Before reading this book I had heard so many good things. People (both reviewers and friends) raved. So I was very I excited when I finally got to read this book.
The story is told through the eyes of Bartimaeus, a demon who was been enslaved, captured, in forced servitude, to a young magician. He’s very pompous and prone to bragging about his power and prior accomplishments. This is done through footnotes which I never fully got used to, I found them jarring to the flow and frequently unnecessary.
Nathaniel is the young wizard who has captured Bartimaeus. He, like Bartimaeus, thinks rather highly of himself. Yet most of his accomplishments seem to stem from luck (and Bartimaeus), rather than skill. And he happens to be a brat.
You might have already picked up on this, but I didn’t enjoy the book. I think that if either Bartimaeus or Nathaniel had in some way been even the slightest bit likeable, I would have enjoyed the book. But they weren’t. I never rooted for them. I didn’t care about them. Because I didn’t care about them, I didn’t care about the story.
However, reading other reviews, it appears I am in the minority. If you find yourself enjoying books with less redeeming main characters, give it a whirl. However, if you don’t like it, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Oh, and there was a very intriguing underlying plot, which no doubt will become more evident in the rest of the trilogy. And even though I am curious about this plot line, I can’t bring myself to read any more about these characters. So if anyone has read the whole thing maybe you could give me a brief spoiler. Or maybe not. I don’t have a burning desire to know.
Conclusion (of the Earthsea trilogy)
I have only just moments ago finished The Farthest Shore, the conclusion of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy.
I need a moment to catch my breath and slow my heartbeat.
I’m still trying to verbalize my feelings about the book.
Let me say, the conclusion of this book, as with the previous two books, is amazing (if you’re interested in my reviews of those books you can find them here and here). Le Guin manages to explore philosophical and ethical questions in a manner that drives the stories but never overshadows them. At the end of this book, I find that I keep thinking about her take on life and death and their inextricable connection.
I’m not going to recap the novel, you can check Wikipedia for that.
I would recommend this book, and this series, to fantasy readers. I would, however, caution potential readers. These books are not easy reads, they require thinking and hard work. Like so much in life, there is a lot of work put into building up for the fireworks. If you are willing to put the work into these books, you will definitely be rewarded. If you prefer reading books for their face value stories, then I can recommend some others that you will find much more enjoyable.
Sequel (to A Wizard of Earthsea)
Slow (to start)
The second book in Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy could be a stand alone novel. As either part of the trilogy or alone it is a masterpiece.
I liked this book so much more than the first (see it’s review here). I felt the protagonist (not Ged but Arha) was much more relatable. The majority of the book is developing her character and setting her up for the climax. Finally towards the end of the book she meets Ged, who is the catalyst for a deep self analysis and through that analysis she makes some powerful discoveries and choices.
Le Guin doesn’t veer from the style she worked with in the first book. If you find slower, more descriptive books boring this may not be your cup of tea but it’s so well done it might change your perspective on this style of writing. It’s done to such a high caliber that I would encourage anyone to read this book. It’s rather short, so it’s not a big time commitment, but it is very worthwhile.
And now I’m off to read the third book (which I purchased from yet another thrift store). I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂
Immense (yet short)
I’ve looked at the Earthsea trilogy throughout the years but I never read it. Then I saw that Anna over at Booknotized had read it. And really, even without the review that was enough to get me to give it a chance. That and I found the first two books of the trilogy at the thrift store last week. Boo-ya!
I thought this book was a very slow moving book. There is a lot of description and often I felt that it was through the description that the plot moved. Frequently I find slow moving books boring. However, this book was anything but boring. The description created an absolutely believable world. The characters moved, spoke, and acted in ways that fit with the world that Le Guin created. Even though the book is description heavy, I never felt I was led away from the plot just to read pretty descriptive prose, every word painstakingly chosen to be true to the world of Earthsea. And while I can appreciate the challenge of a an epic fantasy tale being told in such sparse language, Le Guin never shows the work it required. Instead it felt as though she had effortlessly recorded this detailed world.
The protagonist, Ged, in the folly of his youth releases a demon. And now he is the only that can save himself and possibly many, many others from the evil the demon would unleash. In the climax of the book the two face. It is good versus evil. It is dark versus light (and as I’ve admitted before, that is my kind of conflict!). And in a beautiful twist the climax is resolved. The true beauty of the twist is how simple and logical it is yet the twist isn’t predictable or common.
I can’t wait to read the second novel. And I should probably go get the third (because I hate waiting for books when I’m in the middle of a series). If you’re a lover of fantasy this book needs to be added to your list. And this book needs to be discussed. Have a friend read it too, so you can have someone with whom you can converse.