I thought I’d try something new with this post, largely because I’m running out of other things to post about. If you’re visiting this website, that probably means either or both of two things: you like books, and you like Fantasy books specifically. With that in mind, I thought I’d start bringing to your attention some well-written things not written by me.
Tales from The Perilous Realm – J.R.R. Tolkien
I will fight, relentlessly and with the utmost conviction, that J.R.R. Tolkien is the greatest writer of this or any age, in this or any language, of this or any world. Of course, his most famous work is, by several orders of magnitude is The Lord of the Rings, followed, by a couple less orders of magnitude, The Hobbit. You know that, you’ve probably read them. It would be pointless for me to add to the oceans of ink that have been spilt over over those most famous of works.
Instead, I thought it would be better to bring to attention the master’s lesser-known works, and the one I had in mind is the collection of stories compiled as Tales from the Perilous Realm. It may surprise you to learn that Tolkien possessed a deep fascination with and interest in Fairy Tales – the perilous realm in the title referring to the Fairy world.
Tales from the Perilous Realm is fascinating both for reflecting Tolkien’s ideas of both what Fairy Tales are and what they are for. The last work in the collection is the essay “On Fairy Stories”, which examines the genre academically (Tolkien being a University professor, after all).
Most of the works in Tales from the Perilous Realm are significantly more light-hearted than, say, Lord of the Rings or The Silmarillion – they are Fairy-Tales after, all, but they are nevertheless written with Tolkien’s typically peerless wordcraft. Mostly, though, I find it fascinating as a look into what Tolkien was capable of imagining while working outside the boundaries of Middle-Earth. Though, Tales from the Perilous Realm does tie into the mythology of Middle-Earth in the section about Tom Bombadil, who you’ll recognise as the strange old man Frodo and the other Hobbits encounter in the Old Forest. The poems are written as in-universe poems from the Shire.
Also, I find Tales from the Perilous Realm eminently recommendable largely because I share most of Tolkien’s beliefs about the virtues of Fairy Tales, which is essentially what the Fantasy genre itself is, after all.