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Tales from Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle, Book 5) Hardcover – May 4, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1st edition (May 4, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0151005613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151005611
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,237,819 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Winner of five Nebula and five Hugo Awards, the National Book Award, the Newbery, and many other awards, Ursula K. Le Guin is one of the finest authors ever to write science fiction and fantasy. Her greatest creation may be the powerful, beautifully written, and deeply imagined Earthsea Cycle, which inhabits the rarified air at the pinnacle of modern fantasy with J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy and Jane Yolen's Chronicles of Great Alta. The books of the Earthsea Cycle are A Wizard of Earthsea (1968), The Tombs of Atuan (1971), The Farthest Shore (1972), the Nebula-winning Tehanu (1990), and now, Tales of Earthsea (2001).

If you have never read an Earthsea book, this collection isn't the place to start, as the author points out in her thoughtful foreword; begin with A Wizard of Earthsea. If you insist on starting with Tales of Earthsea, read the foreword and the appended "Description of Earthsea" before proceeding to the five stories (three of which are original to this book).

The opening story, "The Finder," occupies a third of the volume and has the strength and insight of a novel. This novella describes the youth of Otter, a powerful but half-trained sorcerer, and reveals how Otter came to an isle that cannot be found, and played a role in the founding of the great Roke School. "Darkrose and Diamond" tells of two lovers who would turn their backs on magic. In "The Bones of the Earth," an aging wizard and his distant pupil must somehow join forces to oppose an earthquake. Ged, the Archmage of Earthsea, appears in "On the High Marsh" to find the mad and dangerous mage he had driven from Roke Island. And in "Dragonfly," the closing story, a mysterious woman comes to the Roke School to challenge the rule that only men may be mages. "Dragonfly" takes place a few years after Tehanu and is the bridge between that novel and the next novel, The Other Wind (fall 2001). --Cynthia Ward

From Publishers Weekly

In this stellar collection, which includes a number of original stories, Le Guin (The Telling; Four Ways to Forgiveness; etc.) makes a triumphant return to the magic-drenched world of Earthsea. The opening novella, The Finder, set some 300 years before the birth of Ged, the hero of A Wizard of Earthsea (1968), details both the origin of the school for wizards on Roke Island and the long-suppressed role that women and women's magic played in the founding of that institution. "The Bones of the Earth" describes Ogion, Ged's first great teacher, when he was a young man, centering on that wizard's loving relationship with his own mentor. "Darkrose and Diamond" is also a love story of sorts, about a young man who'd rather be a musician than a mage and the witch girl he loves. "On the High Marsh," the only story in which Ged himself appears, albeit in a secondary role, is a touching tale of madness and redemption. Finally, in the novella Dragonfly, a tale set immediately after the events related in her Nebula Award-winning novel Tehanu (1990), Le Guin tells the story of a young girl who chooses to defy the ban on female mages, tries to enroll in the school on Roke Island and, in doing so, initiates great changes to the world of Earthsea. In her seventies, Le Guin is still at the height of her powers, a superb stylist with a knack for creating characters who are both wise and deeply humane. The publication of this collection is a major event in fantasy literature. (May) FYI: In addition to five Hugo and five Nebula awards, Le Guin has won the Kafka Award, a Pushcart Prize and the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By James D. DeWitt VINE VOICE on May 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
In the 1970's, Ursula K. LeGuin took the fantasy and science fiction world by storm, bringing a genuinely literate voice and a deep knowledge of sociology and psychology to what was largely a man's genre. Her finest fantasy was "The Earthsea Trilogy," comprised of "A Wizard of Earthsea," "The Tombs of Atuan" and "The Farthest Shore." They are marvelous stories, and they hint at other, older stories and myths. In many ways, the world of Earthsea is as deeply conceived as any in fantasy.
In "Tehanu," a later book of Earthsea, she told us of some of the events that followed the events of "The Farthest Shore," and delved deeper into the mystery of dragons and the relationship between dragons and men. From the simple creatures fought by Sparrowhawk in "Wizard of Earthsea," they are revealed as increasingly complex and more interesting creatures by the end of "Tehanu."
In "Tales from Earthsea," LeGuin develops other themes and characters from the past and present of Earthsea. The tales are evocative, resonant and at once mythological and personal in tone. The reader will have an image of a LeGuin, with a larger volume in her lap, telling you the stories that catch her eye. You will sense there are many, many more stories to be told.
Readers new to Earthsea might do best by reading the books in order. While it's not required, you won't thoroughly understand the references to the Ring of Erreth-Akbe unless you have read the earlier books. The last short story, "Dragonfly," may bewilder you unless you have read "Tehanu.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By dampscribbler on April 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
LeGuin revisits Earthsea in this collection of five stories, each of which occurs at a different time and place in the world of Earthsea. The reader thus becomes more acquainted with the geography of the place, and comes to learn about the history of this magical realm. The book also includes 30 pages of "A Description of Earthsea," including Peoples and Languages, History, and Magic.
The first story in this book, "The Finder," describes the conditions under which the school on Roke developed. Other stories reveal trials and journies of various sorcerers through Earthsea's history. Each of the five stories is about heroism and humanity in a world that is both different than and very like our own. The stories engaged my imagination from teh beginning, and I immediately loved (most of) the characters I met. LeGuin's ability to draw sympathetic characters in situations that the reader can relate to just gets better as the years go on.
I was excited to discover that the endpapers of the book display a map of Earthsea drawn by the author. I have wanted a map of the area for years, and I know that I will use this map when I re-read the earlier novels.
And this book reveals news that will be welcome to all lovers of Earthsea: yet another novel is due out this Fall!
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39 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Alex on May 5, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"Tales from Earthsea" is an earthy, mature synthesis of "Tehanu" and the previous Earthsea books, with a hint of Tolkien's "Silmarillion" and a dash of Arthurian fantasy. Unfortunately, after turning the last page I was thoroughly underwhelmed. Gone is the wild freedom of vision, the vast, all-encompassing scope. LeGuin sets out to repopulate her world with sympathetic, influential women, but that world is a stifling, mundane place. Earthsea is no longer a mythical place close to heart, but a world in its own right: big, bleak, and routine. No longer does the reader associate him or herself with the mage hero - the stories in "Tales" take place in a world life-like enough to reduce the reader to a disembodied presence.
Intermittently I found myself staring at the page, wondering: where is the flowing prose? the masterful pacing? the lovely descriptions? The accessibility of the narrative has definitely taken a plunge.
In "Tales" LeGuin attempts to knit together her world's fractured past and present into a unified, continuous whole. She tries to accomplish this across five pieces of short story and novella length, some of them poetic, most not, generally middling quality as far as LeGuin goes.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd VINE VOICE on January 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Many authors are tempted to return to their early works in their later years. For most authors, this is a mistake. Not so with this set of five stories placed in the world of Le Guin's marvelous Earthsea. Each story provides a new illumination into what Earthsea is, its history, and the people that lived and loved within it.
The first story, "The Finder", is the longest, actually a novella, and for my money the best of the set. Here we find ourselves far back in the history of Earthsea, when wizard fought wizard as a matter of course, when magical knowledge was jealously guarded, when the average non-magical person lived in fear of what magic would visit them next. Otter, a half-trained wizard with a powerful skill for 'finding' whatever he looks for, falls on the receiving end of the worst of this mis-use of magic, forced to try and find mercury, the King of all materials, for a half-crazed older wizard. How he escapes from this imprisonment, and his search for a place where magic is taught freely, forms the bulk of this story, ending with his founding of the School of Wizards on Roke. In this story we find the same evocation of the magical, of balance between man and nature, of ambition tempered by internal morality, that so graced the original trilogy.
The second story, "Darkness and Diamond", has appeared elsewhere previously, but it deserves a second reading, being a beautifully told love story of a boy with conflicted desires between his wizardly talent and its concomitant requirement of chastity, and his love of music and a girl who shares his passions. A fine portrait of what is important in the business of living.
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