Title: An Earthly Knight
Author: Janet McNaughton
First published January 1, 2003
343 pages, Paperback
ISBN: 9780060089948 (ISBN10: 0060089946)
Lady Jeanette Avenel’s household is in turmoil. It is the year 1162, and sixteen-year-old Jenny is forced to take on the responsibilities of the elder daughter after her sister Isabel runs away with a dangerous suitor.
Her father is now focused on finding Jenny a worthy suitor to redeem their family’s name. Jenny’s chance arises when she is chosen as a potential bride for William de Warenne, the heir to the Scottish crown.
Amidst jousting tournaments and lavish banquets, Jenny struggles to impress the Earl. However, she finds herself drawn to Tam Lin, a mysterious young man with a dark secret.
Rumors suggest he was kidnapped by fairies, and his past threatens to harm those closest to him, including Jenny. In this beautifully woven story, set in a magical medieval world, Janet McNaughton transports readers through the forceful tides of tradition and the ancient power of fairies to define Jenny’s destiny.
About the Author
Meet Janet McNaughton, an accomplished author whose impressive body of work includes The Secret Under My Skin, An Earthly Knight, and her latest novel, Dragon Seer. Notably, Dragon Seer was shortlisted for three prestigious awards: the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, the CLA Young Adult Book Award, and the Book of the Year for Children Award.
McNaughton and her family reside in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
An Earthly Knight by Janet McNaughton: A Captivating Tale of Love and Loyalty
Janet McNaughton’s historical fiction novel, An Earthly Knight, is a captivating tale of adventure, romance, and coming-of-age set in medieval Scotland. First published in 2003, the book has earned critical acclaim for its lyrical language, richly drawn characters, and its themes of self-discovery, identity, and loyalty.
The novel is a departure from McNaughton’s usual fare of children’s books and young adult fiction, but she proves herself to be a master storyteller in this genre as well. The novel is inspired by the ballad of Tam Lin, a Scottish folktale about a young woman named Janet who falls in love with Tam Lin, a mortal man who has been captured by the fairy queen and must be freed on Halloween night.
McNaughton takes this basic premise and explores the story in depth, adding her own twists and turns that keep the reader engaged throughout. The novel follows the journey of Maggie, the teenage daughter of a Scottish nobleman, who is sent to Dumbarton Castle to be the lady-in-waiting to Lady Joanna, a French noblewoman who is promised in marriage to the Scottish king.
While at the castle, Maggie meets Colin, a young knight who is hiding a dangerous secret. As they form a bond, Maggie learns about Colin’s troubled past and his connection to the fairy queen.
Maggie must navigate the treacherous waters of court politics and her feelings for Colin while trying to unravel the mystery of his curse. McNaughton’s writing is rich with detail and evocative imagery; she transports the reader back to medieval Scotland and paints a vivid picture of life at court with its many intrigues and dangers.
The characters are well-drawn and complex, each with their own motivations and desires. Maggie is a strong and intelligent protagonist, and her growth throughout the novel is a highlight.
Colin is a fascinating and sympathetic character, and their romance is believable and poignant. One of the strengths of the novel is McNaughton’s exploration of themes that transcend time and place, such as the struggle to find one’s identity and the importance of loyalty and sacrifice.
The book has particular resonance in our current era, where many people are questioning their place in society and grappling with issues of identity and belonging. The book is not without its flaws, however.
The pacing can be slow at times, and the ending feels rushed and unsatisfying. Additionally, some readers may find the use of Scottish dialect and language challenging to follow, although McNaughton provides a glossary at the end of the book.
Overall, An Earthly Knight is a well-crafted and engaging novel that will appeal to fans of historical fiction and romance. McNaughton’s storytelling is masterful, and her characters are memorable and relatable.
While the book has its limitations, it is a worthwhile read that will leave readers thinking about its themes long after they have finished. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a thoughtful and entertaining read.