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Eyes Like Leaves by Charles de Lint
Review by Gayle Surrette
Subterranean Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596062825
Date: 01 November 2009 List Price $35.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

In the introduction to Eyes Like Leaves, Charles de Lint explains how this early work ended up never being published. It was finished around 1980. He edited it trying to stay true to the writer he was at the time it was written. I have to say that even knowing it's an earlier work, this is vintage de Lint. There are characters that come alive on the page and writing that pulls you into the story and makes you care about the people that inhabit the pages and what is happening to their world. This is a must have for any fan of de Lint's works.

Tarn is chosen as an apprentice by a dhruide, Puretongue. He studied and learned and was assigned to wait for one who will be a champion of the people and to lead her to the Oracle. It was an important task, but a girl as the one to save this world that was falling to the darkness all about them was hard to swallow. Once he met her and realized that she knew nothing, had no training--it was all he could do to not leave her at the side of the road and go off on his own.

Choice. Charles de Lint's work has often been about choices. His characters always have the choice to back away and do nothing or to do the job they know has to be done. There is also usually a strong moral core to all his tales. Not that you'd notice this while reading the story but after you close the covers and think about the journey you've just taken with these people, that's when it shows up.

Tarn thinks well of himself for what he's done and what he's become. He has power but he feels he must prove himself. But, he's not the savior. His job is to show the way and to let someone else do the work. What do you do when you think the powers-that-be have taken the wrong turn? How do you react?

On the other hand, what do you say or do when someone shows up and says, "You're the one. You're going to save us all." That's a lot to lay on anyone, but to be a woman in a world that doesn't value women much at all, it's nearly unbelievable. Not to mention all this talk of magic when you know magic just doesn't exist. You can see the world falling apart. You've experienced the loss of all those you loved and cared for. Can you take the chance that maybe this is your job? What do you do?

Nothing is easy in de Lint's fantasies but they are definitely worth reading. Even more, they are definitely worth pondering over after reading to think about the what-ifs and the what-if-it-was-me.

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