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Re-reading Earthsea

I just re-read A Wizard of Earthsea

* The map is so evocative! And I like how you get zoomed in versions, and all the maps have, gasp, a scale. I'd estimate the maps as about 2000 miles each way. Islands aren't longer than 300 miles, but several are so long; not as long and as wide, though Havnor works on it. No one knows how big the frozen land on the north edge is.

* Not much ironwork. We meet bronze-smiths, starting with Ged's dad. OTOH they have compass needles, and iron that seeks magnets.

* "The shadow would not follow him into the jaws of a dragon." Hi, I'm a nameless doppel spirit from the lands of the dead, but dragons scare me.

* Law and order ain't all that. Ged's scared of Hort Town, a rough area; Pendor used to be a pirate kingdom before Yevaud came; the inland of Hosk is lawless; slaves row Osskil ships.

* Holy crap yeah, the women... Tehanu may be controversial execution (and I have little memory of it) but I can see why UKLG looked back at the original books and went "urk!" "Weak as women's magic, wicked as women's magic." Magical women are mostly witches, the weakest and most ignorant; sorcerers might lean male, though the Lady of Re Albi is an "enchantress"; wizards of course are only male. And the women... Ged's mother just dies, his aunt tries to magically enslave him, the Lord's daughter tempts him -- maybe innocently but almost disastrously -- on behalf of her mother, who's at odds with Ogion; said daughter shows up later as Serret to tempt him again, for the Terrenon, and betraying her (much older and cold) husband. The Lady of O is harmless but childish.

OTOH Pechvarry's wife and the barely seen witch there are okay, and Vetch's sister Yarrow is nearly Ged's Magical Pixie Dream Girl. Pretty and curious if "much less clever than me" (Vetch's words), help invigorate and inspire Ged. There's got to be Ged/Yarrow fanfic (checks: yep, at least one, though non-sexual. Do Earthsea wizards *have* kids, if they're not locked up on Roke? I can't remember.), even if she's only 14. And she has a tiny dragon as a pet!

Dragons, too: the Dragon of Pendor is male, and all his children are sons. Some she-dragon came out to mate, lay eggs, and go west again. Kudos to Yevaud for being a single father, I guess, but it's also more female erasure...

* Kargish aren't the only pale people; Osskil people are too. White skin = evil, or at least antagonistic.

Tombs of Atuan next. In which an ignorant woman oversees a dark void (thank you Dave Sim) that swallows up men, until it is penetrated by the light and learning and staff of a man.

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/385332.html#comments


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 3rd, 2014 09:22 am (UTC)
Early LeGuin is very odd to reread. I had the same experience as you rereading these, and I simply gave up trying to reread Left Hand of Darkness around a decade ago, because from a modern PoV the protagonist is guilty of such Madmen-esque levels of casual & pervasive sexism that all sympathy for him vanished in the first 20 pages and with it my interest in rereading the novel.

I have reread City of Illusions several times, including within the last 10 years and it held up surprisingly well, but every other novel by her that I've reread was considerably more problematic when I reread it. I haven't tried Lathe of Heaven though, although I did rewatch the utterly brilliant 1980 PBS production of it, and was just as impressed with it when I saw it a decade ago as when I first saw it as a teen.
Feb. 3rd, 2014 04:31 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed re-reading A Wizard, mind you.
Feb. 5th, 2014 05:36 am (UTC)
I did rewatch the utterly brilliant 1980 PBS production of it, and was just as impressed with it when I saw it a decade ago

It's on Youtube now.


Feb. 3rd, 2014 02:56 pm (UTC)
Garth Nix's Sabriel
Have you ever read Garth Nix's Old Kingdom trilogy? I loved the strong female (and male) characters in it, and had the bonus of excellent fantasy!

I never really could get into Earthsea, though I tried to read it a few times. Maybe the crappy female characters are what made it feel so tedious.
Feb. 3rd, 2014 04:31 pm (UTC)
Re: Garth Nix's Sabriel
Nope, haven't.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )


Damien Sullivan

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