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Wizard Of Earthsea, A

by Ursula K. Le Guin
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Penguin Books
  • Publishing date: 01/1971
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780140304770
  • ISBN: 0140304770

Synopsis

Often compared to Tolkien's Middle-earth or Lewis's Narnia, Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea is a stunning fantasy world that grabs quickly at our hearts, pulling us deeply into its imaginary realms. Four books (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, and Tehanu) tell the whole Earthsea cycle--a tale about a reckless, awkward boy named Sparrowhawk who becomes a wizard's apprentice after the wizard reveals Sparrowhawk's true name. The boy comes to realize that his fate may be far more important than he ever dreamed possible. Le Guin challenges her readers to think about the power of language, how in the act of naming the world around us we actually create that world. Teens, especially, will be inspired by the way Le Guin allows her characters to evolve and grow into their own powers.

In this first book, A Wizard of Earthsea readers will witness Sparrowhawk's moving rite of passage--when he discovers his true name and becomes a young man. Great challenges await Sparrowhawk, including an almost deadly battle with a sinister creature, a monster that may be his own shadow.


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  • Amazing storytelling, you will want it to go on forever
    From Amazon

    You will get so deep in this book that you will want to stay there forever.

  • One of the All Time Greats
    From Amazon

    This book is one of my favorite fantasy books. Of course it all comes down to personal taste, but to give you an idea I'd rank this similar to: Weis and Hickman - Dragon Lance / Death Gate Lloyd Alexander - Chronicles of Prydain The series as a whole is quite different from most other fantasy series though. After the first book, they are more thoughtfully written. Possibly intended for a slightly older audience, but still quite good. The first book though is up there with the hobbit and the lord of the rings.

  • I may not have loved Earthsea, but I certainly could see the beauty in it
    From Amazon

    In Earthsea, there are wizards and magic. One of the powerful keys to this world is a person or thing's "true name." Therefore, although he was called "Duny" in childhood and "Sparrowhawk" throughout his life, his true name is Ged. The story follows Ged from his impatient childhood to his greater quests as an adult. Through these quests Ged must always worry and flee from the malevolent entity he calls his "shadow." I'd like to preface everything I say with this: Ursula K. Le Guin is an amazing writer. There is no doubt about that in the least. Le Guin's story is cohesive, lean, and has a myth-like quality that I admired, even when I couldn't fully embrace the story. Plus, one has to remember that there was no Harry Potter or the other young-wizard-goes-to-school books before Le Guin's Earthsea. It's Le Guin that made these tales possible, because her stories are inspiring. If any scene seems worn out, it's most likely because Le Guin wrote it and others imitated. But I think I'm getting ahead of myself. First I should say this: the first half (or maybe even more) of Earthsea was incredibly difficult for me to slog through despite the lean, controlled prose and how quickly I could read the book. It's true that Earthsea is short, quick, and lean, but everything I read kept the name "Tolkien" flashing across my mind in bright, irritated letters. Now, I wasn't put off because I thought that Le Guin was mimicking Tolkien, because-quite honestly-there's more fantasy fiction that models off Tolkien than not, but because I'm one of those few people who just doesn't care for Tolkien. At all. Since I'm in the minority with my preference, this won't be an issue for very many readers. From the maps, the storyline movement, the sligh remove from the characters, the world-building-it's all very Tolkienesque. Of course, there are worse things to say than "I didn't enjoy this because it reminded me of Tolkien." Because, really, that could be read as: "I didn't enjoy this because it was too like one of the masters and founders of the very fiction genre." In the end, there are worse things to say than "I didn't enjoy this because it reminded me of Tolkien." Because, really, that could be read as: "I didn't enjoy this because it was too like one of the masters and founders of the very fiction genre." Although, to be more specific, I think it's the distance from character and plot that bothers me most. Le Guin gives the readers some excellent scenes and characters (my favorite scene involved the dragon and my favorite character is, hands down, Vetch), but our glimpse into Le Guin's world can be fleeting. The book is short and packs in something like 15 years of Ged's life into those pages. Years just speed past. On one hand, this is sort of nice in that the reader gets to hit the "highlights" of Ged's life without the downtime. However, on the other hand, I came away from Earthsea knowing that I only had a handful of real, concrete insights into the character and that I would have to infer the rest from quickly-passed situations. (One of the absolute best moments in the book is one of these insights, at the very end, so I think Le Guin is not only aware of this structure, but tries to use it to full effect.) Well, let's see, I've complained a lot and moped about my dislike of Tolkien and all that is the beginning of traditional fantasy, but what did I like? I very much liked that the protagonists were dark skinned, but loved that it was slipped in so subtly with well-placed details that I might have missed it had not I been preoccupied with the golden hair of one of the village-attackers early in the story. I enjoyed the themes of call-by names and true names, the power of language, and equilibrium/balance. I adored Vetch and wish he had a whole lot more page-time-and more than just how I wish everyone had more page time. Additionally, Le Guin always moves her story forward-actually, every single word as well as the narrative-with a driving logic. My final impression regarding Earthsea is that it's a very interesting read in that it's like reading the creation of a myth, but the distance and too-short length detracted from my enjoyment. What I mean about the creation-myth reference is that the story has the little dialogue, straight-forward prose, and the feel of oral story-telling. However, I am very glad to have read this book, as it is very important to the movement of fantasy literature and because Le Guin's command over language and story is always an impressive thing to see. I may not have loved Earthsea, but I certainly could see the beauty in it.

  • Wizard of Earthsea.
    From Amazon

    I never thought that a 144 page story would take me SO LONG TO READ. Yikes. I planned to read the first three books of the Earthsea series for Jawas Read, Too!'s Summer of Series, but once again I fear I will fail at a challenge. Maybe if I'm lucky the Tombs of Atuan review will be up tomorrow. Fingers crossed. There are a few good, sensible excuses for my painfully long reading of A Wizard of Earthsea: I recently got a summer job and my hours have gone up lately, especially weekend hours which is prime reading time for me, and I have taken a few vacations in which reading was impossible. But then there is the fact of this book simply did not want me to read it quickly. It refused to be read for more than 20 minutes at a time. I blame Ged. I have been wanting to read a Le Guin book for many moons now. I have heard from a couple people that she is a classic, and everyone must read her before they die. I did some scouting around, like I normally do when I hear such a thing, to see what she has written and if they sound like my thing. The Earthsea trilogy definately sounded like my thing, along with a few of her other books I might pick up later. I put the series of my To Be Read list, but since there were no copies available at my local libraries, I forgot about them. Then I heard about Jawas' Summer of Series. And I found an omnibus edition of the series on Paperback Swap. The stars were aligned. In my defense, I did only receive the omnibus in the middle of June and this challenge is only for the month of June. So there. Ged was born on the island of Gont, an island known for housing powerful and prominent wizards. Not many from Ged's poor village suspected the great things that he would someday come to do. They couldn't foresee that one day songs would be song of the little ruffian running among the goats. One day, a great wizard living on Gont comes and takes Ged away to live with him. There he tries to show Ged what it means to be a wizard, but he is a slow teacher. Ged soon goes bored, and when he is asked to go to a school for wizards on Roke island, he goes. At the school, he learns tought lessons that shape the rest of his life. He learns one lesson too late and unleashes a dark burden on Earthsea that he must vanquish at once or die trying. A Wizard of Earthsea is told as a folk tale or legend. The reader is told a certain amount at the beginning of the story about how things will end. I really dislike this way of storytelling because I like a certain amount of mystery in my stories. I know that things will more than likely end up happy. And I know that the protagonist will be superfantasticamazing because if there weren't going to end up being a somebody, why write a story about them? No one wants to read a story about a wizard who sits on his couch all day, using magic to change the channels. But I still want to pretend to be surprised when things work out this way. I like the warm and fuzzy feeling I get when the characters defeat the evil and head back home to their family and friends. This didn't happen to me in a Wizard of Earthsea because I had known all along what would happen. Despite the feeling of being spoiled, I thought the story was original and entertaining to read. Ged begins his real studies as a wizard with a patient and mysterious wizard called Ogion. I loved Ogion, obviously. How could you not? He was the typical kindly old wizard who knows more than he cares to tell, but only for the good of those around him. He is conscious of the great power he could yield, but he also knows the consequences of everything he does. The greatest part of the story for me was the trials Ged had to go through to learn that exact lesson of consequences and being at peace with oneself as Ogion was. I appreciated how it wasn't an easy thing for him to learn, but how in learning it would make it him an great and powerful user of magic. Some parts of the story, especially towards the end, were very profound and philosophical when discussing the lessons Ged had learned. I think these parts showed what a fantastic author Ms. Le Guin is. I found Ged to be a complex character, but I did not have much attachment to him. My problem with this was the distance that telling the story as a legend put between the reader and the protagonist. Legends are not too concerned with thoughts and feelings. The story is explained as, "Something happens, Ged reacts, reason he reacts is explained." The reasons were more told than shown in my opinion. Not only that, but important building years of Ged's life are simply skipped over. I couldn't feel a connection with Ged even though I did feel he was a great character; it was an odd feeling. I loved how he wasn't an innocent viction when it came to his school boy enemy, Jasper. He was as much to blame, if not more so, in creating an enemy in Jasper. He imagined things that weren't there, or things that could have easily been overlooked, he brought to the forefront of his mind and obsessed over. These obsessions came to a head when the two boys took their growing power too far because they didn't understand the consequences of what they were doing yet. The worldbuilding of Earthsea is elaborately over-the-top, and I ate it up. When I first heard if the name Earthsea, I scoffed at its absurdity. I found myself thinking, "Could this author be any more unoriginal? Earth and sea, I wonder where she got those two words from?" I now swallow those words. I love that name now. It makes perfect sense when you create a world filled with only with hundreds and thousands of tiny islands. I found myself thinking that an in-depth look at the politics of these islands would be fantastic, and I thoroughly enjoyed the little snippets Le Guin gave us of each island's world. I was also overjoyed with the close up maps that were interspersed within the book; I needed them desperately. The little islands were sometimes hard to find in the big map, and I like to know exactly where I am in the world. Another important part of the Earthsea world are names. Every single thing, from a wave to an insect, has a true name which you must know to control it. Names are sometimes important parts in fantasy novels involving magic; books like Eragon come to mind. A Wizard if Earthsea took this theme to the extreme. A person, if they wanted to control a person, had to work to find out a person's name, because surely a person would guard that secret with everything they had. It was an interesting concept and added another layer to Le Guin's theme that no power comes without working. Rating: 7 out of 10. I agree that A Wizard of Earthsea is a classic in the fantasy genre. I have heard some say it paved the way for Harry Potter, which I can, loosely, see. I had a few problems with the story, the main one being how slow going it was for me. I could read the whole Harry Potter series in less days than it took me to read this one book. I will definately pick up more Le Guin books, and I can already tell you that I enjoy the Tombs of Atuan much more.

  • a fantasy classic
    From Amazon

    This is a classic fantasy, complete with dragons, magic, and of course the proud and gifted wizard-in-training, Ged. Le Guin's style, which appeals to me more the older I become, is simple, spare, yet colorfully descriptive. It's amazing how much she can cram into a mere 182 pages. I lost a copy of this book when I was a teenager, and was very pleased to discover I could purchase a similar copy, with the original cover artwork, on Amazon.

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