Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels discussion

The Earthsea Trilogy (Earthsea Cycle, #1-3)
This topic is about The Earthsea Trilogy
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Challenges - Discussion > Ends September 15th, 2018: The Earthsea Cycle <Caution! Spoilers May Be Present!>

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message 1: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Go nuts with all them spoilers!


message 2: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Absolutely loved how stories of WoE and Tombs came together, a great book even though there's not much in terms of what is happening. The vivid imagery you get from author's description of the surroundings is enchanting. I swear I could smell the dampness of moss half the time I was reading the book.

Really looking forward to the 3rd book in series, but that goes on hold while I'm tackling our monthly reads.


message 3: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Never imagined to see a scene straight out of the The Wire in a fantasy book. That part which featured an ex-wizard/prominent junkie was an unexpected one for me. Way to go Madame LeGuine!


message 4: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Is it just me and my random schedule or does The Farthest Shores lack focus, in terms of plot progression? Don't get me wrong, I like the story and it took me a couple of hours to get to where I am now (roughly 70%), but it just seems like things are just happening.

I'm not complaining, but rather looking for guidance.


message 5: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3977 comments Mod
Art wrote: "Never imagined to see a scene straight out of the The Wire in a fantasy book. That part which featured an ex-wizard/prominent junkie was an unexpected one for me. Way to go Madame LeGuine!"

And the story predates the series by a few decades :)


message 6: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Well that's the whole point I was trying to make. I suppose many of us do not connect with the period any fantasy was written in, I don't even know a thing about where the author is from, not a single fact of her biography. However this book made me aware that she wrote it in a period when the majority of the biggest cities in US had entire boroughs that housed throngs of feral junk heads.


message 7: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3977 comments Mod
The Farthest Shore was written in 1972, i.e. after hippie culture that was drug friendly but before crack cocaine gangs of the 80s. The drug in the book reminds opium I guess and it is possible that there was shift to opium after psychodelics... do you think she would make them more aggressive if it were written later?


message 8: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Oleksandr wrote: "The Farthest Shore was written in 1972, i.e. after hippie culture that was drug friendly but before crack cocaine gangs of the 80s. The drug in the book reminds opium I guess and it is..."

You are confusing the facts about '70s, beginning of the 70 was the biggest boom for addicts switching to hard drugs, New York alone had about a million heroin addicts who practically took over half the lower East Side and rhe Central Park.

I believe it was 71 or 72 when Nixon proclaimed "hard drug" problem public enemy number one. Gangs and cocaine came later, as is reflected in hundreds of movies about that period of time.


message 9: by Allan (new)

Allan Phillips | 2335 comments Mod
Except that as we know today, the so-called war on drugs was really a way for Nixon to jail his enemies, in particular, black people and hippies. Coke was the drug of choice in the late 70's disco era (my college years). But it was nothing compared to the crack epidemic in the 80's.


message 10: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
I think heroin yielded to cocaine because of the most incredible fatality rate of users. I gotta look it up, according to data, the nr.1 reason for death for males 15 to 35 (or 30) was drugs. Which is inconceivable in any other day and age


message 11: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3977 comments Mod
Art wrote: "You are confusing the facts about '70s, beginning of the 70 was the biggest boom for addicts switching to hard drugs, New York alone had about a million heroin addicts who practically took over half the lower East Side and rhe Central Park."

Yes, I can confuse the facts, after all I haven't lived in the USA then or now. However, I don't argue that there was a switch to heroin, moreover, that's what I meant saying that hippies (unintentionally) open the door for wider drug usage. As fo war on drugs it is, as I see it both the attempt of Nixon to jail opponents and real problem of significantly higher number of drug users, these facts do not contradict each othr


message 12: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
What a pleasant surprise to have Tenar featuring in Tehanu. After Ged "saved" her from rather gloom fate as a High Priestess of the tombs of Atuan I was pretty curious about what was to become of her.


message 13: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3977 comments Mod
Art wrote: "What a pleasant surprise to have Tenar featuring in Tehanu. After Ged "saved" her from rather gloom fate as a High Priestess of the tombs of Atuan I was pretty curious about what was to become of her."

Her life story after the Tombs surprised me. I like when books do that


message 14: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 4054 comments Mod
I always thought she would end up queen or something. I liked the way it came out, though.


message 15: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (last edited Aug 16, 2018 09:10PM) (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "I always thought she would end up queen or something. I liked the way it came out, though."

I believe that to be one of Ursula K. Le Guin's strengths, throughout this series (and even the Dispossessed we read a couple of months ago) you can find many examples where a seemingly mundane action or situation is glorified, banality celebrated. Many fantasy writers would indeed try and make a princess out of Tenar. Le Guin however manages to take a peasant widow and give her such depth of character, the strength and dignity that you'd be hard pressed to find in many other a book. It is her that Odion calls for when the time comes, it is her Kalessin speaks to.

Didn't have the time to finish the novel, just read first 30% the other night. But really looking forward to the remaining of the series. With only two-thirds of Cloud Atlas to go I have all the time in the world.


message 16: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3977 comments Mod
Yay! I finally finished the challenge, including the optional short story! Let's discuss!


message 17: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Oleksandr wrote: "Yay! I finally finished the challenge, including the optional short story! Let's discuss!"

Have just finished The Other Wind and will read the extra story later today, I must say this challenge was worth it without any doubt.

A fantastic range of characters, settings and ideas delivered in a truly masterful way. Amazing world building helped to keep the series going, one just can't get enough of Earthsea.


message 18: by Allan (new)

Allan Phillips | 2335 comments Mod
It's not in the challenge, but there are two additional Earthsea stories in the collection The Wind's Twelve Quarters, and one final story I don't know where. Got a discounted Kindle copy of Quarters the other day.


message 19: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 4054 comments Mod
Wow! I thought I had found them all, but I guess not. What are the names of the two stories you found, Allen?


message 20: by Allan (new)

Allan Phillips | 2335 comments Mod
There are three:
"The Word of Unbinding" and "The Rule of Names"
were originally published in 1964 and later in the collection The Wind's Twelve Quarters.
The final story, "Firelight", was published in June 2018. Not sure if or where that one is available.


message 21: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
While it was very captivating following Ged's adventures throughout the series, in my opinion there are so many fantastic characters throughout the series that it is hard to pin down who exactly is "main".

Hands down best female characters of all fantasy that I've read. No nonsense, no going overboard, with an amazing strength of character.


message 22: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3977 comments Mod
Art wrote: "Hands down best female characters of all fantasy that I've read. No nonsense, no going overboard, with an amazing strength of character. "

Fully agree, she was a very talented author. In my editions there are prefaces, written by her, and she wrote that she was criticized by some civil rights activists that Tenar is not independent enough, that le Guin betrayed the feminism movement.


message 23: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Sep 18, 2018 06:27AM) (new)

Kateblue | 4054 comments Mod
My opinion re Ged's place in the Earthsea stories is that the first three (and some of the short pieces, of course) are YA. Therefore, in the first three, the main character is the YA. In book 1, it's Ged, but in book 2, it's Tenar, and in book 3 it's Lebbanin (sp?).

The later books do not seem to be juveniles. Although the burnt girl is featured in the 4th book. Tehanu, she's not the main character even though the book is named after her. And definitely no kid is featured in the last book.


message 24: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3977 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "The later books do not seem to be juveniles."

I see them as novels, written for kids, who read original trilogy in the 1960s and 70s, growing up on them and following as adults


message 25: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new)

Art | 2546 comments Mod
Spot on, Oleksandr. I believe that Le Guin herself wanted to know what happened to her characters, she must've had plenty more tales to tell about Earthsea and I'm pretty sure that fans have given her plenty of support throughout the years.

I loved how natural all the connections between characters have been drawn, once again subtle but extremely powerful.


message 26: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 4054 comments Mod
OK, Art, why are there dark clouds over your head? You've been saying that for a while. Is there anything we can do to help?


message 27: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (last edited Sep 18, 2018 01:15AM) (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3977 comments Mod
After we praised the series (and it is worthy of high acclaim), I may start on what I disliked. In the last novel there are philosophical thoughts on good and evil and on how dragon separated from human (I liked the idea of the common origin) freedom vs. greed. I understand that it can be seen as a version of biblical "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God". However, I see greed as universal - all species try to get as much resources as they can for it helps their survival. Mold doesn't stop, population of hunters is limited only by their prey and so on


message 28: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new)

Kateblue | 4054 comments Mod
yes, the whole concept of dragon/human common origin was excellent and unexpected. But perfectly in line with the mythology/history of Ea.


message 29: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3977 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "yes, the whole concept of dragon/human common origin was excellent and unexpected. But perfectly in line with the mythology/history of Ea."

Yes! A lot of fantasy universes implicitly assume Darwin evolutionary theory. It is truly a great step to forget the limits of our world


message 30: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Sep 18, 2018 06:31AM) (new)

Kateblue | 4054 comments Mod
One of the things I found interesting was that the dragons were going across the sea to the West beyond the lands of Earthsea. Reminiscent of the elven ships taking the elves, the hobbits and the three rings over the sea to the west beyond MiddleEarth, nyet?

Accidental or a nod to the master? Discuss.


message 31: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Acorn (new)

Oleksandr Zholud | 3977 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "Accidental or a nod to the master? Discuss. "

I guess this, as well as the name - Earthsea is a nod to Tolkien. If we look at the period, when A Wizard of Earthsea was written, there were not a lot of fantasy novels and even less considered 'serious enough' to get Hugo award - among 1960s winners (*checks the list*) there are zero fantasy novels. in 2008-2018 there are six


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