Tag: earthsea

Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin, One of America’s Greatest Writers, Has Passed Away at 88

Ursula K. Le Guin, groundbreaking writer of the Earthsea Cycle and Hainish Cycle, passed away yesterday in her home in Portland, Oregon. She was 88-years-old.

 

Besides her Earthsea series, for which she is best known, Le Guin wrote dozens of other books that bent genre conventions. She composed poetry, wrote essay collections, and her short fiction is standard American canon today.

 

I first read Le Guin during my undergrad for a literary theory course. We had to analyze how Hegel’s master-slave dialectic manifests in Le Guin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.” I couldn’t hold on to Hegel’s thoughts once I started the story. The world Le Guin creates in those three pages is staggering, enveloping, and ultimately chilling. It reads like a $10 million Twilight Zone episode, with sweeping vistas and a heartbreaking ending. So when I found out she had an entire fantasy series (Earthsea), I jumped at it.

 

Roke, Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin, artwork, fan art

Roke from Earthsea. | Image Via Pinterest (P. D. White)

 

And I don’t think there’s a fantasy writer better than Le Guin. While some writers rest on action that takes thousands of pages to unfold, Le Guin instead builds a rich interiority. A lot of the action takes place in her characters’ minds. And while some fantasy writers rely on established mythology (giants, centaurs, etc.), Le Guin bucked convention. For her, magic was not about spells or a rich bloodline. To her, magic was words. If you know the right word, you can control the thing. Earthsea is, at its heart, an ode to literature and communication. Besides that, Tehanu is one of the greatest books ever written. It’s a slow-building, feminist mother-daughter story right in the center of Ged’s hero’s journey that boils into an unforgettable, inevitable ending.

 

She inspired everybody from Neil Gaiman to J. K. Rowling to Michael Chabon to Patrick Rothfuss to David Mitchell. Chances are that if you’ve read a fantasy book written in the last fifty years, it owes a great debt to Le Guin.

 

I haven’t yet read the Hainish Cycle, but I am going to pick up Rocannon’s World as soon as I can. And I cannot wait to read Earthsea again and again. I hope you’ll give Le Guin a try, if you’re not already in love.

 

Feature Image Via Variety

Earthsea cover

Top 10 Ursula K. Le Guin Quotes to Make You Believe in Dragons

Ursula K. Le Guin is our resident dragon expert. Her series, The Earthsea Cycle, features some of the most elegantly written fantasy ever. Le Guin’s world is fully realized and her spin on dragons and magic is, I’m 100% serious here, groundbreaking. For Le Guin, there are no spells in the familiar sense. Instead, everything has a true name only wizards have access to, and when the true name is uttered, the wizards can command the things to do…things. So if you have the name of the wind (looking at you, Patrick Rothfuss), you can make your ship sail faster. As Ged does. Often.

 

Anyway, Le Guin is genius. She writes a lot of magical, heartbreaking, and empowering things. Here are some of my favorites:

 

1. What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?

 

2. Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.

 

3. It is very hard for evil to take hold of the unconsenting soul.

 

4. Nobody who says, “I told you so” has ever been, or will ever be, a hero.

 

5. The creative adult is the child who has survived.

 

6. To learn which questions are unanswerable, and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness.

 

7. When you light a candle, you also cast a shadow.

 

8. The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.

 

9. People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons. From within.

 

10. My imagination makes me human and makes me a fool; it gives me all the world and exiles me from it.

 

Rathsea

Image Via scv.bu.edu

 

Feature Image Via Amazon

boats going to hogwarts

Start Your School Year the Wizarding Way With These 6 Series!

 

It’s back to school time! Albus Dumbledore’s first day of Hogwarts! …and you’re still waiting for your Hogwarts letter to arrive. Don’t worry, it probably just got lost in the mail. But while you wait, why not weigh up your other options…

 

1. Children of the Red King series by Jenny Nimmo 

 

Charlie Bone books

Image Courtesy of Goodreads

 

Frankly it is a travesty that this series, sometimes referred to as the Charlie Bone series after its main character, has not been made into a lucrative and beloved movie franchise complete with merchandise, theme parks and novelty hats. It follows Charlie Bone’s adventures after discovers he has magical powers. Charlie begins to hear the voices of people in photographs and discovers that he is a descendant of the Red King, an ancient magician. He is subsequently sent to Bloor’s Academy, where many magical children study. At Bloor’s, Charlie has enough adventures to span eight books, all of which are fast paced, funny and fantastic. 

 

2. The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy

 

The Worst Witch books

Image Courtesy of Goodreads

 

The Worst Witch books follow the misadventures of disastrous yet endearing witch Mildred Hubble. Mildred attends Ms. Cackle’s Academy for Witches and is constantly getting herself into trouble. Admittedly, there books are aimed at much younger readers, but they are still great stories and have been adapted several times for television. I just like them, okay?

 

3. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci by Dianna Wynne Jones

 

Charmed Life cover

Image Courtesy of Goodreads

 

Charmed Life is the first in the Chronicles of Chrestomanci series, which follows Cat whose sister Gwendolen is the most promising young witch ever seen on Coven Street. When the two orphans are summoned to live in Chrestomanci Castle, trouble ensues! From the author of Howl’s Moving Castle, this series includes six books as well as several other books set in the same universe.  

 

4. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs 

 

Peculiar Children Wiki

Image Courtesy of Peculiar Children Wiki

 

Ransom Riggs got the idea for this series from his vast collection of photographs of people he does not know. Before the books were published, Riggs made one of the what John Green declared on of the best videos on YouTube, showcasing some of the strangest and most interesting photos in his collection. The books are equally as strange and wonderful, following Jacob, whose quest to find out the meaning behind his grandfather’s strange photographs leads him to a school and orphanage for children with unusual powers. 

 

5. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin

 

Earthsea Trilogy

Image Courtesy of Books, The Universe and Everything

 

Ged displays serious powers at a young age and joins a wizarding school, however soon gets into an argument with one of his peers and accidentally releases a shadow creature which he then has to vanquish. The adventures continue in the following two novels, The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore

 

6. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

 

kingkiller covers

Image Courtesy of Reddit

 

This is the tale of a magically gifted young man who grows to be the most notorious wizard his world has ever seen.
Told in Kvothe’s own voice, the book recounts his exciting childhood in a troupe of traveling players, his years spent as an orphan in a dangerous city, and his unlikely acceptance into a legendary school of magic, before becoming a fugitive after the murder of a king.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of Harry Potter Wiki

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