Lisa's Reviews > The Earthsea Quartet

The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula K. Le Guin
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's review
May 04, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: 2011, guardian-1000, own, classics, fantasy, sorted-out-for-elves-and-wizards
Read from May 04 to 11, 2011 , read count: 1

Comprising four books, so shall jot down as I read each one...

A Wizard of Earthsea - 2 stars

At the moment I feel a little bit like I've been promised a roast dinner and been given a sandwich, and while I like sandwiches they're nowhere near as good as a roast.

Chucking away all the trimmings and sticking to basics, it felt like I was rushed through the story although I did appreciate it's philosophy, and liked the resolution.

The Tombs of Atuan - 3 stars

This one I enjoyed a lot more - partly due to realigning my expectations following the first book and partly due to this one not feeling half so rushed and being allowed to move at it's own steady pace as it tells of Tenar, the 'reincarnation' of The First Priestess of The Nameless Ones: how she came to be the priestess, and how she finds freedom. Benefitting from not trying to fit in all the rules of magic previously established, Ged only makes his appearance around halfway through and is much more easy to get behind as seen through Tenar's eyes, while I also felt that it benefited from not flitting around the world so much, instead giving us time in one well-realised setting.

Building on the philosophy of the first, I'm now interested to see what the next parable will be.

The Farthest Shore - 2 stars

And we're back to meh again as, after fixing the pacing issue in the last one, this instalment goes to the other extreme and on forever as Ged and Arren, a young prince he's picked up on this quest, search around in a boat for what's messing with the balance: wizards are forgetting their magic, dragons their speech and people are in the grip of an obsession with eternal life.

Again some lovely ideas and philosophies, but rather let down by the execution.

Tehanu - 3 stars

Slightly better again, as we go back to Tenar in the aftermath of the events of The Farthest Shore, now caring for a badly burned child and reconnecting with Ged following his loss of powers as he struggles to come to terms with being a normal man.

Again reaping the benefits of more attention being paid to one setting, rather than someone being wise in a boat while flitting from place to place, I found the woman's perspective interesting although I did wish that it had truly broken the boundaries of gender stereotyping rather than just paying them lip service and then having 'women's magic' all fit within the usual Susie Homemaker realm.

It wasn't particularly hard to see where this one was going, but I did enjoy the way this one unfolded.


All in all I'd err on the side of kindness and give the whole collection a 3 (and I do think that the frequent comparisons to Tolkein, Lewis et al are a little misleading - I don't see this as sitting in the same fantasy vein at all) as half the stories were a bit of a slog and while I enjoyed the other half, even these had a little sting of disappointment for me.

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Reading Progress

05/08/2011 page 386

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Stephen (new)

Stephen I loved these books. I was so sad when I read them to my daughters and they rolled their eyes ;) I found "The Tombs of Atuan" in a pile of used books when I was in like the 5th grade and was just blown away by the weirdness. Of course, it was a trilogy back then.

Lisa I'm on that one at the moment, and am enjoying it a lot more than I did the first book. I don't know exactly what I was expecting on picking it up, but it's very different from what I imagined!

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