Compiled by the Espresso Addict

Espresso Recommendations

Innovative and stylish fanfiction, showcasing the very best across multiple sf, fantasy & literature fandoms. Good writing in all its forms can be found here, including gen, het, slash, OCs, AUs, crossovers, future fics, humour & pastiche

Contents: 1010 recs in 235 fandoms; 65 links

Ursula Le Guin

Earthsea | Hainish Cycle


Calling to the Wind by Leaf Litter

'"My mother named me Tenar after all, and I am still Tenar, I have returned to being Tenar. But she is Apple now, and then she won't be Apple later. Not, ha, not right at her core."' Thoughtful piece about mothers & daughters, with interesting insights into how the meaning of names might change after the events of The Other Wind

[Added 27/05/2012; Drama; 2500-6000; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

Calving by Melannen

'The visitor was lordly, handsome, and young, more or less.' Beautifully captures the style of 'On the High Marsh', and the characterisations are just perfect

[Added 30/12/2005; Drama; 1000-2500; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

The Dark of the Moon by Daegaer

'"You danced so fast at the Dark of the Moon that no one could see how you would not be cut," Thar said. "You should practice more, you are not yet as fast as Arha-that-was."' A short but powerful piece that encompasses Arha's past, present & future

[Added 25/04/2009; Character Piece; 1000-2500; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

Dark Sands by Penintime

'The women of the island Sort are known in all the Reaches for their craft. They collect the lumps of black volcanic glass that wash up on the dark sands which gave the island its name, and use arcane methods to shape them into ethereal vessels.' An unusual, unpredictable story with the feel of a fairy tale set in Earthsea. The ending is perfect

[Added 28/05/2012; Drama; 1000-2500; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

The Eaten One by Daegaer

'In years to come, Tenar will look back on her days here at the Place, will see the years of her youth with a certain longing.' There isn't a lot of Earthsea fanfiction, and this unusual little vignette is among the best I've encountered

[Added 15/12/2004; Character Piece; <1000; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

The Ending From the Beginning by Northland

'Even before she fled the Place of the Tombs, Penthe had never been a very good priestess. She had not been one of the novices who could read omens in the flight of birds or the spattered blood of a sacrifice. Still, she knew that the messengers must have something to do with the Place. Who else would ride such fine beasts to seek out an old farmwife in the hill country of Atuan?' A thoughtful take on a future Penthe, which answers a question I'd also pondered. Northland does a good job of fusing Tombs of Atuan with later canon, almost (dare I say it) better than Le Guin herself

[Added 27/12/2017; Drama; 1000-2500; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

Epithalamium by Wild Iris

'"But water is always different," Therru says. "My father told me that. Every wave that rolls in to Gont Port once broke upon the rocks of SolÉa when it was new."' Wild Iris achieves a delicate balance here between Therru & Tehanu, the girl firmly rooted in the prosaic Gontish life & the embodiment of the mysterious Other. The writing has a lovely sense of mystery and poetry

[Added 25/04/2009; Drama; 1000-2500; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

The Eye and the Storm by Pene

'The cliffs there are a honeycomb of rock faces and tiny caves. Seppel set his treasure there. He rested curved sticks in hollows, placed shells carefully on ledges and glued shiny stones to rock walls in an instinctive and increasing pattern.' An unusual story with a strong sense of place, which feels like a lost chapter from Tales from Earthsea

[Added 04/10/2013; Drama; 2500-6000; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

The Fitting by Kainosite

'Everyone wore their best clothes, and the ladies looked like a giant field of desert poppies in their red veils and their round, wide-brimmed hats.' A perceptive coming-of-age story for Seserakh, which does a good job of fleshing out The Other Wind's Muslim re-envisioning of the Kargish Empire

[Added 28/10/2014; Character Piece; 1000-2500; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

The Ghost of Orrimy by Rosie Rues

'Now, it came about that, in the days when there was still an Archmage on Roke, a restless spirit arose in the hills above Orrimy, and came down into the town with the winter.' A lovely fable with a great dash of wry humour

[Added 19/01/2011; Drama; 2500-6000; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

in silence, and in splendor by mjules

'She thinks it was neater the first time, the way she grew inside her grave-clothes, inside the rituals of the Nameless Ones.' A beautifully written study of Tenar after Tombs that retreads some old ground, but emerges somewhere fresh by the end

[Added 29/10/2014; Character Piece; 1000-2500; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

The Inner Dark by Altariel

A quiet, beautifully-written piece, which weaves perfectly into canon and gives an intriguing take on Thar's motivations

[Added 19/08/2005; Character Piece; 1000-2500; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

Lighting the Lamps by Solvent90

'After the desert and the dark, the bright complexity of village life had been a strange new pattern to learn, a maze she stumbled in, feeling young and awkward and foreign.' A quiet, unsentimental vignette, with excellent characterisations, which slots seamlessly into Tehanu

[Added 03/01/2007; Romance/Erotica; 1000-2500; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

The Minnow and the Dragon by Raspberryhunter

'Yarrow had been rather hoping that they might go to Orret's shop to see if new silks had come from Lorbanery. Since Fennel's birth her beloved loom had sat mostly idle in the corner of their house. Yet still she loved to run the fine threads through her fingers, deep sapphire and flaming crimson flowing like water through her hands.' Lovely short, very much in the spirit of the early trilogy, in which Yarrow & Vetch share a brief adventure. Sweet but never cloying, with an ending that brought tears to my eyes

[Added 23/12/2017; Drama; 2500-6000; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

Mother Tongue by Elle Dritch

''He is my brother and I love him, and after all you only get one family. But oh! if he doesn't go and be my brother elsewhere very soon, I shall fetch him a clout on the ear he'll not forget!'' This quiet coda to Tehanu reads like a missing chapter from the novel, and brings its narrator, Apple, to life as she tries to understand her family's choices

[Added 04/10/2013; Drama; 6000-20,000; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

The Naming of Names by Victoria P.

'His eyes widen. "Orglath," he whispers, naming them in the Speech of the Making. She shivers involuntarily -- to name a thing is to call it, and the orglath are far too close for such casual mention.' Victoria does a surprisingly convincing job of melding Earthsea and Buffy canon in this short piece. I only wish it were longer!

[Added 15/12/2004; Drama; 1000-2500; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea; Crossover]

The Song of the Silent by Werecat

'When the candles have burned down, when the people lie in deep, leaden sleep and silence fills the halls, another feast commences.' This tale of otaks at the Sunreturn literally gives a voice to the silent. An unusual & moving short

[Added 25/04/2009; Drama; <1000; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

Sparkweed by Minerva McTabby

A new twist to Jasper & Ged's rivalry. Great tense dialogue & dead-accurate characterisations make this encounter slide surprisingly easily into canon

[Added 19/08/2005; Romance/Erotica; 2500-6000; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

Thistledown by Edo no Hana

'"I want to speak to dragons, and sail to the end of the world, and never eat another rutabaga."' This slow-burning vignette does an excellent job of melding the prosaic & the magical

[Added 19/01/2011; Drama; 1000-2500; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

To Market by Antosha

'Betimes, when he woke in their bed in the morning, he thought that he could smell her. But all that came to his mind when he tried to remember the sound of her voice was a dry land. Mountains like cut glass.' A subtle, well-shaped vignette which turns the ghost that is Flint in canon into a living breathing character

[Added 25/04/2009; Romance/Erotica; 1000-2500; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

Unbinding by Lila Futuransky

'The line of eaten girls, the line she broke, stretches behind her.' This tiny ficlet packs a great deal of thought into its short space

[Added 19/01/2011; Character Piece; <1000; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

Uneaten by Avanti 90

'"The little woman’s got a stick to walk with, and she tries to hold it like a wizard’s staff!" He came closer, unsheathing the long knife from his belt. "Give us all your money, white lady, and no one hurts you."' A set of plausible alternative futures for Tenar, each of which represents a more feminist choice than the path she embraces in Tehanu. Thoughtful & unusual

[Added 16/07/2012; Character Piece; 2500-6000; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

The Veins of the Forest by Ellen Fremedon

'Metteir wore the crimson standard as her cloak all winter and spring. And when in summer she bore a son, she swaddled him in it, and she called him Azver, which is 'war-banner' in the Kargish tongue.' Luscious prose studded with precise details characterises this backstory, which could come straight from Tales of Earthsea

[Added 03/01/2007; Drama; 2500-6000; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

White Hallows by Melannen

'"I did it," her mother said, through heavy-lidded eyes, her words feathered from her childhood on Osskill, "I did it because you needed to be taught a lesson about reaching beyond your place. And because I could."' A complex & highly plausible look at the dysfunctional family of the Lord of Re Albi, set during A Wizard of Earthsea but drawing on Tehanu. A memorable story with some gorgeous word pictures, which repays rereading

[Added 25/04/2009; Drama; <1000; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

Whole by Northland

'Alder...hadn't known that bone was alive, like chambered sea coral or the heart of a great tree, until he learned it from Lily.' A beautiful vignette, full of vivid details

[Added 14/01/2011; Romance/Erotica; <1000; Ursula Le Guin – Earthsea]

Hainish Cycle

The Color of Shadow by Ellen Fremedon

'"Your friend there," Arguyry said after a long interval of breadapple, just loud enough that Oppong could have overheard if she were listening, "when hopes for?" And before Kushud could try on other shades of meaning—await, anticipate, expect—the question neatly rearranged itself in her head: "When is your friend due?"' A richly detailed tale of complex cultural misunderstandings as an ill-assorted pair of first visitors bumble around Gethen. The delicately sketched Annaresti OC flares into life to make this piece

[Added 28/10/2014; Drama; 2500-6000; Ursula Le Guin – Hainish Cycle]

The End and the Way by Luzula

'On Posthe Tuwa of the Year One in the reign of Argaven XII, Harny Sord of Gernahan gave birth to a pervert.' This quietly moving coming-of-age tale explores Gethen via an engaging OC who is a 'female pervert', but it encompasses so much more than just a queer slant on the universe's gender norms. Simply wonderful!

[Added 04/02/2012; Drama; 6000-20,000; Ursula Le Guin – Hainish Cycle]

The First Train to Brotherhood by Arrogantemu

'The first train to Brotherhood arrived in the middle of the night, with the moon high and mottled overhead. Brotherhood did not, technically, exist yet, except as the terminus of the line...' Insightful story about the earliest settlers of Anarres, and the way that language shapes thought

[Added 05/07/2016; Drama; 1000-2500; Ursula Le Guin – Hainish Cycle]

Living the revolution by Leaf Litter

'"They'd be stupid then," Laia told him. "They ought to lock it away for preservation. When we're safely dead, and the revolution with us, it will probably be worth a fortune to the collectors, in their fine libraries of revolutionary books, and their fine counter-revolutionary minds."' This thoughtful view of Laia Odo's philosophies & the problems of running a revolutionary movement, was made for me by a gem of an original character ('The Day Before the Revolution')

[Added 04/10/2013; Drama; 2500-6000; Ursula Le Guin – Hainish Cycle]

A Piece of the Continent by Epigone

'Then there are the questions. Or rather, there aren't the questions. But it isn't immediately apparent, because at first they seem to speak like anyone on any other world.' Long sequel to The Left Hand of Darkness, with excellent characterisation, beautifully measured pacing & a superb evocation of an alien culture. An amazing achievement -- I wouldn't blink at seeing this in a Le Guin collection

[Added 25/11/2011; Drama; 6000-20,000; Ursula Le Guin – Hainish Cycle]