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An Earthly Knight

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,334 Ratings  ·  107 Reviews
A cloud has descended over the household of Lady Jeanette Avenel.

The year is 1162. Sixteen-year-old Jenny has always enjoyed her freedom as second daughter of a Norman nobleman in Teviotdale, Scotland. But when Jenny's sister, Isabel, disgraces the family by running away with a dangerous suitor, Jenny is thrust reluctantly into the role of elder daughter. While Jenny worr
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 15th 2005 by Harper Teen (first published January 1st 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,733)
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This was another reread, basically to match The Perilous Gard, since they’re both Tam Lin themed. This one is a mite more traditional, and sticks pretty close to the ballad, rather than being based on the situation the ballad lays out and then growing in other directions. The interesting thing is that it brings in another ballad, one I’m less familiar with: ‘Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight‘. That and the medieval, historical setting ground the fairytale elements very well and make the whole thing ...more
Jan 12, 2010 Jasmine rated it liked it
Shelves: harperteen
I have a bit of a stand-off-ish relationship with Janet McNaughton. On the one hand, I usually enjoy reading her books- and on the other, I think I discovered them about two years too late. So I ALMOST buy into the story, but not quite.

I fully admit that this is one of my weirder failings. I can watch or read something that's totally outside of my demographic and enjoy it (tinkerbell movie anyone?) but if it's just outside, I'll twiddle my fingers and glare angrily at the story instead of just e
Jul 10, 2015 Josie rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: fans of the Tam Lin story
Recommended to Josie by: Amazon Listmania
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
An Earthly Knight is Janet McNaughton's retelling of the old Scottish ballad of Tam Lin, the mortal chosen by the faerie queen to be her payment to hell. McNaughton's version is set in 12th-century Scotland, where her heroine, Jenny, is the daughter of a baron and the sister of disgraced Isabel, who ran off with a knight. (In an interesting twist, Isabel turns out to be the heroine of a different ballad, which I didn't recognize until she tells her story to Jenny late in the book.)

Readers who ar
An Earthly Knight is based both on the story of Tam Lin, and on the aftermath of the story in a ballad (or, well, a group of ballads) called 'Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight'. It's interesting how it weaves those two stories together, and also pulls in the threads of historical fiction. I don't know how accurate the historical fiction aspect of it is, given that it's totally not my area of history, but it seemed reasonably believable for the period, and it didn't feel like it was too info-dumpy - ...more
Jun 30, 2009 Kelly rated it liked it
I went through a phase a few years ago where I sought out every retelling of the Tam Lin story that I could get my hands on. So the title An Earthly Knight was instantly familiar to me, and I knew I needed to read this book. I was especially intrigued by the author's choice to return the story to its original setting, medieval Scotland.

Unfortunately, the historical aspect falls a little flat. McNaughton has a tendency to get a bit infodump-y. I wasn't familiar with the politics of that time and
At this point I have a pretty good understanding of what types of books I'll tend to like or dislike. I went into reading An Earthly Knight with the expectation that I'd enjoy it, and I was right. I love a good historical fiction, and I love retellings, especially when said retellings are faithful to the original tale. While I like seeing how authors can put a different spin on a well-known story, at the same time I become frustrated when I feel like authors have taken too many liberties. I appr ...more
Sep 12, 2010 Hava rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teenage girls who love medieval England
I picked this book up because of the cover and the title, and when I read the inside flap, it seemed like it would be a great book to read.

Turns out, it was. It was a little heavy on historical facts, but since I enjoy learning about 12th-century life in England, that was fine with me. I had never even heard of the "Tam Lin" ballad, so I certainly had no idea what the plot line of the book was going to be. I read other reviews of people who were disappointed that the plot line stuck so closely t
Jan 30, 2009 Sarah rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 21, 2015 Rachel rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 04, 2014 Meegan rated it liked it
Whether or not I enjoyed the book is still being decided by my "little grey cells". Unlike many who have read this novel, I enjoyed the history and the details of what life was like back then. The complaints I have mostly refer to the simple characters that have very little or no development. I think the place I lost interest was near the end because not only does Jenny (the main character) sleep with Tam Lin, but she also brings even more disgrace upon her family. I think this story would have ...more
Carrie Slager
Feb 14, 2014 Carrie Slager rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-borrowed
An Earthly Knight is one of those books that stays with you, even years later. I decided to re-read it a few weeks ago and it was just as good as I remember.

Based off the ballads Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight and Tam Lin, it is both a mixture of historical fiction and fantasy. Since I have never read either of these ballads, I will not comment on how close An Earthly Knight sticks to them because I have no idea. However, I do recognize many fairy tale elements, like evil fairies and false love,
Jul 14, 2007 Elizabeth rated it did not like it
Shelves: already-read
Ultimately disappointing fantasy about a teenage girl in the middle ages. I found it troubling that the main character acted with such little regard for her reputation, since her sister was "dishonored." Also included a maddening plot twist.
Carissa Wong
Nov 19, 2014 Carissa Wong rated it liked it
This is a book that I wanted to read since elementary because someone recommended it to me then. I tried borrowing it from the library for at least twice, and for the longest time I couldn't lay my hands on it: the beginning was a little hard to get into. The use of language, the way the sentences were structured were .. 1162 indeed. Nonetheless, I was soon pulled into the plot once Tam Lin is finally introduced. Then I finished it in almost a day.
I find that yes, perhaps the antagonist is too p
Aug 28, 2015 Angela rated it it was amazing
Amazing book. Beautiful, magical, kept me wishing I had been born in another time.
Mar 24, 2009 Kami rated it really liked it
Based on the Scottish legend of Tam Lin. Loved it.
Janet McNaughton took a more direct approach to a ballad of Tam Lin than for instance Patricia A. McKillip in Winter Rose or Diana Wynne Jones in Fire and Hemlock. But while the author follows the original ballad quite closely, nothing crucial happens for the 2/3 of the book, I honestly had quite a hard time getting through it (and we're talking about a book that has less than 300 pages!).

The heroine - Jenny - is not as unconventional and rebellious as one would hope (which could be excused give
Dec 11, 2015 Sarah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up at my local library because I usually love middle ages/historical fiction/fantasy books. I'd never read- or even heard of- the ballad of Tam-Lin, so I can't speak for how closely this book follows the original story.

PROS: This book was about knights, the middle ages, Scotland, and faeries, so those were all things originally going for it :)

I liked the main character, Jenny in the beginning of the book, but not at all during the middle, and while she improved at the end, I
Feb 27, 2016 Becky rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tam-lin
I LOVED this book.

I get SO tired of reading YA fairy-tale books with modern fairies in them. This was much more like what I was raised with. Old-world fairies were scary as shit, man, and this book does a great job of showing that. But at the same time, it wasn't a fairy-tale in that sense. It wasn't about the fairies, it was about Jenny. It didn't become some sensational plot-line full of fairies. It was about this girl who was stuck in an impossible situation. The fact that this situation inv
May 13, 2014 Kate rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-paperback
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 28, 2010 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Sixteen-year-old Lady Jeanette Avenel, called Jenny, is the younger daughter of a minor Norman nobleman. Because of this, she has enjoyed relative freedom while growing up on her family's estate in Scotland. But now that her sister has been disgraced, everything has changed. Suddenly, Jenny finds herself thrust into the role usually belonging to the eldest daughter, and is chosen as a potential bride for William de Warenne, the king's younger brother and heir. In spite of her upbringing, however ...more
Christey Foster
Nov 15, 2011 Christey Foster rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is probably 3.5 stars for me. The story was well-told and very well-researched, set in a fascinating historical setting about which I knew very little. I've always loved the Tam Lin ballad, and I enjoyed the characters and explanations McNaughton invented to flesh out the tale. However, my biggest beef with the book was that McNaughton's writing often seemed overly simplistic and lacked enough description to make me "feel" the story. Here's one example:

She told herself that the things flash
May 17, 2012 Vanessa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Tam Lin spielt im mittelalterlichen Schottland. Hier suchen nocht die Eltern und die Abstammungslinien aus, wen man heiratet. Und nachdem Jennys geliebte Halbschwester die Ehre der Familie beschmutzt hat, nimmt Jenny ihren Platz als Hausherrin ein. Doch die sechszehnjährige Jenny ist nicht wie gewöhnliche Mädchen, sie reitet gerne im Wald, glaubt an Elfen und an die wahre Liebe. Im Wald trifft sie den überaus guttausehenden und besonders netten Jungen Tam Lin kennen. Gerüchte besagen das dies ...more
Jan 09, 2009 Lara rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-ya
2009 January 9 (view spoiler) ...more
Katherine Kurowski
Feb 01, 2016 Katherine Kurowski rated it really liked it
I really liked it. So maybe there wasn't a lot of action, but the description and the over-all idea fascinated me.
At first I thought it was all 'serious' and down to Earth (historical fiction), but when you find out that Tam is actually involved with fairies it gets a bit mysterious.
I like Jenny and her character. Ever since I met William, I always knew there was something I didn't like about him. I'm glad for a happy ending.
Jun 03, 2016 Sacha rated it it was amazing
I remember really, really liking this book. I read it a few years ago, in highschool, so now I'm wondering if it was just the excitement of reading it that first time that makes me favourite it, or will I love it the same the second time around. It is a quest.

Really...I want to call it 'sweet' but it gives connotations of mushy. Hm. I don't know what to say really, except I'd recommend this.
I recently rediscovered seeing this book and remember having read it, but apparently never updating the status of it on Goodreads? Thus, I don't remember to much, but I remember it being a very interesting retelling of the Tam Lin story and wanting it to focus more on the scary elements of Tam Lin versus the political intrigue/girl must marry suitor plot that was used for the bulk of the book.
Feb 19, 2014 Liz rated it really liked it
I love this book. Based on two ballads from the middle ages, Janet McNaughton paints a brilliant tale about a young noble woman trying to overcome societal constrains and expectations and break an ancient curse. The book is driven forward with a strong female character, but gives the reader the pieces of romance and fantasy they are searching for. I've read multiple times and I never get bored!
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What's The Name o...: SOLVED. A Magical book about a girl in love [s] 7 24 Apr 25, 2014 07:13PM  
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Janet McNaughton is the multi-award-winning author of many books, including The Secret Under My Skin, An Earthly Knight and her most recent novel, Dragon Seer, which was shortlisted for the prestigious TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, as well as both the CLA Young Adult Book Award and the Book of the Year for Children Award. McNaughton lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland, with her family.
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