Laughter and books make life a little easier

Day 18 – A book that disappointed you: Part 2


This post is part of a month-long series of pre-dated posts running while I am on holiday. Feel free to comment, I’ll get back to you when I return!
Please note that any “reviews” I write here are simply my own opinion and that I am not doing any objective, informative reviews for this challenge. If there are any spoilers in a post, I will indicate it at the top.
I draw the book covers straight from Goodreads and you can click on the images to go to the book’s page on there.

When I picked up The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula K. Le Guin in a second-hand bookshop, I was excited. I’ve hardly seen a Top/Favourite XX Fantasy-list that this book was not on, so I thought I was in for a treat. I was ready to be blown away by a story that so many people loved and recommended, but I’m afraid that I’m still waiting for my hair to ruffle.

Frankly, this book disappointed me. I felt that this world that Le Guin created had so much potential that she never realised. It is set in the Earthsea, an archipelago of hundreds of little islands, each with its own people. Magic rules this world in the form of the true names of things that serve as words of power in the hands of wizards. The books follow the life of Ged, a boy with magical potential, as he goes to the wizard school, has successes and failures, progresses through the ranks and has adventures.

When I finished the book, I realised that I still had no idea what Ged really looked like. I knew he was dark – skin and hair – and that his hair turned white towards the end of the story, but I didn’t know much further than that.

I also thought that the story fast-forwarded in odd places and then dragged in others. Just as I thought we were getting to an interesting bit of his life, then we went and jumped forward 17 years. Then soon after that, the story would linger over some insignificant bit for pages and pages.

The last book in the quartet, Tehanu was, quite honestly, weird. I found this story about the burnt girl and Ged very, very strange. I thought the potential of what this girl really was and how she was changed when she was burned was grossly under-explored and the same goes for the relationship between Ged and Tenar. The (almost overpowering) feminist element was not well-handled, in my opinion.  Then, just as I thought the story was finally getting somewhere and developing into something interesting, it was the last page and it ended, just like that. A very unsatisfactory ending to this quartet, I must say.

While I’m finding fault with all these things in the book, I must also say that I rather enjoyed the second book out of the four, The Tombs of Atuan. I found the lives of the priestesses interesting and Ged lost in the maze also made for good reading. That one really wasn’t too bad at all. Actually, I think it was the best one out of the four and the only one that I really enjoyed.

I thought the first one moved too fast  – every time that I got interested in a certain aspect, we were whisked away. I would also have liked more explanations and descriptions of this fantasy world, because there wasn’t nearly enough of that for much of the book.

The third one… was oddly choppy. It dragged and dragged without much information about where we were dragging to and then suddenly it was over. I still don’t know who that bad guy was. I’m still not very certain why he was doing what he was doing to the world. Or, for that matter, exactly what he was doing to the world, beyond a vague explanation from Ged. The part with the dragons was the only part that I thought was good in this book. That part was strangely haunting and very sad. But the rest… I felt so uninvolved in the story, because there wasn’t much for me to go on. I don’t really know how to explain it, but it felt as though I was watching the summary of a story from very far away. Yes… that sounds about right. I must add that the cover art for that part of the story is lovely, though.

The bottom left one.

And, that’s mostly how I feel about this book. I’m not sure why it is so highly recommended. I don’t see the appeal of it. Oh, it’s not that bad in itself. Some parts are good, but I honestly think it read more like a summary than a real book and the parts that dragged or skipped didn’t improve it.


Did I mention that it took me two whole months to read this thing? During summer holiday when I cannot blame my amount of work for how long I took? That is how little this book interested or engaged me, or I would have read faster. I just don’t think it’s that good. Or am I missing something?

At first I thought I’d like to read Le Guin’s other work, it being so highly recommended and all, but now I don’t think I want to.


This was, I think, the last post that I’ll split. Now it’s straight to the finish!


Tomorrow’s post is about my favourite book turned into a movie! 😀


2 responses

  1. I understand why you think this! When I read the first book, I really liked it. It was a simple book, but it was small so I’d expected that. I just loved the feel of the world Le Guin created, and reading Ged’s story was enjoyable and made me happy. The second book was interesting, but I felt that it didn’t have the same exciting fantasy charm as the first one. The third one had kind of lost it all. I don’t remember the story much, but I remember not being so excited about it, and I remember that the climax was vague and confusing and therefore not very satisfying. I haven’t yet read the fourth book.

    So . . . although it was the first book that I liked and the second book that you liked, I do agree with you about the third book and the series as a whole. But I will still defend the first book as being good and worth reading. 😉

    July 12, 2012 at 22:39

    • I didn’t say the first book wasn’t good. It was, it was just a bit disappointing, because I felt the author didn’t realise the full potential that she had right there. 😉 And I liked the second one, because I like the maze concept and that of the “cult”, but I agree that the third one lost it. Don’t read the fourth one if you don’t like weird allusions to feminism and suchlike in a book. It’s a seriously strange book.
      Oh yes, I just don’t think I’ll read it again and it’s not a favourite either. 😛

      July 20, 2012 at 23:38

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