Book Review: Tales From The Perilous Realm by J.R.R. Tolkien
Updated: Oct 27, 2020
After J.R.R. Tolkien died, a collection of his stories and creations were taken and put together. They were published in 1997 and titled Tales From The Perilous Realm. Tales From The Perilous Realm includes stories such as: Roverandom, Farmer Giles of Ham, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, as well as my two personal favorites, Smith of Wootton Major, and Leaf by Niggle.
Mystical is one word that can be used to describe anything written by Tolkien. Tolkien's writing has a way to instill a fantastical sense of wonder, longing and a magical feeling of being anywhere but where you really are. Tolkien has the ability to accurately create a world on paper with his choice of imagery, as well as his habit to introduce mysterious and mystical concepts and characters without explanation, leaving the reader curious in a way that makes one think. Sometimes, it's not possible to tell what to take literally, and what to look at deeper and take as symbolism when reading his works.
For example, in the story Leaf by Niggle, there isn't quite too much to take in a literal sense. The entire story is one that requires the reader to think and explore their own imagination for themselves, as well as making one feel the one-thing-after-another anxiety we are all familiar with. Niggle, the main character in this world, is almost the living embodiment of the words “procrastination” and “impatience”. Niggle has a painting he desperately wants to finish, but instead he puts it off and puts it off. When he finally decides to get down to it, he has a neighbor call on his time in a way he has no choice other than to lend his aid. After this, Niggle becomes bed ridden with an illness, unable to work on his painting. As soon as he's able to pick up a brush, he sets off to resume his painting. Its at this time that an Inspector shows up, condemns his painting to scraps, and when Niggle begins to contest, the Driver shows up declaring it is time for Niggle to leave. He tells him he can take what he can snatch, which Niggle ends up leaving on the train anyway. Before he can do anything about it the train is gone. Niggle finds himself alone at his destination - the workhouse, which critics have likened to a form of purgatory. Concentration and time management are what he learns here at the workhouse. After some time, he is rewarded for his efforts with a ticket to the Other World. When he gets there, he finds before him his Tree, better than his own painting and more beautiful that he could have ever imagined, and behind it was the Forest and the Mountains which he had only begun to imagine. But there is room for improvement, and to do this he must work with his neighbor Parish, who served as a main form of distraction in his former life.
I gave this book a 5/5 because it satisfied my tastes for books in a way that not too many books do. Although not everyone will share my taste in books, there isn't much to do at home these days, so might as well try something new. You might just find a new author.