The Earthsea Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Archive: The Amphitheatre' started by Rilina, Jun 11, 2002.

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  1. Rilina Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 23, 2000
    star 3
    The Earthsea books have been fantasy classics for decades. For many of us, they stand among our earliest introductions to the fantasy genre--especially the first three books in the series. In the past year, Ursula K. Le Guin has added two books to her collection of Earthsea books. The cycle now stands as follows: A Wizard of Earthsea; The Tombs of Atuan; The Farthest Shore; Tehanu; Tales from Earthsea; The Other Wind

    Though I was an avid reader of fantasy as a young adult (Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien), I didn't read the Earthsea books until I was in college. After reading them, I was pretty surprised to discover that the Earthsea books are generally classified as young adult or children's literature (just as I was surprised by the classification of the His Dark Materials books by Philip Pullman). I was particularly impressed by Le Guin's depiction of the costs of magic and by her prose, which is just beautiful.

    When I reached the later Earthsea books (Tehanu and following), I was pretty surprised by what I read. The series shifts pretty drastically there in tone and in its concerns. Whereas the first three books are basically three coming-of-age stories, the second three books deal with some thornier issues, such as gender.

    What do other fans think of Le Guin's recent Earthsea books?
  2. Jadis_Ionian Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 27, 2001
    star 4
    Not having read her more recent ones, I can't say anything about them. But I have read A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan and loved them. She uses some unusual (in my expierence) concepts of the use of magic, my favorite being the power of naming. Aaah...I can't think of anything intelligent to say.

    *Jadis*
  3. Rilina Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 23, 2000
    star 3
    Le Guin's portrayal of the costs of magic is really fascinating. I've read some article talking about the Taoist background to her ideas. I think her portrayal of magic really is a credit to how much effort she puts into her worldbuilding--she doesn't say, "Hey, the magic, it's just there."
  4. Saint_of_Killers Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 5
    I read the first 2 books in middle school, I loved them, but never got around to reading the others.
  5. Gandalf the Grey Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 14, 2000
    star 6
    I read the short story in the Legends anthology, Dragonfly, the short story The Bones of the Earth, and the original A Wizard of Earthsea. On a side note, I also tried reading her The Left Hand of Darkness.

    I didn?t like any of them.

    My main problem is with her writing style. It?s overly poetic, full of far too much description. On a paragraph by paragraph basis, her prose is beautiful, but over the long haul it?s just boring to me. I would have preferred stories with far more dialog, which wasn?t too bad when it happened. A lesser complaint is that to a certain degree I felt her characters seemed a little wooden. Most of that is likely due to the innate dignity that the wizards seem to tend to possess, but when combined with her flowery prose it didn?t help make the books and stories more interesting to me.
  6. Rilina Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 23, 2000
    star 3
    My main problem is with her writing style. It?s overly poetic, full of far too much description. On a paragraph by paragraph basis, her prose is beautiful, but over the long haul it?s just boring to me.

    I can definitely see how Le Guin's style might not be everyone's cup of tea. I've always thought the exact opposite: that her prose style is one of the biggest strengths of her books. I like how she was able to maintain the tone of her stories through her language. Oh well, to each his/her own...
  7. Rilina Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 23, 2000
    star 3
    C'mon, there has to be some Le Guin fans out there.
  8. Tod Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Apr 29, 1999
    star 4
    It's been ages since I read these books. I think I read first four of them. I don't know what to say exactly. Since these books are considered mostly children's books I think that they're somewhat too complex for most children. On the other hand some parts of the books are too simplistic for adult readers. I don't really know to whom they were meant to. I can say that I enjoyed most of these books but they're not my favourite books in any means.
  9. Saint_of_Killers Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 5
    I liked LeGuin's style. Of course I'm also a big fan of Nabakov, and alot of people think his style is too poetic.

    Has anyone read any fo LeGuin's other books? I actually found The Dispossessed in my school library. I love that book.
  10. Saint_of_Killers Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 5
    I found A Wizard of Earthsea at Davis-Kidd yesterday. It's been a long time since I've read it, so I bought it. I'd forgotten how short it is though.
  11. Gurney_Halleck Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2002
    Tolkein and The Martian Chronicles were the first books I read as a kid, so anything labeled for "young adults" was right out.

    But an ex-girlfriend made me read them so that I could better understand her. I read the books and find them to be some of the best fantasy books I've ever read. Why? Because in three very thin volumes, LeGuin creates a worldvision that is one of the most believable and simple.

    Someone was complaining about shallow characters, but I couldn't disagree more. The first book was about claiming your power in the world and facing the shadow that can rise when that power is unleashed. A sense of knowing Ged came to me early in the book, and I knew what he was going to have to do before the end of the book in order to resolve his problem. The second book, The Tombs of Atuan, made me realize how deeply spiritual LeGuin is. That book isn't just about Tenar and Ged's relationship, it's about how human psychology and spirituality are linked. It's about relationships. It really gave me the keys to understanding my ex, that's for sure. It made me realize how valid her portrayal of Tenar was. Her characters seem real because there are people with Ged's and Tenar's psychology alive around us.

    Discuss.
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