A lot of people probably don't know that J.R.R. Tolkien actually wrote more than just The Hobbit, LoTR, and related works. He wrote an assortment of short fiction, typically fantasy stories for children. One of the stories (a novella) is titled Smith of Wootton Major. In short, I liked it.
The plot of this story puzzled me at first. The smith doesn't even enter until about the halfway mark. Everything prior is set-up. It could have been faster, but the narrative voice was intriguing enough to hold the story together. From that point on, the plot progressed sort of like an episodic fairy tale, which was Tolkien's clear intention.
The characters were a bit flat by today's standards, although they fit the story. Each one had one defining emotion, a crutch in longer works, yet passable here. Alf had a mystery about him that made him cool to read about, especially once I began suspecting his secret (you have to read it to understand).
Tolkien didn't overdescribe the setting. That is definitely a plus. It was as serene and majestic as you would hope based upon the nature of the story.
Overall, Smith of Wooton Major gets a 88%. It didn't lose me too much. The lost percentage points are mostly from slow build-up and none-too-stunning characters. All in all, it's still a worthy read for fantasy fans.