Children’s/Science Fiction and Fantasy
It may seem like an odd time of life to be reading children’s literature. In my defence, I bought this book ‘blind’ as one of a number I ordered after being gifted a book token for my 70th birthday. I’d heard of Ursula Le Guin, had her books recommended, but had never read any of her work, and this title came up as a potential taster.
Like all good children’s classics, this is intelligent writing with no condescension, and a challenging vocabulary. There’s certainly no reason an adult would turn it down.
What’s initially surprising about the work is its slow build to action.
This slowness is beautifully compensated by easy engagement with the characters and, in particular, with Ged, the main protagonist. Wonderfully drawn; this credible youngster inhabits a world depicted with just enough detail to encourage imagination.
Magic in fantasy has always been a slight irritation for me; it smacks of an easy solution to worldly problems. But in this author’s hands it works well and fails to become the panacea it so often represents in other works.
The adventure builds when the unusual antagonist is introduced. That the enemy is created by the ignorance and pride in power of the protagonist is a subtle lesson for children (and, perhaps, for all leaders of all ages) everywhere.
A myriad islands make up the world of this novel, and Le Guin manages to give each an individual personality, often in very few words.
The denouement builds tension at an increasing rate, making it hard for the reader to put the book down once this stage is reached. And the conclusion is superb and as surprising as it is inevitable.
I enjoyed this book and will seek out her more adult titles to read in future.
[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]