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The Earthsea Quartet (Puffin Books) Paperback – May 1, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ursula Le Guin was born in Berkley, California, in 1929, daughter of the writer Theodora Krober and the anthropologist Alfred Krober. Her published work includes twenty-one novels, eleven volumes of short stories, three collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation. Among her novels are the The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, both winners of the Nebula and Hugo awards, Always Coming Home, winner of the 1985 Kafka Award, and Four Ways to Forgiveness. In 2009 she won her sixth Nebula award for Powers. Penguin/Puffin published the first volume of the Earthsea books, A Wizard of Earthsea, in 1971. The Earthsea books have been translated into many languages around the world and are global bestsellers.
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Product Details

  • Series: Puffin Books
  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books, Limited (UK); reprint edition (May 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140348034
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140348033
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jana L.Perskie HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
Ursula Le Guin's magical Earthsea Quartet is a classic fantasy series set in the World of Earthsea long ago, during a time when dragons, wizards and magic were not uncommon, nor yet extinct. The island of Gont, located in the stormy Northeast Sea, is a land famous for its wizards. Gont's most famous native son was Ged, called Sparrowhawk, who in his day became both dragonlord and Archmage. His life is told in the "Deed of Ged," in many other stories and songs, and in this series.

The quartet consists of the following novels: "A Wizard of Earthsea," "The Tombs of Atuan," "The Farthest Shore," and "Tehanu." Each book follows the life of the Wizard Ged, as he embarks on numerous quests during a period when magic is dying out in Earthsea and evil is replacing it. Although this novel, and the entire quartet, have been classified as children's books, I do not totally agree with the label or classification. The tales may well be appreciated by children and adults alike, but the sophisticated prose, the very language used to form the riveting narratives, is as rich and flavorful as dark Belgian chocolate. And apart from the obvious storylines, there are subtexts, subplots and subtleties. One could say that Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland," or "Gulliver's Travels" by Jonathan Swift, are delightful children's books, however, these same novels are usually appreciated by adults on an entirely different level.

"A Wizard of Earthsea" introduces the main character of the series, Ged, a little boy who discovers he has magical ability. He studies under Ogion the Silent, the great mage of Re Albi, learning to read and write the Six Hundred Runes of Hardic. Ged discovers he has developed the power to call animals.
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Format: Paperback
Before Harry Potter, before Rand Al'Thor, and somewhere around the time of Elric of Melnibone there was Ged, the simple goatherder turned Wizard. Ursala Le Guin's trilogy is a must for those seeking to find the post-Tolkien roots of the fantasy genre.

Accessible to the young, yet still entertaining for the old, the Earthsea trilogy is a timeless classic. Le Guin writes from a Daoist perspective, and the root message in this series, that too much of something is never a good idea, is readily apparent. I read this series in high school (due largely in part to a very open minded and liberal english teacher), and continue to enjoy it today some 15 years later.

The fourth book is set after the original trilogy, and is geared mainly for adult readers. In my assessment it detracts from the original series in that it should not have been included as a "quartet" as it has a very different tone. Good nonetheless, but different. Enjoy all.
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Format: Paperback
This is the first in a series of books. There are 4 novels in the series and two collections of short stories. It follows the life and career of Ged a young man from the Island of Gont. Le Guin has created a very unique world, a world that is mostly water and each nation is a collection of islands. This book is also one of a few that has children's teens and adult editions in print.

Ged apprentices to the local Wizard on God, and is eventually sent to the school for wizards on Havnor. There in anger during a fight with other youths he releases a dark shadow, an evil. The Masters of the school appear and banish it from the island. However this shadow and Ged are now tied together in a very unique way.

After leaving the school Ged becomes haunted by the shadow he has released. He tries to return to the protection of Havnor but cannot return to the island the magic protecting the island will not let him approach. So he decides to head south.

The shadow is getting closer and closer to him, and he must discern it's true name or else he will not be able to defeat it. Can he solve the puzzle, will he wrestle with his shadow and win or will he succumb to the evil he has let loose.

This is a book I first read back in highschool. Then a few years back had to read it for an English literature course at the University of Waterloo I was about a third of the way through it when I realized I had read it before and that is when I found our that the story continued. Since then the two collections of short stories have been published in this world.

Le Guin deals with some big questions of life in this book. Such questions as:

Who am I?

Do I have a role or purpose in life?

Can I defeat the darkness within me?
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I'd recommend reading these four books, then the author's translation of the Tao Te Ching, then these four books again. The main character is, in my mind, the purest of heroes, even more so than Aragorn or Frodo. These books are the antithesis of the semi-pornography that seems to be the industry standard of contemporary epic fantasy, even though the author's world contains villains and powerful evil. Parents and teachers and librarians should feel good when their 12 year olds read these books.

In some ways the elder Sparrowhawk reminds me old Kvoth, in the world of the brilliant author Patrick Rothfuss, but Sparrowhawk would never have spent three hours, much less three days, telling his story. I'm so glad Ursula LeGuin did!
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