A Wizard of Earthsea trilogy vs. quartet?


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A Wizard of Earthsea trilogy vs. quartet?

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Editado: Jul 9, 2009, 12:48am

I recently started reading A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin and I am really enjoying it. I was searching for it on Amazon and found that there is the trilogy, but I found there is also a quartet offered. (The Earthsea Quartet: "A Wizard Of Earthsea"; "The Tombs of Atuan"; "The Farthest Shore"; "Tehanu") I was wondering which books are in the original trilogy, and what exactly the fourth book is. (prequel, sequel, etc.?) Is it worth buying all four, or just sticking with the original three? I appreciate any help! Thanks ahead of time! :)

Jul 9, 2009, 1:02am

I could hardly resist helping someone with such clearly impeccable taste in usernames. :)

The original three are A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, and The Farthest Shore. These were written in quick succession, form a single unit, and you can easily stop there. The fourth book, Tehanu, written more than 15 years later, (originally subtitled "The Last Book of Earthsea", though more recent editions probably omit that) is quite different in tone and style -- in part it's Le Guin bringing a more developed feminist sensibility to a trilogy that, as you've probably realized by now, had some rather dated gender issues.) I'd still recommend it, but it's not necessary. (Oh, and it's a sequel, set considerably later.)

Then, after another long gap, came The Other Wind, which is weak and not very memorable, and the collection Tales from Earthsea, which is definitely worth reading.

Jul 9, 2009, 1:09am

Wow! Thanks for the information, that really helped! I find gender issues to be interesting, (dated or otherwise) so I will give Tehanu a try. I had not heard of The Other Wind, so I am glad you let me know about it. Thanks again for the help and you have fantastic taste in user-names yourself! ;)

Jul 9, 2009, 5:02am

We are on the same mind track, apparently. I just finished reading A Wizard of Earthsea for the first time :)

Jul 9, 2009, 6:15am

Contrary to #2 I rather like The Other Wind and find it a suitable companion to Tehanu which I found ended rather weakly and left the reader with a few unanswered questions that are resolved in TOW.

But I'd fully agree that the Tales from Earthsea is very worthwhile - mostly a prequel, it is a collection of short stories covering a range of times.

Jul 9, 2009, 2:01pm

Minor correction to #2, above. Tehanu is set almost immediately after The Farthest Shore (the last of the original trilogy).

Tales from Earthsea provides a variety of short stories. Some provide back story for people and institutions in the earlier four books, and some take place concurrently with the main books.

The Other Wind is the last story in the sequence. It builds on the events of several of the preceding books, including one of the stories from Tales from Earthsea. Personally, I found it a very satisfying conclusion. There were various elements of the later books (Tehanu and Tales from Earthsea) that didn't mesh well (for me) with the original trilogy. I felt that The Other Wind not only told an interesting story, but it also did a great job of reconciling these different perspectives on what Earthsea is in a way that made all of the books better.

Jul 9, 2009, 2:38pm

This is all such helpful information. I love that LT allows me to connect with such informed and thoughtful readers like you guys! Thank you so much for the information. I really appreciate it! :)

Ago 18, 2009, 7:54pm

This thread is interesting to me. I recently read A Wizard of Earthsea in a start to gaining some more fantasy knowledge, but found the treatment of gender really offensive (all women are power-hungry, over-reaching witches/bitches except little Susie Happy Homemaker- really?). Also I found the prose sort of stale/ uninvolving and the mental journey lacking- but I recognize lots of authors improve with time (and the Earthsea series has got to have such a name in fantasy for a reason).

Does The Tombs of Atuan improve on those fronts and worth it to check out, or is the series just not for me?

Ago 18, 2009, 9:25pm

Kaionvin: If you didn't like the treatment of gender in A Wizard of Earthsea you'll probably like it even less in The Tombs of Atuan. That said, I wouldn't write off the entire series. Le Guin wrote the 4th and subsequent books some 20 years after she finished the initial trilogy, and they present a substantially different view of gender in Earthsea. So, taken as a whole, I think the series presents a better picture than the first three books on their own.

Fev 3, 2010, 12:48pm

I'm late to the party, but Kaionvin, if you're interested in gender issues, you should also check out LeGuin's The left hand of darkness. It won both the Nebula and the Hugo in the late 60s/earlly 70s.

Fev 3, 2010, 1:57pm

I loved the original trilogy, and really disliked Tehanu - yes, there were gender issues in the original, but in trying to revisit them, I think she leached away most of what I liked about the story.

Fev 3, 2010, 2:20pm

I couldn't agree more, Eveleen. I found Tehanu absolutely dismal, so much weaker in both plot and style that I could hardly believe it was the same author.

I would have to reread to comment on the trilogy's alleged gender issues. I really appreciate what Le Guin does with Tenar in The Tombs of Atuan.

Fev 3, 2010, 2:27pm

I think in Tehanu LeGuin fell victim to her occasional tendency toward strident earnestness, as she did in The Word for World Is Forest. In spite of that, I enjoyed both quite well. I think the ending of The Other Wind is a pretty radical re-imagining of how her world works, and she develops a couple of characters quite nicely. I'll say no more for fear of spoiling the book for these new readers. Less-than-her-best LeGuin is still better than a lot of other books.

Editado: Fev 3, 2010, 4:25pm

> 13

Less-than-her-best LeGuin is still better than a lot of other books.
I totally agree with you.

When I first read Earthsea it was as a quartet, so Tehanu didn't seem to me so much of a different book. It still had a different tone that the other three, but I enjoyed it. I really liked The tombs of Atuan and was really happy to have Tenar as a main character again.

The other wind felt to me a bit unnecessary, more like an epilogue to story than really a continuation of it.

Fev 16, 2010, 4:34am

Yeah! The Left Hand of Darkness is definitely on my (admittedly very long and getting longer the more I hang around book networking sites) list.