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Thomas the Rhymer [Kindle Edition]

Ellen Kushner
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $6.99
Kindle Price: $5.98
You Save: $1.01 (14%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Award-winning author and radio personality Ellen Kushner’s inspired retelling of an ancient legend weaves myth and magic into a vivid
contemporary novel about the mysteries of the human heart. Brimming with ballads, riddles, and magical transformations, here is the timeless tale of a charismatic bard whose talents earn him a two-edged otherworldly gift.

A minstrel lives by his words, his tunes, and sometimes by his lies. But when the bold and gifted young Thomas the Rhymer awakens the desire of the powerful Queen of Elfland, he finds that words are not enough to keep him from his fate. As the Queen sweeps him far from the people he has known and loved into her realm of magic, opulence—and captivity—he learns at last what it is to be truly human. When he returns to his home with the Queen’s parting gift, his great task will be to seek out the girl he loved and wronged, and offer her at last the tongue that cannot lie.


From the Paperback edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Based on the famous ballad of the medieval minstrel who was abducted by the Queen of Elfland, this romantic fantasy is a happy blend of discreet scholarship and literary style. A Boston-based radio producer, Kushner ( Swordspoint ) is at ease in Middle-Earth where Thomas, insouciant harper and rhymer, appears at the humble dwelling of a weathered crofter and his wife. Dazzling them with stories of the king's court, the damsels he's won and the sights he's seen, he also enthralls young Elspeth, a neighbor. Their mutual attraction is frustrated when Thomas suddenly disappears, and for seven years is held captive by the silken Queen of Elfland, who releases him with a questionable gift, the inability to speak anything but the truth. As Thomas renews his earthly life with Elspeth, the gift leads to interesting complications. Kushner creates a lavish microcosm where riddles and runes and magical transformations govern.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Thomas the Rhymer's carefree life as a wandering minstrel changes forever when a fateful encounter with the Queen of Elfland takes him from the world for seven years, returning him unmarked by age and gifted with the inability to lie. The author of Swordspoint brings the freshness of her storytelling talent to this ballad-inspired tale of a man's brush with immortality and its inescapable legacy. This graceful medieval fantasy is highly recommended and may have appeal to nongenre readers.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 680 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0553586971
  • Publisher: Spectra (December 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XUDHLQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #469,571 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the usual fantasy fare June 9, 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is not a book to read if you're seeking a stirring adventure. Thomas does go on a long, strange trip, but the focus is as much on how his life impacts the people important to him as it is on his experiences in Elfland. Kushner's decision to write only Thomas's Elfland experiences in his own voice, then, is a clever one. Also, seeing Thomas before and after his journey through the eyes of others reveals the extent of the change in him more thoroughly than if we remained in his head.
Kushner does an excellent job of giving each of the four narrators a distinct perspective, a difficult thing to do. And because they see different things in each other and percieve their relationships with one another differently, there's the opportunity to ponder how it is we get along in the world when we all have disparate visions of reality. This is a marvelously subtle way to question whether True Thomas can ever wholly tell the truth. Is the truth absolute, or is it changeable depending on individual understanding? This question lingers long after the book is shut.
So why did I give Thomas the Rhymer only three stars? Well, for all the lovely writing and thoughtful structure, it left me cold. For one, the Faery Queen who is the heart of all this trouble and change seemed to me little more than a blowup doll. She laid a couple of spells on Thomas, but mostly all they did was copulate, and I needed either for her to be more interesting or to feel more of why Thomas was infatuated with her. (Because of the distance I felt from her, also, the ending of the book was less moving for me than it should have been.) Apart from that, I felt Kushner passed over a great opportunity to explore what the effects of Thomas's truth-saying might be.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical, yet somehow unsatisfying. August 21, 2001
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read several reviews of this book several years ago and received several more word-of-mouth reviews since them. All were raves. The facts that the book was out-of-print and hard to get added to the mystique. So, when I saw the book on a friend's shelf, I was beside myself with rapture, and immediately borrowed the book and read it.
Though it was a good story, true to the ballad, and beautifully written, it was not the religious experience I was anticipating. Perhaps my expectations were too high, I just don't know. But mostly, I did not find Thomas to be a particulary sympathetic character, The people that loved him did not find their love returned, I fear. Thomas was a touch too self-centered for my tastes.
All in all though, I'm glad I finally found and read the book. I would recommend it to all fantasy fans and fans of Celtic/Scottish/British folklore if for no other reason than "historic" relevance.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another world, another time -- and that's the truth January 23, 2003
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Ellen Kushner has used an old ballad to create a fascinating and lovely tale of a young harpist and singer. Thomas appears one day at the door of an older and childless couple in the country who take him in and begin to love him as a son. He in turn, loves and respects them, all the while finding himself fascinating to and fascinated by a neighbor girl whose fiery temperament charms him. Off and on he reappears, leaving behind the courts of the nobility where he sings and plays for their pleasure.
One day, while visiting his friends, he wanders onto Eildon Hills and meets the queen of the faeries. She takes him with her to her home where he abides for 7 years. He becomes her lover, her plaything, and a challenge to others in the land, because he is forbidden to speak to anyone except the queen. Having fulfilled his bargain, the queen returns Thomas to his own world, burdened with a terrible gift: He can only speak the truth.
Told by Gavin, the elderly farmer, Thomas, and the girl whom he marries upon his return, the story of the life of True Thomas unwinds almost as a song does. There is melody, harmony, and many verses. For those who come to believe, the end will bring tears to their eyes.
Readers who enjoy this book might also enjoy Kushner's earlier novel, Swordspoint. She does not write often, but she writes well.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical, Yes, But Otherwise... October 26, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Actually, I would give this book one star or none at all, but the writing is so beautiful, and the "supporting" cast in the real world is wonderful.
However, I truly did not like the land of faery, I did NOT like the Faery Queen, and Thomas himself annoyed the hell out of me for the majority of the novel. The arrogance of Thomas and his obvious lack of love for his human wife (a wonderful character) completely spoiled this book for me. The elderly couple with whom Thomas occaisionally lives are likewise wonderful, but they cannot save the novel.
The Queen of Faeries is just as irritating as Thomas is, and the faery court is a melee of cruel, heartless creatures. In the end, Thomas may have been given the dubious gift of truth, but he has not found the gift of wisdom. Yuck. Without the supporting characters in "our" world and the inherent beauty and subtlety of Kushner's writing style, this book would not be worth reading. Unless you enjoy arrogant, irritaing, contradictory, selfish, and ultimately unchangeable characters.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars For those who are interested in the Ballad of Thomas the Rhymer
If you are interested in reading a story which takes the traditional Scottish Ballad of Thomas the Rhymer and fleshing it out into a full length novel, then this book is worth a... Read more
Published 22 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous Writing
I don't know how I've existed so long without knowing about or reading this gorgeous book. Clearly, I've been living under a rock. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Edith Bishop
1.0 out of 5 stars What did I just attempt to read?
Oh dear god. It was UTTERLY hopeless to try to get into this book. I stared at the paragraphs and they were so unengaging that my eyes kept sliding around, looking for words that... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Rabid Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome
Read this! You will be glad you did... An ancient myth told in a thought provoking way. Well worth the time
Published 8 months ago by Lindy Sanford
3.0 out of 5 stars First Part Interesting, Rest Not So Much
As it happens, I quit when I was halfway through through the book as the second part just didn't catch my interest.
Published 11 months ago by Alan E. Mack
5.0 out of 5 stars Kept this reader engaged from cover to cover
Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner

I must admit that Ellen Kushner, award winning writer, radio personality and lecturer was unknown to this reader prior to "Thomas... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Paul Brooks
5.0 out of 5 stars Thomas the Rhymer--A magical
Thomas the Rhymer is a bewitching tale that speaks to our longing for other more perfect worlds. I'm going to read the book again because the story's message has to do with the... Read more
Published 23 months ago by goshawk
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful
This is without a doubt the most beautifully written book I've ever come across. So lyrical and well written. Read more
Published on March 22, 2009 by Laurel Vanblarcum
5.0 out of 5 stars Best description of Faerie I have ever found
I am a lover of all things Faerie. I have put alot of time and research into the world of Faerie because I am a Faerie artist. Read more
Published on February 27, 2007 by Susan Barchard
2.0 out of 5 stars a wonderfully written bore
I sincerely envy Ms Kushner's writing skills: she is a wondrous writer, she handles her language with a subtlety unheard of and still she manages to avoid any overwriting or... Read more
Published on March 20, 2005 by Furio
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