Mar 06, 12
Read in March, 2012
More original and interesting (to me) than the first of the Earthsea books. I am constantly amazed at Le Guin's economy of prose, and her ability to create worlds that feel thoroughly ancient and familiar, and yet not pat or cliche. Just amazing. We see the world -- a very cold and cruel world -- from the main character's perspective, who, knowing nothing else, thinks very little of it. At the same time, we get the outside observer's privileged stance. It's about a religion, without being about any particular religion -- not clearly based on Hinduism, ancient Greek paganism, etc, and yet it's completely plausible and realistic. That's not an easy feat, but Le Guin makes it look easy. It doesn't feel like an "action-packed" book, but thinking back, there are definitely enough fantasy tropes: human sacrifice, underground labyrinth, search for lost magical object... But it's really about the main character's development, which is why it doesn't end with recovery of the object and escape from the villains. Very well done.