The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition
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ibsn13: 9781481465588
series: Earthsea - Book 7

These illustrations are kind of whack. All the characters look like little goblins.

But Le Guin’s Earthsea series is fantastic.

Book 1: A Wizard Of Earthsea ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Book 2: The Tombs Of Atuan ⭐⭐⭐⭐▫️ Book 3: The Farthest Shore ⭐⭐⭐▫️▫️ Book 4: Tehanu ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Book 5: Tales From Earthsea ⭐⭐⭐⭐▫️ Book 6: The Other Wind ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Book 7: The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition ⭐⭐⭐⭐▫️

I picked up a digital version of this tome to read the short stories and essay at the end of book which were hard to find elsewhere.

If you’re fan of the series and you’ve read everything else, you might as well read this. These stories provide interesting context for the series, how it came about and where it might have gone if Le Guin had had time to write more stories in the world of Earthsea.

A Description of Earthsea is a dry loredump-esque text describing various parts of Earthsea listed out without the context and the characters necessary to ground this knowledge and make it interesting. It feels like a writer’s exercise and not something meant to be read by readers.

The two first short stories were written by Le Guin before she wrote the first Earthsea book, both of these are interesting in that they contain familiar yet distinct ideas which Le Guin would build on and refine in Earthsea.

The essay she wrote after writing Tehanu gives some context on how Le Guin felt about the series as a whole, her thoughts on fantasy, the heroic mode and its problematic yet intimate ties with masculinity and gender. She discusses how, with Tehanu, she tried to break some of these assumptions and genre tropes that are inherently mysoginistic which she believed to have replicated in the first three books in the Earthsea series.

The last two stories seemed to have been written after she wrote the final published book in the series. One being quite disconnected from the rest of the Earthsea stories we’ve read so far but interesting in its own way. The other presenting us with the death of one of the characters instrumental to the series. Although it’s super short and was published posthumously so take it with a grain of salt.

Uhhh so ya.

I guess this is me saying goodbye to Le Guin’s Earthsea series for now.

It was a fantastic ride. I’ve never read fantasy quite like this and probably never will again.

Unlike many series of its scope, it started off strong and, ignoring The Farthest Shore, the series became more and more interesting as Le Guin reflected on her writing and actively chose to and succeeded at writing fantasy stories that were both a blast to read and made me reflect on the fantasy genre as a whole.

What it is and what it could be.

I hope that there are many authors carrying the torch that Le Guin beared throughout her career and that her legacy continues beyond her death that came too soon.

The rest of my life will be spent searching for authors with something like her quite unique ability to continually surpass herself with her brutal honesty, critique of her own work as well as the skill to surprise me with her intelligence and insight whether in her fiction or non-fiction writing.

RIP Ursula K. Le Guin. You will be missed.