As for the writing of the stories themselves, well Ursula Le Guin s prose is as fine as you would expect, and the words are precise and crisp and each placed exactly right The glimpses of history and other places which we get in these stories is worth the price of entry, too I think Darkrose and Diamond , for instance, is incredibly slight compared to Ged s story, but on the other hand it does reflect on some of the same themes as Tehanu As does Dragonfly , in different ways.
originally posted here.
Ursula as wonderful as always.
I got this as a gift, from a friend who knew I d read the Earthsea books the first four than once.
These tales are based on the world of Earthsea, and the author reports that they are best read after reading the first four novels of the Earthsea collection I would concur, as it adds the necessary depth and context for entering the world of these tales.
The first tale in this book is called The Finder and I found myself quietly weeping near the end of it Stunning, to be moved so It made me want to put the book down physically and stop thinking to just explore the emotion that was flowing through my body And to say a quiet Thank You to Ms LeGuin for her incredible prose.
If you enjoyed the Earthsea books, you will find this set of tales a great addition If you haven t read the Earthsea books, what are you waiting for Do NOT be put off by the categorization of Genre Fantasy Ms Le Guin is and always has been a woman who can challenge our hidden assumptions about life, culture, and the meaning of living as a human being in chaotic world situations She s just clothed her wonderful explorations in a different milieu than contemporary times.
UKL is one of my favorite authors of all time, one of two authors along with Tolkien whose fantasy I love because it feels real to me down to the deepest level This book is five stories set in the same world as her Earthsea novels All five are just jewels They flesh out that universe a bit , in quite interesting ways, and all are delightful in their own right, as well One is from the time that Ged is Archmage Another is from after his time One is from long ago, telling something of how the school for wizards got its start on Roke They all have her subtlety and sense of power and reality how life really is, and how it feels to different types and classes of people She has the voice of a poet Her prose rings with it I think all her books would be marvelous read aloud She talks of stories as though they grow, organically, rather than being wrought intentionally, and the naturalness and simple truths that her stories hold makes you believe it If you haven t read the Earthsea books yet, read them all, then read this collection They re all wonderful.
Do you trust me, Dragonfly Yes Will you trust me entirely, wholly knowing that the risk I take for you is greater even than your risk in this venture Yes Then you must tell me the word you will speak to the Doorkeeper She stared But I thought you d tell it to me the password The password he will ask you for is your true name He let that sink in for a while, and then continued softly, And to work the spell of semblance on you, to make it so complete and deep that the Masters of Roke will see you as a man and nothing else, to do that, I too must know your name He paused again As he talked it seemed to him that everything he said was true, and his voice was moved and gentle as he said, I could have known it long ago But I chose not to use those arts I wanted you to trust me enough to tell me your name yourself She was looking down at her hands, clasped now on her knees In the faint reddish glow of the cabin lantern her lashes cast very delicate, long shadows on her cheeks She looked up, straight at him My name is Irian, she said.
He smiled She did not smileHe said nothing In fact he was at a loss If he had known it would be this easy, he could have had her name and with it the power to make her do whatever he wanted, days ago, weeks ago, with a mere pretense at this crazy scheme without giving up his salary and his precarious respectability, without this sea voyage, without having to go all the way to Roke for it For he saw the whole plan now was folly There was no way he could disguise her that would fool the Doorkeeper for a moment All his notions of humiliating the Masters as they had humiliated him were moonshine Obsessed with tricking the girl, he had fallen into the trap he laid for her Bitterly he recognised that he was always believing his own lies, caught in nets he had elaborately woven Having once made a fool of himself on Roke, he had come back to do it all over again A great, desolate anger swelled up in him There was no good, no good in anything What s wrong she asked The gentleness of her deep, husky voice unmanned him, and he hid his face in his hands, fighting against the shame of tears.
She put her hand on his knee It was the first time she had ever touched him He endured it, the warmth and weight of her touch that he wasted so much time wanting.
He wanted to hurt her, to shock her out of her terrible, ignorant kindness, but what he said when he finally spoke was, I only wanted to make love to you You did Did you think I was one of their eunuchs That I d castrate myself with spells so I could be holy Why do you think I don t have a staff Why do you think I m not at the school Did you believe everything I said Yes, she said I m sorry Her hand was still on his knee She said, We can make love if you want He sat up, sat still What are you he said to her at last I don t know It s why I wanted to come to Roke To find out He broke free, stood up, stooping neither of them could stand up straight in the low cabin Clenching and unclenching his hands, he stood as far from her as he could, his back to her You won t find out It s all lies, shams Old men playing games with words I wouldn t play their games, so I left Do you know what I did He turned, showing his teeth in a rictus of triumph I got a girl, a town girl, to come to my room My cell My little stone celibate cell It had a window looking out on a back street No spells you can t make spells with all their magic going on But she wanted to come, and came, and I let a rope ladder out the window, and she climbed it And we were at it when the old men came in I showed em And if I could have got you in, I d have showed em again, I d have taught them their lesson Well, I ll try, she said.
He stared Not for the same reasons as you, she said, but I still want to And we came all this way And you know my name It was true He knew her name Irian It was like a coal of fire, a burning ember in his mind His thought could not hold it His knowledge could not use it His tongue could not say it.
She looked up at him, her sharp, strong face softened by the shadowy lantern light If it was only to make love you brought me here, Ivory, she said, we can do that If you still want to Wordless at first, he simply shook his head After a while he was able to laugh I think we ve gone on past that possibility She looked at him without regret, or reproach, or shame Irian, he said, and now her name came easily, sweet and cool as spring water in his dry mouth Irian, here s what you must do to enter the Great House He left her at the corner of the street, a narrow, dull, somehow sly looking street that slanted up between featureless walls to a wooden door in a higher wall He had put his spell on her, and she looked like a man, though she did not feel like one She and Ivory took each other in their arms, because after all they had been friends, companions, and he had done all this for her Courage he said, and let her go She walked up the street and stood before the door She looked back then, but he was gone.
After a while she heard the latch rattle The door opened A middle aged man stood there What can I do for you he said He did not smile, but his voice was pleasant You can let me into the Great House, sir Do you know the way in His almond shaped eyes were attentive, yet seemed to look at her from miles or years away This is the way in, sir Do you know whose name you must tell me before I let you in My own, sir It is Irian Is it he said.
That gave her pause She stood silent It s the name the witch Rose of my village on Way gave me, in the spring under Iris Hill, she said at last, standing up and speaking truth.
The Doorkeeper looked at her for what seemed a long time Then it is your name, he said But maybe not all your name I think you have another I don t know it, sir After another long time she said, Maybe I can learn it here, sir view spoiler The Doorkeeper bowed his head a little A very faint smile made crescent curves in his cheeks He stood aside Come in, daughter, he said.
She stepped across the threshold of the Great House.
Ivory s spell of semblance dropped away like a cobweb She was and looked herself hide spoiler Wonderful tie in stories into the world and story of Earthsea substantial review next week when I m off the app
Yet, with his special gift that had put him into trouble in the first place to have taken him on a strange journey, coming before men and women of power and wisdom and travelling far in the Archipelago, when his destiny leads him back to his homeland, and a wicked wizard wanting to bring Earthsea under his rule learns about him, and tries to catch him and use him for his evil ends, Otter will soon find himself in a hunt for his very life that will bring him into a dark place which, if he fails to find a way to escape and return to the world of the living, could cost him everythingSet 300 years before the novels, the opening story of the collection travels us in a dark and troubled time A particularly different novella that, through its themes of power and gender, and its fascinating characters, Le Guin explores the dark years of the Archipelago, and the conflicts between warlords and wizards, revealing the difficult day to day life of its people of that time, but also of how Roke School was founded and its customs came to be.
Darkrose and DiamondIn the west of Havnor, in the town of Glade, his father a merchant called Golden, was the richest man in that town But Diamond, having grown up in the finest house, had a love for music.
Yet, with his manifestation of a talent for magic as he grew up to have brought him close to the witch s daughter, Rose, spending their days together and falling deeply in love, when his father wanting to put him on the right path sends him away, and their time apart starts to deteriorate their relationship, Diamond will be faced with everything he had ever dreamed and desired Darkrose and Diamond comes from the heart of those in love A story in which Le Guin writes for the greatest, and most important as well, part of life love, showing us through her wonderful storytelling the passion that it causes, the mistakes that can destroy it, and all these things that make it, in the end, worth fighting for.
The story is also accompanied by a sheet music of the song that the author created specifically for this one.
The Bones of the EarthHigh in Gont Mountain, where there are only pastures and goats, Dulse, born in Re Albi and spent the eighty years of his life there, has been standing on the doorstep of his house before the rainy day.
Yet, with the boy who turned up a long time ago in his doorstep and who became his apprentice to have turned him to memories of the past, reminiscing the days when he taught him the art of magic and taking his mind off, when he feels something strange coming from the heart of the island, and he starts seeking for its origin, Dusle will soon come before an event of both horror and destruction that, if he fails to stop, could make everything and everyone on the island to be lost The Bones of the Earth tells the story of Ogion s teacher, and how Ogion ended up gaining his reputation A short story of knowledge and sacrifice that shows the impact of magic, whether used for good or evil purposes, and the costs that can come from it.
On the High MarshOn the island of Semel, south of the great silent volcano Andanden, lies the village called High Marsh where its few people live with their cattle among the marshlands But Irioth, travelling for days on end and wandering about Earthsea, has been standing at the crossing of two paths.
Yet, with his arrival in the village to have made him the main topic of discussion of its people, wanting to know about him and finding it difficult to believe his strange talent with the cattle, when not long after another traveller comes looking for him, and offers him a second chance, Irioth will be faced with a decision that could change his life foreverSet during the years that Ged was Archmage, On the High Marsh explores themes of pride and greed, guilt and redemption, where Le Guin manages to create a short but meaningful story that shows once again the impact of magic on the world, as well as on the mind and body of the wielder.
DragonflyIn the rich island of Way, her ancestors surviving through all the dark years and prospering when order and peace returned in the Archipelago were once known as the Masters of Iria until, from one generation to the next, greed and time altered the family and their heritage was divided But Dragonfly, heiress of Iria, grew up from her father s housekeeper.
Yet, with her deepest desire to discover who she is to have motivated her to go to Roke, travelling with the help of a young wizard to the Isle of the Wise and wanting as nothing else to learn from their wisdom, when her presence in the Great House stirs up trouble between them, and the wizards soon take different sides, Dragonfly will find herself in the midst of a dispute that, if she doesn t find a way to resolve it, could leave her in ignorance of her true selfTaking place a few years after the end of Tehanu, the final story of the collection bridges the fourth novel with the next one, The Other Wind A dragon bridge, as Le Guin puts it A story of self discovery and change that takes us on the adventures of the eponymous character, on the concerns of the Wise, but also on the events that are about to unfold in Earthsea.
A Description of EarthseaLast but not least in this collection is an essay about the history of Earthsea its peoples, lands, and creatures its languages, dialects, and writing its cultures, beliefs, and magic and its tales, songs and poems, in which Le Guin chronicles briefly the Beginning, the Years of the Kings, the Dark Time and the Founding of Roke through all the events and customs that made Earthsea what it is.
In summary, Tales from Earthsea is a wonderful addition to the Earthsea Cycle, with Ursula Le Guin enriching with information the world that the novels established, travelling us through all its history from the past to the present time, and also preparing the ground before the final end of the series.
That s the art, eh What to say, and when to say it And the rest is silenceUrsula K Le Guin, Tales from Earthsea Solid A couple of the stories really resonated with me The Finder, On the High Marsh, Dragonfly I cried at the end of one, and one made me pause for half a day chewing on it Overall, I prefer her novels or novellas and this showed in this series because I gravitated towards the longer stories Like with Tehanu, Le Guin alters the form She is focused as much on the community as on the mages, witches, and magicians She is looking at community, power, gender, and areas where the page folds, bends, or rips Her magic is found in the ghost notes of fantasy She would rather wander in the woods than travel over the expected trails of fantasy The genre isn t where she creates She creates in people, in weakness, in the humanity of the oppressed AND the oppresser Foreword nonfiction introductionThe FinderSchool of magic is established largely by women or the Women of the Hand on Roke islandDarkrose and DiamondRomance between the daughter of a witch and the son of a rich merchantThe Bones of the EarthOgion the Silent deals with an earthquakeOn the High MarshMysterious healer arrives in a remote village with a livestock epidemicDragonflyPostscript to the novel TehanuA Description of EarthseaFictional reference material Most of the story descriptions were lifted based on the Wikipedia page for Tales from Earthsea.
These stories were not nearly as compelling as the first four Earthsea books, either in the plot or the writing Also, several stories seem overly concerned with demonstrating that women have importance in Earthsea than the fist three books indicate, especially the last story, Dragonfly This story and the first one, The Finder, read as though the author is trying to re write women into the Earthsea stories as an afterthought I didn t mind their near absence in the first three books, so their post hoc addition in these stories doesn t interest me much.
The stories are mostly entertaining, but the women equality themes in Dragonfly overpower the rest of the story Also, most material in it was already covered and better in the fourth Earthsea novel, Tehanu.