A special guest post from my Father in honor of #VintageSciFiMonth he chose to read and review Tolkien’s Roverandom which was published in 1998 but written in 1925 so we feel it qualifies. 🙂 My parents were my primary inspiration to read so it is with great joy that I share this review from my Dad with y’all:
Houghton Mifflin, NY, NY, 1998
Roverandom is a novella penned by J.R.R. Tolkien during the summer of 1925. It was published posthumously in 1998. This fantasy sprang to life in an effort to bring comfort to his son, Michael, upon the loss of his favorite toy, a miniature black and white dog made of lead, while on holiday in Filey on the Yorkshire coast. It’s an interesting short read in which one can see inklings of his greatest works to come.
Rover, a very small and very young dog playing in his garden with a yellow ball and an old man comes by and picks up the ball. Now as it is said in the book, “Not every old man with ragged trousers is a bad old man…a few, a very few are wizards prowling around on a holiday looking for something to do.” This wizard came wandering up the garden path a ragged old coat with an old pipe in his mouth and an old green hat on his head…with a blue feather stuck in the back of it.” Rover misinterpreting the wizard’s intentions of picking up his ball ultimately bites and tears the wizards trousers. The old man became very angry and simply said, “Idiot, go be a toy!” From this point, Rover begins a journey that will lead him from his beloved garden to an adventure that takes his to the moon and back to under the sea and back home again.
Rover meets up with a ‘sand-wizard’ who takes pity on him and sends him on a journey to the moon to meet the Man-in-the-Moon, a wise and powerful wizard. While there he meets the wizard’s moon-dog, also named Rover. Since two Rovers are confusing, the man-in-the-moon renames him Roverandom. After dealing with dragons and black spiders (among other adventures) he heads back to Earth. There he is sent to the bottom of the sea to find Artaxerxes, the wizard who placed the spell on him in an effort to apologize and be released from the spell.
Artaxerxes hasn’t the time for a small little dog and doesn’t care to be bothered. Roverandom meets up with the Mer-King’s mer-dog, named Rover. Both become friends and swim to many more adventures. Artaxerxes, now the Pacific and Atlantic Magician, meets with an ancient Sea-serpent who is waking and causing trouble. Roverandom manages to create an event with the Sea-serpent that has all of the mer-folk so upset with their PAM that he must leave and go back to land. Artaxerexs ultimately accepts Rover’s apology and the spell is reversed. In the end “Roverandom grew to be very wise…and had all sorts of other adventures…”
In this novella, one can see the beauty of Tolkien’s mind at work in weaving a tale of fantasy to comfort his son in the loss of his favorite toy and more importantly, see the beginnings of greater tales of wizards, dragons and heroes waiting to come to life.