While I haven’t read a lot of short story collections by many different authors, I have read many short story collections by a few select authors. Below is my book review for Ursula K. Le Guin’s Tales from Earthsea.
I first discovered the writing of Ms. Le Guin in 2005. Since that summer, I have read a whole bunch of her books and short stories collections. I needed a book to read on the long flight to New Zealand, although did not have one in mind. Before going to the bookstore and wandering aimlessly around the Fantasy and Sci-Fi section hoping I’d find something, I remember going to Amazon.com and typing “wizard” into the search box.
This, in turn, brought me to the page for The Wizard of Earthsea (1968), arguably one of the best fantasy books I have ever read. At 198 pages (my 2004 Bantam Spectra edition), The Wizard of Earthsea sets the stage for an intricate and beautiful world where magic abounds and your imagination will run free. Ms. Le Guin does in 198 pages what J.K. Rowling couldn’t do – for me, in any case – in seven books. I should admit that, while I did enjoy the Harry Potter movies, I only read five of the books.
So, after finishing The Wizard of Earthsea I immediately plowed through the next three books in Ms. Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle. By this time, I had already fallen in love with the people and world of Earthsea, and couldn’t wait to get my hands on more.
Published as one volume in 2001, Tales from Earthsea are five short works of fiction set in the Earthsea universe. I’ve read this collection twice, and it still hasn’t gotten old. While I can’t remember when I re-read it, I do remember the first time I picked it up.
During the summer of 2006 my family went to Alaska for a two-week vacation. Tales From Earthsea was safely stowed in my carry-on for the plane ride. Visiting Alaska was awesome, to say the least. Anchorage was cold, and windy. Fairbanks, alternatively, was 80 degrees Fahrenheit and it was still bright outside at midnight. It was actually in Fairbanks that I remember reading Tales from Earthsea and being told to go to bed, even though the sun was still shining and I did not want to put the book down. There were other times that vacation when I should have been looking out the window at the scenery and instead had my eyes glued to the pages.
If you like fantasy – actually, if you enjoy thoughtful stories with substance and depth – consider picking up a copy of Tales from Earthsea. As I mentioned above, Tales from Earthsea is comprised of five short stories. My personal two favorites are “The Finder” and “On the High Marsh,” although each story is unique in its own way.
In short, Tales from Earthsea is a rare gem and is worth a place on your reading list. It is also available as an audio book, if that is your preference.
*Note: This is my first attempt at writing a book review. I apologize if it is lacking in some areas and doesn’t answer all the questions a book review normally would cover. Suggestions and recommendations are welcome.