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A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle) Mass Market Paperback – September 11, 2012
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"New and longtime Earthsea fans will be drawn to these impressive new editions."—Horn Book
Top customer reviews
The story is good, not terribly deep, but this was written for younger readers.
Great fantasy fare. A good read for people of any age, but there can be no mistaking it was written with younger folks in mind. Of particular pertinence are Le Guinn's observations on perception. A few passages, for effect:
"Wait. Manhood is patience. Mastery is nine times patience."
"To light a candle is to cast a shadow . . .”
"Ged stood still a while, like one who has received great news, and must enlarge his spirit to receive it."
“For a word to be spoken,” Ged answered slowly, “there must be silence. Before, and after.”
An enjoyable read, even with slow pacing in a few places. The only real gripe is the editing, or distinct lack thereof, in some sections of the book. There are portions of nearly every chapter that appear as raw text without any check for grammar or punctuation. In the experience of this reviewer, said editing discrepancies seem present only in the Kindle version.
Upon a second reading, it is still a strong and vibrant story, though I became a bit bored with the repeated hopping from one port town to the next and the multiple close calls. I could certainly relate to her descriptions of walking to exhaustion, and pushing oneself to the limits of one's endurance!
There was a plot hole which I felt was not sufficiently explained and upon re-reading still feel that it is a bit wobbly, but a minor kvetch for a marvellous book. I thought it very clever of her to introduce the "stubs", the unresolved questions from which other books will take their start, woven into the narrative and not just plugged in at the end.
I know it's a YA book, but don't let that description deter you. It's beautiful and enduring, a work of art.
Unlike Harry Potter, Ged is not simply the chosen one who can do no wrong. Rather than fighting some external evil, the entire plot is driven essentially by Ged's mistakes and his quest to right it. At its core, A Wizard of Earthsea is about a young man owning up to his mistakes and owning his darker side. Ged's character really evolves and matures over the course of the novel. The character takes on significant responsibility for his imperfections. It's a refreshing take on a fantasy story, where too often heroes are unblemished heroes and villains unmitigated evil.
LeGuin's narrative style is also interesting. Much of the book is told in third-person with little dialogue or even immediate action. At times, it feels like the type of story that might have been told over a campfire. It'd a very different feel from Tolkien's narration in the Lord of the Rings and perhaps more closely resembles the Silmarillion.
Overall, this has become one of my favorite fantasy novels. Definitely worth checking out if you like fantasy and want a more sophisticated take on wizards and dragons.
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.