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A Wizard of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea

Book - 2012
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JCLCharlesH May 19, 2021

High fantasy and coming of age combine in this classic story of magic and friendship. Ged is a magically gifted youth who's desire to rise above his humble roots leads him to cast a spell he is not prepared for with potentially dire consequences. Haunted by his past mistakes, he moves into his wizarding career and attempts to atone for his choices.

Apr 13, 2021

I don't read a lot of fantasy and will be the first to admit that I'm a little out of my depth on this one (again). I'm not against fantasy, in fact there have been many Fantasy books that I've really enjoyed. I just generally find it hard to understand the rules of the universe without a sort of visual accompaniment or aid.

That being said, I found this book to be a pretty digestible read (of course it's target audience includes people half my age, so you could argue I set the bar pretty low). Le Guin builds a fascinating universe but takes the time to explain it to readers so we (okay, so *I*) know what's going on.

The writing style is engaging. It's largely driven by plot exposition, which I don't usually like, but given that the story is framed like a song or legend that's been passed through the ages, the format works. I also like that Le Guin had the courage to write a deeply flawed but relatable protagonist. The hero's flaws were self-evident but understandable, making for a satisfying character arch.

That being said, I did find the second half of the book a bit meandering. The hero's penance-journey started to feel a bit repetitive and is made worse by the fact that he doesn't seem to learn more about his predicament or how to resolve it, he just...keeps going. This compounded with a rushed finale made for an unsatisfying conclusion.

However, it's a quick, easy read with some creative world-building and neat ideas. I just think that the second half would have benefited from a little less plot and a little more character.

IndyPL_SteveB Feb 14, 2021

Book One of the Earthsea Cycle.

Earthsea is a large archipelago around an inner sea. The tradition of magic and wizards has been there for centuries, and every island or island group wants to have its own magic user. There is even a School for Wizards, probably the first major wizard school in fantasy literature. The people of Earthsea range from blond, white-skinned people of the northern islands to the very dark-skinned people of the southern group. The main character is labeled as “bronze-skinned” and his best friend at the School for Wizards is dark-skinned.

Duny is a young boy with untrained magical powers. He saves the villagers on his island of Gont from an invasion by creating a fog that bewilders the invaders. The island’s wizard takes him on as an apprentice and gives his him “true name” of “Ged.” Because true names have power and should rarely be revealed, he becomes known to others as “Sparrowhawk.” Eventually Ged chooses to go to the School for Wizards, where he feels out of place among the more sophisticated students. Out of anger and pride, he eventually tries to show off his half-trained abilities by calling up a dead spirit. Instead he calls a shadowy being which attempts to kill him. The shadow disappears from the island but Ged knows that someday he must face it again. When Ged graduates from the school, he spends months traveling Earthsea looking for the shadow.

What seemed completely original and powerful in those early days of literary fantasy seems a bit less so today, after decades of novels influenced by this one, which really did open up new vistas for teen novels. It is still very good, with fine writing and the charm of the various cultures of the Archipelago.

Jan 15, 2021

Light fantasy fable with an obvious lesson. Dark shadow unleashed by a powerful wizard when he was young. Chased by the shadow until he turns and hunts the shadow until uniting both parts of him by naming the shadow by his name. ‘Know thyself...’

Nov 13, 2020

I greatly enjoy Ursula Le Guin’s works....they contain monumental truths, sage advice, deep understandings well worth the time to read, think about, digest and enjoy. They also tend to be just damn fun to spend time with.

Aug 12, 2020

At times, A Wizard of Earthsea is a generic fantasy story, but what makes it different is the life lessons that it teaches. Ged, the main character, goes through the wringer in this book, but the wisdom he earns by the end is really touching. The world-building is also very inspired and investing.

Jun 28, 2020

This was a little bit confusing but I liked it anyway. I liked how the main character had to overcome their fear and how he grows in that journey.

ArapahoeTina Mar 18, 2020

Le Guin's storytelling may not be for everyone—she's slow and deliberate and has a fancy for creating unusual names and detailed world-building. The ending of this one was so profound, it took me off guard. Ursula truly is a master!

Feb 11, 2020

Le Guin's gorgeously evocative prose transports the reader to Earthsea, with its esoteric magic and whimsical locales suffusing the young protagonist's hero journey with a sense of inscrutable wonder. Ged's pitched battle against a foe of his own creation feels repetitive and overwrought at times, and the story comes to a rather predictable conclusion, but the ride to the finale is well worth it. This is a brisk read, perfect for a rainy Sunday, and essential for fans of the genre.

This is a really cool concept for a book. I loved the ending. The only thing I can say about this book other than that is that the characters have a lot of potential for funny fan fics, since the story doesn't go into very specific inner dialogue. Not something I would recommend to people wanting to get into the genre, but a good read.

Jun 10, 2019

A Wizard of Earthsea is a satisfyingly brisk high fantasy odyssey. The wizard school, while only a brief part of the book, seems to be a pre-cursor and possible influence of Harry Potter. The narrative is well-written. It seems to have been written with a young audience in mind, but does not insult the intelligence of these readers. I would recommend it to fans of fantasy and world-building epics of any age.

Mar 29, 2019

Even the author herself saw this book as a disappointment when she looked back on it. Maybe in 1968 it was clever and new, but this is just disappointingly patriarchal and lazy generic boy fantasy. It hardly deserves contemporary praise.

Mar 10, 2019

I read the, a while ago and really loved them! Amazing!

Oct 20, 2018

I have just finished A Wizard of Earthsea and thought it was excellent. I have never read anything by this author and was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing and the depth of the story. There are several interesting points about the nature of power and evil, and how we need to be sure of what we seek and why.

Jul 05, 2018

Excellent work of fantasy/fiction. Well paced with good character development. A good read -

Mar 26, 2018

First part in the 6-book "Earthsea" cycle. R.I.P. Ursula K. Le Guin.

ArapahoeStaff23 Jan 10, 2018

And Old-school fantasy style series of a wizard and his coming of age adventures and trials. Good read for adolescents getting into YA who enjoy fantasy and dragons.

Nov 29, 2017

Much fun, looking forward to the later volumes -

Jul 26, 2017

I'm not quite sure why, but I just didn't like A Wizard of Earthsea. I wanted to. I love fantasy! And some of my favorite fantasy authors wrote in the mid-twentieth century. Nevertheless, I just couldn't get into this book. Perhaps it was my expectations (which so often ruin things). I knew the book was highly regarded and that Ursula LeGuin is considered a masterful writer. And yet I STILL did not love this book. I didn't even like it. I guess, in the end, I thought it was really esoteric and, as a result, unrelatable. I just couldn't get into it. For instance, where the heck are the female characters? It was like LeGuin was a man writing in the 14th century, omitting women almost entirely except for ugly references to straying and corrupted sorceresses (Serret at the Court of Terrenon) or extremely brief ones of piffling significance (Yarrow, the young sister of Ged's friend, Vetch). [Later on in the library--I have wikipedia-ed the book and alas! I think I understand my confusion. The book reflects LeGuin's belief in Taoism. While I resonated with elements of the story, I was ultimately flummoxed by her cosmology.]

Feb 17, 2017

I don't remember if I read this as a kid or teen but I just read it now at age 27 and really enjoyed it. The story is well-written and the world-building is great. It was a bit slow in the beginning but then got fast-paced with new things happening pretty quickly. I liked the whole idea of the sea with hundreds of islands and boats as the main way to travel. The map is pretty detailed and I kept referencing it. If you like old-school fantasy, you should try this book, although I think anyone would like it. Recommended for teens and adults alike. I am looking forward to reading more about Ged and Earthsea.

Oct 22, 2016

An excellent story from an excellent author. I highly recommend this book.

Oct 14, 2014

A really enjoyable series!

Jena08 Jul 10, 2014

I love this series! I was looking for a good read and it was recommended from "" I love the premise of one's true name. After I read this series I made the connection to another fantasy writer -Patrick Rothfuss. I love him but I found that he "adopted" alot of his themes from this author. Ursula LeGuin was way ahead of her time! A must read!

x405 Aug 21, 2013

Wonderful read for any age. She is my favourite author.

x405 Jul 30, 2013

I read this book when I was at school and really enjoyed it.

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