Tolkien Gateway


Revision as of 15:08, 26 May 2014 by Mith (Talk | contribs)
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
EditorChristina Scull & Wayne G. Hammond
IllustratorJ.R.R. Tolkien
PublisherHarperCollins (UK)
Houghton Mifflin (US)
Released5 January 1998 (UK)
15 April 1988 (US)
SeriesTales from the Perilous Realm

Roverandom is a story written by J.R.R. Tolkien, originally told in 1925. It deals with the adventures of a young dog, Rover. In the story, an irritable wizard turns Rover into a toy, and Rover goes to the moon and under the sea in order to find the wizard again to turn him back into a dog. Tolkien wrote Roverandom for his son, Michael, to amuse him upon the loss of his favorite toy — a little lead dog. The work is in tone a children's story, but contains many allusions and references in the manner of Farmer Giles of Ham.

It was submitted for publication in 1936 after the success of The Hobbit, but was not published for over sixty years — finally being released in 1998.



Most reviews from the general press offered modest praise, with more enthusiastic acclaim from Tolkien aficionados; reviewers particularly lauded Tolkien's descriptive ability. Tolkien scholar David Bratman praised Roverandom saying "Mum is not the word for Roverandom: this book can be enjoyed by anyone who loves The Hobbit, from the most abstruse Tolkien scholar to intelligent children of perhaps age 8 or 10." Although admitting that this was a less-polished work by Tolkien, Bratman did confirm that "Some of the best writing is in lyrical descriptions of the moonscape and seascape."[1] Jessica Yates, writing in Books for Keeps, pointed out the connections between Roverandom and both The Silmarillion and other children's stories from the 1920s. Yates concluded that Roverandom is "a jolly good children's tale" with a "scholarly and most useful introduction".[2]

Writing for January Magazine, David Grayson also praised the descriptions - particularly the "sense of awe" - of Roverandom's world and felt this would be a good book to introduce children to Tolkien. However, Grayson also made clear that this was a "mediocre tale".[3] Trent Walters felt that the editorial content was "tastefully done" and summarised the book: "Whether Roverandom will become a classic or not is up to the future generations of young readers and what they remember loving and what they choose to read to their own kids. But, if you're just looking for an unalloyed, unmolested good time to read aloud to your children (or your make-believe children), call up this book."[4]

Daniel Offer of Fantasy Book Review offered cautious praise of Roverandom giving it a 7/10 score: "While Roverandom will probably never be listed among the great classics, this theme rings true, making the book a valuable addition to any library." But Offer did caution that "The book is probably not so compelling that you will be unable to put it down, and it probably won’t be one that you reread every year. [...] The doggy protagonist seemed rather flat, and was much less interesting than the things he saw and the things he did." Offer summed up the book as "charming".[5]

Adam Mars-Jones, writing in The Observer, mirrors Bratman's praise of Tolkien's descriptions: "In his descriptions Tolkien brings off the occasional effect worthy of epic". However, Mars-Jones was overall more scathing as he criticsed the book for being edited "to within an inch of its life" whilst the characterisation was "rudimentary" and that the flat-Earth cosmology was unsatisfactory. He concluded that "most admirers of Tolkien will want to turn down this chance".[6] A review in The Telegraph, titled "Completists always prove willing buyers", argued that the story might not be strong enough in its own right,[7] whilst Kirkus offered the most strident warning: "The story was rejected by Tolkien's publisher in 1937 and has lain neglected ever since. With good reason. [...] Even for Tolkien scholars, these are awfully thin bones to pick over."[8]

Average readers' scores for Roverandom are fairly consistent in moderate praise. On Google, average readers' scores are 4.12/5 (8.24/10),[9] and the average score at Goodreads is 3.83/5 (7.66)[10] which was mirrored by users on Amazon who have given Roverandom an average score of 3.87/5 (7.73/10).[11]

Publication history

HarperCollins 1998 hardback  
HarperCollins 1998 paperback  
HarperCollins 2002 paperback  
HarperCollins 2013 pocket hardback  

See also

External links


  1. David Bratman, "Reviews: Roverandom" dated 1 April 1998, Mythprint (accessed 26 May 2014)
  2. Jessica Yates, "Review: Roverandom" in Books for Keeps, March 1998
  3. David Grayon, "A Forgotten Tolkien Tale", January Magazine (accessed 26 May 2014)
  4. Trent Walters, "Roverandom", SFSite (accessed 26 May 2014)
  5. Daniel Offer, "Roverandom by JRR Tolkien", Fantasy Book Review (accessed 26 May 2014)
  6. Adam Mars-Jones, "Hobbit forming" dated 1 January 1988, The Observer (accessed 26 May 2014)
  7. "Completists always prove willing buyers" in The Daily Telegraph 9 May 1998, p. A4
  8. "Roverandom" dated 1 February 1998, Kirkus (accessed 26 May 2014)
  9. "Roverandom", Google Books (accessed 26 May 2014)
  10. "Roverandom", Goodreads (accessed 26 May 2014)
  11. "Customer Reviews - Roverandom", (accessed 26 May 2014)
Tales from the Perilous Realm
Farmer Giles of HamThe Adventures of Tom BombadilLeaf by NiggleSmith of Wootton MajorRoverandom (since 2008)