Tales from Earthsea

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Paper Book, 2003



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London : Orion, 2003.


Explores further the magical world of Earthsea through five tales of events which occur before or after the time of the original novels, as well as an essay on the people, languages, history and magic of the place.

User reviews

LibraryThing member horomnizon
At first I wasn't too sure about this collection of short stories, thinking I'd rather get to the conclusion of the story arc from the first 4 books...but I knew one of the stories acts as a bridge from Tehanu to The Other Wind, so I started in on the Tales from Earthsea. I have to say that I enjoyed each of the stories presented here - the gaps and history that they fill in and just the joy of meeting more Earthsea residents.

I don't think 'Dragonfly' bore too many surprises in acting as the 'bridge' story - mostly just confirmed some possibilities I imagined in Tehanu, but I'll have to see for sure when I get into the last book.

My least favorite of the stories was 'Darkrose and Diamond' - a romance that doesn't really add anything to the grand scheme of things. Yes, a nice little interlude, but you don't learn anything that is of use in following the overall story. The others, though, add bits of history - how the school on Roke was founded, how Ged's teacher stopped the earthquake (with help!), and a random bit of Ged's and Roke's history with a mad wizard in the mix. That one - On the High Marsh - was probably interesting to me most as a mystery. I wanted to know who the animal healer was and I was happy when Ged showed up to tell that man's tale. I was also quite happy about the ending of that story...but I won't say more than that!

All in all, I think it fits well as the 5th book - filling in some history and giving a peek at what's to come.
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LibraryThing member ragwaine
The Finder: Some cool parts, some fluff, same style ; Darkrose and Diamond: It's like the karate kid does fantasy. Boring, stupid love story. ; The Bones of the Earth: Silly and childish except for talking with earthquake. ; On the High Marsh: Feels like the first 3 novels but was shorter and had less plot. ; Dragonfly: Captured some of the old flavor and was longest story. A woman on Roke. She was a dragon.… (more)
LibraryThing member RBeffa
Tales from Earthsea is a very enjoyable set of five stories set in the archipelago of Earthsea at various places and times, plus an essay, "A Description of Earthsea". I liked each of the five stories in their own way with no clear favorite for me. If I had to pick one though, it would be "The Dragonfly". One or two of the stories could be considered novellas. "The Finder", the longest of the stories by far, felt like a companion novel to "A Wizard of Earthsea". "On the High Marsh" had a different feel than other Earthsea stories, a bit of a mystery about it, but quite enjoyable with a nice surprise. These stories are a good companion to the earthsea novels, and well worth reading.… (more)
LibraryThing member raistlinsshadow
If the author's note is completely discounted, then these are five stories that merely take place in the world of Earthsea. If, however, the author's note is taken into account, then this acts poorly as an explanation of the history of Earthsea and more like a poor man's version of Tolkien's Silmarillion—a very poor version indeed, because I have never really wondered about the background of Earthsea like I did about Middle-Earth, and thus made the book come off as trite and self-indulgent.

The stories are good enough; the first was my personal favorite because it stood alone as one that seemed coherent, cohesive, and above all seemed to matter in the grand scheme of the novels (of course we want to know about how the wizardry school on Roke was founded!). The others were all right taken all together and had their own levels of intrigue, but it could have done without the too-scholarly "A Description of Earthsea" at the end. There simply hasn't been enough substance in these books for me to care about the history of the languages and writing to any great extent; there hadn't been enough emphasis placed on much of anything but the characters through the first four novels of the cycle, so to have something like that came completely out of left field.
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LibraryThing member ThePortPorts
It's hard for me to verbalize LeGuin's impact on me. Her writing is so... simple. Her style reads so often like writing for youngsters (and maybe it is...), but the ideas are not simple. They're complex and somehow sit in my mind for weeks after I've finished one of her books.

I have a few authors who I am working on "completing:" reading all they've published. Le Guin is one of them.

So, yes. I very much enjoyed this collection of stories. They run the entire timeline of the Earthsea series, from before book one and as a bridge between 4 and 6. The world filled out for me with this volume, and I have a hankering to go back and start over with number one.

But first, I'll dig into 6. Big things are going to happen.
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LibraryThing member reading_fox
Mostly stories from before the organisation of magic on Earthsea, but vividly detailed. Stories in essance from the notes that made Earthsea what it was first known for.
LibraryThing member DRFP
A nice collection of short stories from Earthsea. Individually good but there are nothing amazing. Hence an average rating of three stars.
LibraryThing member SarahEHWilson
It's pleasurable to have these other glimpses of Earthsea apart from the main characters we've grown to know and love. The story that gripped me most was the one about the quicksilver-obsessed manufacturer, and the woman whose body is ultimately destroyed by this treacherous metal. It's a powerful metaphor for industry set in a "fantastical" world. The one that advances the main plot of the Earthsea cycle was enjoyable in that we see a woman transgress the male sanctum, but rather irritatingly seemed in the end to be an engine for LeGuin's not very sophisticated critique of the resurrection of the dead.… (more)
LibraryThing member tronella
This book has five short stories set in Earthsea - I've read Le Guin's four novels set in this world before, although I don't remember them too well. I might have to reread them soon. Again, I really enjoy Le Guin's writing style and world-building skills. I believe that the Earthsea books are supposed to be "children's fantasy", but they didn't feel dumbed-down at all, which I thoroughly approve of :)… (more)
LibraryThing member jveezer
Bones of the Earth and DragonFly are my two favorites here. But anytime Ursula wants to return to EarthSea is alright with me. I like her other novels but the EarthSea books have always been my favorite.
These stories flesh out some of the early history in anticipation of the cycle ending The Other Wind.… (more)
LibraryThing member drardavis
05/08/14 Earthsea: Tales From Earthsea, Ursula K. LeGuin, 1997. I was disappointed that this was not a full novel. Instead, LeGuin constructs five tales that fill in some of the gaps in the overall history of Earthsea. However, each story has the same wonderful style and feeling as the rest of LeGuin’s saga. Included in this book is a description of the structure of Earthsea and, as in the other books, comments by the author about the writing itself. She mentions that Earthsea has changed over the years; as she writes it and remembers it, and as her fans read it.… (more)
LibraryThing member amaraduende
This was a good introduction to Earthsea, for me. Might have been better if I'd read the original series. Going to try them now, though, because I enjoyed these stories. :)
LibraryThing member phoebesmum
A welcome and valuable addition to the Earthsea mythos. What can one say about Le Guin’s writing? Beautiful, lyrical, evocative, magical. And – and this is what sets her apart – always thoroughly moral, ethical and right-minded without ever being boring, sanctimonious or preachy.
LibraryThing member Stevil2001
It's odd that this book should leave me cold. Short stories by Ursula K. Le Guin! Come on! I should love them all. Instead, I just kinda like "On the High Marsh," and I don't care for the rest at all. Certainly the most skippable of the Earthsea books.
LibraryThing member Sullywriter
A novella, stories, and "essay" about the customs, geography, and history of Earthsea.
LibraryThing member JBD1
What a delight to go back to Earthsea and read more stories from that marvelous place. It was quite odd to be in the middle of this when I heard the news that the author had died, but I was glad that I still have so many more of her works to enjoy.
LibraryThing member wealhtheowwylfing
LibraryThing member Vivl
Earthsea is fleshed out delightfully through these five stories, the last of which bridges the way between Tehanu and The Other Wind. My 2012 edition has a forward (written in 2001) where Le Guin explains her need to revisit Earthsea and how that place led her to these particular stories. It also includes 'A Description of Earthsea' at the end, a slightly rambling and repetitive (she says these were her working notes to keep her on track, so no surprise) but nonetheless interesting summary of how Earthsea has revealed itself to her, and a 2012-written Afterword, in which she talks of how these stories were necessary for her, to lead her to an understanding of what was going wrong with things in Earthsea and why: questions she had to formulate in order, presumably, to be able to answer them, or at least explore them, in The Other Wind (which I am starting today.)

'The Finder' takes us back to the beginnings of Roke, in dark days where magic is ungoverned, used for nefarious purposes and as a result distrusted. It's a history bound up in the personal tales of a boy, later young man, whose powers have to be hidden, a network of women and men (the gender barriers of "later" times are well and truly thrown into question) and their perforce secret work to found the first school of magic on Roke and to bring good intentions and governance back to magic. I wish I'd written about it straight after reading as the others have overtaken this tale in my mind, but I know it was very enjoyable and interesting. I loved the giving of a footing, a grounding to the School of Roke that we know from the earlier books, set so much later in time, and how many questions that grounding answers and poses.

'Darkrose and Diamond' explores the relative importance of magical powers and other loves (of the romantic sort and of music in this case) and whether one can or should reconcile them. A very sweet story.

'The Bones of the Earth' blends the Old Powers and "modern" Roke-taught magic to avert disaster (more hintings at how things could/should? be different, how the rules we know from the previous books are more strict than they need to be?), featuring Ged's teacher Ogion and his teacher, Dulse. This felt amost like a prequel to A Wizard of Earthsea and I was glad to spend more time with Ogion, one of the few characters I really liked in that first novel!

In 'On the High Marsh', a wandering mage, clearly with a dark past, arrives in a small village and tries to find a new way to live, facing fear and misunderstanding and offered just a few helping hands. Again, we have to wonder whether Roke is the be all and end all that it seemed in the first books or whether there are other, perhaps even better ways to find fulfilment. Gently intriguing.

The novella 'Firefly' brings this collection to a close, following the life of an uncouth girl of mysterious power. It's hard to say anything much that won't be a spoiler, but as every story in this collection has in different ways challenged the "rules" of Roke, it won't be much of a surprise to know that this follows that pattern! Very exciting, leaving beloved Earthsea teetering in the balance, with all the heavy questions ready to be resolved? in The Other Wind.

I enjoyed these stories so much that I wanted to start the "final" novel straight away, but felt the need to go back and reread Tehanu first. Having finished with that this morning, I'm itching to go on what will possibly be one last journey into Earthsea.
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LibraryThing member Sparrowlicious
Since I'm one of those people who have the luxury of reading these books one after another in a short period of time (as in, the first book of this cycle is older than me! There are no years in between reading them.) I enjoy how Le Guin builds her world more and more through the stories in this book. I enjoyed the story about the founding of Roke, the run-away wizard - Diamond, Ogion's past and how his master found his end when they stilled the earthquake, the episode about Sparrowhak's past as archmage and how Dragonfly was part of the change that was brought to Roke. (Did I forget anything?) I love how suddenly everything's changing. Some might think, alright, the world is built, there are rules - but the rules Le Guin set herself she abolishes as she likes it and that I love. As for Dragonfly, the world of Earthsea is changing. I think that is quite a good thing for a fantasy world too - constant change. Suddenly, everything seems to move back to their origins a bit more. People are dragons again, and dragons are people.
It fascinates me and I'm currently enjoying 'The Other Wind' as well.
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LibraryThing member nebula21
The fifth book in the Earthsea series consists of five short stories and a description of Earthsea that details the history of the islands. If you liked the first four books I would recommend you read it. The stories are set on different islands in different times and help to shed light on the history and culture of the people of Earthsea. The last story "Dragonfly", is the prequel of the next book The Other Wind.… (more)
LibraryThing member sonofcarc
The first of these -- really a novella not a short story -- is to my mind the very best of Earthsea. (Even though it is an Origin Story and I hate those as a rule.) I like the chaarcter Hound very, very much.
LibraryThing member MillieHennessy
The Finder – An early tale about another wizard who excels at changing his shape like Ged. This one was a bit boring and felt drawn out. It was neat to learn about the founding of Roke Island and to see lady sorcerers. Had some similar themes to Ged’s tale, but it didn’t quite grab me.

Darkrose and Diamond – A love story about being true to your passions and how the sacrifices we make can affect us.

The Bones of the Earth – This was about Ogion and his master. I loved it. It was sad and sweet and I loved learning more about Ogion’s beginnings with magic and how he got to where he was when we met him through Ged. I think this was my favorite of the collection.

On the High Marsh – Another good one about one of Ged’s adventures as Archmage. A tale of redemption.

Dragonfly – My second favorite of the collection. This story is what ties Tehanu to The Other Wind and brings us up to speed about what’s been happening on Roke after Ged left his position as Archmage. I’m always happy to read about another lady with power who isn’t just some hedgewitch. Plus, dragons!

As far as shorts collections go, this didn’t blow me away. But overall I enjoyed the stories and at the very least you need to read Dragonfly if you’re going to continue the series to the final book, The Other Wind.
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LibraryThing member AJBraithwaite
Really enjoyed these snapshots of Earthsea's history.
LibraryThing member NineLarks
I really like Le Guin and her writing, but this book just didn't fit my expectations.

Tales from Earthsea was more like a writer's notes about her own world semi-written into a story format. I was expecting more cohesive story lines regardless if they explored the past or future of Earthsea. But it seems like the whole purpose of this book was more to explain the backstory/future of characters. I'd rather have a compelling story than focus so much on seeing a character as a youngin'.

The strongest story was probably the first about Otter/Tern/Medra. I loved how each section dove into the particulars of his use-name, true name, and other. It was a beautiful progression of plot and villains - also a careful exploration of Roke's path. The idea of the wizard island originating as an island of canny women plus the powers of a finder was interesting. Especially as we got to see how things were before there was an obstruction to tyrannical power.

I did enjoy reading the story about Gift and Irioth because of the Ged cameo. Also there was a bit of mystery and hints of strangeness.

I thought the Diamond & Darkrose lovestory was rather boring without much plot. Yes, it did show off the mindset behind wizard beliefs and celibacy and what people choose, but I don't think it was good as a story.

Same with the story about Dragonfly. I just felt bored reading it the entire time. There wasn't enough hint that she had a dragon nature. It didn't really explain her name at all. And the defeat of the enemy was just too easy. The whole story just didn't fit well for me.

This book just moved more slowly than all the other ones. Maybe it is because it's a compilation of short stories, maybe because it was just Le Guin trying to write out history of her own world, who knows. All I know is that this book was only okay and hardly indicative of her strengths in writing.
Two stars. I think I expect more from Le Guin. I only wanted to finish reading this book because I know there was a story in here before the next book in this series. Still, not exactly recommended unless you just want to finish out the series.
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LibraryThing member Griffin22
A group of short stories from various eras in Earthsea. It gives some good background and history to the novels. Interesting to fans of the original trilogy.


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