Magic stories from Earthsea revisited


Just re-reading the ‘Earthsea’ novels by Urula Le Guin (A Wizard of Earthsea, Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore and Tehanu). Fabulous, beautiful stories, even parables.

I first read the trilogy in the 70s and it is a delight to have come across them again. (The fourth story in this volume was added some 15 years later, following a shift in Le Guin’s philosophical outlook, and moves the focus away somewhat from the main character, Ged the Sparrowhawk.)

The storylines in these tales from Earthsea are quite excellent, but I think the real magic is in the poetry of Le Guin’s writing style, which almost demands to be read aloud.

For example, from the ending of ‘A Wizard of Earthsea’:

And he began to see the truth, that Ged had neither lost nor won but, naming the shadow of his death with his own name, had made himself whole : a man : who, knowing his whole true self, cannot be used or possessed by any other power other than himself, and whose life therefore is lived for life’s sake and never in the service of ruin, or pain, or hatred, or the dark.

In the Creation of Ea which is the oldest song, it is said

Only in silence the word,
only in dark the light,
only in dying life:
bright the hawk’s flight
on the empty sky.

Although the only response to this is silence, I can begin to feel a musical setting forming!

(I see from Amazon that Le Guin has also written stories called ‘Four Ways to Forgiveness’. Excellent reviews. That’s something for my birthday list!)

As usual, your comments are welcome!

Four Ways to Forgiveness: Stories

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