Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Earthsea Quartet

by Ursula K. Le Guin
read between 26/2/2010-18/3/2010
The books are made of four individual stories in the saga and I stopped for quite a while after the 3rd book. However I assume each book takes 10 hours to be finished, since I managed to read half of the 2nd book(The Tombs of Atuan) on a 6 hours ICE-train journey.

An excellent fantasy read with interesting concept of magic. Very dynamic characters and the plots are more driven by them..
A bit difficult on the language, not recommended for casual readers.

The book is set in Earthsea, a world where the lands are made of islands (hence the name) and magic is widely used. The story starts with the introduction of Ged and follows his journey becoming Archmage and Dragonlord and his travels across Earthsea
through evil times as the 'balance' of magic has been disturbed.

Why I read it?
I have been reading reviews on Eragon and more than once Earthsea was mentioned in comparison. However the moving point was when I started watching Ghibli productions and soon stumbled on Tales from Earthsea, which was very slow at the first 15 minutes and not really easy to understand. I knew the film was adapted from some book so I decided to read it first.

My say. (spoiler alert)
First and foremost, it is a fantasy.
It deals with magics and dragons, the main ingredients for most books in the same genre. However the book was written in a way different to what I expected, in many ways.
  1. At the beginning it was told that the Ged, the main character will become an Archmage(the leader of all magician in Earthsea) and a Dragonlord (someone who the dragon wants to talk to). It was also known that Ged will perform many deeds and his name will be sung across the lands. In short, the ending of the book is already known or can be guessed from the start. Surprisingly, the book is still interesting. Let me explain by using a corny phrase; in the book, what is important is not the destination but rather  the journey. Although it is stated that Ged will become a legend, his journey is told in such a way that sometimes it is hard to believe he will.
  2. The story is told in third person view with comparatively little dialogues. Although the dialogues are few and the story told in narrative, the book doesn't bore, unlike certain books. (Ahem-ahem, deathly hallows, ahem). In fact I feel that the minimal dialogues make those in between to have more weight.
  3. The names are not that weird. As most readers usually know, fantasy books take the freedom and made up all kind of things. Good thing Earthsea didn't. The names was kept minimal and although it was mentioned that there are songs, the book mostly refrain from citing them (where I usually skip if I read Lord of The Rings)
The plot of the story seems simple, though the manner the events unfold is subtle that the readers are lost in it. (At least I was). At one point I looked up while reading and was surprised I am actually reading.

The language in Earthsea is as I stated a bit difficult, difficult than Eragon though much easier than The Lord of the Rings. However I do feel that most readers can easily pick it up without much problem.

All in all, a very excellent fantasy read. Oh! The book also stresses about balance, greed and responsibility; Great values that can be followed as example. A reviewer in facebook once written, "I wish I had read it earlier in life, not like it would be a mind changing thing, but it would have given me more things about life to think about


After a moment, he added, "He does have a Gontish accent."
"If I could speak to dragons in their own language," Arren said, "I wouldn't care about my accent."
At that Gamble looked at him with a degree of approval...

Favourite dialogue in the book (Farthest Shore).
Tak kisah la cakap aku, hang, loghat kedah. Yang penting jadi org berjaya...haha

I think the writer's name is very unique and thought she lives in somewhere in Iceland or Norway where the wind is cold and the likely occasion that dragons do exist in the North pole really exist is high.
She was born in America, on the contrary. Though I still think her name is unique. Le Guin! Ursula o Ursula


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