Eyes Like Leaves Paperback – Jan 16 2012
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"One of the most gifted storytellers writing fantasy today." Locus magazine
"Mr. de Lint's handling of ancient folklore to weave an entirely new pattern has never, to my knowledge, been equaled." Andre Norton, author, Elvenbane
"There is no better writer now than Charles de Lint at bringing out the magic in everyday life." Orson Scott Card, author, Ender's Game
About the Author
Charles de Lint is the best-selling author of more than seventy adult, YA, and children's books, including Moonheart, The Onion Girl, Widdershins, Medicine Road, and Under My Skin. He is the recipient of the World Fantasy, YALSA, Crawford, and Aurora awards. De Lint is a poet, songwriter, performer, and folklorist, and he writes a book review column for Fantasy & Science Fiction.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Eyes Like Leaves is well-paced, and the action scenes flash with energy. Charles de Lint shows signs of the bardic gift in his ability to make scenes come alive, especially the chase scene with the direwolves pursuing the tinker caravan.
While the characters are interesting and detailed, and individual scenes are beautifully written, the plot is oddly flat and lacks originality. This feels like a too-literal retelling of classical Irish mythology, without enough innovation to be fresh or exciting. It seems a little too scripted, with each character arriving just when needed, and advancing the plot in exactly the right direction. While terrible things do happen, there is not a great sense of tension -- just a sense of inevitability.
This book proves to me that talent is not the sole ingredient of success. Eyes Like Leaves is well-written, but I never actually cared about the story. I never felt emotionally connected to the characters. While there is nothing overtly bad about the story, there is little here to merit recommending it above all the other quest fantasy novels that have been published.
Eyes Like Leaves is actually one of the first books Charles de Lint wrote, but it has never before been published. His editor told him that having published two secondary world fantasy novels, and one urban novel, that the next novel he published would pigeonhole him. He put this manuscript on the shelf and published Yarrow instead, putting his feet firmly on the urban fantasy path, a decision that I, and legions of his other fans, are grateful for. He recently reworked Eyes Like Leaves and released it for publication. This is obviously not de Lint at his peak, but there are the glimmers of greatness here that he has realized in his later works. I would recommend this book for fans of Irish mythology and de Lint completionists.
Charles de Lint
Tags fiction, fantasy, magick, wizards, evil
Charles de Lint is one of my favorite writers, and one of the creators of the contemporary urban fantasy. Eyes Like Leaves, though, is a novel he wrote before he started the urban fantasy stories, and fits into the high fantasy genre.
Magick is fading from the Green Isles. There has been a balance between Hafarl, the Lord of Summer, and the Winter Lord. Now the Winter Lord is determined to destroy Hafarl and hold the Isles under his reign forever. Tarn, a wizard trained by Puretongue, seeks to find all those touched with Hafarl's magick and bring them to the Summer Lord's aid. The Winter Lord is destroying all of Hafarl's kin he can find. Meanwhile the Viking-like Samarand are destroying villages along the coast. Young Carrie has lost her family to the raiders and has been taken in by a family of tinkers. When Tarn meets her he knows the magick is strong in her. Can Tarn, Carrie, and the few of Haferl's kin who are left save the Summer Lord and keep the Isles from being lost?
de Lint, a consistently excellent writer, shows his mastery again in this work that he put aside for various reasons and has now been published many years after it was written. Eyes Like Leaves is a deeply magickal and spiritual work that is also an excellent adventure.
Publication Subterranean (2010), Edition: Signed Hardcover, Hardcover, 350 pages
Publication date 2010
ISBN 1596062827 / 9781596062825
I first encountered Charles de Lint at a time in my life when I read almost exclusively a traditional type of fantasy. Steeped as I was in Valdemar, Narnia, and Pern, the grimy, magical streets of de Lint's contemporary Newford was a revelation. Now the wheel has turned and I'm reveling in contemporary stories galore but de Lint is back with a type of high fantasy I haven't encountered in a long, long time.
EYES LIKE LEAVES is definitely a breed of book with Tolkien in it's pedigree; a sweeping, multi-party affair that easily lends itself to imagining various dotted lines crossing a pen and ink map towards the inevitable confrontation with a dark villain. Unfortunately, it is just that wide angle view that kept me disengaged from the action until well into the last half of the book. The narrative jumps from character to character, each one painted with such a gorgeously detailed brush as to make it difficult to see the forest for the trees. Of course, de Lint is no amateur, and sticking with each lovingly drawn character proved to be well worth my time. The world building, it will come as no surprise, is fantastic. De Lint takes his wizards' Zen magic past the inscrutable down to the accessible, and I loved piecing together the details of how this world works.
As with Tolkien, EYES LIKE LEAVES requires a different pace of reading than your average urban fantasy novel. The elder wizards of the book could have been speaking directly from the pages to me as they council their impatient, dramatic young protégées to slow down, take a deep breath, and let what they already know rise to the surface. I had to slow down, enjoy the journey, enjoy each scene, and let it all wash over me. Depending on your mood and your style, this book could be anywhere from Five Bats to Three, so I recommend you read a few chapters and judge for yourself. But if you're on the fence, I'd encourage you to lean `yes' and immerse yourself in de Lint's world for awhile.
Sexual Content: None.
The problem is that all these great components don't coalesce into a satisfying whole. There is a plot, but the STRUCTURE of it is very weak. There are millions of writers running around with great concepts, but 99.999% of talent is in the execution of that concept. De Lint just didn't deliver here.
The first problem is with his characters. While I dislike books that linger in a character's thoughts for three pages while the action is stalled, de Lint gives us little more than stick figures for characters. They're not even really characters as much as they are standard archetypes. What I usually find is that most authors are great at character development and very weak in plot development. In rare cases where characters are exceptionally drawn, I "might" be able to hang on to a book and read it like a character study. In this case though, you get neither clear characters with distinct personalities or a plot with even an ounce of momentum. That's why the book was virtually unreadable to me. It was beyond dull and tediously boring.
The main problem with the plot is that the "bad guy" or Icelord is NEVER seen in well over half of the book! We don't even visit his lair. We don't hear his voice. Nothing. We hear others talk about him in passing, very briefly and we see a few of his Stormkin henchmen a couple of times, but that's it for 2/3 of the book! Yes, he's trying to cover the world in ice and snow, but he's completely inconsequential. Because of his non-presence, the story has NO opposing force, no urgency and thus no momentum. The story feels completely inert. Even in Lord of the Rings, where the Fellowship is fighting against a dis-embodied villain (Sauron), we STILL get to see the eye over and over as a reminder of his looming and dangerous presence. We also have the evil wizard, Sauroman as the human focal point of the evil, opposing force. De Lint gives us NONE of that. If our hero had been given a gun at the opening of the story, he wouldn't know where to aim because the villain is nowhere to be found for a very, very, very long time.
Speaking of our hero, Taran seems to have too many cool powers and no real vulnerability. Boring. The Tinker and his wife get FAR too much time in the first half of this book. The focus should be on Taran and the non-existant villain, but we're left hanging out in the woods with the Tinker and his wife for chapter after chapter. The dialogue was also very repetitive. If I had a dollar for every time the Tinker said, "Broom and Heather!", I could get a complete refund on this book. Characters also seem to do things for no reason. Carrie just decided over night that she loved Taran and that it was safe to confide in him. What?
Perhaps the worst piece of plotting of all comes in the very reason this quest takes place. The Summerlord owns a staff that contains all his power to turn the earth warm again after the winter months. Well...he LOST IT. Yes, that's right. He's a GOD of creation, wonder, majesty and awe and he LOST HIS MAGICAL STAFF and now the Icelord has it. WHAT??!!
I was going to give this book two stars, but just writing that previous sentence reminded me of how LAME and lazy that plotting was and I've downgraded it to one star. In fairness to de Lint, I believe this was his third book ever written. It definitely shows. Perhaps his later works are better. In any case, definitely skip this cream puff that looks delicious on the surface because it has all the right ingredients, but is completely empty on the inside.