Saturday, 12 March 2011

Revisiting Old Friends and Reliving Old Memories

Recently, I've taken up reading again which, I admit, has been quite slow for the last year or so. I simply haven't felt like reading any of the (far too many) unread books I own. In order to make my brain want to read again (yes, I blame my brain) I have been re-reading books I haven't read for many years. I started with some Agatha Christie novels and have now moved on to the Earthsea series by Ursula K. Le Guin.

If you haven't heard of these novels, you're in for a treat! I can't remember what made me read the first novel (A Wizard of Earthsea) all those years ago, but I was immediately enthralled with the world Le Guin creates and with the character of Sparrowhawk. I admit that I am always drawn to characters who have gifts that set them apart from the others, yet who still act wisely. As a boy, Sparrowhawk is impatient and proud, which leads him to make foolish mistakes, but he learns from them and becomes one of my all-time favourite characters. There is something special about his serenity and confidence in his own power - yet he keeps seeming unaware of how truly great it is. Few are as unassuming as him.

I finished the second book (The Tombs of Atuan) this morning. It is slightly less interesting than the first for we see very little of Sparrowhawk and are privy to the slow life of a young priestess, chosen as the reborn First Priestess - The One Who Has Been Eaten. Her name is Tenar. I won't go into details, but it is an excellent book. It does continue the story of Sparrowhawk, but he is a much more minor character. It could in fact be seen as a standalone novel, and really doesn't require much knowledge of the first book.

The Earthsea series is comprised of four books, is often classified as children's fiction (though I do think that some of the concepts in the novels are too abstract for young adults to grasp), and is not a very long series. In fact, in comparison to some fantasy series it's very short indeed. I have limited time to read, and can only manage half an hour or so before falling asleep, yet I read The Tombs of Atuan in three or four days. Still, the story is compact and there is amazing depth in the novel, for its length.

As for the third and fourth novels in the series, I know I haven't read the fourth before. I cannot for the life of me remember reading the third, but I have it written down on my list of read books so I guess I must have read it at some point. If I remember it once I start reading remains to be seen. Either way, I'm looking forward to it very much, and can't wait to once again dive into Le Guin's fabulous world!

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