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18 of 50

  1. Alexander, Lloyd — The Black Cauldron
  2. Anthony, Piers — Letters to Jenny
  3. Cooper, Susan — Over Sea, Under Stone
  4. Proulx, Annie — Close Range: Wyoming Stories
  5. Kincaid, Jamaica — Lucy
  6. Christie, Agatha — The Unexpected Guest
  7. Dick, Philip K. — Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  8. Cooper, Susan — The Dark Is Rising
  9. Cooper, Susan — Greenwitch
  10. Shaffer, Peter — Amadeus
  11. Anonymous — Go Ask Alice
  12. Cooper, Susan — The Grey King
  13. Martin, Steve — Shopgirl
  14. Cooper, Susan — Silver on the Tree
  15. Gaiman, Neil — Stardust
  16. Gaiman, Neil — Coraline
  17. Le Guin, Ursula — A Wizard of Earthsea
  18. Le Guin, Ursula — The Tombs of Atuan

I had trouble getting into this book. For one, the pace has picked up in the Merton. I actually read more than I said I would before taking a break from it to read more Le Guin. Also, this book is slower-paced than the first, and I found myself early on wishing I were reading Merton instead. However, Tombs eventually sucked me in.

The Tombs of Atuan is completely different than A Wizard of Earthsea. The latter has a very broad focus, as Ged goes adventuring all over Earthsea and beyond; the former, a very narrow focus, contained almost entirely in the enclave containing the Tombs. This narrower focus created a slower-paced narrative which I hadn't been expecting and which was difficult to adjust to. However, the narrow focus also allowed Le Guin to probe more deeply into her subject matter, creating a more introspective novel full of philosophical themes, reminiscent in many ways of The Left Hand of Darkness.

As with Left Hand, Le Guin's prose sparkles. There is one passage, towards the end, that I feel is particularly noteworthy:

What she had begun to learn was the weight of liberty. Freedom is a heavy load, a great and strange burden for the spirit to undertake. It is not easy. It is not a gift given, but a choice made, and the choice may be a hard one. The road goes upward towards the light; but the laden traveller may never reach the end of it.

I was a bit surprised Le Guin presented us with Tombs before The Farthest Shore, as quite clearly the latter chronologically precedes the former. I'll be curious to see what she does with The Farthest Shore, since we know full well going into it that Ged will succeed in his quest to the Dragons' Run and Selidor. I'm sure that will be the next book I list here, but not before I knock off another large chunk of the Merton.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
lillibet
Apr. 26th, 2006 03:50 am (UTC)
I was a bit surprised Le Guin presented us with Tombs before The Farthest Shore, as quite clearly the latter chronologically precedes the former.

Um, no. Tombs takes place while Ged is still a young man, before he becomes Archmage. In Shore he's much older, in his 50's, I think. There are other reasons why the one must come after the others, but I don't want to spoil your re-discovery of it.

J. and I re-read these to each other last year. We bogged down halfway through Tehanu--really should get back to it, but it's awfully sad to read aloud. We really enjoyed The Other Wind (the sixth book, after Tales from Earthsea) and found it fascinating how her concept of death had changed between ages 35 and 70.
spwebdesign
Apr. 26th, 2006 09:39 am (UTC)
So, then, in Farthest Shore it's not the first time Ged has sailed through the Dragons' Run and to Selidor? For he quite clearly tells Tenar in a couple of places (in the Treasure Room of the Labyrinth and in the cave before they leave Atuan) that he has been to Selidor (and talked to a Dragon of the lineage of Orm who told him what he carried was the half-ring of Erreth-Akbe) and that Lookfar has been out beyond the known lands of the Eastern Reach and to the farthest shores of the Western Reach.
(Anonymous)
Apr. 26th, 2006 02:48 pm (UTC)
Yes, Ged has clearly already been out that way before he goes with Arren in Shore.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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