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Archive for June, 2010

Those were unstable times in the Archipelago of Earthsea. The last King of Earthsea was gone many centuries before and the Kingdom had divided in many principalities and domains, which not always held peaceful relations.

Arren, the young prince of Enlad, travelled to the island of Roke to ask help to the Archmage of the wizardry school. Magic was losing power throughout Eartsea, except in the well protected island of Roke, and magical animals and wizards were sickening and going mad. In the Assembly of the highest mages of the school, the Archmage (Sparrohawk/Ged from A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan) decided to go himself in search for the reason of the disturbances in magic. He only accepted the company of Arren, who had no magic, in spite of his royal lineage.

The Farthest Shore is the third book of the Earthsea series. As in the two first books, the plot stands by itself, and is about the personal growth of a character, in this case Arren, from whose point of view the story is told. It is also centered in the character of Ged/Sparrowhawk, who became a mature magician and the Archmage of Roke.

As there are many thematic and structural similarities between The Farthest Shore and A Wizard of Earthsea, and the third book lacks the novelty that was offered in the first book of the series, the comparison might favor A Wizard of Earthsea. However the two books are brilliantly written, and there are many slight differences between Ged’s and Arren’s stories so that it is worth to notice how they complement each other. The Farthest Shore also brings a different kind of gloomy and vicious environment to the Earthsea World, which makes it essential to anyone who became fascinated by the first two books of the series.

The Farthest Shore won the 1973 National Book Award for Children’s Books.

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New York. Future (undetermined).

The world population has decreased to an extremely low number and no children have been produced in the last years. People are educated to live in a constantly drugged state, caring just for their individual pleasure, and to interrupt someone’s inwardness is a crime. The teaching of reading is forbidden, as it is a way of someone’s thoughts invade other people’s minds. Decaying robots care for (and control) the humans.

By chance, Paul Bentley learns how to read by himself through old children’s books. He is employed by the dean of the NYU, Robert Spofforth, a Make Nine robot. Make Nine robots were the most perfect super-intelligent robots, but all of them committed suicide, except for Sporfforth, that wished it, but was programmed not to. While in New York, Bentley meets Mary Lou, a woman who had a very high IQ and escaped the educational program. These three characters are the only intelligent beings left in the world…

Mockingbird is the story of three very different characters that, together, hold the key of humanity in their hands and don’t know how to deal with each other. This book is built in a very interesting concept: humans created technology to help them; humans relied on technology for all their problems and lost all technological knowledge; humans got controlled by technology; without supervising, technology started decaying and dragging humanity with it. The main storyline becomes rather ordinary, especially towards the end, but the book is brilliant for its intelligent writing and awareness of the social problems that started to be felt in the 80’s, when it was first published, and became worse nowadays.

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