In Thistle and Thyme, Leodhas uses a number of Gaelic terms and words in the Scottish dialect that may confuse readers who are not familiar with these colorful, expressive, and complicated languages. While some terms may be defined by their use in context, a good dictionary that includes words from Gaelic and Broad Scots will prove an essential tool for the complete enjoyment of this work.
Strengths and weaknesses are assigned equally to men and women, and, although Scottish folklore celebrates the cult of the warrior, it also praises women who triumph over adversity. There is a rough but honest equality among the Scots that is ably illustrated in this collection of stories. The fisherman who allows a young woman to work for him as a servant discovers after a year that he loves her more than the haughty maiden he had sought as his bride. The servant girl adored him from the day that she first sought refuge under his roof, and her patient devotion is rewarded in time. The paradox of love that brings both bliss and woe is a common theme, and love that demands sacrifice is also a favorite device of Scottish bards. The young lass who risks her own life to deliver her sister from an enchanter finally breaks an evil spell, which frees both her sibling and the man with whom she falls in love.
The stories in Thistle and Thyme that concern fairies and the other supernatural beings who frequent the mountains and glens may be dismissed...
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Several anthologies of traditional Scottish stories have been published, for various audiences. Some books, such as Barbara Ker Wilson’s Scottish Folk-Tales and Legends (1954), are intended for younger people. Sorche Nic Leodhas’ Thistle and Thyme, however, requires an understanding of the structure of the clan system and a familiarity with a number of basic Gaelic words and expressions, and younger readers may be discouraged by the necessity of mastering these elements before sampling the rich cultural heritage of Scotland. Therefore, this anthology is probably better suited to the needs of older readers, who will find these stories entertaining and an excellent introduction to the rich canon of Scottish literature.
These stories have been used for generations to entertain people of all ages, regardless of social rank, and some have even been set to music. Their most enduring quality, however, is their ability to impart the concepts, principles, and modes of behavior that provide the foundations of Scottish society.