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Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Ack-Ack Macaque
Gareth L. Powell
Progress: 249/792 pages
V for Vendetta
David Lloyd, Alan Moore
Progress: 82/296 pages
Introduction to Topology
Bert Mendelson
Progress: 10/224 pages
Basics of Plasma Astrophysics
Claudio Chiuderi, Marco Velli
Progress: 58/250 pages
Ursula K. Le Guin: The Complete Orsinia: Malafrena / Stories and Songs (The Library of America)
Brian Attebery, Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 454/700 pages
A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
Complete Poems, 1904-1962
E.E. Cummings
Progress: 204/1102 pages
The Complete Plays and Poems
E.D. Pendry, J.C. Maxwell, Christopher Marlowe
She Stoops to Conquer and Other Comedies (Oxford World's Classics)
Henry Fielding, David Garrick, Oliver Goldsmith
Progress: 256/448 pages
Gravitation (Physics Series)
Kip Thorne;Kip S. Thorne;Charles W. Misner;John Archibald Wheeler;John Wheeler
Progress: 48/1215 pages
The Other Wind - Ursula K. Le Guin How many months overdue is this review? Since sometime late last year, anyway...I was still in Belgium...that was two countries ago!

This will almost certainly be the last novel about Earthsea that we shall see from Ursula LeGuin and it is a much more fitting end than Tehanu because it feels triumphant rather than negative. In similar vein to the Tales from Earthsea, ancient crimes and cover-ups that have had profound effects on the Archipelago's peoples are revealed. Matters are also set to rights. It's not really a spoiler to say that this is not a book about Ged, although he appears in the story and performs a minor miracle involving a kitten without using any wizardry at all. Instead, Tenar, Tehanu and Dragonfly come to the fore, along with the King, a sorcerer with troubling dreams and a Princess from the Kargish lands. That women take an equal or leading role in this story feels very natural, arising from the story, where-as in Tehanu the story was contrived to highlight women. Perhaps that is the ultimate reason why Tehanu troubles many people and is not an unqualified success. This, however, is a triumphant success.
So many of the themes arising in the previous books are taken up again and given a last examination. The desire for immortality, the nature of Dragons, the history of the Kargs and the Archipeligans, perceptions and mis-perceptions of foreign peoples, the roles of women in society. The whole thing is brought to an unexpected and wonderful conclusion.

This feels much more like the original three books than either of the two later ones but it does still lack the sense of exploration I prize so highly that is found in A Wizard of Earthsea and The Final Shore, which leads me back to the beginning of the review; this is the last of Earthsea and there are somethings I could wish had happened somewhere along the way, that didn't: Ged travels far and wide in the course of his stories but we never sail the North Reach with him or explore Hogen land. Is it another island, or a high-latitude continent like Antarctica? Another Goodreader suggested that Ged and Tenar should have had a child; that would have been lovely but perhaps Ged is too old?

This series as a whole represents one of the great triumphs of fantasy literature, more profound, thought-provoking, imaginative and beautifully written than most books I have ever read. It deserves to be taken up in the canon in the way that Lord of the Rings has been. Farewell, Earthsea, until next time I need magic, adventure and beauty, all at once.

Near the end of this volume the protagonists wonder if their actions will destroy all magic in Earthsea. It doesn't happen which is a profound relief because Earthsea without Wizardry would be like air without oxygen, to me.

And now it is my pleasure to introduce Flagon Dragon (see profile pic and my other photos) who will give his first ever Goodreads review here, regarding the Earthsea books as a whole. It should be noted that Flagon is a self-appointed Ambassador to Humanity from the Welsh Dragons, who promotes goodwill between both Species, mainly by being ridiculously cute and cuddly and giving everybody heaps of hugs. The review is hidden because it is a giant spoiler about one of the themes that links all the books.

Roarhi! {{hugs}} I'm Flagon the Fierce and Friendly Red Dragon! I read along with Robert in the evenings and so I get to enjoy lots of stories. Some of those stories have Dragons in them and the Earthsea books are my favourite stories about Dragons except for the story about my Mum, who is on the Welsh flag and the stories of my own Adventures.

Roar - so the first time we learn about Dragons in Earthsea it seems they are really Pesky, burning places and chomping folks and making them flee from their island homes. It seems like Dragons are really naughty! This is bad because Dragons have an undeserved bad reputation with all sorts of dubious and distorted myths and legends that make us out as EBIL! Roar! But later on, we discover that the older Dragons are wise as well as wiley and know things that Humans have forgotten! So it seems that Dragons are a bit like Humans - not all good or all bad, which is better! Then, later still, we learn that Humans and Dragons have common ancestors! We changed because we were more interested in different things than the Humans who didn't change. Interesting. Then, near the end we learn that the reason the Dragons are annoyed with Humans is because they stole something from us so long ago that only Dragons remember and the Humans have forgotten all about it! The Dragons decide they want their property back and set about getting it. Luckily the Humans realise that their theft was a big mistake and that they don't even want what they took anymore, so they give it back! Everybody understands each other a little better afterward, which is good and what I try to achieve as Ambassador to Humans. So these are my favourite books about Dragons!