Originally posted here.Farmer Giles of Ham pretty much epitomizes everything I love about Tolkien. We get a winking narrator, similar to the narrator of The Hobbit; there's a hand-drawn map; it's full of humour and little philological jokes and asides; best of all, it does what he set out to do with The Silmarillion, in creating a new mythology for England.Farmer Giles of Ham is not an entirely new story. If you've read The Valiant/Brave Little Tailor (or, heck, even seen the 1938 cartoon featuring Mickey Mouse) you'll find the basic premise of this fable exceedingly familiar, but that doesn't mean it's not still a good time.Tolkien sets up this fantastical version of medieval England immediately, letting you know that it's almost (but not quite) entirely like the England we know today/knew of then.Ægidius de Hammo was a man who lived in the midmost parts of the Island of Britain. In full his name was Ægidius Ahenobarbus Julius Agricola de Hammo; for people were richly endowed with names in those days, now long ago, when this island was still happily divided into many kingdoms. There was more time then, and folk were fewer, so that most men were distinguished. However, those days are now over, so I will in what follows give the man his name shortly, and in the vulgar form: he was Farmer Giles of Ham, and he had a red beard.I remember first picking this book up off the school library shelf when I was in the 6th grade, and marveling that I was the first person to check it out in more than 15 years (we had those cards in the books that you signed and stamped). I fell in love with it from that first paragraph up there, and was shocked that no one else seemed to be interested in it.Even now, checking out the goodreads page for it shows me that it's still relatively unknown/unread, which is a shame. Yes, it's short and it's not set in Middle-Earth, but if you're at all a fan of Tolkien's style (especially if you loved The Hobbit) I think you owe it to yourself to spend an hour or two with this book.Oh, and I said there was a map, didn't I? I love the face on the compass.