Five tales that explore the fascinating Earthsea world. Loved them all for their quiet tone, beautiful prose, and inspiring voice.

Two years ago, I rated another one of Ursula's short story bundles called Orsinian tales with only two out of five stars. Yet now I praise her short stories for their quietness and tender, adult emotions. Why? It might have to do with the fact that I can place these short stories in their context of Earthsea as I've experienced it through many other books already. But I think a bigger factor is my personal maturation. I've learned to feel and think about my emotions more. This is what it must feel like to age.

The finder

This is the tale of Medra, and how he founded the mage school on Roke.

Beautiful prose. Feels like reading a meditation on stillness, purpose, and intention, as if it were written down in its purest form.

Clear feminist lens. Touching on the hunger for power of men.

Darkrose and diamond

Beautiful and tender love story that serves as a refreshing reminder that a good life is not just about endless ambition. Diamond gets a taste of wizardry, learns a painful lesson, and shuts his true feelings off. Until he recognizes that he must accept himself to live happily with Darkrose as traveling musicians.

The bones of the earth

A small story about the teach of the teacher of Ged.

Wizards seem awfully inept at communication. Why are they making themselves into hermits? Or, why are Ursula's wizrds like this? There must be more lively wizards in operation as well. For now, this partly feels like a product of its time; the more formal air that authority was expected to present.

On the high marsh

[...] the lay of the land on Semel, and the mountain whose name is Andanden.

Managed to touch me pretty hard in the end. We follow Irioth, a confused but cleary very powerful wizard, while he takes up the work of healing cattle. The villagers exploit him all, except for Gift (Emer), who is truly kind-hearted woman and widow. At the end, Ged visits in his capacity as archmage of Roke, and tells the story that turns Irioth's character completely upside-down. But the way we've been seeing him throughout this story, gives us the character progression to make it into a fulfilling treat.


Painfully stubborn patriarchy on Roke, with its nine mages and the whole student body.

All the better that Irian "Dragonfly", our silent, direct, and innocent daughter of a fallen lord of the island of Way, turns out to possess a power none of those mages knows. She is a dragon. And all of Roke is inadequately knowledgable to teach her, so she travels instead to the land of the dragons.

A description of Earthsea

The end of the book contains Ursula's attempt at consistent worldbuilding. She goes over land, history, people, languages, and magic in Earthsea. I remember reading that Ursula is very much a pantser. She drew her map of the archipelago at the very start, and just went about traveling to all places along with her characters. I find this very inspiring, and makes me want to imagine worlds as well.