* Wizard of Earthsea *

A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle, #1)A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is certainly good. As usual I'll begin this review when I'm halfway through, and that's now so here goes.

I've read this before, some years ago, but could not remember any of it. It's funny how things come flooding back, like the next bar in a song, you can't imagine it until it's time and then there it is. The islands, the invaders, fog, getting sent off to wizard's school, friends met there and trouble gotten into, it is all as familiar as an old song.

The second time around, like a bike ride, it seems shorter!

This time though, I notice what a rip off the Harry Potter concept is! Or maybe there are only so many thoughts in the world so you're necessarily gonna reuse some if you try to produce anything. You can at least say the UKLeG has foreshadowed much of what we commonly think of as modern culture surrounding wizards and such. She in turn borrowed heavily from the Hobbit of course. And you thought it all came from JK Rowling! (No, of course you didn't. I know.)

Yet Le Guin's vision is much scarier than the cartoons they serve us up now days in kidlit and movies. The tone of the writing somehow takes itself more seriously, allowing you to empathize with, and fear for, the people in this book. Fantasy should take itself seriously. All fiction is fantastical after all: the events described didn't really happen, those places aren't like that, these people are imaginary. Sticking a dragon in it doesn't make that any different, it just represents the tiger stalking the village, taken to its logical extremity. As such it's a cop out to make it too playful and silly: "just joshing: remember it's all fake" these books seem to say, as when for instance the key protagonists are teens. I think I've found my dividing line between serious fantasy fiction and inane (even irritating) pablum. It's when the author dares to say, "I want you to take this seriously."

Le Guin is not kidding.

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