A few days ago, Ursula K. Le Guin died, as all great writers must eventually, and I was quite saddened by the news. Although I’m decidedly a non-fiction writer, her books and her writing have had quite an influence on me. I read a whole lot of fantasy as a younger man, and despite having read a lot of books, somehow what I’ve read of her work has stuck with me the most. In particular, the Earthsea Cycle is a series of books that, at least mentally, I return to frequently.
Earthseas itself is a place that is particularly interesting due to its balances. Everything in that universe has an opposite, and the overall theme is not so much conflict and fighting as it is bringing opposites into balance. It’s good life advice even if it isn’t particularly easy to accomplish, and in a nation that seems to have gone haywire lately, perhaps balance in opposites is something that more of us should be trying to do.
For my part, I’ve decided to re-read the series this year, and I think you should, too. I had actually decided to do this before Le Guin passed away, but now, it seems even more like the right thing to do. I hope re-reading the series lights a very bright candle, and I hope the shadow it creates isn’t too large: everything in balance.