He is a full-grown man, alone in dense forest, with no trail to show where he has come from and no memory to tell who or what he is. His eyes are not the eyes of a human. The forest people take him in and raise him almost as a child, teaching him to speak, training him in forest lore, giving him all the knowledge they have. But they could not solve the riddle of his past, and at last he has to set out on a perilous quest to find his true self--and a universe of danger.
Three quarters of the book tells of this man’s journey to Es Toch, and as such is a sort of average questing tale with friends and foes along the way. It is up to our hero to figure out which is which. The ultimate answer he seeks is quite the interesting revelation, as is also what happens after he figures this out. For me, the book really didn’t get good until that final part, and the rest was fair to average. I wish we could have skipped a hunk of the journey and gotten more of the what-happens-next as the ending is just a tad abrupt. Very evocative writing, though, throughout.
City of Illusions is a direct sequel to Planet of Exile, though you don't know that at first. And this novel was more memorable, had more twists and turns that I didn't see coming, and delivered along the way a good adventure across a post-apocalyptic far-future America. I can also see her philosophy more to the fore in this book. Le Guin did a translation of the Tao Te Ching, and Taoism is said to imbue both Earthsea and her novel The Dispossessed. A passage in the Tao is key in this story, and we even meet a "Thurro-dowist" (follower of Thoreau of Walden Pond and Taoism.) So although I'd still say her great novels were still in her future, this is the one the first one I'd call a standout--well worth the read.
I enjoyed this, though I felt it ended a bit abruptly. What happened next?!? Perhaps she's written other books in the same world? I'll have to look into it.
I was caught off guard by what is revealed in the second half of the novel. I as the reader certainly knew something was up and we are given clues, but the big reveal still surprised me more than it should have. Although I enjoyed the latter half of the book and liked how it tied in to elements of the preceding novel, it didn't really have my interest like the early part of the novel did. Still, overall I liked this story and appreciate how the first three novels fit together here.
I probably liked this one the best of the first three novels