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A Wizard of Earthsea (1) (The Earthsea Cycle) Mass Market Paperback – Illustrated, 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.
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"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; Illustrated edition (September 11, 2012)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0547773749
- ISBN-13 : 978-0547773742
- Reading age : 12 years and up
- Lexile measure : 1150L
- Grade level : 7 - 9
- Item Weight : 6.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.19 x 0.75 x 6.88 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #56,047 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.
The book follows the young boy, Ged, also known as Sparrowhawk. Ged has all the qualities you’d wish in a fantasy lead: he is powerful and brave and good. But he’s also young, at times immature, brash, arrogant, and reckless.
This recklessness inadvertently causes Ged to unleash an evil upon the world, and in true fantasy fashion, he has to be the one to vanquish the evil and make things right again.
There’s not a ton of action in the book. The wizarding school is not as elaborately imagined as that in Harry Potter (though it predates that series by decades), but is interesting nonetheless. What the book does have is strong character growth, and a philosophical edge not usually present in fantasy. It will make you think as well as feel.
I could not fault the writing, but as the book approached its 50th anniversary, it does feel mildly dated. Still, if you want a fantasy that is more introspective than action packed, this is a good choice, and an interesting opening to the series. I will be picking up the second novel to see how it unfolds.
4 out of 5 stars
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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.
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.