Guest Review: Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien

Tolkien 2012

Thalia is one of the lovely ladies who blogs at the Egotist’s Club.  Check out their reflections on literature, beauty, and, of course, Tolkien!

I’ve tried to be erudite and I’ve tried to be deep but to no avail. As I prepare to celebrate J.R.R. Tolkien, all I can do is grin madly and strew flowers about. No, silly, not like Ophelia. Tolkien never murdered my father… Rather, picture the final curtain of Siegfried. I am in a transported audience hollering “Bravo”, stamping my feet, clapping my hands and raining flowers down upon the stage. I’m the person who rushes madly up to my hero with tears in my eyes. Wringing his hand, all I can think of to say is,

“Wonderful! Wonderful!”

“Oh dear. Now she’ll tell me all about how Lord of the Rings is her secret retreat from the world and that she’s got an elven cloak.” So thinks the object of my slobbering admiration.

“When I was a teenager,” I begin.

Here we go…she’s got an elven name too…” (Which I do… but it’s secret.)

“I read Roverandom, and I just laughed and laughed. It was the best story I had ever read. I still think of it with tenderness. Honestly, I think it is either the pinnacle or else the foundation of all story telling.”

At this point, doubtless my hero is too overwhelmed by other crazed fans to voice his surprise.

But there you have it. I love Lord of the Rings. I ponder Leaf By Niggle. I cried too much to finish The Silmarillion. But really, it is the little story about a little puppy that wins my heart. Tolkien wrote this story to entertain his son after the boy lost a beloved toy dog. It is a simple story, but like every good fairy tale Roverandom is a quest.

It is a quest for home, perhaps the most dangerous quest in the world. For the fears and anguish we face on that road are nearer to ourselves and more perilous than perhaps any other. The quest for home is the one most parallel to our own aching journey toward heaven and so it is the most urgent. But that road is full of darkness and treachery. You really shouldn’t try to face that without a sense of humor. That is what Roverandom provides.

Roverandom sparkles with the wit and whimsy of Tolkien. This isn’t a side of him that you see or notice very often. There are funny moments, of course, in Lord of the Rings. The letter that Gandalf writes to Frodo threatens some hilarious punishments to Butterbur. The hobbits are such simple souls that they cause many hilarious moments. But by and large, the wit and humor of Tolkien are submerged in the vastness of the story. In the short, sweet story of Roverandom, there is an opportunity to experience a lighter touch.

I started to write a dull summary of plot, but it was dull and, unsurprisingly, gave away the story. I can say without fear though, that it is a tale of wild fancies and hilarious predicaments mostly caused by little Roverandom’s naughtiness and solved by the subtle machinations of the Man in the Moon and his friend the wizard Psamathos Psamathides. The long, long way back home takes Roverandom to the Moon and under the Sea. All around there are scary things that Roverandom treats like any small dog would. In ignorant bravado, of course.

Too often, humor is overlooked by young authors trying to say something serious about the world. It takes a masterful hand to use whimsical fancy, but in the end it is one of the powerful weapons against the world that we face. Either in life or in fairy tales, add a sense of humor to your pre-adventure check list.

2 thoughts on “Guest Review: Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien

  1. Urania says:

    I have a copy of this on my shelf and I have never read it! Oh sad! For it is my shelf back at home, four states away, to be exact. But you have made me want to read it. Aha, maybe the uni library has it…


  2. David says:

    *weeping* A Tolkien that I don’t own! *sob* I’m so deprived!

    *dabs eyes* Now, moving on from my pathetic attempt at self-pity, I’d just like to say “thank you” for tastefully giving me a sense of Roverandom, about which I’d heard but didn’t know squat, to be honest. I will have to make a point of seeking it out.


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