Tam Lin

Tam Lin

by Pamela Dean, Windling Terri

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In the ancient Scottish ballad "Tam Lin," headstrong Janet defies Tam Lin to walk in her own land of Carterhaugh . . . and then must battle the Queen of Faery for possession of her lover’s body and soul. In this version of "Tam Lin," masterfully crafted by Pamela Dean, Janet is a college student, "Carterhaugh" is Carter Hall at the university where her father teaches, and Tam Lin is a boy named Thomas Lane. Set against the backdrop of the early 1970s, imbued with wit, poetry, romance, and magic, Tam Lin has become a cult classic—and once you begin reading, you’ll know why. This reissue features an updated introduction by the book’s original editor, the acclaimed Terri Windling.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101653609
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 08/03/2006
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 489,070
File size: 599 KB
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Pamela Dean is an American fantasy author whose most notable book is Tam Lin, based on the Child Ballad of the same name, in which the Scottish fairy story is set on a midwestern college campus loosely based on her alma mater, Carleton College in Minnesota. She was a member of the writing group The Scribblies, and was a contributor to the Liavek shared-world anthologies. She is a member of the Pre-Joycean Fellowship.

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Tam Lin 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I too find myself returning year after year to this extraordinary novel. This is the type of novel that makes you proud to be a reader as well as aspire to the depth of knowledge that Janet possesses. She is a marvel of a heroine, her tenacity, intelligence, and her flaws make her an ideal female role-model. Pamela Dean is at her best, her crafting of this startlingly accurate depiction of college life (even in the year 2000), is what made me apply to Carleton College. While I ended up at another Midwestern school, I did end up a theater major, and while I still can't quite spout Shakespearean text as her characters are able to, at least I have my age as an excuse...
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was glad to see this book back in publication. I read it the first time around and almost once a year since then. Tam Lin is one of my all time favorite stories, and this version delivered! The description of college life was similar to what I remember my college experience being like. And yes, my room mate actually was a classics major.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My best friend from college sent this to me as a gift, and it's the gift that goes on giving. I reread it annually, usually in the fall, when I remember what it was like to walk on the leaf-strewn Oregon college campus I attended from 1969 to 1973. I relive the worries about pregnancy, the concerns about contraception, the conflicts between friends, lovers, and classes, the desire to separate from my family but still involve them in my new world. Like Carleton College upon which the fictional college of Blackstock is based, my alma mater seemed isolated from the real world of anti-Vietnam War protests. We were insulated from most realities, but we weren't in an ivory tower, but a golden cocoon we were chrylasises waiting to form into beautiful butterflies. I have read Ms. Dean's other works of fiction, but it is Tam Lin which resonates with me -- and always will. Bless Pamela Dean for helping me keep my heart of flesh.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A classic redux of a timeless, exotic story. Sets the scene with every quote and line.
dragonimp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book offers a fun trip into college/university life in the 1970s as well as a nice urban fantasy based on the Child ballad by the same name. The main character, Janet, seems a little too well versed in classical literature, but it serves the story and is not unrealistic. Most of the book feels like setup and the climax feels a bit rushed, but since my attention was more on the characters than the resolution the pace didn't bother me.
nefernika on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I reread the Secret Country trilogy by Pamela Dean several times in high school, so I picked this up when I found it at a used book store hoping that it would be as enjoyable. The Tam Lin storyline takes a long time to show up. I admit that it's being set up early on, but, basically, this book is four years of college in 400 pages. The dialogue is pretty unbelievable, even if some of the students are supposed to be fairies sojourning at a liberal arts college, and the Tam Lin ending feels rather abrupt and tacked on. Overall, I was disappointed.
ntempest on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reading this a good fifteen years after it was released, it strikes me how much books have changed. This has beautiful slow, steady pacing that really builds the story, and the fairy tale quality is wonderfully managed. I doubt it would get published today, as it would be judged as too slow, but it's still a favorite of many and getting new readers each year. Shows you how off judgments can be some days. I'd recommend it, particularly for precocious teens, but definitely for adults too.
Aerrin99 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Never have I read a book which so wonderfully and perfectly captures that magical time that college can be, in the right place with the right people. This book made me absolutely /yearn/ for the days (8 years behind me now) that I spent reading complex literature and philosophy, listening to professors unfold the past or the particulars of a poem, and then talking into the night about an idea that felt so new and exciting and fresh that our whole worlds seemed changed. It romanticizes college. Sure, it does. I've never met people who can quote poems and Shakespeare and the Iliad on demand, let alone a whole group of them. And of course my entire college experience wasn't just one big intellectual wonderland. But there was enough of it to color this whole book with a hazy wistfulness for that time in your life that is given over to learning, and ideas, and the people who share them. I talk a lot about the way this book made me /feel/ (I actually pulled down my Norton Anthology to read some Victorian poetry afterward, guys) because the actual plot is not a compelling force. The back of the book blurb gives you spoilers for the last /fifty pages of the book/ - which ought to tell you when the 'Tam Lin' aspect kicks in. That's not to say that the plot is bad - it's not. It's simply not what it says on the box. This book is a coming of age tale set in the academic wonderland of a small liberal arts college filled with top-notch intellectuals. It's salted with foreboding hints of the fantastical and supernatural, but the flavor it imparts is small. The book /works/ on the strength of its more mundane story, and on the world it creates. Tam Lin got into my mind and into my heart. I daydreamed about this book. I wanted to /live/ in this book. The atmosphere Dean creates is rich and thick and powerful. What does work about the plot itself is the backward view. In retrospect, the pieces fit nicely and there's that sense of uncovering a secret that sends a thrill of joy down your spine. I suspect it's an intensely rewarding re-read. But I don't recommend anyone reading it expecting a fairy tale filled with magic. It just isn't that sort of book.I definitely recommend Tam Lin - and I wouldn't be surprised if, on some nostalgic day, I picked it up to read again myself.
rosstrowbridge on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book sat on my TBR bookcase for far too long, in part because the Thomas Canty cover strongly suggested a "Fairyland" setting (aided and abetted by the book's being part of the "The Fairy Tale Series," edited by Terri Windling), of which I had read far too much recently, much of it YA. When I finally did pick it up, I was utterly lost. While TAM LIN is indeed a retelling of the old ballad and does indeed feature young adult characters, the heart of the story is the insular world of a small liberal arts college very much like the one I attended. From the moment our heroine sets foot on campus, I recognized the landscape of an intense, crucible-like academic community. She faces all the usual problems of adjusting to her room mates, figuring out what classes to take (Literature? Classics?), how to relate to men, who she is and who she wants to become, who she loves and what she is willing to sacrifice for them. Even under normal conditions, the college years can be intense, baffling, agonizing, ecstatic and transformative. We know, of course, that Magic Is Afoot, for the cover and description clearly tell us so. Mysterious figures lurk everywhere, and even the college campus blurs into the mythic dimension at times. Dean throws in the sexual revolution made possible by the Pill, a drop-dead gorgeous lover-in-need-of-rescuing, Shakespearean actors who speak from experience, a ghost who throws books out of dorm windows, exams and courtship, plus some very nifty classes I wish I'd taken. This book is not only a keeper, but one I enthusiastically recommend to anyone who has been or has wanted to go to a small liberal arts college.
wildlinedesign on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was unexpectedly surprised by this book - the cover almost put me off - but the story was rich and the characters believable and varied, and even knowing the ballad, I was tensely and voraciously reading to the end. Very good.
glitrbug on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked the book better after I finished it and thought about it awhile. I remember first love as running much hotter. LOL The characters & I were freshman in 1972 in the same part of the US. No one I knew spoke or acted like this so the book took some getting used to.
arianaderalte on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think I went into this book with expectations that were too high. I was expecting a lot more fantasy and a lot less minutiae, and came away fairly disappointed by the whole experience. I think if I'd gone in expecting a story about what it's like to be an English major and a female student in a small college in the 1970s, with a bit of supernatural stuff thrown in as an afterthought, I'd have been a lot happier. At least I was impressed by how thoroughly you experienced Janet's college years.The writing was excellent, and a I have a lot more appreciation for various writers who were mentioned in the story now. I felt it could have been balanced a bit more since the whole first half of the book is her first year, while the next three years are crammed into the second half, and then the supernatural bits are crammed into the end. A little more reaction to the whole reveal would have been nice as well.
TadAD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A beautifully paced retelling of the Tam Lin fairy tale until the slightly rushed ending. Worth the read.
Capfox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Look, I'm as big of a fan of updated or modernized fairy tales as just about anyone I know. I've got the Beagle ones; I liked Fire and Hemlock and Eight Days of Luke, both by Diana Wynne Jones; I very much enjoyed Ellen Kushner's Thomas the Rhymer, etc. So, in principle, I should have liked this.But there are definitely ways to screw things up. Like, the pacing. This book had 4 years of college in it, which can be okay, but not when one week is 4 chapters and then a year can go by in 10 pages. It gets hard to tell what's happening when, after a while, and the characters sort of drift in time some.Another problem with the pacing was definitely that the real fairy tale portion of this didn't show up till, say, page 420, which was perilously close to the end. By that point, she should just have made it allusional, but the whole end sequence with fairies and such goes by too quickly, and the otherwise-normal people take it more in stride than I really feel worked well. It feels like, "Oh, okay, the queen of the fairies has my boyfriend in thrall. First I'll save him, and then we'll discuss Alexander Pope."Maybe I didn't hang around enough English majors, either, but I never found people that likely to refer regularly to 18th century poetry and ancient Greek playwrights and such. I had fairly literate friends, but it never went nearly that far. Also, the style was more descriptive of everything that was going on than I personally prefer; I like sparser prose, as it were.I did like the plot and the heroine well enough, even if they weren't always presented the best way, but this wasn't enough to save it. They can't all be good ones.
JandL on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I actually like the language, the mannered way the kids have of speaking to one another, the marvel of being at a liberal arts college -- but dag gone it, *nothing* happens. I don't need fireworks and strange happenings, but I can't finish this book with so many other on the shelf that I've never read or really really want to re-read. I can see how it would appeal; the slow, real-time-ish way that the story proceeds is done very well. It's just not my thing.
spotzzzgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel has a haunting, lyrical quality that fits well with its modern-fairy tale subject matter. Pamela Dean¿s story follows the college experience of Janet Carter, English Major at Blackstock College. From the start of the story, strangeness seems to plague the college: mysterious flying books, sleepwalking floor mates, haunting music late into the night, and the odd attitude of Janet¿s advisor all subtly hint that there is something not quite right at the college. Janet felt real to me; I felt a kinship with her, having been an English major myself, and it was easy to put myself into her shoes as she tries to deal with the mysteries of the college, as well as the mysteries of interpersonal relationships. Her roommates Molly and Christina were real and engaging too, with their own opinions, likes and dislikes, and personality quirks, and I cared about their relationships just as much as I cared about Janet¿s. Although some people have complained that the fairy tale elements felt tacked on and forced in at the ending, I disagree. I thought the Tam Lin ballad and its supernatural elements were skillfully woven into the story; from the Halloween ride and the midnight piping early in the story, to the strange discovery of the names of Shakespeare¿s players matching those of her friends¿, the tension builds up to Thomas¿s revelation about why he tried to escape the classics department and his fate. The ending, with Janet saving Thomas and then the two of them having to decide how to live with each other and their unborn child, brought the story back to reality. I¿d recommend this story to anyone who likes fantastical tales with a firm grounding in reality¿and to college English majors, too!
lunaverse on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a difficult book for me to review, because it is hard for me to decide my opinion on it. It came highly recommended, and is based on fairy folklore, which I love. But I think this book fits certain tastes that are not mine, and I had certain expectations which were not met. This is more a work of literature as it is fantasy or magical. Anyone with more of a literary bent than I would be able to appreciate it better. It was full of nicely descriptive writing and academic intellectual navel-gazing surrounding a slow plot that seemed like it was packing for a drive across the country, only to limp across the yard very, very slowly. Much of the book centered around thoughts and conversations about literature: Shakespeare, Pope, Chaucer, Dante, Homer, Keats, Swift, Austin, plus a much longer list of names I've never heard of. These are, for the most part, works I am unfamiliar with, that were spoken of by characters who had deep understandings of the subject matter. Most of the time I felt like a lot of important or clever or insightful or funny things were going on, and I was missing all the in-jokes. Now and then, when I was able to catch grasp of a full conversation or situation, I laughed out loud, or eagerly anticipated the next page -- but for the most part, I was confused. It would be sort of like a non-geek or time traveler trying to read something like Ready Player One, or just the internet in general. The bits of magic and mystery were slowly eked out, just enough (barely) to keep me interested to the end. The characters were certainly interesting and likable. There were pages with quotes so insightful that I wanted to underline or dog-ear the page, but it was a borrowed copy, so I couldn't. To sum up, I sort of feel like I did at the end of reading Ulysses (though not quite as strongly in any sense). I'm completely unsure whether I liked it. I would only recommend it to someone who is either patient, or loves classic and romantic literature. For the most part, it helps me conclude I will always have a hard time appreciating literary novels.
katekf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I find this a difficult book to review objectively as I first read it in high school when it made a huge impression on me. One reason it was so powerful for me was that like the main character Janet Carter, I had grown up in and around a small liberal arts college where one of my parents taught. Though I chose not to attend the one I grew up around, that connection stuck for me and I shared her love of beautiful words. Tam Lin retells the Scottish ballad of Tam Lin and places it at Blackstock college in Minnesota, which has a passing resemblance to Carleton. This is a book about young people growing up and trying to figure out who they are are and the complications of love and lust amidst the excitement of college. Pamela Dean expertly slips the fantasy elements in so that they surprise you as they suddenly pull the entire picture together. This is a book that pulled me into the idea of modern fantasy and led me to Charles de Lint and the fascinating genre of Urban Fantasy. As it all happens during the early '70s, some elements of the story feel dated but not terribly. I first read Tam Lim as a high school student in the '90s and the changes never jumped out for me. Instead it made me curious to learn Greek and pursue English literature, both things that I did.
torchsinger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book would be a top five contender for my favorite of all time. Other reviewers have mentioned that if you weren't or aren't a Classics or Lit major in college, then you won't understand A LOT of the book, and I guess that's true to some degree, but I just adore this book. Every time I pick it up, I get sucked in again like it's the first time I'm reading it. I've always loved the traditional ballad much for the same reason that Dean said she did: that the protagonist is a girl, and it is a girl, Janet, who does the saving, not the usual other way 'round. Plus, what book-lovin' gal wouldn't want a lover like Thomas Lane? I'll say no more, only that reading this story is more than worth it.
magpi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Such a guilty pleasure. It reads like one long in-joke for humanities majors: full of undergrad nostalgia and lit name-dropping. Just might bore the pants off of anybody who didn't do English or Classics, but its crack for those of us who did.
atimco on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This retelling of the 16th-century Scottish ballad has been highly praised, and so I was happy to find it secondhand. Unfortunately, it proved a disappointment and I'm left wondering why so many readers have loved it. It starts fairly well, but quickly wanders off into a tedious recital of four years of college, with the Faerie plot unconvincingly hinted at here and there and then culminating in a tacked-on scene that feels like it belongs to a different book entirely. The "Tam Lin" ballad tells the story of a young woman who must hold on to her lover, who is going to be sacrificed by the Queen of Faerie as a teind, or tithe to Hell. The young man is transformed into monstrous forms under the young woman's hands, but if she lets go, she will lose him forever. Pamela Dean's retelling is set in the 1970s at a small midwestern liberal arts college, where a young woman named Janet goes through her requisite classes and roommates and relationships.There's no other word for it: the story draaaags, all through the minutiae of Janet's four years of college, even down to specific lectures she attends. Sometimes those are interesting, but the lack of plot throughout most of the pages is disappointing. About halfway through it began to feel like a slog as I waited for the story to start. The glimpses of the otherworld of Faerie that are, after all, what gives the story its interest are just the tiniest little snippets scattered thinly throughout the mundane recitals of class loads, faculty gossip, and uninteresting conversations. Things don't get interesting until the very end. I love thick books, but there has to be something interesting going on. Janet left me cold; I really didn't care about her college experience, and certainly not in this much detail. Things did not tie together well at the end. Dean's elliptical style simply doesn't work when it comes to explaining how all the disparate subplot threads tie together. I *think* I understand the significance of the book-throwing and the suicides and all that, but it's all a bit foggy. Because they aren't properly dealt with, those elements feel very unrelated to the resolution at the end. One wants to ask, so what?Dean has all kinds of literary prejudices that slip quite deliberately into the narrative. sometimes they are quirkily fun, and other times downright annoying, depending on whether or not you share the prejudice. Everyone is forever quoting poetry and plays, and while this is nice from an aesthetic standpoint, it makes for some very unconvincing characters. And I was an English major with a 4.0, so don't tell me it's because I just don't appreciate great literature!I suppose these elements are realistic, but I couldn't stand the casual sex, or Janet's selfish determination to kill the baby growing inside of her because it would interfere with her career plans. People with different convictions probably wouldn't find these elements problematic in the least, but if you think I'm stuffy and uptight about reading something I don't agree with, read something you are fundamentally opposed to and see how enjoyable you can find it! There has to be a level of basic agreement between an author and reader for the reader to fully enjoy the experience. Not that I have to agree with the author on everything, but there's a big disconnect here that only intensified all the technical flaws of the novel.So this is one "fantasy" book I'd never recommend. For a re-imagined "Tam Lin" story, Elizabeth Marie Pope's The Perilous Gard is much to be preferred. One and a half stars for Dean's effort feels almost too generous.
rampaginglibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a really cool book set on a college campus among Theatre students :) i just love (good) fairy tale retellings
kcollett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Students at Blackstock College (a thinly veiled Carleton) in Minnesota in the 1970s relive the Tam Lin legend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a reader who loves a good story, regardless of whether it is defined as sci-fi, fantasy, YA, or other.  Although I admit to reading this book when I was attending a small liberal arts college, it is a book that I pick up again and again.  The plot centers around a young woman that is going through so many of the things that young women do, and, in addition, you get an all-expenses-paid tour through an incredible variety of myth and literature.  This book grasped me, hard, and sent me home with a book list that I have not yet exhausted.  Oh, and did I already mention that it is on my eternal re-read list?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago