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Literature / Smith of Wootton Major

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"Smith of Wootton Major" is a late work by J. R. R. Tolkien, about a smith who received, when a young child, a magical star that let him travel in the Land of Faerie.

Tropes included in the tale:

  • Acid Reflux Nightmare: Nokes dismisses his meeting with the Faery King as this, which ironically grants his wish of becoming thinner, since he's afraid to eat anything that might bring a recurrence.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Smith has to give up the star, but he passes it to a child he loves.
  • The Blacksmith: The main character.
  • Brutal Honesty: Alf is diplomatic with Nokes during his apprenticeship, but after Nokes retires he tells him what a vain, lazy bastard he thinks he actually is.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Nell. We first meet her sitting next to Smith when they're children at the Twenty-Four Feast; next thing we know they're married.
  • Connected All Along: It turns out that the Master Cook who brought Alf into the town is actually Smith's grandfather.
  • Dances and Balls: In a vale in Faerie.
  • Establishing Character Moment: At age nine, Smith gives the token he found in the Twenty-Four Cake to Nell because he feels sorry for her not finding one. This also probably illustrates why he was chosen for the star.
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  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Actually once they called him "Smithson" but then just "Smith".
  • The Fair Folk: The Land of Faery is dangerous even to Smith; at one point when he ventures into forbidden territory a storm drives him out. However, the elves that he meets are basically benign.
  • Happily Married: Smith and Nell, despite his habit of wandering off.
  • It Was a Gift: The silver coin.
  • King Incognito: Smith meets the queen of Faery once without realizing it. Also, Alf turns out to be the Faery King.
  • Land of Faerie: Where the star let him go.
  • Meaningful Name: Alf. It's the old Germanic word for elf.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: We first meet Smith at age nine, when he acquires the star, but the rest of the story happens in his adulthood.
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Our Fairies Are Different: Discussed. Nokes has a typical modern view of fairies as fictional little sprites, which, this being Tolkien's verse, is far from the reality. However, the Faery Queen appreciates being remembered in some form.
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  • Protective Charm: The star allows Smith to wander in the Land of Faery more than most mortals, though there are limits.