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Other Books
Over My Head (2013)
The Cats of Tanglewood Forest (2013)
Under My Skin (2012)
The Painted Boy (2010)
The Very Best of Charles de Lint (2010)
Muse and Reverie (2009)
Eyes Like Leaves (2009)
The Mystery of Grace (2009)
Woods and Waters Wild (2009)
Yellow Dog (2008)
What the Mouse Found (2008)
Dingo (2008)
Little (Grrl) Lost (2007)
Old Man Crow (2007)
Promises to Keep (2007)
Widdershins (2006)
Triskell Tales 2 (2006)
Make A Joyful Noise (2006)
The Hour Before Dawn (2005)
Quicksilver & Shadow (2005)
The Blue Girl (2004)
Medicine Road (2004)
Refinerytown (2003)
Spirits in the Wires (2003)
A Handful of Coppers (2003)
A Circle of Cats (2003)
Tapping the Dream Tree (2002)
Waifs and Strays (2002)
Seven Wild Sisters (2002)
The Onion Girl (2001)
The Road to Lisdoonvarna (2001)
Triskell Tales (2000)
Forests of the Heart (2000)
The Buffalo Man (1999)
The Newford Stories (1999)
Moonlight and Vines (1999)
Someplace to be Flying (1998)
Trader (1997)
Jack of Kinrowan (1997)
The Ivory and the Horn (1995)
Memory & Dream (1994)
The Wild Wood (1994)
Into the Green (1993)
The Wishing Well (1993)
Dreams Underfoot (1993)
I'll Be Watching You (1992)
From a Whisper to a Scream (1992)
Merlin Dreams in the Mondream Wood (1992)
Spiritwalk (1992)
Paperjack (1991)
Our Lady of the Harbour (1991)
Hedgework and Guessery (1991)
Death Leaves an Echo (1991)
Ghosts of Wind and Shadow (1991)
Uncle Dobbin's Parrot Fair (1991)
The Little Country (1991)
The Dreaming Place (1990)
Angel of Darkness (1990)
Ghostwood (1990)
Drink Down the Moon (1990)
The Fair in Emain Macha (1990)
Philip José Farmer's The Dungeon: The Hidden City (1990)
Westlin Wind (1989)
Berlin (1989)
Philip José Farmer's The Dungeon: The Valley of Thunder (1989)
Svaha (1989)
Wolf Moon (1988)
Greenmantle (1988)
Jack the Giant-Killer (1987)
Ascian in Rose (1987)
Yarrow: An Autumn Tale (1986)
Mulengro: A Romany Tale (1985)
The Harp of the Grey Rose (1985)
Moonheart: A Romance (1984)
The Riddle of the Wren (1984)
De Grijze Roos (1983)
The Riddle of the Wren
The Riddle of the Wren
Firebird

The Riddle of the Wren (1984)
Ace

Minda Sealy is afraid of her own nightmares. Then, one night, while asleep, she meets Jan, the Lord of the Moors, who has been imprisoned by Ildran the Dream-master-the same being who traps Minda. In exchange for her promise to free him, Jan gives Minda three tokens. She sets out, leaving the safety of her old life to begin a journey from world to world, both to save Jan and to solve "the riddle of the Wren"-which is the riddle of her very self. The Riddle of the Wren was Charles de Lint's first novel, and has been unavailable for years. Fans and newcomers alike will relish it.
Source: firebirdbooks.com

Reviews
Rambles:
I have a confession to make. The Riddle of the Wren by Charles de Lint has been one of my favorite novels since it was first released in 1984. At the time, I was no older than the book's heroine, Minda Talenyn, and I identified strongly with her. I found the setting, a universe where stone circles are gates to other worlds, where fey beings and talking animals walk freely and where names have power, to be thoroughly enchanting.

The story begins in the town of Fernwillow on an unnamed world. Minda Sealy is afraid to go to sleep because she has been having terrible nightmares for weeks. One night when the nightmare cycle begins, she finds herself walking a high, peaceful moor, where she is befriended by Jan Penalurick, the lord of the moors, who has been imprisoned in a standing stone by Ildran the Dream-master - the very creature who is sending Minda the nightmares. In exchange for her promise of aid, Jan gives Minda three things: a new name, Talenyn, meaning "Little Wren"; a pouch of pebbles that, when used correctly, can function as a gate between worlds; and an acorn pendant that will keep the evil Ildran from invading her dreams.

Minda sets out the very next night, leaving the safety of her old life to begin a journey whose ending she could never have foreseen. As she travels from world to world, seeking the hidden world where Jan Penalurick is imprisoned, Minda finds friends where she least expects them, including the loremistress Taneh, Grimbold the wizard and clever Markj'n Tufty. Always one step ahead of the Dream-master, Minda discovers depths in herself that she never knew existed and comes into her heritage. The riddle of the Wren, the riddle she must solve, is the riddle of herself.

The setting of The Riddle of the Wren is heavily pseudo-Celtic, as are many of de Lint's earlier novels, though only 1985's The Harp of the Grey Rose is also set in the universe of the many worlds. This, along with the novel's cast of characters including a talking badger, a giant, a tinker and assorted horned folk, gives the novel a romantic, fairy tale appeal.

At its heart, The Riddle of the Wren is a story about growing up and finding one's place. Minda discovers that her place is not even remotely like what she had imagined living and working in her father's inn. Perhaps that is one of the reasons that I so enjoy this book; it let me know that one did not have to live the life mapped out by circumstance and that the extraordinary was possible.

Green Man Review:
In The Riddle of the Wren, we find a much different approach than we are used to seeing from de Lint. It is a tale of high fantasy, although still woven with his lyrical prose, which at times seems to flow with a life all its own. It reaches out almost spell-like to entwine about, and entrance, the imagination.

The protagonist, a heartbreakingly innocent young lady named Minda, is thrown headlong into the proverbial battle of good versus evil. In this case good takes the form of Huorn the Hunter, while evil is convincingly portrayed by Ildran the Dream-master and eater of souls.

Each world has a magical gateway in the form of Standing Stones, or Menhirs, which Minda is able to open. Using the Standing Stones, Minda travels from world to world, with death and destruction hot on her heels. A battle that threatens to rip apart the delicate cloth of reality, as woven by de Lint, it spreads throughout the many realms like a dark tide.

Minda gains many allies as she moves from world to world, sometimes only a breath in front of Ildran. Sadly, some of these allies even perish for her and her cause: to free the 'Heart of the Moors' from his wrongful imprisonment by Ildran. The final battle, however, is still one that Minda must fight alone. A very simple riddle for the Wren to solve. And solve it she does, but the story does not end there, far from it in fact. Minda has learned much of herself, and of the workings of the worlds. She has a new life to begin.

This is a fanciful tale on the surface, but with de Lint's mastery of subtleties, he creates many sub-layers within which to delve. It can be read again and again, seeming slightly different each time. I recommend losing yourself within its pages - if you can find a copy. Meet a very different, yet disconcertingly similar, Charles de Lint.

Even in this, his first novel published in North America, there are overtones of what he is to become with time - a master, or perhaps the master of urban fantasy. I admire his ability to find magic within the mundane and to share it with an appreciative and ever-growing audience. I have yet to be disappointed by a de Lint work.

From The Ottawa Citizen, July 1984:
Ottawa author Charles de Lint debuts with a polished fantasy about a teen-age girl who pursues the riddle of her unique powers into other worlds, reached via Druid-style stone formations. …should please fantasy fans. It's good fun.

Folk Tales:
If one chooses to, one can go back and find the time when any author was unknown. For Canadian fantasist Charles de Lint, that time was at an end with the release of Riddle of the Wren, published by Ace Fantasy in June of 1984, with a second printing in March of 1985. This novel is very hard to come by, but well worth the effort of searching for, as I well know. I spent years haunting used book stores, only to run across it last spring by pure chance. And I almost overlooked it, noticing it only on the second glance through the 'D' section. My patience was well rewarded with the wonderful journey this tale took me on.

Riddle of the Wren is actually the second book that Charles de Lint ever wrote. The Harp of the Grey Rose was the first he finished writing. The first book published was De Grijze Roos ("The Grey Rose:" collection), Een Exa Uitgave, trade paperback, Belgium 1983.

In Riddle of the Wren, we find a much different approach than we are used to seeing from de Lint. It is a tale of high fantasy, although still woven with his lyrical prose, which at times seems to flow with a life all its own. It reaches out almost spell-like to entwine about, and entrance, the imagination.

The protagonist, a heartbreakingly innocent young lady named Minda, is thrown headlong into the proverbial battle of good versus evil. In this case good takes the form of Huorn the Hunter, while evil is convincingly portrayed by Ildran the Dream-master and eater of souls.

Each world has a magical gateway in the form of Standing Stones, or Menhirs, which Minda is able to open. Using the Standing Stones, Minda travels from world to world, with death and destruction hot on her heels. A battle that threatens to rip apart the delicate cloth of reality, as woven by de Lint, it spreads throughout the many realms like a dark tide.

Minda gains many allies as she moves from world to world, sometimes only a breath in front of Ildran. Sadly, some of these allies even perish for her and her cause: to free the 'Heart of the Moors' from his wrongful imprisonment by Ildran. The final battle, however, is still one that Minda must fight alone. A very simple riddle for the Wren to solve. And solve it she does, but the story does not end there, far from it in fact. Minda has learned much of herself, and of the workings of the worlds. She has a new life to begin.

This is a fanciful tale on the surface, but with de Lint's mastery of subtleties, he creates many sub-layers within which to delve. It can be read again and again, seeming slightly different each time. I recommend losing yourself within its pages—if you can find a copy. Meet a very different, yet disconcertingly similar, Charles de Lint.

Even in this, his first novel published in North America, there are overtones of what he is to become with time—a master, or perhaps the master of urban fantasy. I admire his ability to find magic within the mundane and to share it with an appreciative and ever-growing audience. I have yet to be disappointed by a de Lint work.

Editions
Ace; mass market, l984 Matthew D. Hargreaves; Hardcover, 1994
Firebird; mass market, 2002

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