23 January 2006

The Wild Wood

I just finished reading The Wild Wood by Charles de Lint (Amazon). Not as good as some other Charles de Lint books I've read, but still enjoyable. My main complaint is that he gets a bit preachy about environmental issues in a few places. Important, yes, but it doesn't accomplish anything to break the flow of the story to emphasize the point.

It's basically a story of renewal, of bringing new hope to a dying population. Another reason that the preachiness doesn't fit is that the solution used in the book is not one that would be practical for, say, undoing environmental degradation.

De Lint does two things very well, in every book. First, all of his characters feel like real people. There are some tendencies that always show up in at least one character, and that gets a bit obvious after a few books, but the rest of the characters are always fresh. Second, he mixes the magical and the mundane beautifully, so that you're not sure where one begins and the other ends. In Wild Wood, there are "spirit creatures" in the forest. Until they want to be seen, they blend in with the wood around them, and people may see them very differently.

At any rate, with that minor caveat about preachiness, I would recommend this book. But better de Lint books are Someplace to be Flying and Trader.


John said...

I must have missed that one. I really like De Lint's books, but I don't like when the author gets preachy. That's why I don't care for a lot of Heinlein's later stuff, or the last few Sword of Truth books by Goodkind. My favorite author is still Peter S Beagle, though.

Qalmlea said...

I think Wild Wood was recently re-released. It only seems to be available in trade paperback. *shrugs*

If I had to pick one favorite author, it would be Robert Jordan. Terry Pratchett is a very close second, though. I don't think I've read Goodkind...

John said...

If I could go back, I wouldn't read Goodkind. Wizard's First Rule was kind of okay. The series just went downhill from there. The actual writing is pretty good. Goodkind knows the craft. But the plots are mediocre and not very original.

If you haven't read anything by Beagle, I recommend The Last Unicorn as a good place to start. The '82 animated film was good, but really didn't do it justice. According to IMDb there is a live action version in the works. Woohoo! A movie to look forward to.

The Innkeeper's Song is my absolute favorite book. It's been out of print for quite a while, though. But it's definitely worth the effort to find.

John said...

Oh yeah. De Lint has a few books that usually get classified as children's books (actually young adult in this case. It's called The Blue Girl and it's very good.

I got ahold of A Fistful of Coppers (a collection of De Lint's early stories)not too long ago, and I realized something. I had read almost all of them when I was a kid. I can hardly believe they were written by De Lint. They are okay, but are also pretty typical thud-and-blunder stuff.

Qalmlea said...

Every author has to start somewhere, I guess. I'd run across "Fistful of Coppers" on Amazon a few times, and wondered whether it was worth ordering.

And I think I did read "Wizard's First Rule," but I'd forgotten the author. I liked the way he was able to lock part of his personality away under the "slave spell" or whatever it was (it's been a LONG time), but it never caught my interest enough to read the next one.