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A Wizard Of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle, 1) Paperback – September 11, 2012
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Originally published in 1968, Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea marks the first of the six now beloved Earthsea titles. Ged was the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea, but in his youth he was the reckless Sparrowhawk. In his hunger for power and knowledge, he tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tumultuous tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death's threshold to restore the balance.
"The magic of Earthsea is primal; the lessons of Earthsea remain as potent, as wise, and as necessary as anyone could dream."—Neil Gaiman, author of The Sandman
"New and longtime Earthsea fans will be drawn to these impressive new editions."—Horn Book —
About the Author
URSULA K. LE GUIN was born in Berkeley, California, in 1929, and passed away in Portland, Oregon, in 2018. She published over sixty books of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, children’s literature, and translation. She was the recipient of a National Book Award, six Hugo and five Nebula awards, and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
- Publisher : Clarion Books; Reissue edition (September 11, 2012)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 264 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0547722028
- ISBN-13 : 978-0547722023
- Reading age : 10+ years, from customers
- Lexile measure : 1150L
- Grade level : 7 - 9
- Item Weight : 8.3 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.62 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #10,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Ged is a flawed hero. Fueled by a rivalry with a fellow student, Ged's pride leads him to show off his power by practicing dark and forbidden magic. He ends up unleashing a shadow, and Ged's quest to ultimately hunt down this demon drives the rest of the novel. In this sense, the story is deeply personal. Even though it covers years of Ged's life, there is nothing epic about this tale. The story concerns Ged, and Ged alone.
In 1968, this story would have seemed vastly different than Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" or the sword and sorcery tales of Poul Anderson and Michael Moorcock. For one, there is nothing European about Earthsea. Rather, the people of its archipelago appear more like one might imagine hailing off the coasts of Africa, India, or Asia. Also, there's nary a sword to be found in "A Wizard of Earthsea." Instead, it's all about wizards, and wizards carry staves.
A story about wizards is naturally all about magic, and Le Guin creates one of the most interesting magic systems ever made, all based on the true name of things. A wizard who knows a thing's true name has power over it, and Le Guin harkens back to that theme throughout her tale. Reading it, I can't help but think it inspired modern fantasy like "The Name of the Wind," which employs a similar magic system.
Despite a few bouts of lengthy exposition, and conflict that waxes and wanes maybe more than it should, I was drawn into a story as if I was reading it for the first time. I wish it had not taken news of Le Guin's passing remind me of these tales, but I'm fortunate it did. "A Wizard of Earthsea" is a true classic, unique in its day and far ahead of its time. For anyone, particularly those who want to explore one of the roots from which modern fantasy was born, I highly recommend it.
I’m disappointed only in myself for waiting so long to read this swift, engaging book.
Le Guin’s world building is nearly as deep as Tolkien’s and leaves the reader wanting to know so much more about Earthsea and its histories, cultures and dragons. I look forward to continuing my journey into this compelling, mysterious world.
For one, when Le Guin wrote the book, that wasn't an archetype. Young adult fantasy didn't really exist then.
Also, the book doesn't feature war. Le Guin thinks that stories of wars between good versus evil are over-told and that there are more important stories to tell. The story is about Ged, the protagonist, coming of age, realizing his shortcomings, and overcoming and accepting his personal demons. The conflicts are no less epic and the victories no less sweet for the lack of war.
One of the reviews that I read before reading "A Wizard of Earthsea" included the line, "A 1968 book with a non-white hero! LOVE." Being a white person, I might not have even noticed that fact if I hadn't read the review, but it was both true and heartening.
The writing style was different than I'm used to. It had an old-fashioned fantastical lyrical storybook feel. It was interesting seeing a different style, but I think that, while I appreciated the lyricalness, I prefer less whimsical styles.
Overall, a very good exploration of humans and meaning.
Top reviews from other countries
I first read this when I was 11 or 12 years old, I’ve just now re-read it, and, nostalgia aside, it is an amazing work. I was struck now by the quality of the writing, beautifully formed sentences, built from unusual and evocative words. And in this book, words have real power, naming a creature or object is what gives magical power over it.
So if you enjoy fantasy, magic & self-discovery, this is a must read to discover the author who inspired so many after her.
A large part of the book features the boy Ged searching for a mysterious entity that he has unwhittingly unleashed upon the world.
For a while I thought he might have been looking for a consistent point of view because it certainly wandered all over the place, roaming between multiple characters and the omnipresent voice often within the same scene. In a modern novel this would be frowned upon but I guess in 1968, authors were playing with a very different rule book.
Luckily this author handled the odd style well and enriched the story with many beautiful details about the characters and settings. Some of the description added real depth to the story. I enjoyed this story quite a bit.
Open till halfway through the book actually hated the main character; proud and arrogant. But then halfway through the book something happened which changes and leads him on a quest to the rest of the novel. This book is like a meditation.
This is a story of a young boy who finds out he is a powerful wizard, who goes to a magical School goes on the quest to confront an enemy that is hunting him but has to die in order to defeat that enemy. This is not the story of Harry potter but the story of sparrow hawk. Was published in 1968. Although TH White introduce the idea of a wizard School, it's actually the author of this book that develops into a proper concrete idea. This is the progenitor of wizard school novels.
Although this book reads like an anthology there is a definite through line of learning of history one of the greatest wizards of earthsea.
Best fantasy book I have ever read.
The world Le Guin has created is vivid and individual, drawing me in very early on. I found I wanted to know more about the workings of the archipelago world of Earthsea. The first half of the book does this well, describing in detail the cultures and scenery of the islands of Earthsea. Unfortunately, despite continuing to travel to new lands. The depth of description is lost somewhat during the progression of the plot I feel this is probably a casualty of the books length, but perhaps does lend to the faster pacing of the second half.
I did very much enjoy seeing the character development of Ged from the proud arrogance of youth to the quiet insight of experience. Again, some of the other characters I would have liked to have learned more about and seen similar development over the passage of the book.
In summary, I thoroughly enjoyed A Wizard of Earthsea, it manages to fit comfortably within the fantasy genre while retaining a unique setting and culture. Perhaps my sole complaint being there wasn’t enough of it, which is probably not a bad thing.