29 Sep 2009

Ægidius Ahenobarbus Julius Agricola de Hammo - Farmer Giles of Ham

(Farmer Giles of Ham meets Chrysophylax Dives 'The Rich' by Pauline Baynes)

Amazing what 24 hours without a computer can do to a hobbit like me...so I had to go in the countryside for a day and decided it was not convenient to carry around a heavy laptop. As I often do, spent few hours in a market town, where is a small dusty book store I found a very unexpected treasure. Here I was buying two books by Tolkien. One of them is Farmer Giles of Ham a short, lovely novel by J.R.R. Tolkien, written in 1937 and published in 1949, the book was originally illustrated by Pauline Baynes.

Giles is a farmer of Ham, his real name is Ægidius Ahenobarbus Julius Agricola de Hammo, but everybody calls him Giles, which is so much easier, if you ask me. As Bilbo and Frodo, he is an unlikely hero. One night a clumsy giant stump on his field, flattening his hedges and squishing his favourite cow, so Giles armed with a huge rustic gun, goes after him and shoot the giant in the face. From that day on Giles become a local hero, the news spread fast and reach the king which is so impressed, he sent Giles a beautiful letter and an old sword he had gathering dust in the castle. It turns out the sword is named Caudimordax or Tailbiter which is a powerful weapon against dragons. So it is told that a dragon called Chrysophylax Dives 'The Rich' one day ventures in the fields just outside Ham. The terrified villagers all expect the great hero Farmer Giles to deal with him. Giles will meed the dragon and make a deal with him, asking him for a payment in gold and precious stones for all the damage the dragon has caused in the fields. Chrysophylax Dives 'The Rich' is very scared of the magical dragon sword, so he agrees to the payment, however once back in his cave in the mountains, he will forget about Farmer Giles and the gold he was supposed to pay.Sometimes farmers can be forced to become heroes...just like hobbits ,Giles will get to the cave and demand the gold agreed and much more. The dragon is forced to pay and to carry the treasures on his back down to Gilses's farm where he will remain for many years to protect the now-very-rich-and famous farmer. The king will try to get his hands on the money and even dares to ask for the sword back, but dares not to challenge the farmer and his dragon.

Such a light, funny novel, easy to read, it will make you smile and giggle often. A small 'jewel' from J.R.R. Tolkien, who had a great passion for dragons and unlikely heroes.