Thomas the Rhymer

By Ellen Kushner

Rating: 3 stars

Young Thomas the harper is taken in by an elderly couple to whom he returns again and again as his fortunes amongst the courts of the mighty wax and wane. One day he disappears without even his harp and they fear they’ll never see him again. But Thomas has been taken by the Queen of Elfland to be her lover and her harper, to return after seven years. And then he must make right the wrong to the woman he loves.

This is a slightly difficult book to review, as I didn’t feel much while I was reading it. There wasn’t a huge amount to the story and none of the characters really made me feel for them. I actually found the bookends around Elfland more interesting than the portion of the story therein. I suppose it felt more real, more human. The Elfland section sort of felt like nothing mattered, even once the mystery hinted at early on finally took on substance.

In tone, this book sort of reminded me of Mythago Wood, another book that I was ambivalent about. I think this sort of mythic fantasy isn’t necessarily for me. I can appreciate it but it doesn’t necessarily do anything for me. Not a fault of the book, but of the reader. I’ll probably not read much more in this vein in future.

Book details

ISBN: 9781473211629
Publisher: Gollancz
Year of publication: 1990

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