« on: December 07, 2007, 10:39:14 AM »
In my teens and early twenties, I was a big sci-fi and fantasy reader. I sort of got away from that stuff in college, and got into the "I'm a serious lit major and I don't read that stuff" mindset for a while... but now (triggered by the Lord of the Rings films, I think) I've been enjoying getting back into some of the books I loved when I was younger.
One set of books I bought in the late 70s but never got around to reading, is Ursula LeGuin's "Earthsea" series, starting with "A Wizard of Earthsea." This last week I've been listening to an unabridged audiobook of "A Wizard of Earthsea" and aside from the annoying presence of Harlan Ellison as the "voice" of this audiobook, I really enjoyed the story and it made me want to explore the rest of the series.
These slim, simple books have more in common with the minimal and poetic fable-like quality of "The Little Prince" than with more epic fantasy series like "The Lord of the Rings." The story is basically about a young boy who discovers he has basic magical powers, and he is befriended by a sort of magical mentor who sees to it that he's enrolled in a school for magicians. Apparently, J.K. Rowling had read this book... but there is no real similarity to the "Harry Potter" series. This is more quiet and moody, somber and earthy. In this book, words have great importance, in particular names. Knowing the name of an object, its "true" name and not just the name that everyone calls it, has great significance.
This is the first time I've listened to an audiobook and been moved to immediately get out the printed book and actually read it. Harlan Ellison so overdid it with the overdramatic and silly voices for various characters, that I found myself cringing at times. Sometimes, an audiobook can be just as enjoyable as reading, but not this time.