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A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle,…

A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1) (original 1968; edition 2004)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

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9,313188321 (4.01)1 / 627
Title:A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1)
Authors:Ursula K. Le Guin
Info:Spectra (2004), Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:epic fantasy, coming of age, magic, responsibility, nautical, map

Work details

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin (1968)

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English (182)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  Japanese (1)  All languages (188)
Showing 1-5 of 182 (next | show all)
I can't remember how many years it's been since I read anything by Ursula K. Le Guin, nor do I recall what it was that I read. So when Le Guin appeared in an article recently, it was a good excuse to reacquaint myself with one of her classics, A Wizard of Earthsea.

Sparrowhawk is young when a wizard sees his talent and takes him as an apprentice, but a hunger for power leads him to unloose on the world a dark and evil magic. As he grows and increases in ability, he finds himself facing the temptation to use the power he has unleashed. However, power does not come without a cost, and Sparrowhawk soon understands that he must face the evil he has unleashed, or it will undo him and the world.

Though A Wizard of Earthsea is the first of the Earthsea novels, Le Guin wrote two short stories in the Earthsea world several years before. Several of the novels have won awards, including the Newberry and a Nebula. I've not read them, but I enjoyed A Wizard of Earthsea enough that I plan to collect and read the series.

That said, reading A Wizard of Earthsea was a flash back to an age of fantasy writing that is long gone, where the explanation for magic is less important than thematic development and handwavium hocus pocus. Where Brandon Sanderson might use a magic system that is highly scientific, with rules for operations, Le Guin's style of magic owes more to Tolkien and is more reminiscent of something that might be familiar to readers of folk tales and stories centered on Medieval Europe. Power is in knowing the name of something, its true name, and a few select individuals are able to draw on that power to manipulate the world around them in ways beyond the understanding of the average person. These are wizards.

Le Guin weaves into Sparrowhawk's story a theme centering on the allure and danger of power, not only in the wrong hands, but also in the right ones. Even the good and decent can be corrupted by power, and short of discipline, agency, and self-sacrifice power will destroy those who wield it. One could imagine that Le Guin's story, published in 1968 at the height of the Cold War and the space race, was not without reflection in the real world. ( )
  publiusdb | Nov 22, 2015 |
My Dad recommended this book to me. It was fun and entertaining. The book builds and gets better through out. First book I've read with dragons. ( )
  JaredChristopherson | Nov 16, 2015 |
After having read so many books that were inspired by LeGuin's trilogy, I decided to give the original try (as an audiobook). I couldn't appreciate its groundbreaking treatment of magic, of course, having already been exposed to variations on that theme, but I did enjoy the somewhat bleak story. It did make me wonder, however, if such a tale could be told of a female wizard without something being made of the fact of her sex. In other words, what sets Ged apart has nothing to do with his being a boy, but it's hard to imagine that the same could've been said had the character been a girl instead.

I'd been told before reading (or listening to) this book that LeGuin later regretted her treatment of women's magic in the first book and tried to correct that in future books. So I was prepared for some stereotypical minimization of women's magic as being only concerned with the domestic or maternal. But either I missed it or it simply wasn't as noticeable as LeGuin herself and perhaps other readers had felt it was at the time. That may be because I've since been exposed to powerful magical women in lots of other books, so I didn't feel the lack of it in this book. But I do look forward to listening to the next two books to see what happens with the female characters. ( )
  PerpetualRevision | Oct 25, 2015 |
You know how you read things for the adventure and the excitement and the danger? Thrill-seeking, one of the more basic forms of escapism, where you can slip into the adventurer's skin and and experience their wild ride by proxy. I loved that. I was addicted to that. How on earth did I find this, then, and keep going back to it? Obviously I picked it up because it's a fantasy novel and I was all Lord Of The Rings yay! But this... this is a carefully crafted, masterfully controlled piece of literature. It is full of adventures and physical and spiritual dangers, but it's not written as an adventure narrative. Look, this is all my way of saying that after rereading it for the first time in about twenty five years, i found myself on the verge of tears every second or third chapter. It is a book full of deeply moving moments, and of profound, human insights and tenderness and friendship and redemption and finding wisdom after folly and hard experience. It's an adventure story, all right. The story of a young man who makes a dreadful mistake and who must confront the mistake before it consumes him. I just don't remember ever before putting the book down when the young men have returned and Yarrow runs to greet them with tears in my eyes. On a Monday morning in the middle of the dismantling of the Electric Picnic, no less. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
I'm glad Ged woke up long enough to take care of his shadow problem. ( )
  glitzandshadows | Oct 12, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 182 (next | show all)
The most thrilling, wise and beautiful children's novel ever, it is written in prose as taut and clean as a ship's sail. Every word is perfect, like the spells Ged has to master. It poses the deep questions about life, death, power and responsibility that children need answering.
added by melmore | editThe Guardian, Amanda Craig (Sep 24, 2003)

» Add other authors (54 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ursula K. Le Guinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ellison, HarlanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harman, DominicCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rambelli, RobertaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rambelli, RobertaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rikman, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robbins, RuthIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553383043, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:23 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A boy grows to manhood while attempting to subdue the evil he unleashed on the world as an apprentice to the Master Wizard.

(summary from another edition)

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