Tales from Earthsea Mass Market Paperback – Oct 28 2003
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Winner of five Nebula and five Hugo Awards, the National Book Award, the Newbery, and many other awards, Ursula K. Le Guin is one of the finest authors ever to write science fiction and fantasy. Her greatest creation may be the powerful, beautifully written, and deeply imagined Earthsea Cycle, which inhabits the rarified air at the pinnacle of modern fantasy with J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy and Jane Yolen's Chronicles of Great Alta. The books of the Earthsea Cycle are A Wizard of Earthsea (1968), The Tombs of Atuan (1971), The Farthest Shore (1972), the Nebula-winning Tehanu (1990), and now, Tales of Earthsea (2001).
If you have never read an Earthsea book, this collection isn't the place to start, as the author points out in her thoughtful foreword; begin with A Wizard of Earthsea. If you insist on starting with Tales of Earthsea, read the foreword and the appended "Description of Earthsea" before proceeding to the five stories (three of which are original to this book).
The opening story, "The Finder," occupies a third of the volume and has the strength and insight of a novel. This novella describes the youth of Otter, a powerful but half-trained sorcerer, and reveals how Otter came to an isle that cannot be found, and played a role in the founding of the great Roke School. "Darkrose and Diamond" tells of two lovers who would turn their backs on magic. In "The Bones of the Earth," an aging wizard and his distant pupil must somehow join forces to oppose an earthquake. Ged, the Archmage of Earthsea, appears in "On the High Marsh" to find the mad and dangerous mage he had driven from Roke Island. And in "Dragonfly," the closing story, a mysterious woman comes to the Roke School to challenge the rule that only men may be mages. "Dragonfly" takes place a few years after Tehanu and is the bridge between that novel and the next novel, The Other Wind (fall 2001). --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In this stellar collection, which includes a number of original stories, Le Guin (The Telling; Four Ways to Forgiveness; etc.) makes a triumphant return to the magic-drenched world of Earthsea. The opening novella, The Finder, set some 300 years before the birth of Ged, the hero of A Wizard of Earthsea (1968), details both the origin of the school for wizards on Roke Island and the long-suppressed role that women and women's magic played in the founding of that institution. "The Bones of the Earth" describes Ogion, Ged's first great teacher, when he was a young man, centering on that wizard's loving relationship with his own mentor. "Darkrose and Diamond" is also a love story of sorts, about a young man who'd rather be a musician than a mage and the witch girl he loves. "On the High Marsh," the only story in which Ged himself appears, albeit in a secondary role, is a touching tale of madness and redemption. Finally, in the novella Dragonfly, a tale set immediately after the events related in her Nebula Award-winning novel Tehanu (1990), Le Guin tells the story of a young girl who chooses to defy the ban on female mages, tries to enroll in the school on Roke Island and, in doing so, initiates great changes to the world of Earthsea. In her seventies, Le Guin is still at the height of her powers, a superb stylist with a knack for creating characters who are both wise and deeply humane. The publication of this collection is a major event in fantasy literature. (May) FYI: In addition to five Hugo and five Nebula awards, Le Guin has won the Kafka Award, a Pushcart Prize and the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
However, it seems that Le Guin had a different focus which began with Tehanu and continues in Tales from Earthsea...an extremely feminist approach. I agree with another reviewer who says he can't help feeling that maybe Le Guin didn't like the original trilogy and that she seems to undo everything by making women responsible for Roke, etc. and she downplays the feats of the male heroes told previously. Of course, there can and should be room for the female heroines of Earthsea, but why did they have to take away from the male heroes, the great wizards? Le Guin even has same-sex marriages between women as a part of Earthsea life. Was this necessary? No, but it certainly fits well with her new feminist look at Earthsea.
The Tales are still well-told and entertaining because Le Guin is a wonderful writer. However, I guess that I am just nostalgic for the amazing feats and heroic adventures found in the first three books...and I was disappointed to find so little of that kind of story in this collection. The inclusion of women and their importance is also great to read, but this didn't need to come at the expense of the male part of the world of Earthsea. It was an imaginary world to begin with, and never offensive to women---sometimes it's nice to read a book that is not overly politically correct.
The best (and saddest) story to me is "On the High Marsh." There is something achingly sad about the main character; he is confused yet kind, a seeming innocent with great powers, a sweet, sad, lost-sheep kind of man. Ged appears in this story (I'm not sure he is necessary), and in the end I wept for this lost wizard. Truly an astonishing accomplishment.
Which is more than I can say for the final tale in this collection, Dragonfly. It is entirely engrossing and fascinating until the very end, where I think Le Guin cheats. It is the same kind of cheat she indulges in at the conclusion of "Tehanu.Read more ›
By the time of this review, all six of Le Guin's Earthsea cycle are available as mass-market paperbacks. This wide distribution entails considerable hazard for the thoughtful reception of work, as many of the unfavorable views given in this forum attest. The real wonder of fantasy involves a thinking, perplexed imagination, a test of capacity. Magic works the same way in the world of Earthsea, so the abuse of reading starts to look like the abuse of magic.
Think Le Guin's earlier fantasy is "magical" but the later work "political" or "moralizing"? Read Tolstoy for a load of the moral view of the author's role. Think a patriarchal fantasy world is OK? Look to the workaday world & see it happening--you'll be happy there, too. (In the meantime, enlarge the view of the political.) Want to glimpse the difficult otherness of knowing, the narrowness of the mainstream, the struggle against conformed living, the days of the dispossessed, & the ease with which things contradict each other? Read these stories.
Obligatory Tolkien comment: I've been a fan of Tolkien since 12 or so (the Trilogy to the Silmarillion to the Books of Lost Tales), but his conservative moral universe is more black-&-white than muddled--to say nothing of the weakness of half his population. Women, when they are strong, are mythic & empedestaled. Where's the proportion?Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Lots of folks have rightly praised and described the tales within and I just wish to add my voice to the chorus. Read morePublished on Jan. 20 2004 by Joseph Monti
I could not bring myself to give this book less than 2 stars because Le Guin's writing is as captivating as always. Read morePublished on Jan. 16 2004 by Amazon Customer
The stories in this collection should be read in the order they appear. In particular, the last story refers back to the first. The stories are of varying length. Read morePublished on Nov. 8 2003 by Fred Camfield
I had no idea about which book was first in the Earthsea series, so I just grabbed one and started reading... this one has persuaded me to read the rest of the series. Read morePublished on Oct. 12 2003 by Theatre Kidd
A diamond in the crown of the Earthsea saga, Tales is a necessary part of the LeGuin fantasy experience. Read morePublished on June 16 2003 by V. Phin
My children are 10 and 12. They are just old enough to enjoy the original trilogy. Unfortunately, too little happens in these stories to hold their interest. Read morePublished on Dec 25 2002 by Michael A. Heald
TEHANU seemed to me a disappointing way to end the Earthsea saga, so I was excited to see two new Earthsea books come out one after the other a decade after TEHANU. Read morePublished on Nov. 3 2002 by Matthew Thorn