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review 2017-07-08 19:48
The Left Hand of Darkness
The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. Le Guin

I´ve been dragging my feet with this review. Where to begin with it? First off, I really enjoyed reading this science fiction novel. I have never read anything quite like it before. The story is still lingering on my mind and it´s been a couple of days since I finished it.

 

Le Guin does an exceptional job in creating her world and her take on gender is fascinating. I really appreciated Le Guin´s view of humanity and the love between people and the love for other people and mankind.

 

It´s not an easy story to get into, though. Due to the way Le Guin tells her story, it felt much rather like a sociological study than an actual novel. In the first half of the book I felt there has been a distance between me and the characters and I couldn´t fully connect with them. In the second half of the book it got better and I basically plowed throught the last 150 pages. 

 

I´m glad that I have read this book and I´m looking forward to my next Le Guin read. 

 

I´ve read this book for the Booklikes-opoly for the square Tomorrowland 33.

 

Page count: 301 pages

Money earned: $6.00

 

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text 2017-07-08 18:33
The Earthsea novels
The Earthsea Quartet - Ursula K. Le Guin
The Other Wind - Ursula K. Le Guin

A Wizard of Earthsea was one of the first fantasy books I read and I also have very strong memories of being terrified by the underground world portrayed in The Tombs of Atuan, sharing Ged's very real fears of being left to die in the darkness. I'd also read The Farthest Shore at some point in the past, probably back when it looked like this series was going to be a trilogy and the final two books (Tehanu and The Other Wind) were barely thought of. I've had the books pictured on my bookshelf for a number of years, so I thought it was time I actually read (or re-read) the entire series in one go, because I probably should have already done so!

 

Anyway, the series starts off with a fairly stereotypical tale of a boy from a small island who discovers he has unexpected powers, though he continues to have a cantankerous relationship with anyone who tells him what he should do with them, regardless of how right they prove to be in the long term. Ged uses his powers to call the spirits of the dead, only for one of them to attach itself to him and literally chase him across the face of Earthsea until he figures out how he can free himself. We next meet Ged again a few years later, on Atuan, but this time the focus is on another character and he plays more of a supporting role. Tenar is the central character here, her upbringing among the tombs and rituals of a nameless god who she comes to question even before Ged makes an appearance. In some ways these two first books are a mirror of each other, the main character coming to understand themselves better in a world where the opposite sex plays a minor role at best (more passing than minor in the first book). 

 

The third and fourth books are books about growing old and dealing with loss - Ged has lost his powers towards the end of The Farthest Shore and so refuses to become involved in the crowning of the king he's helped bring to power. In Tehanu, we catch up with Tenar who has just lost her husband, having chosen an 'ordinary' path of marriage and family rather than the magic she had been offered by Ged's arrangements for her care. She has also taken on the care of a child who has been badly abused, both physically and sexually, and then Ged arrives and he's a mess too. Finally, in The Other Wind, we see the culmination of a number of storylines, though I could have done with more scenes where Tenar and Ged were together. They have forged a strong relationship, that much is clear from the little we see of it, but I would have liked to have seen more. 

 

These are not perfect books, with the first and third ones in particular having a real dearth of female characters - from what I recall, the main female character in The Farthest Shore is a weaver who has lost her mind, which doesn't really do much for representation. While men play a more supporting role in The Tombs of Atuan, the two male characters who are 'on screen' the most are at least fully fleshed-out rather than bit-players. There's also an egregious example of deus ex machina in Tehanu to fix a difficult situation threatening Tenar and Ged which felt a little too convenient to be anything other than an answer to writing oneself into a corner.  

 

While they'll continue to have a place on my bookshelf, not to mention fond memories, and the writing is consistently lovely, I'm not really sure if I'll read them again. In some ways, now I too am significantly older than when I first read some of these books, it was the idea of Ged having to deal with losing his powers that resonated most with me; they are what makes him who he is and the people he knows mostly struggle with the fact he isn't the Archmage any more, possibly more than he does. 

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text 2017-07-01 18:12
Reading progress update: I've read 304 out of 304 pages.
The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. Le Guin

This was really an unique reading experience, but it´s surely not an easy novel to love. A review will follow, I just have to think a bit more of where to start with it.

 

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review 2017-04-29 00:00
The Earthsea Quartet
The Earthsea Quartet - Ursula K. Le Guin Contains the four books of the Earthsea cycle.
A Wizard of Earthsea / The Tombs of Atuan / The Farthest Shore / Tehanu

I've got a soft spot for the first book. We were made to read it at high school, and compared to everything else we'd read that year, it was a breath of fresh air. I'd read it at home on my own time, really getting into it.

Duny, also called Sparrowhawk, shows some aptitude with magic and is taken on as an apprentice to one of the greats. Wanting to know more, he heads to the wizard's school on Roke Island.
His pride and anger get the better of him, as he releases a shadow into the world.
His quest to rectify this leads to him becoming more patient, wiser and a dragonlord.

The other books follow on from this, introducing new characters and evolving as the story progresses through them.
The second book is well enough done, but not as good as the first and third.
The final story is the weakest one, written 20 years later according to the copyrights at the start, and seems to be a way of wrapping things up.

Worth getting to have all four books together.
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quote 2017-03-05 11:38
How much real information is available to ordinary, nongovernment, nonmilitary, nonspecialist, nonrich people? What does 'classified' mean? What do shredders shred? What does money buy? In a State, even a democracy, where power is hierarchic, how can you prevent the storage of information from becoming yet another source of power to the powerful—another piston in the great machine?
Always Coming Home - Todd Barton,Margaret Chodos-Irvine,Ursula K. Le Guin

"Always Coming Home" – Ursula K. Le Guin (p. 316)

 

Shit just got real. A little further down the page, there's a passage that can be read as Le Guin breaking the fourth wall and critiquing her writing of this very text, and then the other character in the dialogue says, "You can't talk that way!" and the potential Le Guin stand-in is like, "True."

 

I don't think I've ever read a book quite like this. 

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