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A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1984


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Mass Market Paperback, April 1, 1984
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

Review

"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
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1150L (What's this?)
  • Series: Earthsea Trilogy (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 183 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (April 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553262505
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553262506
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (614 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #597,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

I recommend this book to any fantasy reader.
Kurt A. Johnson
Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea is (and deserves to be) a classic of modern fantasy literature.
Daniel Bell
I've always loved this story because of its characters, and its world.
J. Myrick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

284 of 302 people found the following review helpful By James D. DeWitt VINE VOICE on January 6, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ursula Le Guin is the daughter of Alfred Kroeber, an anthropologist, and Theodora Kroeber, a psychologist and writer. It's easy and accurate to say that her parents' interests inform her brilliant writing, and that cultural anthrpology and Jungian psychology are at the core of Wizard of Earthsea and its three sequels.
But the book isn't a treatise. It's a wonderful, well-told story of a young man, Ged, coming of age in a world where words can have the power of magic and dragons are as real as earthquakes. There is nothing didactic about this story; Le Guin's writing is compelling and her characters are vivid: Ogion, the Mage of Silence, whose word had stilled an earthquake; Vetch, who helps Ged on a deadly quest for no reason but friendship; Murre, Vetch's sister; Yevaud, the dragon of Pendor; and Skiorh, possessed by a gebbeth.
Earthsea doesn't exist in a vacuum. Le Guin constructs a deep and textured history, and her characters act in ways that are consistent with that world. She manages the trick of writing a mythic tale without falling into the traps and foibles of sounding like you are trying.
The climax is straight from Carl Jung, but you don't need to know Carl Jung from Steve Young to appreciate it.
From time to time, religious groups call for this book to be banned from school libraries, claiming it promotes witchcraft. Nonsense. This is a book every teenager should read. It speaks to self-understanding, nothing more.
And some feminists criticize Le Guin because Ged is a male character. Again, nonsense, Ged is an archetype, and his gender matters not at all.
This is an important book. It's also terrific fun. Highly recommended.
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67 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 28, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Not only is the "Earthsea" trilogy a wonderful series for adolescents but it also contains profound wisdom for adults seeking their own path to individuation. Rich in timeless myth, the series has the young mage Ged surmount many trials on his way to understanding himself and therein lies the key to his ultimately becomming the Archmage of Roke. Each book in the series has the main story turn on the issue of trust between two people and upon Ged's courage in facing dark issues either within himself or in the enviroment. Ged is a powerful role for young people developing a sense of their inner integrity and for middle-agers every where beginning to deal with their shadow issues. Of course there are plenty of dragons, battles, transformations and journeys which can be enjoyed simply as a good storey, but don't pass up the chance to re-read to catch the deeper meaning. This series is too good to be eclipsed in popularity by LOTR and the Chornicles of Narnia, "Earthsea" stands on its own! If I haven't convinced you, please read the essay by Noel Perrin in his book, "A Child's Delight."
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By neurotome on August 13, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
I'm writing this review because JK Rowling's books about the Hogwarts School of Magic reminded me of this, one of the few perfect novels I've ever read.
It's not a light-hearted fairy tale, though it is "high fantasy." It's the story of Ged, from his childhood discovery of his wonderful yet terrible magical powers; to his education at the School of Wizardry on Roke Knoll. There he makes a misstep; overstepping his powers, he accidentally lets loose an evil creature from a shadow world. His self-imposed exile, journeys, and eventual maturation and triumph are written with a deft flair for the beauty and wonder of magic; yet Ms. LeGuin is even more masterful in depicting Ged's character: the young high achiever who must finally make his peace with his inner demons.
As a child, I loved it for the idea of a school of magic. I grew older, reread it during a dark teenage time, and cried when Ged finally confronted his inner shadow creature. Later, studying anatomy in medical school, I recalled Ged's long days in the Namer's high tower, learning the true names of things; and bent cheerfully to my task.
It still bears re-reading to this day. Readers who enjoy Tolkien, JK Rowling, or Alice Miller's "Drama of the Gifted Child" ought particularly to read it; and readers who didn't like "The Left Hand of Darkness" or "The Dispossessed" should give Ms. LeGuin another try, in this, her finest work. . It is one of my favorite novels and I recommend it to you wholeheartedly.
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103 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Mark D Burgh on April 21, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ursula K. LeGuin's "A Wizard of Earthsea" comes from a different place then the other two fantasists with whom her Earthsea trilogy is so often compared. Tolkein's so-called fantasy was a real attempt to capture what Tolkein believed the languagues lost before the beginnings of early English, while his Oxford colleague wrote his Narnia fantasies from a Christian viewpoint. LeGuin's fantasy novels derive from her background in anthropology and show it in every way.

The story concerns the Wizard Sparrowhawk and his education. Sparrowhawk comes from a desperately poor village in the mountains, from among illiterate peasants (compare to the world of the hobbits, where, though illiterate, there is no squalor) who live with their goats. His home island, Gont, is the birthplace of Goatherds, Pirates, and Wizards, and from an early age Sparrowhawk shows his powers. After saving his village from an invading army, Sparrowhawk is apprenticed to Ogion, the great Mage. There Sparrowhawk begins to learn what Wizards know: the names of all things. He also is drawn to showing off, including calling up the dead.

Too powerful and curious for Ogion, Sparrowhawk goes to the isle of Roke to attend the school there ( Rowling only stole from the best) and finds he's not only the best pupil, but he can make enemies. In a boast, he calls up a spirit and brings out a sort of un-him. The un-him scars Sparrowhawk and kills the school's Archmage who uses his power to try and undo what Sparrowhawk has done.

Ged, Sparrowhawk's true name, must now pursue this unhim while fighting dragons, evil stones, and gibbeths, people the unhim have entered and destroyed.

Finally, Ged turns on his pursuer to fight an epic battle on the unsea and reunite himself.
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