Eyes Like Leaves
by Charles de Lint
Available Format(s): Trade Paperback
This early Charles de Lint novel—previously unavailable in a paperback edition—is a stirring epic fantasy of Celtic and Nordic mythology along with swords and sorcery.
In the Green Isles, the summer magic is waning. Snake ships pillage the coastal towns, and the evil Icelord encases the verdant lands in a permanent frost. A mysterious old wizard prepares to mount one last defense of the Isles, hurrying to instruct his inexperienced apprentice in the art of shape-changing. In a desperate race to awaken the Summerlord, the newfound mage gathers a few remaining allies, including a seemingly ordinary young woman and her protective adoptive family. Mercilessly pursued by the Icelord’s army of stormkin, they flee north to the seat of the Summerlord’s power.
But the revelation of a family betrayal leads to new treachery—and time is running short for the Summerborn.
“This is classic high fantasy, written and revised by a master, unpublished when first completed some thirty years ago because de Lint decided to focus on contemporary fantasy stories and let it languish. It is a must for de Lint completists and, actually, for all high-fantasy and folkloristic fiction fans.”
“This traditional fantasy…bears de Lint’s characteristically lyrical prose and hypnotic storytelling. Filled with Celtic lore and wonderfully drawn characters, this stand-alone epic should please the author’s many fans and lovers of medieval fantasy.”
“World Fantasy Award winner de Lint dusts off an enchanting epic fantasy written in 1980 but never published. The result is a delightful old-fashioned group quest…. [H]is nascent poetic style evokes beautiful imagery.”
“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….”
“Eyes Like Leaves is a captivating book. 4.5 out of 5 stars.”
—Bibliophile Book Blog
“If you are a fan of de Lint, Eyes Like Leaves should definitely become part of your collection. New to de Lint and like high fantasy? You should certainly give it a try.”
—Little Red Reviewer
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.
Praise for Charles de Lint
“[de Lint] clearly has no equal as an urban fantasist.”
“De Lint’s elegant prose and effective storytelling continue to transform the mundane into the magical at every turn.”
“To read de Lint is to fall under the spell of a master storyteller, to be reminded of the greatness of life, of the beauty and majesty lurking in shadows and empty doorways.”
—Quill and Quire
“In a genre of elaborately mapped Neverlands, de Lint sets his tale in our contemporary world and makes it not less magical.”
—Los Angeles Times
“Easily Canada’s top fantasy scribe…a major international force in the genre.”
“One of the most gifted storytellers writing fantasy today…de Lint makes each character real, each one capable of change and of many different responses.”
Praise for Promises to Keep
“De Lint returns to Newford and Jilly Coppercorn’s youth…. e Lint presents Jilly’s choices, the memories impelling them, and the solution to the riddle of Donna in his characteristic powerful yet intimate style. Jilly’s reader friends, including those first meeting her, will be more than delighted.”
“Lucid writing and well-realized characters.”
“If you are already familiar with Newford’s residents, Promises to Keep provides a lovely glimpse into their past, and how they came to know one another. Readers new to de Lint’s work will find this book an easy introduction to the magical world of Newford. The beautiful cover art was done by Mike Dringenberg, well-known for his work on Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.”
—Journal of Mythic Arts
“In his novella Promises to Keep Charles de Lint returns to the early days of one of his most beloved Newford characters, Jilly Coppercorn. For fans this will be a delight well worth seeking out, but teen readers who have a chance to read it should not pass it up…. [A] classic peek into the wonder that is Newford.”
“It’s poignant, it’s moving, it makes you want to be a better person, and all in all, it’s pure de Lint.”
“A clear and stunning view revealing the secrets of Newford.”
Praise for The Very Best of Charles de Lint
“It’s hard not to feel encouraged to be a better person after reading a book by Ottawa’s Charles de Lint.”
—Halifax Chronicle Herald
“Charles de Lint is the modern master of urban fantasy. Folktale, myth, fairy tale, dreams, urban legend—all of it adds up to pure magic in de Lint’s vivid, original world. No one does it better.”
“An outstanding and widely varied collection of 29 tales…. Longtime fans and newcomers alike will fall in love with de Lint’s graceful, poetic language and characters.”
“[de Lint] is a master storyteller…. [I]n every story—and I do mean every—he manages to pack an emotional wallop, and a sense that the fantastical could be very, very possible if only we choose to believe it so.”
“More than 400 pages of the finest urban fantasy fiction of the past three decades.”
Praise for Medicine Road
“Canadian author de Lint and illustrator Vess make good medicine in this whimsical collaboration of words and images starring those rambunctious red-haired Dillard twins, Laurel and Bess, mentioned in 2002’s Seven Wild Sisters and now stage center in their own short novel…. The mythic magic inevitable in all of de Lint’s best fantasies marks the spirited conclusion.”
“De Lint adroitly and believably meshes the world we live in and the spirit world, and his lyrical descriptions of desert and canyon take us directly into the ambiance of the Southwest, adding much to the charm of this first-in-a-series short novel that is already well laced with humor, romance, and Native American mythology and nicely complemented by World Fantasy Award winner Charles Vess’s black-and-white illustrations.”
“Charles de Lint’s new book, Medicine Road, is a first-rate folk tale, the story of a jackalope (that’s a mythical cross between a rabbit and an antelope, for the uninitiated) and a red dog whose run-in with a meddling Coyote Woman changes their lives forever.”
“…a strong, thoroughly enjoyable, thoroughly magical story that takes advantage of native myths and lore to create something entirely new, yet quietly familiar.”
Visit the Charles de Lint website.
Gathering the Threads
These are the mythic times when sages get their say,
who sing like firebirds from the ash, whose deeds are legendary...
—Robin Williamson from “Mythic Times”
Tarn knew him for a wizard, the tall greybeard, calm as a tree, with the wisdom of longyears patterning his sky-blue eyes. They met on the streets of Tallifold, a large port on the south coast of Fairnland, dhruide and streetsinger, Puretongue and Tarn.
“I have been searching for you,” Puretongue said. He touched the mark on Tarn’s brow that was shaped like a crescent moon. “I need a prentice. I have a task that reaches beyond my lifetime—in you I will see it fulfilled.”
Tarn’s eyes widened. A tremor of strangeness stole over him, fear mingled with bright wonder.
“Me?” he asked.
“The reasons are unimportant. Are you willing to learn what I can teach you? It won’t be an easy task.”
“I’ll try, but...” Tarn met the greybeard’s clear-eyed gaze. “Are you sure you haven’t mistaken me for someone else?”
“I am sure.”
“When will we begin?”
The tree-wizard smiled. “We have already begun.”
They left Tallifold that day, journeying north to where autumn touched the summer woods of Avalarn. The wind teased their cloaks with curious fingers. The sky dreamed blue above them. The woods whispered wise about them.
Listening, watching, Tarn began his lessons.
There was always salt in the air around Codswill, a small town on Cermyn’s east coast, even miles inland when the wind was right. Salt and the sharp odours of fish and fish-smoking, the smell of nets drying, for Codswill lived by its fishing trade. Its small boats timed their comings and goings to the tides. They spun and wove a spider’s web of nets across the waters of the Channel Sea by day, docking at the wharves by night like moths clustered about a flame.
Tarn Galdmeir stood at the window of his room in The Hart’s Inn, his hands on its broad sill as he stared out across the darkened town to the wharves. Beyond the small forest of ships’ masts, the restless waters of the Channel Sea shimmered with phosphorus and moonlight. It was almost midnight, in the late spring of the year 526, as reckoned by the Dathenan calendar.
Tarn was exhausted, but sleep eluded him tonight. Snatches of memories flitted like fireflies through the greyness of his fatigue. He listened to the sea murmur against the wooden pilings of the wharves, distant, but clearly audible in the quiet that wrapped the town. Closer, the inn creaked to itself in the darkness.
It was in an inn such as this in Tallifold that he’d lived years ago. He’d been just one more street urchin, eking out a meager living from singing in the streets, sweeping the inn’s main room for his board, pick-pocketing at times. But that had been before he met Puretongue.
“I can’t do it,” Tarn said.
Puretongue’s voice was firm. His form shimmered in the firelight, grey hair and cloak feathering, shifting, changing...
The raven cawed once, a harsh, impatient sound, then the dhruide faced Tarn once more. His lips curved in a slight smile, eyes a-glint in the fire’s glow.
Tarn sighed and gathered his thoughts, focusing them as he’d been taught.
Forms are fluid when named, he remembered, so he named it: raven. He drew strength from the hidden places inside, from the dhruide’s lessons, from his own deep dreaming. He sought his taw—the inner silence where the power lay hidden. He saw his fingers shimmer, feather. His head ached as he reached for the shape.
Almost he felt the change...so close...
Then it was gone.
“I’ll never learn,” he muttered.
“You will,” Puretongue said softly. “You must.”