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Friday, July 30, 2010

The Harp of the Grey Rose - Charles de Lint

Charles de Lint does high fantasy. There’s not a hint of Newford or any other urban influence in sight!

Cerin was a fairly ordinary seventeen-year-old boy, raised by a village witch in the High Downs. His entire life is changed when he meets the maid of the Grey Rose, the most beautiful maid he has ever seen. She is the promised bride of a being of pure evil, and Cerin vows to free her from this terrible bond. He leaves home with only a tinker blade and a homemade harp, never dreaming that the harper magic of his mother, and the wildland magic of his father, will awaken within him, and help the Grey Rose in ways he could never imagine.

This is one of de Lint’s early books, and is an expansion of a novella. The expansion shows. There’s a climax in the action fairly early in the story, and then events flow forward in a separate, but somewhat related, tale. I won’t say it’s sloppy exactly, but I could tell almost immediately (having not read the publishing date or book notes previously) that this must be an earlier work.

Still, this is an enjoyable story. The world of the story is expansive, even without visiting many of the places mentioned in the story. It’s got all the little details that a good high fantasy world requires to feel like a fully realized place. This is a beginning story, and I would actually enjoy reading more about the exploits of Cerin, once he grows into his full powers as a harper. That, in my mind, indicates a successfully drawn tale.

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