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 feel more solid.
Unlike with The Perilous Gard, I didn’t love it much more this time than last, but all the same I did appreciate the cleverness more, I think. Because I knew it was there, I was watching and waiting for it, picking up on every hint.
Altogether, it’s a very satisfying story, though it doesn’t take many liberties with the story of Tam Lin — it only embroiders it, bringing in historical figures and contemporary politics. If you know the ballad, you know more or less how the story goes; unlike with The Perilous Gard, there’s no real wondering about how exactly things will come out. Still, the historical details make it more emotional, and the payoff more satisfying, I think.