‘The Other Wind’ by Ursula K. Le Guin

It can’t be said enough: Le Guin’s writing is amazing.

I just read The Other Wind, the last Earthsea novel. Le Guin pieces together nearly unremarkable clauses into unforgettable tapestries, writing with every bit of subtle power one would expect from the words of Hemingway.

Observe:

Tehanu was off her horse, had tossed the reins to Yenay, was walking forward down the slight slope to where the dragon hovered, its long wings beating quick and short like a hovering hawk’s. But these wings were fifty feet from tip to tip, and as they beat they made a sound like kettledrums or rattles of brass. As she came closer to it, a little curl of fire escaped from the dragon’s long, long-toothed, open mouth.

She held up her hand. Not the slender brown hand but the burned one, the claw. The scarring of her arm and shoulder kept her from raising it fully. She could reach barely as high as her head.

I read this scene like a kid watching a scary movie, edging off of the couch and letting food fall out of my mouth as I read on, praying for Tehanu as I turned the page.

It’s a short book, but it has everything. So often I feel like I have to sacrifice my desire for good writing in order to read a good story, but once in a while someone can do both.

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