Ursula K LeGuin and I have a love-hate relationship. Reason being, the only work of hers I knew was The Left Hand of Darkness, which I
stole borrowed from my high school literature teacher and which I have yet to get all the way through. I’ve made many a valiant effort, and while the premise is intriguing, I just can’t manage to get through it. Yet. At some point this year I will actually have to make it through.
You’ll remember from this post that I am looking for my roots in the science fiction/fantasy genre. Among the books recommended were, of course, The Left Hand of Darkness and Ursula K LeGuin’s masterpiece (I’ve heard) of a series, The Earthsea Cycle. Having already attempted and failed at LHOD, I picked up A Wizard of Earthsea, which has been living in my house, unread, for many, many years.
The story, in twenty words or less, is this: A young wizard named Ged has many adventures, mostly involving a demon thing from who knows where that was his own fault, darn it.
Twenty four words. I must work on my summarizing.
I didn’t love it. Not at first, anyway. It took me several chapters before I really started feeling “into” the story, before I felt immersed in the characters and situations. But once they grabbed me, they held on, clinging right to my heartstrings. The shadow creature Ged calls forth around the eight(ish) chapter is one of the eeriest antagonists I’ve ever encountered. There is one section where I literally jumped. From a book. From ONE LINE in a book. Ms. LeGuin is just that good.
I will say that the book is very description, rather than dialogue heavy, which bothers me a bit. I like pithy conversation and wit. It helps me know my characters. In spite of that, the story is so very, very good. Ged is so perfectly flawed by his own hubris (a word I’ve always wanted to use) and ambition, and it is maddening and exhilarating to watch him trip over his own figurative feet every ten steps.
Definitely a good beginning to my Science Fiction/Fantasy Year. By the way, the goal for that year is fifty books, so keep those recommendations coming.
Sci-Fi/Fantasy 50 book challenge: 1/50
If you are reading along with me, which would be awesome, the next one on my list is Dune by Frank Herbert.
If you’ve read, Earthsea, leave me a comment about your thoughts on it.