I was recently introduced to Ursula K Le Guin’s wonderful prose and speculative fiction. So I just had to read her fantasy Earthsea trilogy to see if I loved these books as much.
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
Book Blurb: “Ged, the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, was called Sparrowhawk in his reckless youth.
Hungry for power and knowledge, Sparrowhawk tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death’s threshold to restore the balance.”
The Wizard of Earthsea is a beautifully crafted fantasy story that tells of the coming of age of young Sparrowhawk. Throughout the tale he learns the skills of a mage and how to wield his power and come to terms with darkness. Along with a convincing magic system Ursula K. Le Guin creates the wonderful world of Earthsea which is written in an almost lyrical prose. This is classic fantasy and true escapism on the surface but woven throughout is an exploration of themes including cause and effect, keeping the world in balance and what it means to be oneself. A truly magical read.
Oh and if that doesn’t inspire everyone to read this book. There are dragons, epic fire breathing dragons and cute pet bracelet “dragons”.
The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin
Book blurb: “When young Tenar is chosen as high priestess to the ancient and nameless Powers of the Earth, everything is taken away – home, family, possessions, even her name. For she is now Arha, the Eaten One, guardian of the ominous Tombs of Atuan.
While she is learning her way through the dark labyrinth, a young wizard, Ged, comes to steal the Tombs’ greatest hidden treasure, the Ring of Erreth-Akbe. But Ged also brings with him the light of magic, and together, he and Tenar escape from the darkness that has become her domain.”
A beautifully written short book filled with mystery and awe. It is a coming-of-age tale of a young girl Tenar as she becomes the Eaten One, guardian of the Tombs of Atuan. The writing is captivating as you feel the depth and darkness of the oppressive tombs. Tenar is a wonderful strong female character who has to question everything she has known in a struggle to discover who she is.
The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin
Book Blurb: “Book Three of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle Darkness threatens to overtake Earthsea: the world and its wizards are losing their magic. Despite being wearied with age, Ged Sparrowhawk — Archmage, wizard, and dragonlord — embarks on a daring, treacherous journey, accompanied by Enlad’s young Prince Arren, to discover the reasons behind this devastating pattern of loss. Together they will sail to the farthest reaches of their world — even beyond the realm of death — as they seek to restore magic to a land desperately thirsty for it.”
My least favourite of the trilogy as it returns to focus on a middle aged Ged. The story is one of death and magic dying out. The writing was beautiful but I didn’t feel a connection to these characters or feel that the story was as strong as the other two books.