The Complete Illustrated Books pf Earthsea by Ursula K.LeGuin is being published 25 Oct 2018. It contains the stories: ‘A Wizard of Earthsea’, ‘The Tombs of Atuan’, ‘The Farthest Shore’, ‘Tehanu’, ‘Tales From Earthsea’, ‘The Other Wind’, ‘The Rule of Names’, ‘The Word of Unbinding’, ‘The Daughter of Odren’, and ‘Earthsea Revisioned: A Lecture at Oxford University’
Earthsea takes place in a vast archipelago of hundreds of islands surrounded by mostly uncharted ocean. Earthsea contains no large continents, with the archipelago resembling Indonesia or the Philippines. The largest island, Havnor, at approximately 380 miles across, is about the size of Great Britain. The cultures of Earthsea are literate non-industrial civilizations. Technologically, Earthsea is an early Iron Age society, with bronze used in places where iron is scarce. Weapons also include the use of wood and other hard but easily crafted metals. The overall climate of Earthsea is temperate, comparable to the mid-latitudes (over a distance of about 1800 miles) of the Northern hemisphere. There is a yearly transition from warm summers to cold and snowy winters, especially in northern islands like Gont and Osskil. In the southern regions of Earthsea it can be much warmer.
Most of the people of Earthsea are described as having brown skin. In the Archipelago “red-brown” skin is typical, while the people of the East Reach have darker “black-brown” complexions. The people of Osskil in the north are described as having lighter, sallow complexions, while the Kargs of the Kargad Lands are “white-skinned” and often “yellow-haired”. Magic is a central part of life in most of Earthsea, with the exception of the Kargish lands, where it is banned. There are weather workers on ships, fixers who repair boats and buildings, entertainers, and court sorcerers. Magic is an inborn talent which can be developed with training. The most gifted are sent to the school on Roke, where, if their skill and their discipline prove sufficient, they can become staff-carrying wizards. A strong theme of the stories is the connection between power and responsibility. There is often a Taoist message: “good” wizardry tries to be in harmony with the world, while “bad” wizardry, such as necromancy, can lead to an upsetting of the “balance” and threaten catastrophe. While the dragons are more powerful, they act instinctively to preserve the balance. Only humans pose a threat to it.
The Dry Land is where the people of the archipelago and reaches of Earthsea go when they die. It is a realm of shadow and dust, of eternal night where the stars are fixed in the sky, and nothing changes. The souls who live there have an empty, dreary existence, and even “lovers pass each other in silence”. Le Guin has stated that the idea of the Dry Land came from the “Greco-Roman idea of Hades’ realm, from certain images in Dante Alighieri’s work, and from one of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Elegies.”
Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea novels are some of the most acclaimed and awarded works in literature, and have received many prestigious accolades such as the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor, the Nebula Award, and many more honors, commemorating their enduring place in the hearts and minds of readers and the literary world alike. They have now been collected together in one volume-including the early short stories, Le Guin’s “Earthsea Revisioned” Oxford lecture, and new Earthsea stories, never before printed. With a new introduction by Le Guin herself, this essential edition will also include over fifty illustrations by renowned artist Charles Vess, specially commissioned and selected by Le Guin, to bring her refined vision of Earthsea and its people to life in a totally new way. Previous Illustrators include Pauline Ellison, Ruth Robbins, Anne Yvonne Gilbert, Gail Garraty, Margaret Chodos-Irvine, Kelly Nelson, Marion Wood Kolisch, Ursula K. Le Guin, Charles Vess and Cliff Nielsen.