Ursula K. Le Guin did think of Harry Potter.
The Earthsea quartet, namely "A Wizard of Earthsea", "The Tombs of Atuan", "The Farthest Shore", and "Tehanu" would include a school for wizards. It was also about good and evil. And it would deal with familiar topics like race and gender. J.K. Rowling has thought of it, and made a fortune from it. The American wasn't bitter about it.
"I didn't feel she ripped me off, as some people did, though she could have been more gracious about her predecessors. My incredulity was at the critics who found the first book wonderfully original. She has many virtues, but originality isn't one of them. That hurt," Le Guin said.
Le Guin lived in Oregon, where Mount St. Helens would be found. A violent eruption took place in 1980, but the author might have imagined it. This part of the Rockies could be eerily tranquil, while the Pacific Ocean would induce anyone to imagine anything. Everything. In the case of Le Guin, an archipelago that seemed detached from the rest of the world. It could be another planet, where the cluster of islands would be the only dry land. And most of it is in perpetual darkness. There have been many adaptations of the Earthsea quartet, but none seemed to do it right. It will be different from a faithful adaptation of the novels, as Le Guin thought of a different kind of fantasy books.
Here are five reasons to read it:
Earthsea is an introspective journey. This might surprise some people, as reading is considered an introspective activity. But the Harry Potter series is a never-ending chase for adventure. There are too many characters, and many of them have recurring roles. Nothing wrong about it, but some readers might have enough of entertainment. They want books that broaden their horizon, even question their belief. And they prefer an author who won't do it subtly. Le Guin would be that writer.
This quartet might be the best in Young-adult (YA) fiction. "A Wizard of Earthsea" was about Jed, who undergone a gradual transformation. It would be different from Tom Marvolo Riddle's, as his journey took him to the dragons who once ruled the archipelago. They knew the ancient spells, which could put an end to the existence of the inhabitants of the isles. And they they knew too many things. They would advise Jed to embrace his whole self, including his dark side. It seemed a familiar route, right?
The novels depict the island life. It's far from "South Pacific", it wouldn't suggest travel angst either. It could be a lonely existence, where the inhabitants were often scared of the sea. There was darkness in the distance, and no one dared to venture into that region. Furthermore, they were scared of dragons. And for a good reason. It was a silent struggle, which some readers might not endure. But they can't stop in the middle (of the story).
Readers can relate to the characters. It's about friendship, even instances of loyalty and heroism. In Jed's case, it can be a bittersweet experience. The quartet can be looked as a coming-of-age tale, with the cold sea as the silent witness. It seemed human, which startled Jed at first. And then the metamorphosis.<.p>
Traveling won't be the same again. Ever. If readers fancy a weekend at the beach, they must prepare for what they would see. There won't be an end in the horizon. And the still water might play tricks on their minds. It could be Earthsea.<.p>