The Land of Dragons and Wizards/Earthsea Series/Ursula Le Guin

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Calm your jets GoT fans and you Harry Potterheads.  We’re not headed to see Daenerys, nor are we on our way to Hogwarts.  However, if you are in morning over finishing either of these popular obsessions, you are sure to enjoy this amazing series by the great Ursula Le Guin.

I have recently fallen back in love with this author due to a friend of mine (Let’s call him Barney) who is a very big fan of fantasy fiction.  I read the first book of the trilogy over a year ago and promptly shared it with my bookclub.  However, for some reason, I didn’t continue with the series.  Have you ever looked back on your life and realized you made a terrible mistake.  Yeah, that’s me now.  *oy*

How did I discover Ursula Le Guin you might ask…well I’m so glad you did!  I discovered her in a movie.  I know, silly but true.  If you have never watched “The Jane Austen Bookclub” you should….immediately…after you finish reading this blogpost, of course.  In the movie, Le Guin is mentioned as an amazing fantasy writer that found a place in the heart of one of the main characters.  The writers and the actor, made her sound so intriguing, I inevitably gave in and ordered the first book.

The tales of dragons, mages, cracks in time, the edge of the earth, with all the missions and fables and folk songs, took me to this whole other world.  I was so happy with the first book, A Wizard of Earthsea I gave it to a friend (Let’s call her Annie)!  Needless to say, it was a fast read, so when Barney mentioned it to me last week, a lightbulb went off in my head.  Fast read…40 books by December 31st, 2018….MUST READ NOW!!!

I have devoured the last two books of the trilogy in less than a week!  Here’s the low down if you’re still aren’t convinced.

A Wizard of Earthsea–First book: A young wizard, named Ged, is cocky and talented.  He believes power is wielded like a sword, powerful and unstoppable.  He tries to do what no wizard has ever done before and he succeeds, only to realize he has put the universe in danger.  His master risks his life to save his student.  Ged learns his true strength by trying to set things right.

The Tombs of Atuan–Second book: A young priestess, named Tenar, proud in her lack of identity as the head priestess of the Tombs of Atuan, lives a dull and boring existence until she is sixteen years old.  She finds and traps a wizard in the labyrinth beneath her temple.  Through her curiosity and courage, she learns who she is and who she is not.  Unfortunately, everything she knows to be true is a lie.  What will she do with her prisoner now?

Still need more….wait for it.

The Farthest Shore–Third book: A young prince, named Arren, is sent with a message to the wizards of old.  He tells of how the power has gone out of all mages and those who used to speak the language of dragons can no longer utter a single word.  The young prince is recruited to accompany a wizard to the ends of the earth to seek, exactly what neither of them knows.  Through enslavement, near-death experiences, and facing down the most powerful dragon of all time, Arren learns the danger of wanting too much from life, magic, and power.  He learns the limits of the powerful, and how eternal life is a double-edged sword.

Yeah, go ahead, let that sit around in your noggin’ for a little while and see if you don’t devour every book this woman has ever written.

Here are some of my favorite themes from the books:

  1. Names are so important.  You are given a name at birth.  However, your parents don’t give you your true name.  A mage gives you your true name.  You must not reveal this name to anyone, unless out of necessity and trust.  Some wizards are so powerful they know your true name by the mere sight of you.  I sometimes wish that we still held on to our Christian names more tightly.  I wish someone had to ask my permission to call me by my first name.  There’s something very romantic about that tradition.  After all, names have power…even today.
  2. Destiny plays a big part in the story of each character.  Everything comes back to what fate decides.  Sometimes things don’t work out exactly as said character would wish, but the truth of their destiny fulfills them more than any alternative path.
  3. There are little nuggets of wisdom in these one-liners throughout the books.  Such as:
    • “It is much easier for men to act than refrain from acting.”  I know this to be true in my own life.
    • Or when a character obtains eternal life in Earthsea, they become zombie-like.  There is no joy for them anymore.  You might see some Circe themes in that portion if you’ve read the book by Madeline Miller. *wink*
    • The last tidbit, “Is a good man, a man with no evil in him?”  We always try to make things so cut and dry, but even the definitions of good and evil, or right and wrong are subjective to mere humans.

Each story is a coming of age story, where a youth learns reality versus fantasy.  (Ironic theme since the genre is fantasy-fiction lol.)  Ged learns the repercussions of his magic.  Tenar learns who she really is by breaking every rule she’s ever known.  Arren learns the folly of thinking that magic can make a man invincible.

I really am enjoying this series and not just because it puts a pretty great dent in my grand reading total for the year 2018!  And guess what!  It’s not over yet!  There are THREE more books!

The next three are a part of The Earthsea Cycle series and I’ve already started on book four!  Tehanu (Earthsea Cycle), Tales from Earthsea, and The Other Wind are waiting for me, so I’ll leave you to dream of dragon tales, wizard staffs, and the fantastic worlds created by the amazing Ursula Le Guin.  Fare thee well, my fellow book-dwellers. *wink*

-Sarah

 

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