Saturday, 19 November 2016
Title: Tehanu (Earthsea Book 4)
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
The Book Depository
“Tehanu” by Ursula K. Le Guin is the fourth book in the Earthsea fantasy series. The story is returns the reader to the island of Gont and the woman Tenar who had been brought to the Island by Ged after he had rescued her in the previous novel “The Tombs of Atuan”. Years have passed since then and she is ow as a widow with her own grown-up children. However, her seemingly ordinary life soon changes when she opts to take in a severely abused child as a foster daughter.
The book was written several years after the original trilogy and it is therefore quite different from the previous books, in both style and substance. Le Guin has quite clearly picked up a stronger feminist viewpoint since the original trilogy and has used “Tehanu” as a novel in which she can call out the inequity between the sexes in both the fantasy genre and the world in general. Fundamentally, I don’t have an issue with this except for the fact that I think she takes it too far. Perhaps this is just a defensive viewpoint from a man, but at times it almost felt like every female character was somehow worthy and important whilst the men were portrayed as weak and flawed. In fact, the way in which Ged has been reduced to depressed individual who mopes around feeling sorry for himself felt rather inconsistent with the man we had come to know in the other novels.
Her writing of course is as skilful as always and overall plot itself was rather intriguing if not brimming with action or a fast pace. But to be honest, anyone who has read any of Le Guin’s other Earthsea books should be used to that by now. The ending itself was left a little bit open for my liking but I think this is intentional as it is being used to set up future books in the series.
Overall, I did enjoy this latest book in the Earthsea series but it wasn’t a favourite of mine. I found the stripping back of Ged’s dignity a bit sore to take and the in your face feminist slant just came across to strongly.
Tuesday, 8 November 2016
Title: Purgatory's Key
Author: Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
The Book Depository
"Purgatory's Key" by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore is the final book in the “Legacies” trilogy of novels which were written to mark the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. It picks up directly from the events that occurred at the end of the previous novel, Best Defense” with the Enterprise heading to the planet Usilde to see if they can actually rescue the various people now trapped in an alternate universe. Of course with the Klingon’s already holding the planet, it is not going to be an easy task. Meanwhile, in the alternate universe, Captain Una along with the recently arrived Sarek, Joanna McCoy & the Klingon Gorkon are trying to work out themselves if there is any chance to get home.
The authors have crafted a well-written novel that wraps up all the various loose ends. The writing is competent and the plot itself is enjoyable enough with some entertaining action sequences interspersed amongst the other more cerebral sections of the novel. In addition, the various main characters acted exactly as I would have expected, but considering the Treklit experience of the authors involved this didn’t surprise me.
However, the story did have various issues which detracted from my overall enjoyment. I suspect most of them however were related to the quantity of plot lines the authors had to get completed. Basically, we just seemed to skim the surface of the various story elements and there was pretty much zero development of the characters. The authors just didn’t seem to have the time to get deeper down into the plot lines and characters. This lack of depth was really highlighted to me in relation to the strange intermediate “ether” realm that existed between the two Universes. I have to admit that I got a little bit confused here as I couldn’t understand why or how this strange realm existed or how it actually worked. It almost felt more like Fantasy than Science-Fiction although I know the differences between these two genre can be rather blurred.
Overall, this is a competent enough conclusion to the series and if you have read the other novels then you will at least get some closure by reading "Purgatory's Key". I think in the end the best way to describe this book and the series as a whole is that they are reasonably enjoyable standard Star Trek novels. They aren’t bad but I just don’t think they lived up the 50th Anniversary hype.