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url 2015-10-23 21:28
Earthsea – a rival to Tolkien

A Wizard of Earthsea


In A Wizard of Earthsea, published in 1968, Ursula K Le Guin created one of literature’s most fully formed fantasy worlds.


Read more here.


I really love this series. It's not a world I'd like to live in, but I love returning to it again and again, because these stories are so great. In a way, it's not really fair to compare the series to Tolkien's books, because they're so different, but then again, I guess you can compare different fantasy books, because they belong to the same genre.

Source: www.theguardian.com/books/2015/oct/23/david-mitchell-wizard-of-earthsea-tolkien-george-rr-martin
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text 2014-09-29 21:17
#Bookadayuk Day 29: Book That Made You Question Everything
The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. Le Guin

Maybe it didn't make me question EVERYTHING, but it did make me question one of the most influential and invisible elements of life on Earth: what is a world without a gender binary like? How do you think if not in terms of masculine and feminine? What would our world be like if we didn't make assumptions based on centuries of (mostly misinformed) notions of what "belongs" to each gender? Even LeGuin can't escape it in her own narrative; throughout, the androgynous denizens of Winter are referred to as "he," which is inaccurate and limiting in the extreme. But how would we refer to people without gendered pronouns? She never quite figures that part out, but the attempt is brilliant.


This is one of those books that sort of sneaks up on you; I didn't realize just how much it made me think about and question the shaping influence of gender until it was over.

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text 2014-09-10 01:50
#BookADayUK Day Nine: Fictional Crush
Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen,Alfred Mac Adam
A Wrinkle in Time - Madeleine L'Engle
The Tombs of Atuan - Ursula K. Le Guin

My first instinct is to chose from the available Austen heroes, partially because I think this category will be taken by storm (hur hur) by the venerable Edward Fitzwilliam Fairfax Darcy-Rochester. (Darcy first, because for sure Rochester is a top.) And those dudes are hot, don't get me wrong, but I think my Regency/Victorian boyfriend is Henry Tilney from Northanger Abbey. (My review here.) I love how Henry is a teaser, and how he's completely comfortable talking muslin with the chaperons. Out of all the Austen heroines, he reminds me most of my own husband. 


But I saw this post earlier about the facebook meme that y'all might have been caught up in. (I was.) It was about the ten books that have stuck with you, not best, just most memorable. Obviously, these memes are a sink pit of do I want to be a snob or a slob. The article decides to shame us for having children's books as our most memorable, which I think is, and this is a technical term, fucking bullshit.So I got to thinking about the boys I crunched on in my YA fiction, which I swear wasn't creepy because I was a girl at the time.


Calvin O'Keeffe from A Wrinkle in Time was my first boyfriend, such a kind, generous, intelligent soul. Meg is such a mess, so grieving and out of balance, and his gawky red-haired gentleness won my heart. Indeed, he may be why I have a thing for red-heads. 


I also crushed pretty hard on Ged from the Earthsea books, though not at first. A Wizard of Earthsea is about Ged coming into his inevitable power, and as much as I adore that book, Ged is hard to love. He's got his own boyish shit to work out, and the thrust of the story has more to do with arrogance than anything. I fell in love with him in the labyrinth in The Tombs of Atuan. Le Guin makes a smart choice to reorder the convention of the coming-of-age tale by gender in that second book, following the virgin priestess (for lack of a better descriptor) in her youth and matriculation. At one point, she finds Ged in the labyrinth, near dead from lack of food and water, dying in the dark. Tenar has been raised in an environment of women only, and his masculinity, even dark and scarred and dying as he is, is a shock. The Tombs of Atuan is not a love story, and Ged is not a romantic lead, but that moment of recognition in the unlit underground was something like an epiphany. 

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quote 2014-03-09 19:07
Knowing other people is intelligence,
knowing yourself is wisdom.
Overcoming others takes strength,
overcoming yourself takes greatness.
Contentment is wealth.
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review 2013-09-24 00:00
The Other Wind (The Earthsea Cycle, Book 6)
The Other Wind - Ursula K. Le Guin I read Le Guin's fifth Earthsea novel when it first came out a decade ago, and loved it. It seemed like the perfect cap to a series that went from classic coming-of-age, hero-journey ([b:A Wizard of Earthsea|13642|A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)|Ursula K. Le Guin|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1353424536s/13642.jpg|113603]) to the first epic fantasy I ever read in which the heroine was a woman dealing with the challenges of middle age ([b:Tehanu|13661|Tehanu (Earthsea Cycle, #4)|Ursula K. Le Guin|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1349048637s/13661.jpg|2902890]): a fantasy that looks unflinchingly at "the next great adventure" — death.

Reading it again, I loved it even more. The story does center on death — the central crisis springs from the dreams of a village sorcerer who is dreaming that the wall to the land of the dead is breaking down. But what struck me this time through was how that theme of death is set in the middle of life: family problems, children growing, courtship. It's a wonderfully hopeful, positive view of the relationship between life and its opposite.

Oh. And it's a great story. That too!
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