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30th-Apr-2009 04:28 pm Naming the Land by Antosha (R)
This is my last Earthsea recommendation: I hope you've enjoyed sailing the seas of the Archipelago with me! If you're left hungering for more, many of the authors I've recommended have written other Earthsea stories, and a few recommendations sites are listed in the fandom overview. Additionally, all the stories at the Yuletide & Skyehawke archives are worth trying. If you dare to dip into ff.net, a couple of authors to start with whom I haven't mentioned here might be Eldrice & WhiteLadyoftheRing. There's also some excellent, mainly short, fiction in the memories of [livejournal.com profile] earthsea_fic (which is currently running a ficathon). And finally, if you've enjoyed what you've read, please do comment/review -- it's even more important to encourage authors in such a small fandom!

Fandom: EARTHSEA
Pairing: Ged/Tenar
Length: ~2000 words
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] antoshevu
Author Website: On KIA Repository
Why this must be read:

I try to avoid recommending the same author twice at [livejournal.com profile] crack_van, but I did promise middle-aged sex earlier, and well-written adult-rated Earthsea fiction is rather thin on the ground. Le Guin doesn't go into the details of Ged & Tenar's 25-year-delayed consummation in Tehanu, saying just that 'Tenar taught Ged the mystery that the wisest man could not teach him.' In 'Naming the Land', Antosha bravely interposes a scene between the lines of the original Tehanu chapter, and succeeds in writing an explicit sex scene which retains a strong sense of the characters and their history, both shared & separate. As the title promises, the theme of language runs through the piece. There's also a lovely surprise at the end which really made the story for me.

Excerpt under the cut (adult) )

Naming the Land by Antosha
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29th-Apr-2009 05:00 pm Even Beyond All Other Lands by Bounce (PG)
Fandom: EARTHSEA
Pairing: Ged/Arren
Length: ~1000 words
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] _bounce_
Author Website: Not to my knowledge
Why this must be read:

I hope you enjoyed my whirlwind trip through some of Earthsea's many relatively minor characters, but for my last couple of recommendations this month, I'm returning to the principals. The Farthest Shore is closer to Tolkien than the rest of the Earthsea series, and its point-of-view character Arren is an Aragorn-like figure who goes on a quest across Earthsea with Ged, travels through death, fulfils a prophecy and is named the king of the Archipelago. As King Lebannen, he also appears in Tehanu & The Other Wind. Arren is portrayed in canon as loving Ged and deeply grieved when Ged, 'done with doing', refuses to meet him in Tehanu.

Despite all the potential for angst, fanfiction tends to pass Arren by. This short piece, among the earliest online fanfiction in the fandom, takes up the story from Arren's point of view at the end of The Farthest Shore and bridges to Arren's appearance in Tehanu. It succeeds in portraying Arren's desperate longing for Ged, without diminishing Arren's strength.

Excerpt under the cut )

Even Beyond All Other Lands by Bounce
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27th-Apr-2009 01:43 am To Market by Antosha (PG)
Fandom: EARTHSEA
Pairing: Tenar/Flint
Length: 1650 words
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] antoshevu
Author Website: On KIA Repository
Why this must be read:

The gulf between The Tombs of Atuan & Tehanu in terms of Tenar's character is huge. Le Guin tells us little about what kind of a man her deceased husband Flint was, and for those who believe Ged & Tenar are destined to be together, it's easy to forget that he ever existed. However, Tenar chose to marry Flint rather than remain Ogion's apprentice, so he must have had something that drew her to him, and she stayed with him for twenty years, so he must have had a huge influence on how her character developed during this period.

Fanfiction that explores Flint is sadly rare, and the little that exists mostly takes Tenar's point of view. 'To Market' allows Flint to tell us the story of his first meeting with Tenar, and the ghost of the character in Tehanu really comes alive in this subtle, well-shaped vignette. In a move that mirrors Tenar's grief for him at the opening of Tehanu, Antosha takes the unusual step of making him an older grieving widower, which feels surprisingly plausible. The story also features a lovely bonus cameo from Ogion.

Excerpt under the cut )

To Market by Antosha
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25th-Apr-2009 01:22 am White Hallows by Melannen (PG)
Fandom: EARTHSEA
Pairing: Ged/Serret
Length: ~1000 words
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] melannen, [livejournal.com profile] necreavit
Author Website: On Skyehawke, Yuletide
Why this must be read:

In A Wizard of Earthsea, Serret, daughter of the Lord of Re Albi on Gont & a sorceress from the northerly island of Osskil, tempts the young Ged into trying dark magic, and is thus one cause of the release of his shadow. Later in the book, married to a man three times her age at the Court of the Terrenon on Osskil, she helps her husband in his attempts to enslave Ged to an ancient evil spirit, one of the Old Powers that Tenar/Arha serves on Atuan. Her father, the Lord of Re Albi, also appears in Tehanu, where he proves to be a follower of the cult of the necromancer whom Ged defeated in The Farthest Shore.

'White Hallows' tells the story of Ged's first encounter with Serret on Gont, and its repercussions, from Serret's point of view. Melannen cleverly weaves threads from A Wizard of Earthsea & Tehanu to give a complex & highly plausible view of the dysfunctional Re Albi family, which challenges the portrayal in the original trilogy of women's magic as being weaker than men's magic. A memorable story with some gorgeous word pictures, 'White Hallows' repays rereading.

Excerpt under the cut )

White Hallows by Melannen
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22nd-Apr-2009 06:03 pm The Song of the Silent by Werecat (G)
Fandom: EARTHSEA
Pairing: none
Length: ~500 words
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] silverwerecat
Author Website: On ff.net & Skyehawke
Why this must be read:

One of the themes running through the Earthsea series is the importance of the connection between humans and other animals. In A Wizard of Earthsea, Ged has a familiar, a small silent mammal with brindled fur called an otak or hoeg, which is depicted riding on his shoulder in a gorgeous illustration of Ged by Ruth Robbins. The otak licks Ged back to life when he travels too far into the afterlife, and the scene in which he finds its frozen body in the snow is one of the most moving in the book.

In the 'The Song of the Silent', Werecat literally gives a voice to the silent, and the result is an unusual & equally moving short.

Excerpt under the cut )

The Song of the Silent by Werecat
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21st-Apr-2009 04:07 pm The Inner Dark by Altariel (PG)
Fandom: EARTHSEA
Pairing: none
Length: ~1400 words
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] altariel
Author Website: On ff.net, Skyehawke & Altariel & Isabeau (Tolkien), but as far as I'm aware she hasn't written anything else in this fandom
Why this must be read:

This is the second in my interlude of stories focusing on the many minor characters populating the Earthsea universe. The all-women society of the Kargish temples on Atuan, described in The Tombs of Atuan, has inspired some of the most interesting Earthsea fanfiction, perhaps because Le Guin has yet to re-envision the setting.

The priestess Thar acts as Tenar (Arha)'s mentor and as a foil to Kossil, the novel's adversary character. As everything is seen through Tenar's eyes (& Thar dies before Tenar begins to look beneath the surface), Tombs of Atuan doesn't give much of a hint as to her motivations, opening a space for Altariel's intriguing interpretation to slip into canon. 'The Inner Dark' is a quiet, beautifully written character study that examines choices for women in a male-dominated society and the nature of religious faith.

Excerpt under the cut )

The Inner Dark by Altariel
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20th-Apr-2009 08:07 pm The Veins of the Forest by Ellen Fremedon (G)
Fandom: EARTHSEA
Pairing: none
Length: ~3500 words
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] ellen_fremedon
Author Website: On Skyehawke & Yuletide (Arithmancy.net appears to be down), but I'm not aware that she's written any more in this fandom
Why this must be read:

In my first five recommendations, I've introduced three of the main characters of the Earthsea series, and now plan an interlude where I highlight stories focusing on just a few of the host of minor characters who populate the islands. If there's time I hope to get back to Ged & Tenar at the end.

Azver is the only Karg to attend the Roke School of Wizardry, saying on his arrival simply 'I come to learn!', and becomes Roke's Master Patterner. He lives in the Immanent Grove, the heart of Archipelagan magic, whose trees are the oldest in the world. Introduced in The Farthest Shore, he's a major character in the novella 'Dragonfly' & also appears in The Other Wind. His story is intriguing -- why did he choose to come to Roke? How did this 'sword-begirt, red-plumed young savage' from a culture that rejects all magic become one of the wisest mages of the Archipelago?

Fanfiction that answers these questions is woefully sparse, which makes 'The Veins of the Forest' all the more wonderful. Ellen Fremedon runs with the Norse model for Kargish culture to give us a backstory for Azver that is beautifully detailed and absolutely perfect. The story also works in some thoughts about the Immanent Grove, whose roots Azver says are 'mingled with the roots of all the forests that were or might yet be'. The result feels like a lost short story from Tales from Earthsea. This was written for me in a past Yuletide, but it would be criminal not to share it.

Excerpt under the cut )

The Veins of the Forest by Ellen Fremedon
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18th-Apr-2009 08:05 pm Epithalamium by Wild Iris (PG)
Fandom: EARTHSEA
Pairing: Ged/Tenar
Length: ~1200 words
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] the_wild_iris
Author Website: Speak Again & ff.net
Why this must be read:

Tehanu is introduced in the fourth book of the Earthsea series, named for her, when she's adopted by Ged & Tenar. Badly burned as a young child, she's left severely disfigured and is very shy especially of men. By the end of Tehanu, she's revealed to be one of the dragon kind, when the ancient dragon Kalessin calls her his child. Fourteen years later, in The Other Wind, she takes the form of a golden dragon to fly away with the other dragons.

Set after the end of Tehanu, 'Epithalamium' gives us a brief interlude with Tehanu (here under her alternative name of Therru) and the village witch, Aunty Moss (also known as Hatha), one of the few people she trusts. The piece achieves the delicate balance between treating Tehanu on the one hand as a girl firmly rooted in the prosaic rural life on Gont, and on the other hand as the embodiment of the mysterious Other. Wild Iris is probably best known for her poetry & drabbles, and her prose always has a luminous, poetic quality.

Excerpt under the cut )

Epithalamium by Wild Iris
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16th-Apr-2009 07:47 pm Earthsea/Buffy the Vampire Slayer (G)
Title:The Naming of Names by Victoria P.
Pairing: none
Length: ~2000 words
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] musesfool
Author Website: Achromatic
Why this must be read:

There's only a handful of crossovers in the Earthsea fandom, so it's lucky that one of them is so good. 'The Naming of Names' does an excellent job of envisaging how the Slayer myth might work within the Earthsea universe, shedding light on both sources. The story is set on Gont, probably in the period between A Wizard of Earthsea & The Tombs of Atuan. No particular knowledge of either source is required, and the story would form a good introduction to Earthsea (or, for that matter, BtVS).

One of the very earliest online Earthsea stories, 'The Naming of Names' did a lot to found the online fandom by tempting other writers in. Victoria has also written several Earthsea ficlets archived at Achromatic, also worth a try.

Excerpt under the cut )

The Naming of Names by Victoria P.
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14th-Apr-2009 02:57 pm Lighting the Lamps by solvent90 (PG-13)
Fandom: EARTHSEA
Pairing: Ged/Tenar
Length: ~1000 words
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] solvent90
Author Website: LJ memories & Yuletide, though I'm not aware that she has written any more in this fandom
Why this must be read:

In Tehanu, Le Guin reunites Ged & Tenar, 25 years after they meet in The Tombs of Atuan. Ged has sacrificed his power to save the equilibrium, and is having trouble coming to terms with the loss. Tenar long ago abandoned her life as priestess & mistress of the labyrinth, and has lived an ordinary life as a farmer's wife & widow. The spell of celibacy that bound Ged as a wizard is over, and as Le Guin puts it, Tenar teaches him 'the mystery that the wisest man could not teach him.'

This period is a popular setting for fanfiction, much of which is very true to canon. 'Lighting the Lamps' is a quiet, unsentimental vignette, which captures the flavour of Tehanu. It weaves around the consequences of the celibacy spell, and does a particularly good job of bridging the gulf between The Tombs of Atuan & Tehanu, linking Ged & Tenar's past lives with the present.

Excerpt under the cut )

Lighting the Lamps by solvent90
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11th-Apr-2009 10:51 pm The Dark of the Moon by Daegaer (PG)
Fandom: EARTHSEA
Pairing: Thar/Arha-that-was, Tenar/Penthe
Length: 1250 words
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] daegaer
Author Website: LJ memories
Why this must be read:

The second novel of the Earthsea series, The Tombs of Atuan, moves to the Kargish Empire, to introduce the main female character, Tenar. Before she became Tenar, she was the young priestess Arha, 'the Eaten One', dedicated to the ancient dark powers of the earth and believed to be eternally reincarnated in their service. The ritualistic life in the temple compound with its 'secret brangle of jealousies and miseries and small ambitions and wasted passions' is dominated by the power struggle between the new religion of the Godking, served by Kossil, and the older religions that Arha & her mentor Thar serve.

In the novel, Ged arrives all too soon to stir things up, but fanfiction gives the reader the chance to linger in this all-women society. In 'The Dark of the Moon', Daegaer opens with an incident in the novel in which Kossil punishes Arha's only friend, the novice Penthe, and expands to encompass relationships past, present and future. It's a short but powerful piece.

Excerpt under the cut )

The Dark of the Moon by Daegaer
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9th-Apr-2009 08:28 pm Sparkweed by Minerva McTabby (PG-13)
I have the pleasure of introducing readers to fanfiction of Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea series this month. Apologies for the late start, but I have my first selections lined up so it should be smooth sailing from now on! It's a small fandom, but the quality of the fanfiction is exceptionally high, and there have been some fantastic stories written by very well-known authors from larger fandoms. If you're not familiar with the series, my fandom outline gives a brief primer, but I do wholeheartedly recommend getting hold of the original books (still in print in many parts of the world), as I can't do justice to the beauty of Le Guin's writing nor to the complexity of her philosophy.

Fandom: EARTHSEA
Pairing: Ged/Jasper
Length: ~2750 words
Author on LJ: [livejournal.com profile] mctabby
Author Website: Archives at Skyehawke & ff.net, but I'm not aware that she's written any more in this fandom
Why this must be read:

Ged (also known as Sparrowhawk) is the central character in much of the Earthsea series, and he also dominates fanfiction. The majority features him as an adult, master of himself & his powers, but Le Guin paints a rich picture of the long path to that dual mastery in A Wizard of Earthsea, and a few stories have explored this era. When Ged first enters the Roke School of Wizardry (read boys-only Hogwarts) as an arrogant 14-year-old, his humble background -- a goatherd from an outlying farming island -- draws some teasing. Jasper is a handsome & suave older student, the son of one of the Lords on the Archipelago's large central island, and the bitter rivalry that develops between them is at the heart of A Wizard of Earthsea. It's just crying out for a slash reinterpretation.

'Sparkweed', like much Earthsea fanfiction, is a missing scene, set early during Ged's school days. Minerva's characterisations in this encounter are absolutely spot on, and the wonderful tense dialogue twists & turns rapidly enough that the reader is kept almost as unsettled as Ged. Despite the slash, the story has a very canonical feel.

Excerpt under the cut )

Sparkweed by Minerva McTabby
crack_van: (Default)
9th-Apr-2009 12:08 am Earthsea: an overview
A wizardly boarding school -- two young rivals, one from a privileged background, the other poor -- an Everyman sidekick -- shapeshifting -- dragons -- an evil wizard who aims to conquer death ... Sounds familiar? Think again, because I'm talking about Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea series, which first appeared in 1964.

Five reasons to read Earthsea
(1) Beautiful writing from the award-winning author of The Dispossessed & The Left Hand of Darkness
(2) A coherent system of magic based on the power of language & limited by the necessity for balance
(3) Among the earliest sf&f to use coloured heroes & white Other
(4) Ancient wise dragons
(5) Middle-aged sex!

In a nutshell, Earthsea resembles HP without the CAPSLOCK, C.S. Lewis without the Christian allegory & Tolkien with a dash of sex... Sail on with me into the Archipelago )
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