Tales from Earthsea

Discussion in 'Ursula Le Guin' started by Kailana, Feb 23, 2006.

  1. Kailana

    Kailana Canadian Reader

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    I am in a fantasy class in university and my professor chose this as one of the novels for the class. It was terrible because many people had not read the other books in the series and it just didn't work well because of that. I was wondering if this series is worthwhile, or are all the books like this one and sort of dull? I have read Left Hand of Darkness by her and liked it, but maybe that is the only one I would like. Who knows. Thoughts would be great
  2. Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    Are you referring to the short story collection, Kailana?
  3. Kailana

    Kailana Canadian Reader

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    Well, it is made up a novella and some short stories, so yes.
  4. Thadlerian

    Thadlerian Riftsound resident

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    I also found Tales relatively dull. When you've read the first four, the collection can be interesting as an expansion of the Earthsea universe. But standing alone, it's nothing special.

    Go for Wizard of Earthsea, and work your way to Tehanu (IMO the best book in the series). If you liked Left Hand of Darkness I think you'll enjoy Tehanu as well.
  5. Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    The line above was what had me confused about which book you actually meant.

    But now that I know, I agree with Thadlerian. The Tales were a bit disappointing -- and yes, rather dull -- but I have loved the original trilogy over many years and many readings.

    Even though the stories in that volume do provide background to the novels, as with Tehanu and The Other Wind she also used them to take much of the Earthsea history we thought we knew and pull it to pieces -- and I think in Tales and Wind the agenda gets in the way of the storytelling. (Well, actually, I think it does in Tehanu, too, but I'm willing to overlook that because I consider it an important book, and there are things in that one that needed to be written. Only once she got that off her chest, I wish she had stopped there and left well enough alone.)

    There are no political agendas in the first three books, just inspired world-building, simple but beautiful prose, and sympathetic characters. There are certainly meaningful themes, but no overt axe-grinding. To me, it feels like those three came from the heart, and the others (certainly written from a more mature perspective) are more cerebral and self-conscious.

    I always hesitate to say of any book, "Yes, you will like it," because individual taste in fiction is so personal and variable, so I'll just say this: It's quite possible that even though you found Tales from Earthsea boring you could enjoy the other books very much. Particularly (in my opinion) the three YA novels, which are classics of the genre.
  6. Kailana

    Kailana Canadian Reader

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    Thank you for the insight! I think I might take the chance and read book one. I had always planned to and then I read Tales and was not sure if the rest of the series would be as dull.

    As to the professor thing, I am taking a fantasy course in university and this was one of the books on the curriculum. :) She says she regrets it.
  7. Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    I can see how the book would look good to a teacher choosing books for a class. One of my best friends used to teach a similar course at UC Berkeley, and it's just the sort of thing she might have selected, if it had been available at the time. I wasn't sure which book you meant because you called it a novel, and it would be easy to confuse that title with A Wizard of Earthsea if you had read the book a few months ago. If that had been the one you didn't like, it wouldn't have held out much hope for any of the others in the series.

    So what other books were assigned for your class, and did you like them better than the Le Guin?
  8. Thadlerian

    Thadlerian Riftsound resident

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    Fantasy course? That sounds interesting :)
    What other books are there on the curriculum?
  9. Kailana

    Kailana Canadian Reader

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    We read.. just have to seperate my own reads from the class...
    1. The Princess Bride - William Goldman
    2. The Magical Adventures of Pretty Pearl - Virginia Hamilton
    3. The Giver - Lois Lowry
    4. The Chrysalids - John Wyndham
    5. The Golden Compass - Philip Pullman
    6. Good Omens - Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

    I think that's everything...

    As to likes, number 1 and 4 I had read before (4 was on high school curriculum). Didn't like option to all that much, but I liked all the others. We finish out the semester with a comic book printed in my area and some children's books.
  10. Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    Well, I envy you. They didn't teach courses like that when I was in college. If they had, I probably would have stayed with it longer.
  11. Kailana

    Kailana Canadian Reader

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    My school offers a few great courses and that is one of them. It is an interest, so it suits me. :)
  12. Thadlerian

    Thadlerian Riftsound resident

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    Forgot to add this: Tales may not be the best Earthsea book, but the author's foreword is more than good enough reason to get the book. A really sweet read :D

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