Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “An Earthly Knight” as Want to Read:
An Earthly Knight
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

An Earthly Knight

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,501 Ratings  ·  112 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 HarperTeen (first published January 1st 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about An Earthly Knight, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about An Earthly Knight

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
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
Dec 19, 2009 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
Aug 02, 2008 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 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
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
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
Jun 26, 2009 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
Jan 05, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, retellings
Amazing book. Beautiful, magical, kept me wishing I had been born in another time.
Sep 12, 2010 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
Nov 17, 2008 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2016, tam-lin
So the thing about writing a Tam Lin story is that if you stick exactly to the ballad's plot, you end up with an unrealistic book with one-dimensional characters, insta-love, and then, bam! A baby!

And the Earl William stuff was so over the top and so unnecessary.

Oh well.
Jul 09, 2007 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.
Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Based on the Scottish legend of Tam Lin. Loved it.
Heather McAlister
This book is what introduced me to and made me fall in love with the story of Tam Lin. It also captured my imagination as a preteen (back when it first came out around 2003), and made me want to one day write my own retelling of Tam Lin.

That said, even as a teen I noticed there were some major problems with it.

One, despite Jeanette supposedly being sixteen, she doesn't really think or act like a sixteen-year-old. I'm pretty sure I read this when I was fourteen, and nothing about the way Jeanett
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books
Great beginning but then there was no character development which left the story lacking.
Jan 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-ya
2009 January 9 (view spoiler) ...more
I'm not familiar with the ballad/tale which this story is based off of, but... The characters kind of made me... want to cry... Lol. (And scream.) Why they be like that?! My brain can't - I can't even. *Sob*


I think I maybe don't like this story? Dx
...But if the characters are supposed to be dislikable and all, than I suppose this book is... pretty good.
Jan 01, 2015 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
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
Mar 12, 2014 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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carrie Slager
Feb 14, 2014 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,
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned-paperback
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 11, 2012 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
Apr 01, 2009 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
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 04, 2014 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
Christey Foster
Nov 15, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Carissa Wong
Oct 23, 2014 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
Jan 25, 2011 rated it liked it
I first read this in middle/high school and really loved it; I gave it a four-star rating. But though I was pleasantly surprised to reread it and discover a more feminist angle than I'd remembered, I knocked it down a star because I had a much harder time getting invested in the plot/characters. No real reason, it just wasn't grabbing my attention. I would much rather have read Isabel's story tbh.

I do remember being so ~scandalized~ (but in an excited way) by the (view spoiler)
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • By These Ten Bones
  • Spinners
  • Esther
  • The Summer King (The Chronicles of Faerie, #2)
  • Sister to the Wolf
  • The Light of the Oracle (Healer and Seer, #3)
  • Haunted
  • The Perilous Gard
  • Danegeld
  • The Circle Cast: The Lost Years of Morgan Le Fay
  • Stones (Garnet and Raphaella, #1)
  • If I Just Had Two Wings
  • After Hamelin
  • The Hidden World
  • Adam and Eve and Pinch-Me
  • The Wolf Hunt
  • The Tower Room (Egerton Hall, #1)
  • Out of the Wild (Into the Wild, #2)
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.
More about Janet McNaughton

Fantasy & Science Fiction Deals

  • Off to Be the Wizard (Magic 2.0, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Beneath the Shine
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Stepford Wives
    $9.74 $1.99
  • Time's Divide (The Chronos Files, #3)
    $5.49 $1.99
  • The Long Earth (The Long Earth, #1)
    $5.49 $1.99
  • Gilded (Gilded, #1)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Infinity Lost (The Infinity Trilogy #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Man of Legends
    $4.99 $1.99
  • All the Breaking Waves
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Fellside
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Timebound (The Chronos Files, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Banished of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Muirwood: The Lost Abbey: The Graphic Novel
    $7.99 $0.99
  • 2061: Odyssey Three (Space Odyssey, #3)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Alas, Babylon
    $9.74 $1.99
  • 3001: The Final Odyssey (Space Odyssey, #4)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Fractured (Guards of the Shadowlands, #2)
    $4.99 $0.99
  • The Queen's Poisoner (Kingfountain, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Zeroes
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Dreams and Shadows (Dreams & Shadows, #1)
    $9.49 $1.99
  • Touch of Eternity (The Curse #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Touch
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Dragon Rider
    $5.99 $1.99
  • An Unwelcome Quest
    $4.99 $1.99
    $4.99 $1.49
  • Luna: New Moon
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Traitor's Kiss (The Traitor's Circle, #1)
    $7.80 $2.99
  • The Void of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood, #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Dreadnought (Nemesis, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Dirty Magic (Prospero's War, #1)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • A Plague of Giants (Seven Kennings, #1)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Fire Queen (The Hundredth Queen, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Red Knight Falling (Harmony Black, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Star Wars: Thrawn
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Zoo City
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Sanctum (Guards of the Shadowlands, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Unmasked (The Vampire Diaries: The Salvation, #3)
    $3.49 $0.99
  • Afterlife
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Unseen (The Vampire Diaries: The Salvation #1)
    $3.49 $0.99
  • The Dwarves (The Dwarves, #1)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Dryad-Born (Whispers from Mirrowen, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Unbroken Line of the Moon (Sagan om Valhalla #4; Valhalla #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Blackfish City
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Supernatural: Bobby Singer's Guide to Hunting
    $8.49 $1.99
  • Silvern (Gilded #2)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Some Fine Day
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Random Acts of Senseless Violence
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Mystic (Mystic, #1)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Almost Girl (The Riven Chronicles, #1)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Spell or High Water (Magic 2.0, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Uprooted
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Wormhole (The Rho Agenda, #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Dragons of Nova (Loom Saga, #2)
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Ciphers of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood, #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Amid Stars and Darkness (The Xenith Trilogy #1)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Otherkin
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Last Adventure of Constance Verity
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Traveler (Fourth Realm, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99