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The Riddle of the Wren

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  1,397 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 295 pages
Published September 16th 2002 by Firebird (first published 1984)
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Someplace to Be Flying by Charles  de LintThe Onion Girl by Charles  de LintMoonheart by Charles  de LintDreams Underfoot by Charles  de LintThe Little Country by Charles  de Lint
The Best of Charles de Lint
22nd out of 49 books — 36 voters
The Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. TolkienThe Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Best Fantasy Books
295th out of 1,407 books — 984 voters

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Community Reviews

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Aug 01, 2016 Camille rated it really liked it
This was another excellent folklore/fantasy take by de Lint. Minda's ordinary life is changed when she becomes haunted by disturbing nightmares. She meets who she considers a magical being in one of her dreams, who assists her in defeating her nightmares, in exchange for her agreement to free him from the stone he's trapped in. Minda sets off on a journey among many worlds and learns of the great power that lies within her.

What I loved about Minda were her flaws. She felt realistic because she i
Aug 02, 2009 Ann rated it liked it
Charles de Lint is one of the major writers of what has come to be termed 'urban fantasy'. My current goal is to pick some key sf/fantasy writers and read their works from earliest to most current. This might not be the brightest idea I've ever had: Many, if not most, writers grow into their work over time, particularily if they've done a large body of work.

The Riddle of the Wren (De Lint's first book in terms of when he started writing) is a case in point. It's a competently written standard c
Nov 10, 2016 Ryan rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-quarter
Its the story on Minda as she journeys to a unfamiliar land where she help save someone ( no saying who) and fight the battle of good and bad.
Jun 26, 2016 Melanti rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult, 2011
This one is better than Harp of the Grey Rose by far, but it is still nowhere close to being on par with his current books. It is a little bit dated - my opinion would probably be better if I'd read it back in the 80's while this sort of plot was still in fashion.

The good - There were echoes of his current themes - strong female main characters from sad backgrounds, gods that gain their power from their worshipers, the dreaming realm, etc.

The bad - The main character being physically abused in t
“She lay there, waiting for sleep to come, but the excitement of what she had just done kept her awake. It was only the first step of – how long a journey? Did it matter? It was enough to be free of Hadon and of the inn, to be responsible only to herself… and the promise she made to the moorman.” p. 40

I have been reading de Lint’s wonderful fantasy for years. I looked over my reading list here and I seem to average one de Lint book per year. He is definitely an author worth revisiting.

This nove
Lauren Giova
Sep 26, 2007 Lauren Giova rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: High Fantasy readers who want a slight break from it.
I rather enjoyed this book. I felt for the character in all her struggles even if i couldn't identify with her. Minda was innocent enough but she wasn't weak. I can't stand weak or indecisive characters. I understand that in some points in the story there are going to be times when these two characteristics will show themselves but they have to be sparing and believable. De Lint was definitely able to keep the balance.
The glossary in the back of the book was a plus when i didn't understand so
Jul 27, 2010 Stephen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: epic-fantasy
The Riddle of the Wren is not the first Charles de Lint book I have read. However, it is the first time I've read a book set in his own created worlds (previous reads were set in Farmer's Dungeon series). Many people had given the book very good reviews.

So, I tracked it down...and WOW! This book was exactly what I had hoped for. The story had a flow about it that I found very easy to get immersed in.

The first thing I noticed was just how likable the main character, Minda, really is. As a reade
This was actually the first book I had ever read by Charles de Lint. It was over 15 years ago when I came across this book at the bookstore and absolutely had to find out what happened inside such a stunning cover. Needless to say I fell in love with the story and the amazing imagination of the author. It is one of those stories that one seems to come across every now and then when they are in need of an adventure. This one totally delivered and is one that I get reacquainted with just about ...more
Jul 15, 2009 Kellie rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 22, 2011 Hobart rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-reads
This was not the best fantasy I've read lately, and I know (well, strongly believe) I'm going to read at least one this year that will dwarf its quality by a magnitude I can't calculate. BUT...

there pretty much has to be a but here, right?

BUT...this character, this world (better, these worlds), the supporting characters...there's something about them all that just works. More than works, charms you and wins you over.

de Lint does a great job of introducing the incremental changes happening to Min
Daniel Goldberg
Mar 05, 2012 Daniel Goldberg rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: YA fantasy enjoyers
This was a pretty interesting page turner that for some reason took me a while to read. It knocked me off my goal of a book a week for 2012, which confuses me because I found it pretty interesting. I think it might have to do with the first seventh or eighth of the book being a little boring but looking back it really wasn't that boring, plus this is a young adult book so I don't know what I was expecting.

The book doesn't have a crazy complicated plot that takes hundreds of pages to flesh out b
Aug 06, 2013 Debra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys fantasy books
Recommended to Debra by: Fellow attendee at Shadow Con in 1986
I was given a copy of this book at Shadow Con which was a convention for the miniseries V. I have an original copy which is locked up as well as a reprinted copy for reading. Charles de Lint is a master storyteller who weaves details in and around Celtic myths and magic. His characters are so lifelike that I would not be surprised to meet any of them and this includes the non-human ones. Mindy is a young woman whose past is mysterious. Her step-father runs an inn and often treats Mindy harshly. ...more
Feb 14, 2013 Seestars rated it did not like it
Still struggling through this book after 6 months. Just not very much to keep me interested (or awake). The plot ideas are somewhat interesting, but I've seen them before. Abandoned Washington DC or NYC, anyone? Jumping from world to world. A main character plucked from nowhere is someone special. Will try to find a few hours to commit and see if the book pulls me in. If not, I doubt I'll finish it.

Here I am again about 3 months later. Still only about 1/2 way through. The writing is sooooo bad
Melissa Prange
Oct 06, 2011 Melissa Prange rated it did not like it
When I started this book, I expected it to be your average young adult fantasy novel. My expectations were met until I reached the one hundred page mark. At that point, everything began cascading downhill. This mostly had to do with the fact that a giant, telepathic, wizard badger appeared. I can deal with this sort of thing in comedic fantasy novels, but Charles de Lint takes himself too seriously and his seriousness is the cause of many unintentionally funny moments from this point on. The ...more
Aug 11, 2009 Kat rated it really liked it
(3.5 stars)

Classic high fantasy, 80's style. I found myself enjoying the tone a lot as I read, even as I acknowleged that the story was overrun by young-girl-epic-quest cliches. Still, an enjoyable work, by an author whose body of work is enormous. I am flabbergasted that this is the first work I have read of his, and am interested in hunting some more down. I was most intrigued by this book when the heroine was picking her way through the ruins of what felt like a long-abandoned NYC, and am exc
Nov 21, 2008 Yuwei rated it liked it
Shelves: junior-yr
This book was about a girl named Minda, who was haunted by dreams created by Illdran, a dream master. She ends up searching for this Illdran and travel between different worlds. At the end, she discovers who she really was, and what she must do will save the world.
When I first pick up this book, I could not get myself interested in reading this. But after to first hundred of pages, i could not put it down. But overall i thought it was not very original. Even though i read a lot of adventure and
Sep 29, 2011 Angela rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is one of my all-time favorite books. It is a very-well written story with lots of wonderful details. And it has everything! A town with cobblestone streets and an open air market. A charming bookstore. Stonehenges that allow travel between worlds. A post-apocalyptic planet with cars and buildings but no people. Talking animals, elves, a giant and a tinker. It as gods – good, evil and neutral – and a myriad of species that follow the different gods. The tale was influenced by the works of ...more
Apr 22, 2014 Jaylee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews
This book is incredibly special to me because it's the first book I bought with my own money. I was 9, and I had Christmas money from relatives. We stopped on the way home from my grandparents' house to go to Best Buy so my brother could spend his money and there was a Barnes n Noble next door, and I got to go there ALONE to pick out a book. And I bought this, and read it all the way home. :3

I really need to re-read it, because I'm not sure if my 9-year-old self had very discerning tastes, lol.
Sarah Lu
Sep 12, 2011 Sarah Lu rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, own
As with most of Charles de Lint's early works, The Riddle of the Wren hints at the aspects that he will later write about in more detail in other novels as well as short stories. Such as the subjects of magic, child abuse, different cultures getting along/facing/putting aside their differences, the spirits of the land, music and the arts, all have their places in this novel.

In my opinion, not his greatest book, but definitely a shining early book. A must-read for anyone that loves Charles de Li
Sep 29, 2010 M— rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
A very early example of de Lint's work. I'd recommend his later novels instead (his Newford urban fantasy/magical realism books are wonderful). This reads well enough as straight high-fantasy and, with that young heroine coming into her strength, had a very YA feel. It wasn't to my taste but a well-written tale nonetheless. I'd recommend it to rather young readers and particularly rabid fans of de Lint.
Reshma Popat
Apr 01, 2011 Reshma Popat rated it it was amazing
I still cannot express in words how well done this book is to me. There isn't a part I could say I hated, and I love reading about fantasy that takes place in a paganistic world.

It's folklore and it's details are amazing. I really did enjoy this book when I was in high school I even enjoy this book now as an adult. It helped me escape the bad times I was facing in reality and brought me into the world of Minda's.
Dec 09, 2015 Amy rated it really liked it
3.5 stars
*sigh of contentment*
That was good. Confusing, but good.
The Riddle of the Wren is occasionally involved, vague, and a bit repetitive, but it weaves a compelling story about a girl and her quest. It is pure fantasy with quests and companions and hidden identity.
Mar 03, 2010 Beth rated it really liked it
Part of my Charles deLint canon re-read. Though it seems like a typical fantasy novel with magic swords and elves, the protagonist--a seventeen year old girl--makes it interesting. An ordinary young woman is thrown into extraordinary circumstances and finds herself growing and learning in new ways. The adventure leads to self-knowledge without losing her core self.

I really enjoyed it!
Dec 28, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing
I remember reading this in Ireland and being utterly facinated with the melding of real and fantasy in a setting that looked so like that which surrounded me. This is a quick read, maybe a good place to start with de Lint. I've wanted to read so much more by him, but never really got into many of his other novels. I don't know why because everything I have read by him is amazing.
Jul 13, 2007 Riley rated it liked it
I decided I should get back into reading, so I went to my bookshelf and picked a book more or less at random. I suppose my only criteria was that I would be interested enough to finish it, and it lived up to my expectations. Riddle of the Wren had an interesting storyline, even if it was somewhat predictable at times. I suppose all fantasy novels are.
Ed Erwin
Nov 30, 2015 Ed Erwin rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I have read and enjoyed a fair number of Lint's later short fiction, which seems more unique. This is one of his earliest works, and is a pretty standard fantasy story. Solidly done, but his later work gets more interesting to me.
Apr 10, 2012 Kellyann rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Another one from de Lint that's too epic for my tastes, and written way too much in a style that doesn't come naturally to him (not to mention sounding stilted to the reader). Still good for what it is.
Jan 26, 2008 Kit rated it it was ok
Shelves: recentlyread
more like 1 1/2 stars. mediocre, predictable fantasy novel with a few noteworthy twists to this particular iteration of the coming-of-age / quest story. i'd heard de Lint was pretty good, maybe this was the wrong one to start with.
May 08, 2008 Megan rated it liked it
Not one of my favourite de Lint books (maybe because it's more traditional fantasy than his trademark urban fantasy), but it still contained... something that kept it from being like just every other fantasy book out there.
Sep 29, 2012 Pratiti rated it really liked it
The first half of the book (I though) was poorly written. However, the last half was amazing! I think, however, that if De Lint had stretched it into 2 or 3 books, then it would have been a richer story.
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Charles de Lint is the much beloved author of more than seventy adult, young adult, and children's books. Renowned as one of the trailblazers of the modern fantasy genre, he is the recipient of the World Fantasy, Aurora, Sunburst, and White Pine awards, among others. Modern Library's Top 100 Books of the 20th Century poll, conducted by Random House and voted on by readers, put eight of de Lint's ...more
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