The Daleks of Tom Bombadil

This (rare, landscape-format) instalment of the Dalek Game is for J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, and other verses from The Red Book, and particularly for Pauline Baynes’ beautiful, cascading, angular, half-Gothic, half-fairytale illustrations for it.

It is a lovely book, a very Hobbitish book, and while the illustrations and later heartbreak occasionally touch the elven austerity glimpsed in The Lord of the Rings, the words themselves are often sheer play – joyful literary silliness (“He battled with the Dumbledors, the Hummerhorns, and Honeybees”, “An unwary guest on a lunatic quest/from the Mountains of the Moon”, “The pard dark-starred, fleet upon feet”, “He passed the archipelagoes/where yellow grows the marigold”). It tells how Tom Bombadil defeated the Barrow-Wights and stole Goldberry, and of the Man in the Moon’s difficulties with time. It tells of princesses and vagabond knights, greedy hobbits, put-upon trolls, oliphaunts and mewlips, cats and giant turtles, loss and longing.