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jean Reiss

I have loved the Earthsea series for several years.I am hoping you
wil continue your analysis of this dream like series


I enjoy the fantasy genre and Ursula le Guin is a great writer, so I had the best time I have had so far with a 'Book Group' title. I read the Quartet and the 2 others in the series twice, so thanks for the extra time on this occasion!

So why do I like it? Well the story at a simple level is well told, in a direct parable/fable style, with a huge backdrop of cultural detail, of which it seems we see only a part. The characters are sympathetic and Le Guin's theme of people who don't 'fit in' always resonates with me.

Additionally, it seems the stories have messages about how we deal with our own lives and personalities. The first book is about how to face up to our dark side. Later books are about letting go of power, accepting female equality and the reckoning paid for the use of power and other themes. All of this is done in a subtle way, with such deftness that you dont even realise you are being given a message until you reflect.

For such an easy read, the books provoked a lot of thought and I would like to thank you for the selection Cornflower.

B R Wombat

Well, obviously I love the book as it was my suggestion and I'm very pleased about the favourable comments (so far). I find Le Guin's writing extremely well-crafted, so well-crafted that one doesn't immediately notice it and I find her philosophy, which might be expressed as a blend of Taoism and anarchism, chimes with me. Anyone wishing to read more of this wonderful writer might well enjoy (and be profoundly moved by) her award-winning The Left Hand of Darkness.


It is B R Wombat we must thank for the initial suggestion, especially when that one book leads us on to others.


Many thanks for suggesting we read this book, and I shall add The Left Hand of Darkness to my wish list.

Mr Cornflower

I must confess I rather struggled with the early chapters of this book, though that probably says more about my difficulty in entering into the author's world than about her skill in creating it. From about the dragon fight onwards I found it much more engaging and could begin to appreciate why Le Guin has such a big and enthusiastic following - perhaps it's a sign of my essential shallowness that I find fights and chases more exciting than philosophical scene-setting! The way Earthsea is described reminds me of the line from Keats' Ode to a Nightingale: "...magic casements/Opening on the foam of perilous seas/And fairy lands forlorn..."

Dark Puss

An unusual CBG choice as not only have I read it before (probably five years after it was first published) but I have read it previously more than once. It was interesting to read it yet again knowing I had to say something about it on Cornflower and I'll answer her last question first - yes! I have now read The Tombs of Autun and am now half-way through The Farthest Shore.

It is a fairly straightfoward story, well told but I'll admit to a slight twinge that I didn't feel really enthusiastic about it. Perhaps familiarity doesn't help me here. I noted how very male it was, apart from a cameo appearance by Serret, surely a dead-ringer for Morgan/Morgane/Morgana of Arthurian legend. My other observation is that my interpretation of Ged's "lesson" is very different from Cornflower's (and thus probably wrong!). My view is that none of us is a whole person without our light (= "good") side and our dark (sometimes equated with, but not always and certainly not exclusively, "bad") side. Ged's quest in this interpretation is about making himself whole again, not about hunting down the dark shadow to destroy it, but recapturing it so that he may become a whole person again. I have always thought complexity and indeed humanity, whether of humans or characters in stories, depends on having shades of grey and not on black and white characteristics. For me this is the underlying message of this story. Women feature much more prominently in The Tombs of Autun but I'll assume you are already reading it and will say no more.

Dark Puss

Mr C, if you are shallow I hate to think what I might be!


Dark Puss

Post Scriptum

Re-reading more carefully Cornflower's post, perhaps we do both interpret the story similarly. If so my apologies for the sentence in my post above in which I used the phrase very different from Cornflower's.


Yes my thanks to BR Wombat - and it's not the first time that I have thought that here, so it's time it was recorded!


It did take me a while to get into the story. Initially I was reminded of epic fables of childhood stories. I have not read many fantasy novels and I did discover that a journey or quest, is always a major theme and this one was no different in that respect, however it did turn out to be so much more.

I got caught up with the story and by the end I did want to continue on. I know that I shall finish the rest of the series. I am so glad that a map was included as I did refer to it several times along the way.

I agree with Dark Puss as he expressed himself very eoquently. In my experience, nothing in life is entirely black or white, it comes in many shades of grey. For such a slim book it did give you something to think about, which is always a good thing.


I probably would not have chosen this book if not for the Book Club since I haven't read fantasy for many years, and it was slow going at first. Now I have decided to continue with the series. I think it's difficult to get yourself in the right frame of mind immediately after reading other genres, but I believe I could really get lost in this kind of story. I did enjoy the book after all. To me, the Shadow was one of the worst emanations from one's dark side, brought on by pride and arrogance, and had to be subdued before Ged could continue on his path to maturity and self-control and, as he always remembered from Ogion, to value silence. Good selection.


I have always wanted to read something by Ursula Le Guin, so thank you BR Wombat and Cornflower for this selection. I think Joseph Campbell would have liked this book; it perfectly encapsulates the mono-myth and symbolizes the rite of passage that all young people must make to become adults. Like Dark Puss, I noticed that the story was very male oriented, which surprised me considering the author is a woman. Good to know there are more complex female characters down the road. The two main female characters are either passive or predatory. I did like the book but I think I would have enjoyed it more had I read it when younger. I don’t know that I will continue with this particular series, but I will definitely read more Le Guin at some point, perhaps beginning with the suggested Left Hand of Darkness.

Susan in TX

Confession: I've only gotten through the first chapter, and that was hard going. But, Mr. Cornflower has encouraged me not to give up. I don't read a lot of fantasy, and I think it takes a little extra brain power on my part to get into the different world -- something I'm short on in these days of shuffling the kids from one sporting event to another. I have the book for another week from the library, so I'm going to see if I can finish it this week. Thank you for pushing me outside my comfort zone, Cornflower!

Barbara MacLeod

Confession Number 2: I am afraid it got the thumbs down from me. I did get a copy from the library and gave it a chapter or two ... well one chapter actually... and took it back knowing I was never going to get my head round this sort of story.

As Miss Jean Brodie would say "For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like."

So it is onwards and upwards with your interesting October choice of Mark Dunn, an author I do not know.


Please do not hesitate and read the second volume in this series, it is one of the most unforgettable books I have ever read. It is very different from "The Wizard...", and I think it can be read even if you didn't manage to read the first book.


I was beginning to think that I was the only one! I'm completely in agreement with Barbara and Miss Brodie. I did try but the fantasy genre is not for me. The only thing that kept me going was playing 'Which Bits Inspired JK Rowling?'

Julie Fredericksen

I'm not going to give it the thumbs down that other readers have, but I'm not terribly enthusiastic about it either. Fantasy is among my least favorite genres. I am always terribly put off by all those made up names that usually are missing their vowels (shades of Ella Minnow Pea!). I persevered past that annoyance and found it to be a good enough story, but I certainly did not love it. I would have initially said that I would not go on to read the other books in the series but now, reading what padma has written, I may take a stab at #2.

Dark Puss

Julie, let me add my encouragement too. I think the second story has quite a different feel to it. Do try it. DP

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