Encountereds. I came, I saw, I commented.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

A Wizard of Earthsea / The Tombs of Atuan - Ursula K. Le Guin (2)

I loved Le Guins The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness, so even though I'm not very keen on people in pointy hats throwing speels (unless they're called Gandalf, obviously) I thought I'd give Earthsea a shot, and I'm glad I did. Like with her other books, I found the most interesting element of these books their outright refusal to play by the base rules of the genre. While there are magical gadgets, spells, castles and monsters, it's clearly not those that Le Guin is interested in. Where a Wizard of Earthsea was about one boy's journey to discover and master the evil in himself, the Tombs is about a clash of worldviews and belief systems, one religiously closed and involved in power struggle, the other, though based in magic, rational and open, and striving to find balance. In a nutshell, these stories are driven by psychological archetypes (the dark of the tombs, the faceless evil) than by plot, in fact, so much so that I wondered why there needed to be any magic in them at all - the fantasy elements are, so far at least, quite superficial.


Blogger Martin LaBar said...

Why magic? In part, most likely, because she wrote informed by anthropology (her father was a world-famous anthropologist) and tribal people (and us) have our supernatural beliefs.

Another reason is that supernatural darkness is one of the archetypes of story.

8:11 PM

Blogger Kai said...

Yes, that's definitely true. I'm just wondering why she felt a need to have the magic be real instead of just firmly believed in. E.g. the fact that wizards can truly control wind, rather than just believe they can and blame it on some theological problem if it doesn't work, doesn't add much to the deeper themes, while it does move a very weel thought out story about mythology and archetypical psychology in close neighborhood to countless Tolkien-spawned fantasy trilogies, full of swords and magic rings.

3:24 PM


Post a Comment

<< Home