Reviews and Awards


Tähtifantasia Award, 2009
Winner, 1991 World Fantasy Award.
Winner, 1991 Mythopoeic Award.
New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age.


“Nobody is writing more elegant and gorgeous English these days than Ellen Kushner. Her books ought to be given to writing classes as texts on how the English language can be made so pure and cold and clear that you long to drink it down…Is there anything this writer can’t do well?” — Orson Scott Card in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

“An elegant and beautiful book that manages both to create firmly real, breathing people and to evoke the magic of faerie.  Tender, wise, tough and imaginative — it’s a magical tour de force shot through with strange melodies.  I loved it.” — Neil Gaiman

“What a perfectly splendid story, splendidly told, with great style and orginality.  A bow of deep appreciation to Ms. Kushner, and my gratitude!” — Anne McCaffrey

“A book to introduce those who know nothing of the ballads to their rich and deep content…and intrigue those already familiar with them.” — Maddy Prior, lead singer for Steeleye Span

“Lyrically written and humanly moving. Ellen Kushner’s treatment of the True Thomas legend is worthy to rank with those of Kipling and Cabell.” — Poul Anderson

“Lovingly crafted, beautifully wrought—a jewel of a book.  Ellen Kushner is one of the best of the new fantasy writers.” — Judith Tarr

“An earthy, witty, even mildly erotic book, as convincing in its depiction of faerie passion and prejudice as in its descriptions of the narrowly focused life of the Middle Ages.” — St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“A happy blend of discreet scholarship and literary style…Kushner creates a lavish microcosm where riddles and runes and magical transformations govern.” Publishers Weekly

“Studded with adulterous noblemen, promiscuous courtiers and sensuous love scenes, the old fairy tale takes in a ribald contemporary feel under Kushner’s pen, which paradoxically is truer to the story’s original pre-Victorian bawdiness.” The Boston Herald

“Elegant and cozy. Witty and wise. Innocent and sensuous and, at times, downright sexy. Kushner’s Thomas the Rhymer does it all.” — Jane Yolen

“What might seem all quaint, all harps, houppelandes, elf mounds and aristocracy, takes on a very human immediacy in Kushner’s skilled treatment…Richly imagined scenes if Faerie, elegant and incongruous as the films of Cocteau. Kushner’s elves seek out humankind with a near-vampire hunger and a bittersweet desire. Bu the end of Thomas the Rhymer we understand the attraction mortals hold for them.” Locus

“Thomas the Rhymer is the real thing.  It belongs on the same shelf with Lord Dunsany, James Branch Cabell, James Stephens, E.R. Eddison, Ursula K. Le Guin, and the rest.” Aboriginal Science Fiction

“If you were afraid that Kushner’s first novel, Swordspoint, was a flash in the pan, you can stop worrying.  Thomas the Rhymer . . . stopped me in my tracks.  Few books are this good!  If you read fantasy at all, don’t miss this one; Kushner is setting up to be one of the most important fantasists alive!” Locus

“Her Thomas takes on the life which the old ballads so often deny him and . . . really touches the heart.” — Andre Norton

“Evocative, stirring, filled with life and color . . . lets us live for a while in those magical countries we’ve never seen but that we always knew must exist somwhere.” — Lisa Goldstein

“A charming book, full of wit, imagination, the spikey sweetness of young love and the polished grain of old . . . more please!” — Suzy McKee Charnas

“Splendid . . . touching and tender . . . there is great technical skill in the way Kushner recreates the lyrical atmosphere of a folk tale…” Interzone

“Relaxed and flowing, poetry counterpointing wit . . . It has a phantasmagorical quality . . . the enchantment is underpinned with tension and urgency . . . a tour de force . . . will surely endear itself to any who love old ballads, whiffs of faerie, and fine fantasy.” New York Review of Science Fiction

“[This] inspired fantasy . . . rings true and deep as tales told for generations [and] reveals unexpected worlds and times, and the far reaches of the human heart.   Ellen Kushner knows what it’s like to be a human in Elfland, and Elf-touched in Middle-Earth, and by the end of this novel, her readers do too.” — Susanna J. Sturgis, The Martha’s Vineyard Times

“Ellen Kushner has discovered a new and poetic way to retell the old tale.  The book reads with the story-telling power of the old ballad.”The Times (London)

“[T]his romantic fantasy is a happy blend of discreet scholarship and literary style. … Kushner creates a lavish microcosm where riddles and runes and magical transformations govern.” Publisher’s Weekly

“The author of Swordspoint brings the freshness of her storytelling talent to this ballad-inspired tale of a man’s brush with immortality and its inescapable legacy. This graceful medieval fantasy is highly recommended and may have appeal to nongenre readers.” — Library Journal

“Thomas the Rhymer seeks to reclaim the transforming power of words and to teach modern readers to respect the magic of song and story-telling.” — Prof. Henry Jenkins, Dir. of Media Studies, MIT

“At once traditional and bold…Richly imagined scenes of Faerie, elegant and incongruous as the films of Cocteau.” Locus

“Finding a truly great one-off fantasy read can be difficult for many readers, but this could just be the book to get everyone reading fantasy. Originally published in 1990, Thomas the Rhymer has just been published under Gollancz’s Fantasy Masterworks. This will hopefully enable the title to gain more popularity with a new generation of readers. The title truly has the potential to get people reading fantasy, and this should be on every teenager’s reading list…. Thomas the Rhymer is simply one of the best standalone modern fantasies written. A moving tale of betrayal and forgiveness.” — Andrew Musk, Starburst