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Smith of Wootton Major & Farmer Giles of Ham

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  7,728 ratings  ·  236 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.
Mass Market Paperback, 156 pages
Published January 12th 1986 by Del Rey (first published 1949)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  7,728 ratings  ·  236 reviews


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Wild-Rogue-Rose
Nov 13, 2013 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 know...how 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.
...more
Leona  Carstairs
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, fantasy
If you are fond of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien then I think you will enjoy these two novellas. I found them amusing and entertaining. ...more
Linda ~ chock full of hoot, just a little bit of nanny ~
I ended up rereading this on a whim since these stories were included in Tales from the Perilous Realm that I borrowed off KU so I could finally read Roverandom and stop feeling like a bad Tolkien geek. These are great examples of the lighter side of fantasy that we don't really get anymore these days with all the grim dark flooding the market.

"Smith of Wootton Major" is a random little story about a fae star and a cake and a smith. It doesn't really have a point, but it's interesting despite
...more
Carl
Jul 01, 2007 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 ...more
Rachel
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Awwwww, these two stories were so cute and fun! I really wasn't entirely sure what to expect from these two short stories, but they definitely reminded me in some ways of Tolkien's "Letters from Father Christmas," just whimsical and funny and with some nice bits of wisdom gently bestowed here and there.

"Smith of Wootton Major" is all about baking cakes and giving secret gifts, and since I love both those activities, I probably liked it the best of the two. "Farmer Giles of Ham" is about a
...more
Timothy Ball
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tim-s-shelf
"It was five miles, if it was a step and stiff going; and Giles trudged along puffing and blowing but never taking his eye off the worm. At last on the West Side of the Mountain they came to the mouth of the cave. It was large and black and forbidding and it's Brazen doors swung on great pillars of iron. Plainly it had been that a place of strength and pride and days long-forgotten. For dragons do not build such Works nor delve such mines but dwell rather when they may in the tombs and ...more
Joy Schultz
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Smith of Wootton Major is more delicate and lovely than anyone would expect from a story with such a title.

Farmer Giles of Ham is ridiculous, and hilarious, and full of small true things.
Kanika Sisodia
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
There is no other fantasy writer as fine as Tolkien. I wonder why I didn’t read these tales as a child. All I grew up on were those ghastly fairy tales.

Smith of Wootton Major is a simple yet marvellous tale of a child who gains access to an enchanted land when he swallows a magic star eating his slice of cake. The story is of his adventure and travels and how he chooses to part with his magic powers when the time comes to choose an heir. The writing is at its best. Witty and enchanting.

The
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Ben Goodridge
May 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Bob H
Nov 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 ...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.
Pablo
Jul 28, 2017 rated it liked it
An anthology of Tolkien's short stories that sheds some light into Tolkien's thoughts regarding Faerie and the value of Fantasy. As usual, Tolkien's prose shines through his capacity of creating natural landscapes of intense wonder and delight. Worth it if you're into his work.
Nick
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun and quick read. It took me a few pages in the first story (of two) to realize that these weren’t at all related to LOTR, despite each having its own fantastical elements. The first story involves fairies that are vaguely like Tolkien’s elves. The second involves a dragon that could just as easily be named Smaug. Still, it was fun to read these stories without having to track them to a larger preexisting story.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the illustrations, which are excellent. They
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Keith Silvas
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed these stories. I wish Tolkien were alive to write us all more tales of heroes and elves!
Ashley Brilinski
Apr 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Both of these short stories were fun, light reads. Smith of Wootton Major was a take on fea/fairly lore I've never read before and Farmer Giles of Ham had an ending I didn't expect.
Justin
Jan 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I thought Farmer Giles was a blast, but I'll admit I just don't get Smith of Wootton Major. I understand (I guess) what other people see in it and how it works, but I just couldn't get into it.
Anders
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So this is a pretty fun little volume. Not related to Middle-Earth at all, but the fairies of the first tale have a kinship to Tolkien's elves and the dragon of the second is dragony like Smaug.

Anyway, I'm keeping this one brief; they were entertaining charming tales. There was a bit of a moralistic tinge to them like traditional folktales but also that whimsical charm we all love. I can see the more general influence he inherited from the tradition of fantasy (folktales) and his influence on
...more
Justin
May 11, 2009 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
...more
A.L.
Oct 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
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:
...more
Olivia
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s, fantasy
I liked it. It was no Return of the King, mind you, but it was a charming, quaint duo with surprising depth to the first one. I preferred Farmer Giles of Ham, but Smith of Wootton Major definitely has merit as well. SoWM delved a little deeper into slightly more "signficant" themes, and I could see it making a great story to be passed on through word-of-mouth:) And then, of course, FGoH was just fun. It was a bit like The Hobbit, but...*whispers* I actually might have liked it better. Anyway, ...more
J.Aleksandr Wootton
Nov 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of
Smith of Wootton Major is unquestionably my favorite work by J.R.R. Tolkien.

No, the last name has nothing to do with it.
Bfleegs
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Two whimsical, expertly written stories told in the way that only Tolkien could tell them.
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!
Kari Jean
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Smith is my favorite of the two stories, but Farmer is still fun.
Mark
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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.
Arthurian Tapestry
This paperback edition has been sitting on my shelf for years. I think my Mum purchased for it me when I had finished my second reading of "The Hobbit" a book I adored as well as the Rankin/ Bass animated film (which I fear does Tolkien more justice than the films; nothing against the films, though).

I remember being a bit disappointed with the ""Smith of Wootton Major" story while charmed and taken by the Baynes illustrations (which are not included in the version in the Tolkien anthology,
...more
Linda
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of two stories written by the author of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Of the two, I liked Smith of Wootton Major better. It deals more with fairies and had a more definite storyline. But really, it's more than that. Smith was a bit better defined, though none of these characters are fleshed out really deeply. I just liked the vibe of this story. It was soft and sweet and it had a lovely ending.
Farmer Giles of Ham is more in the vein of Merlin and Arthur and I've never
...more
Molly Ringle
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Light and charming! None of the depressing nature of the Silmarillion here. These two stories are a breeze, and suitable for children as well as fairy-tale fans like many of us grown-ups. "Smith of Wootton Major" is an actual fairy tale, with the land of Faery being similar to the lands of the Elves in Lord of the Rings; and "Farmer Giles of Ham" was reminiscent of of The Hobbit with its clever dealings with a dragon, although it's lighter in tone even than that one. Glad I finally read these ...more
Bill
Dec 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two entertaining fantasy stories that both honor and subvert the fairy-tale logic of folk tales. "Smith of Wootton Major" is a wonderful exploration of the themes of legacy and talent, wanderlust and responsibility. "Farmer Giles of Ham" reflects on how wits, luck, and stubbornness can be the defining features of a hero just a much (if not more) than honor, courage, and etiquette. A quick read that I've returned to many times since receiving it as a gift from my sister many years ago, with ...more
Sara
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What wonderful short stories! This is the first Tolkien I've read that is set outside of the Middle-Earth universe, and I loved every minute of it! I listened to both of these stories on audio as read by Derek Jacobi and I highly recommend them. He is a phenomenal narrator and really brings these tales to life! I especially liked Farmer Giles of Ham because of the dragon. Chrysophylax is really a great character. Both of these stories are certainly appropriate for children, and would be a great ...more
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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
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