End of Earthsea

I had to read the whole of “The Other Wind” in one day. It is such a beautiful book and ties up all of the threads of the “Earthsea saga” very nicely indeed. And, you know that hackneyed thing that most authors do, where the antagonist who has been killed off twitches in the epilogue – that type of thing? She doesn’t do it!

I think, what I love most about these books and Ursula Le Guin’s writing is the stories’ climaxes. Most authors and Hollywood blockbuster films would set off the proverbial pyrotechnics. There would be ultra violent explosions, CG overdose, detailed descriptions or depictions of mutilation and death. But not UKLG. Oh no. Long plot build ups and then at the peak… the most gentle parts of the story. And often, the noble self sacrifice of a character to save everybody and everything else.

Personally, I don’t need to read books that are gritty and realistic and negative or nihilistic. There’s too much of that about already, in the media and the arts and the news. I don’t mean to sound pompous or high-brow (that I am certainly not) but I want to read tales of noble deeds and this series of books does it for me.

I hope they do it for others too.

I found this quote from UKLG on her website after I initially posted this post. It concerns assumptions that writers and publishers make about the fantasy genre:

“Assumption 3: Fantasy by definition concerns a Battle Between Good and Evil. This is the one where the cover copywriters shine. There are lots of fantasies about the Battle Between Good and Evil, the BBGE, sure. In them, you can tell the good guys from the evil guys by their white hats, or their white teeth, but not by what they do. They all behave exactly alike, with mindless and incessant violence, until the Problem of Evil is solved in a final orgy of savagery and a win for the good team.”

Here’s the page for reference;

http://www.ursulakleguin.com/SomeAssumptionsAboutFantasy.html

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10 thoughts on “End of Earthsea

    1. earthbalm

      I like the comment. I won’t approve it if you’d rather I didn’t but yours is the sort of comment I like reading – ideas and considered opinions are the stuff worth reading. I’d love to have a blog where people genuinely discuss things but without any of the bigoted and aggressive replies that seem to populate the inter web thingy. “Tales from Earthsea” has just been posted through the door so this train hasn’t arrived yet!

      1. I’m happy for you to keep it if you like it, but it did get a bit garbled at the end – I rewrote it in notepad thinking to correct it and then decided against it altogether. Thanks for your encouragement.

      2. earthbalm

        I’ll leave it off for now as it isn’t complete but please write it out again and I’ll post it. Not only do I find film ‘flat’ but it’s also rather formulaic and as you were saying, concessions have to be made. I read somewhere that UKL said that the Earthsea place names can be pronounced however the reader wishes. In the same way, when I read, I have my own idea about what places and people look like. In films, that already realised for you. Give me books eveytime!

  1. Here’s my copmment from earlier – rewritten…

    Absolutely. I love the ULG quote and it’s so very true (for me anyway). Thinking about BBGE, that’s why Martin Luther King Jr is a personal hero for me, because he fought injustice with justice. I have a quotation of his on my kitchen cupboard: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” I see good as being fundamentally different from evil in aims and actions.

    I’ve also been thinking a lot recently about the difference between the story-teling mediums of film and novels. I definitely prefer novels. When I’ve seen a film of a book (even a really good adaptation) it always misses out so much of what is important to me in a story – the details of people’s thought processes, their motivations and difficulties, all the tiny pieces of information which make each person seem realistic. Film also frequently misses out details of how the world in which the story takes place works – e.g. magic in Earthsea, or ‘the force’ in Star Wars, or the Llandstaad, the Spacing Guild and the Emperor’s Sadukar in Dune. All of this is flattened to some almalgamated approximation and it just doesn’t work for me – too much is lost. They say in film-making that anything which doesn’t move the story along should be cut. But the bits of books (and films too on occasion) which I love the most are frequently bits which are supplemental to the plot. For example, in the ‘The Half Blood Prince’, I find the first paragraph to chapter 2 ‘Spinner’s End’ really beautiful and yet it is really only a piece of description mixed with some linking information to the previous chapter.

    All of that said I do enjoy the way films show me what things look like as I have trouble imagining them without having seen something similar before.

    1. earthbalm

      Thanks for taking the time and effort to type out the reply again, in full. MLK is a hero of mine too as is Ghandi to change the world by peaceful means takes courage and faith in human nature.
      I have to say that I prefer novels to films too though I have little trouble in imaging what I think places and people described in books look like and that probably, is what makes films the weaker medium for me. Most films seem to be driven by action but books can take the time to flesh out the details and, as you say, supplement the plot. You said, “the details of people’s thought processes, their motivations and difficulties, all the tiny pieces of information which make each person seem realistic.” which is much better expressed than I’m capable of writing.
      And, I’m going to have to look up that passage from “The Half Blood Prince” as you’ve hooked my curiosity.
      Hope you’re getting some artwork done!

      1. I know what you mean about films being driven by action. Unless there is beauty in the action I fast forward action sequences. I don’t see how watching people hit each other is entertaining. Thanks for this post – very thought provoking. 🙂

  2. You give exactly the same reasons for appreciating Le Guin as I would do. They are such reflective works, her novels, and that’s one of the things I like about good fiction — its ability to make one think as well as invest in the characters, despite their failings. They’re above all human books, with a large helping of humane included.

    1. earthbalm

      Exactly. There are many that I haven’t read but I think “The Dispossessed” is probably my favourite. It seems to be an exploration of her own thoughts about archy and anarchy.

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