The Harp of the Grey Rose

Charles de Lint
The Harp of the Grey Rose Cover

The Harp of the Grey Rose


There are early books in an author's career that show the years of striving that are poured into a work and those that show a craft being honed but not yet great. The Harp of the Grey Rose is the latter, one of the very first books written by Charles de Lint. For a fantasy, by today's standards, this is a short novel. With time, several characters could have been filled out and the plotlines steadied and interwoven with a more coherent pattern. I find Galin, who appears approximately two-thirds of the way through the book, is an example: he seems to appear out of nowhere, leaps into action, gets a quick backstory and plays a role that needs to be better explained.

I could have wished for the world-building to be more involved, tighter, as it plays a part beyond backdrop in magical fantasy. The setting seems related to that created in The Riddle of the Wren, and the magical constructs (Wasters, for example) are similar; so much more could have been done with how the races and ancient cities contain the story. [Actually, Harp was written before Riddle, the publication dates being reversed.] Having read later work by Charles de Lint, I know that his craft improved, the magic whispering through his entire body of fiction like little sparkles you see out of the corner of your eye. The Little Country and Into the Green are wonderful books.

I look forward to starting his Newfield series and reading Jack of Kinrowan in the near future.