wilderthan: ((Gale) Demons)
[personal profile] wilderthan
I've always loved A Wizard of Earthsea. I think it was my very first exposure to Ursula Le Guin, although that might also perhaps have been The Telling. In any case, I didn't know anything about Ursula Le Guin at that time. The first time I read it, I picked it up randomly in the library and read it aloud in the space of an evening. I read it to my teddy, Helen, and it was well worth reading aloud. Ursula Le Guin's writing can be very lyrical and lovely, and it definitely is in the Earthsea books. It's one of the few books that has a 'taste' I remember long after reading it, that I can taste that thing in real life and think of the book immediately. The words themselves are like that, and the descriptions more so: you can smell the smoke, the herbs, the fish. You can hear Ogion's silence, feel the cold in the Court of the Terrenon. Or I could, anyway.

(Helen loved it too, by the way. She wasn't complaining, at least.)

I actually prefer it to the rest of Le Guin's writing, really. It's quite short, and I found it easy to read, although my sister couldn't get past the first page, and I've read a couple of reviews saying it's difficult. I think reading it aloud helped, to catch the rhythms of it.

I don't really know where to start, talking about the plot and the characters. When I think about it, I feel quite distant from the characters -- I don't feel as if I get inside Ged's mind or Vetch's mind or anything, but I still get to care about them. And you do get to know them in some ways. You know that Vetch is a very good guy, if not very complicated. You know that Jasper is rather weak in reality. You know that Ged is very, very proud. It's almost like a hamartia in him, actually: a fatal flaw that brings his fate down on himself. He's a sympathetic character despite the pride: he works very hard, is willing to work for what he wants. He's just young and impatient and slow to learn the things that he most needs to learn. When he's older and sadder and scared and just muddling through life, he's even more sympathetic a character.

There are some very touching events/moments/chapters: for example, anything involving Vetch or Hoeg, Murre and Ged observing each other, and of course, the child-adults on the little island Ged is wrecked on.

The whole story weaves together very well, and prepares the way for the other books of the sequence too. Things that happen early in the book -- for example, Ged bringing up the mist when the Kargs attack Gont -- are used later, the witch-girl shows up again later, everything is linked and everything has a purpose. It's very neat writing. Take notes, writers of modern epics! A satisfying story need not span four volumes!

Some people find the ending anti-climatic. I think it was clearly telegraphed throughout: that it would be less a big showdown than Ged facing himself. Which is one of the scarier things I can actually think of. The text itself says that what he does is "embrace his own death", after all.

(no subject)

Date: 2009-07-17 01:08 pm (UTC)
pax_athena: (books)
From: [personal profile] pax_athena
The review was a pleasure to read :) I love LeGuin's work, but I hardly ever read any reviews which made me think ‘yes, this is what I thought of this book, too’. This one was. Thank you!


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