Thomas the Rhymer - Ellen Kushner

A prose re-telling of the famous traditional ballad of Thomas the Rhymer. Thomas bargains away seven years of his life inadvertantly for a kiss form the Queen of the Fairies who takes him to her fair realm. She was attracted to him for his harping and bardic skills. The time passes in days and Thomas asks to live out the full seven years in the fairy land as her lover and harper. He can stay as long as he only speaks to her (apart from when he is performing of course) and is careful to eat only the human food she provides for him. At the end of the seven years when he returns to the mortal realm, she makes him True Thomas and he can never tell a lie.

The story is fleshed out further with the relationhips Thomas has with elderly, childless couple Gavin and Meg before he is taken away as well as his mortal love Elspeth amongst his many other conquests. The tale is told in four sections starting with Gavin's tale, then Thomas Meg and finally Elspeth. There were also two beautiful stories within the main text in the fairy realm about a white dove who cries tears of blood and Thomas' invisible servant.

I really enjoyed this tale. A mixture of fantasy, romance and fairy tale it was everything I enjoy in a novel. There are two previews of some of Kushner's other novels which I will read at a later date and I do hope to read more of her tales in the future.