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A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)
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2014 Reads > WoE: Setting

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Nathan (tenebrous) | 377 comments How did you visualize Earthsea as a cultural place. As I wrote in another post, the setting seems European, though once I started visualizg Ged as a Polynesian (brown skin, lives on an island) the way I visualized the setting changed a bit.


kvon | 562 comments I tend to think of it as a Caribbean type of place. Lots of small islands, customs can change a lot from place to place.


Andrew Knighton | 158 comments My initial reading - I'm only a couple of chapters in - has made me picture it as quite European. The vibe I got from the raid on their island was of a Viking attack. I suspect this may change as I go along.


Joe Informatico (joeinformatico) | 888 comments One of the things that stands out to me about Earthsea is how nothing really maps to any particular real-world cultures.

The islands have iron-working, writing, masonry, maybe medieval-level shipbuilding. They have royalty, but not an extensive aristocracy that I've seen. But there don't seem to be massive fortifications or large armies--I get the sense the Kargad's Viking-style raids are the largest military actions you see in Earthsea. That makes sense: no one appears to have ships large enough to carry more than a few dozen people, and most of the islands don't need standing bands of warriors when they have wizards and witches to defend them. Basically, it looks like wizards have replaced the warrior caste-aristocracy you usually see in generic medieval European fantasy.

This is based on my reading of AWoE, The Tombs of Atuan, and the first third of The Farthest Shore. I have no idea if the other books reveal more about the setting.


Sasha | 3 comments I imagined Earthsea as a mix of cultures surrounding the Mediterranean, with Southern earthsea as more of Maroccan/West-African place, while the North is Viking-inspired, Duny's home village being located in a fantasy equivalent of Catalan Spain, perhaps. There's some Polynesian elements thrown in though.

My early mental picture was also very much informed by the Studio Ghibli production. I was quite disappointed with the film when I saw it, but I am now having a jolly good time painting a Hayao Miyazaki-style Earthsea in my mind with all the natural and architectural beauty his films entail.

So yeah, animated revisionist Earthsea. :)


message 6: by Joshua (last edited Feb 10, 2014 09:37PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joshua Park (joshuapark) | 21 comments It all seemed so poor and desperate. Maybe that's a function of the scarcity of resources on all these little islands. I felt like the whole of Earthsea was the scene from Holy Grail where Dennis and the woman (from the anarcho-syndicalyst commune) are digging about for lovely bits of filth.

Even Roke had none of the stateliness of The University from the Kingkiller Chronicles. It was there, but could have been "just a model" for all the detail and exquisiteness that went into it. Roke had none of the whimsey and richness of Hogwarts.

Yes, of course I was reminded of Harry Potter... but unlike Harry Potter, I finished the book and thought of how very blessed I am to not be a wizard.


Sasha | 3 comments Joshua wrote: "It all seemed so poor and desperate. Maybe that's a function of the scarcity of resources on all these little islands.

Yes! A thousand times yes! I'm not sure about desperate (unless you're talking about the unnamed island), but it definitely stuck in my mind how valuable *everything* was in this world, how isolated a lot of the people lived. In a world such as this, magic takes on a different role. In Harry Potter for example, it's abundant and is often used for convenience's sake. Here, it was the small yet profound moments that stuck with me: how Ged cured a man's cataracts in passing, or how he teaches people on a far off island a few new songs and stories and how treasured these were.


Jonathon Dez-la-lour (jd2607) | 173 comments I pictured Earthsea like a small-scale version of the Mediterranean and the surrounding areas (Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco etc) and that it would have the same sort of mix of cultures, where they all influence each other at various points but develop individually


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