adventure in this story that is amusing and enjoyable.

Smith of Wootton Major tells the story of a young boy who eats a silver star that was enchanted by fairies. This story seemed long and a bit pointless to me.

Leaf by Niggle is a story of an artist in a world that doesn’t value art. It has its own twist, but isn’t entirely unique nor very involving.

The Adventures of Tom Bombadil is the highlight of the collection. I think it was expanded from the Lord of the Rings, or perhaps I don’t remember the original stories very well. The actor reading the part of Tom Bombadil did a very good job, his voice has energy and a lightness that really portrayed the character as I imagined him. This story alone is worth getting the collection.

Overall, I would suggest people skip the middle stories. The first one is worth hearing, but the Adventures of Tom Bombadil is worth acquiring the collection. I rate the collection well because of this story. Go listen to it!
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LibraryThing member JennyElizabeth
This collection of tales is not my favourite set of tales by Tolkien, although the intriguing narrative about Niggle and his neighbor "Leaf by Niggle" brought tears to my eyes.

The poems in the Stories of Tom Bombadil tickled my fancy, though I would like there to be a longer history of him
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somewhere... I fear my desires will remain unquenched until I write them or do some sleuthing through Christopher Tolkien's works, perhaps.

Overall, it was a fun bit of fancy, but not my favorite.
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LibraryThing member cjyurkanin
A bright gold star for Farmer Giles of Ham, another for the timeless Tom Bombadil, and one more just because he is Tolkien. I can't say I'll ever return to read the Smith of Wootton Major and Leaf by Niggle stories again, some of the most boring moments I've ever spent alone with Tolkien. I
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understand they're the favorites of many a reader, but personally, I thank goodness he kept them short.
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LibraryThing member something_
4 stars for the stories at the end - I loved them ^^
The translated poetry was not my cup of tea though, couldn't get into it at all (reason why I took so long to have the heart to finish this book).
But I'll probably read the short stories again in the near future - at least, I feel really inclined
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to do so. Couldn't really pick a favourite from all three, but somehow I feel that I didn't completely grasp the third one, Niggle. I'll start rereading from that one.
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LibraryThing member Schneider
A sure 4 star possibly as high as 4.5 (I can't decide) audiobook from J.R.R. Tolkien. Read by a whole cast of readers, 'Tales from the Perilous Realm' are four short stories from the mind of Tolkien. Three of the four were new to me ("Farmer Giles of Ham," "Smith of Wooton Major," and "Leaf by
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Niggle.") and I thoroughly enjoyed these unique tales. The fourth, "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil", was a rereading of the excerpt from the "The Fellowship of the Ring" where Ol' Tom appears. While I have heard and read the part of that story before and was quite familiar with it, it was a new experience with the reading from the cast. My real complaint is that there were only four stories, the book version of this has five! More, more, more, please! I guess the other complaint (I mean, it is not really complaining, but more like the lowing of a cow...) is that the Bombadil story was just a retelling of the old tale. Kind of a been there done that feeling when it first stared. But I really did enjoy it all, readers were great, stories were new (to me) and fresh and quick, none of them were very long at all. Just had a real good time listening to it. I would recommend to any and everyone who has read and has an interest in Tolkien, and for those that would like quick, fantastical stories to listen to or read.
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Original publication date


Physical description

192 p.; 7.56 inches


0261103431 / 9780261103436
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