Thomas the Rhymer (novel)

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Thomas the Rhymer
ThomastheRhymer firsted.jpg
Cover of the first edition of Thomas the Rhymer.
Author Ellen Kushner
Cover artist Thomas Canty
Language English
Genre Speculative fiction
Publisher William Morrow & Co
Publication date
January 1, 1990
Pages 247

Thomas the Rhymer is a fantasy novel written by Ellen Kushner. It is based on the ballad of Thomas the Rhymer, a piece of folklore in which Thomas Learmonth's love of the Queen of Elfland was rewarded with the gift of prophecy. The novel won the 1991 World Fantasy Award[1] and Mythopoeic Award.

Plot summary[edit]

Thomas, a harper from court, befriends a humble farmer and his wife. As he begins a relationship with Elspeth, their neighbor, he is whisked to Elfland, ensnared by the Fairy Queen. After seven years he returns to Gavin, Meg, and Elspeth with a parting gift from the Queen: He can only speak the truth.[citation needed]



A minstrel who sang in the king's court. Before he is captured by the Fairy Queen, he is a carefree young man.


A young woman who falls in love with Thomas. In the seven years of his absence, her hard life makes her cynical.


A rather simple crofter who takes Thomas in.

The Queen of Elfland[edit]

Although powerful and beautiful, the Fairy Queen can be unmerciful. While she does release Thomas after seven years as her lover, she never truly lets him go.


Gavin's wife who sees value in Thomas and believes him when others don't



  1. ^ World Fantasy Convention. "Award Winners and Nominees". Retrieved 4 Feb 2011. 

External links[edit]