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Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  6,849 Ratings  ·  193 Reviews
Two bewitching fantasies by J.R.R. Tolkien, beloved author of THE HOBBIT. In SMITH OF WOOTTON MAJOR, Tolkien explores the gift of fantasy, and what it means to the life and character of the man who receives it. And FARMER GILES OF HAM tells a delightfully ribald mock-heroic tale, where a dragon who invades a town refuses to fight, and a farmer is chosen to slay him.
Paperback, 156 pages
Published September 1991 by Ballantine Books (first published 1949)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nov 13, 2013 Wild-Rogue-Rose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tolkien
This is my second time wrestle-I-mean-reading! something by Tolkien. I will openly admit, I slept-read The Hobbit. *gasp*
I know, I can someone do that? Like I have a clue, I was a freshman in high school - that on a whole is an unsolved mystery in itself.

So, as I helped my Mum put books away, this fell from a stack and hit me.
In the face.
I took it as a sign to get back on the horse and charge headlong back into Tolkien's imaginative writing. My steed was derailed a few pages later. A
Jul 01, 2007 Carl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Tolkien and thoughtful fantasy
Shelves: fantasysci-fi
My favorite in this book is Smith of Wooten Major, though Farmer Giles of Ham is a fun romp in its own right. "Smith" is in fact probably my favorite of Tolkien's short works. Leaf by Niggle was also very enjoyable, and if we take the portions of the Silmarillion as individual pieces I might revise my opinon, but there is just something about "Smith" which is not only enjoyable, but which speaks to something in the heart of anyone drawn to something "beyond", to the fantastic, the mythic, to ano ...more
May 11, 2009 Justin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Two short stories/novellas by the master of fantasy fiction.

"Farmer Giles of Ham" is a very amusing story of a farmer in an ancient and fantastic England who surprisingly succeeds in stopping a dragon from destroying his homeland. A little bit of a parody of fantasy and myth with an unlikely (and sometimes hilarious) hero.

"Smith of Wootton Major" is my favorite of the two and indeed probably my favorite short story of any kind. It has the flavor of a story passed down through the ages from some
Oct 29, 2009 Andy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I am by no means a Tolkien afficianado, this book was in fact, the first Tolkien I've ever read, so please keep that in mind as you read this review. I'm sure other Tolkien-ites would review this book differently.

Smith of Wootton Major: It wasn't that great. It's more of an allegory than anything else. Tolkien uses the short story format to explain what happens to men when they embrace, or shun, Faerie. It's and interesting idea, but a lifeless story. I was bored throughout.

Farmer Giles of Ham:
Ben Goodridge
May 16, 2015 Ben Goodridge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was never quite sure where "Smith of Wootton Major" was going, so I'll stick to "Farmer Giles of Ham." I've seen the story of the brave knight vs. the evil dragon subverted more often than I've seen it played straight, but there's something very modern about the uneasy alliance between Giles and Chrysophylax that shows that there's always room for a new wrinkle. Maybe they could make a movie of this one. Just don't let Peter Jackson anywhere near it; it'll be nine hours long.

My father is a cer
Bob H
Nov 27, 2015 Bob H rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Two lesser-known but lovable works from the master, J.R.R. Tolkien. Farmer Giles of Ham is a hilarous romp through ancient Britain, in which a humble peasant must master a giant, a dragon and then a foolish king. This would be a wonderful film (note to Peter Jackson: one film only, please). Smith of Wootton Major is a deeper story, with Tolkien's darker views of fantasy in a gentle telling: "the elves have left us, and we have not mourned their passing," a critic tells us (no spoiler) and this i ...more
Robin Hobb
In these two tales, we see Tolkien in two story-telling modes. Farmer Giles of Ham is playful, while Smith of Wooten Major does exactly what fantasy does best: it examines a larger question and wakes a sense of wonder. If you have only seen the movies, or if you've never read Tolkien or seen the movies, I'd recommend Smith of Wooten Major as a wonderful place to sample his story telling. I've read this aloud to children and they loved it.
Dec 20, 2016 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While not as heavy a read as The Lord of the Rings it was still a pair of good short stories that show his literary talents even outside of Middle-Earth.
Brittany ♥♥~Proud Hufflepuff and supporter of S.P.E.W. ~♥♥
If you love J.R.R. Tolkien, you need to read this book. It's short and amazing. That's all there is to it really. Stop reading this review, go out buy the book, and read it. NOW!
Feb 10, 2012 Phillip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A vet good book.
Jessica Dutcher
Jun 19, 2017 Jessica Dutcher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved both stories, but I found Smith of Wootton Major to be more charming, and more easily read.
Anneke Wigman
Cute wee read, both stories are typical Tolkien. Think I liked Farmer Giles best!
Ea Solinas
Apr 30, 2011 Ea Solinas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
While most of his genius went into the world of Middle-Earth and its fantastical history, JRR Tolkien produced a number of smaller stories during his life.

Two of the best-known examples: "Smith of Wootton Major & Farmer Giles of Ham," which pairs together a beautifully fantastical fable that drips with Tolkien's love of fairy tales.... and a wacky story about a not-very-frightening dragon and the hapless hero who is after him. While these two novellas are very different in style, they have T
Mar 10, 2017 Todd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent short stories. Lots of fun.
Felicia Caro
In these hallucinatory stories, Tolkien writes about tradition, the enjoyment of one another's company, and the magic of friendship. But especially in the Smith of Wootton Major, the story envelopes the ambiance of the special and unique, and quite directly posits that there very well might be something of extreme importance in your food, as the narrative of a child who swallows a star and journeys to the land of Faery unfolds: "...he seemed to be both in the world and in Faery, and also outside ...more
Mar 04, 2017 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cute stories, they sound like fairy tales or bedtime stories. You can definitely see a bit of the language of the Hobbit in them, but these have nothing to do with Lord of the Rings. Good read!
Sep 10, 2011 Briana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Smith of Wooton Major” is a beautiful short story for anyone who enjoys a good fairytale—one about Faery itself, and not about a pretty princess looking for true love. It opens with a description of the town and traditions of Wooton Major, where the Master Cook is held in high regard and hosts a special feast for twenty-four children every twenty-four years. Tolkien’s hobbit-ish appreciation for food and good cheer really shines through, and readers cannot help but think Wooton Major sounds lik ...more
Oct 09, 2015 Allison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Like most books I read, this one came off of my beau's shelves- a Tolkien fanatic. For Christmas last year, he took me to see all three Hobbit movies back-to-back (was that a gift to me, or to himself...?). I'm not a die-hard fan myself, in fact I haven't even read Lord of the Rings (though the Hobbit is one of my favorites). Wootton Major and Farmer Giles were both interesting to read in that they were clearly ways for Tolkien to hash out, early on, his ideas about the Middle Earth universe. Wo ...more
May 07, 2016 Doug rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed these stories. A second-hand copy, had been sitting on my shelf for a few years, when it was requested of me to read a book to my children--but not a long book, because they were just taking a break from another exciting series. Looking through our books for stories that could be finished in 2-3 sessions, I came across this coupling of stories from an author whose most famous stories I had also read to my young ones. This was my choice.

Smith of Wootton Major is a tale of wonder
Zach Vaughn
Dec 05, 2010 Zach Vaughn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
Everyone is familiar with The Hobbit and the Ring trilogy (either from reading the books or watching the movies), but not as familiar with Tolkien's other works, particularly, Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham. I had never seen those two short tales of fantasy before the other day at Barnes and Noble. I purchased the book and was not at all displeased. (Of course, how could one be displeased with anything from Tolkien?)

"Smith of Wootton Major" tells the tale of a child who swallows
Rebecca Hill
Nov 25, 2011 Rebecca Hill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book contains two short stories written by JRR Tolkien. Both are delightful, yet very different from one another. In the first, Smith of Wootton Major the story surrounds a town similar to Hobbiton. There is a lot of eating, celebrating and unique people as at the start of Lord of the Rings. The story goes through the adventures of one Mr. Smith who finds himself able to access the land of Faery, when none of his other townsfolk can. Mr. Smith wanders through several adventures before havin ...more
Kitty Jay
Two charming short stories by J.R.R. Tolkien, "Smith of Wootton Major" is a fairy tale about a young boy who is granted the ability to travel freely in Faerie thanks to a star found in a piece of cake. In typical Tolkien style, loving care is given to each marvelous sight, and the ending is bittersweet; wonder is almost always brief, what fantasy gives and how it changes us, and the joy and grief of sacrifice.

The second story - and my personal favorite of the two - "Farmer Giles of Ham" takes a
Dec 08, 2010 Connor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Connor by: dad
I read The Lord of the Rings in fifth grade. After I read them a few more times I picked up The Silmarillion in seventh grade. I became a Tolkien fan. I decided to read this book. I didn't realize that Tolkien had a sense of humor. The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion are both very serious books. This book was pretty funny. Smith of Wootton major was pretty serious, but Farmer Giles of Ham was pretty funny. It was a great read.

Smith of Wootton Major was about a smith in the town of Wootton
Erica Heath
Jan 06, 2014 Erica Heath rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked these two stories very much, with one small but important exception.

Smith of Wootton Major was perfect and wonderful, and I have no complaints.

Farmer Giles of Ham is for the most part a wonderful and endearing story with entertaining characters and fun prose. What bothered me (and kept me from ever really liking Farmer Giles as a character/person) is that Farmer Giles beats his dog several times throughout the story. It is not dwelt on, but it does happen. It is not described in detail,
Probably a great intro for younger readers into the mind of Tolkien and his creativity, and definitely a read for those who love his other works- but keep in mind that there were many sides to him as a person, and that these works are much different than those about Middle-Earth. These are very allegorical and biographical for Tolkien's struggle to balance the creation of his art, Middle-Earth, and his scholarly duties as a philologist and a professor of old English at Oxford. He felt guilty for ...more
Jan 02, 2013 April rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another fun short story in a fantastical land. I think that it took Tolkien a LONG time to get LotR together because there is so much going on in that man's head! I can't believe he would be able to keep any of his world's, characters and situations straight without one heck of a spread sheet! While this too has a fae realm a fairy king and queen and happy and sad situations to go along with each of those, I felt like this was meant to be a longer, more in depth story. I felt like there was more ...more
Ebster Davis
Aug 03, 2011 Ebster Davis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has two short stories by Tolkien.

Smith of Wootton Major is about a boy named "Smith", a mysterious man named Alf, and the woodland community in which they live.

As a child, Smith attends a party in which he inadvertently eats a farie-star, it's a gift that transforms him a somewhat magical being. He can access parts of the forest, see things that others can't, and as he grows up he becomes talented and artistic in his craft.

This is my favorite short story of all time (even better the
Jan 22, 2012 Jim rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, jims-reviews
I've always found it difficult to get into short stories. I'm not sure if it's that there's not enough character development, or if there's not enough time to get me absorbed in the story; and though I'm drawn to them because of their length (I think I'll be able to read more if they're quicker, easier reads), they always leave me wanting. And the same is true of these tales. I've had this book for 25 years, and I thought it was high time I got around to reading it, as Tolkien is one of my favor ...more
Smith Smithson (of Wootton Major) eats a magic star as a child in a (once-a) generation cake, and then is able to walk through the lands of faery all his life. He prospers in town and has interesting adventures away, eventually meeting the faery king and queen.

I didn't read 'Farmer Giles of Ham', because I had read it before in The Tolkien Reader (my review).

I liked the serious approach to a whimsical tale; how children and the yet enlightened adults still knew and respected the land of faery, w
Apr 09, 2011 Nick rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 1910s
Smith of Wooton Major is a story which pretty much goes nowhere. It has some cool language in it, and the concepts it touches on are cool. However any cool speculative elements which are brought up remain pretty unexplored by the end of it. Farmer Giles of Ham was better, but still just an OK story. Its a very straightforward defeat-the-dragon plot (although the ending is unexpected). The language is again kind of cool at parts, as are the mildly humorous references to British history but I cant ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Tolkien: A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings
  • There and Back Again: The Map of the Hobbit
  • The History of the Hobbit, Part Two: Return to Bag-End
  • The Tolkien Companion
  • Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World
  • Tales Before Tolkien: The Roots of Modern Fantasy
  • Master of Middle-Earth: The Fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-Earth
  • Mere Humanity: G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien on the Human Condition
  • The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Their Friends
  • The Complete Fairy Tales
  • A Tolkien Bestiary
  • Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories
  • All Hallows' Eve
  • The Guardians
  • Hobbits, Elves and Wizards: The Wonders and Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien's 'The Lord of the Rings'
  • J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century
  • J.R.R. Tolkien: Architect of Middle Earth
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE, was an English writer, poet, WWI veteran (a First Lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers, British Army), philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the high fantasy classic works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings .

Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford from 1925 to 1945, and Merton Professor of English lan
More about J.R.R. Tolkien...

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