Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tales From The Perilous Realm

This is an anthology volume of five short books by J. R. R. Tolkien. It includes Roverandom, Farmer Giles of Ham, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, Smith of Wootton Major, and Leaf by Niggle; included as an appendix is the essay On Fairy Stories.
Now, I have all these books in individual volumes, and some in collections like The Tolkien Reader and A Tolkien Miscellany. So for me the real buying point of this book are the illustrations by Alan Lee, the celebrated English artist who not only produced art for the illustrated volumes of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit but was one of the main visual conceptual artists for The Lord of the Rings movies.
The pictures break down like this: on the cover, a color painting of Farmer Giles and the dragon Chrysophylax(reproduced above); for Roverandom, 10 drawings; for Farmer Giles of Ham, 4 drawings; for The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, 30 drawings; for Smith of Wootton Major, 3 drawings; and for Leaf by Niggle, 2 drawings. So all together, 50 pieces of original art, delicate pencil sketches, some of things not often pictured in the Tolkien canon. I particularly enjoyed the ones in The Adventure of Tom Bombadil (a poetry collection), where there was at least one drawing per poem.
Also included are an Introduction by famed Tolkien scholar T. A. Shippey and an Afterword by Alan Lee. The book itself is uniform with other Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt volumes of Tolkien works and so fits snugly with them on a shelf. So even if you have most of the books in the Tales of the Perilous Realm in some form or another, but are missing at least one (I think Roverandom might not be in some people's collection) this volume might be well worth the $28 I payed for it at our local Hastings.
Especially if you are a Tolkien nut like myself.

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