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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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9,694207298 (4.01)1 / 638
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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1960s (153)

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English (200)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  Japanese (1)  All languages (206)
Showing 1-5 of 200 (next | show all)
A great story, far larger in the imagination than this short book belies.
It is a coming of age and discovering who you are story, told in a seemingly simple episodic way, which has a mythic quality. On might call it a bildungsroman, except that it is belittle it and pigeon-hole it. This feels a far deeper, more protean creation. A beginning.

I have memories of reading this voraciously over thirty years ago in a sun drenched room, hardly pausing, as it is probably possible to read in a day, a sitting. This time I savoured it more and wondered at the construction of an entirely other world. A great fantasy novel.

I read the Folio Society edition published in 2015, illustrated with muddy brown pictures by David Lupton. This artistic vision creates a wonderful buckram cover, with brilliant indenting of Ged's scar to create a memorable design. ( )
1 vote CarltonC | May 22, 2016 |
It’s been a while since I read true fantasy! This book is one of my husband’s favorites, so I figured I should give it a read at some point. I did enjoy it. There’s a lot of great, extensive world-building, with a variety of characters. At its heart it’s a coming-of-age story, as Sparrowhawk grows from an impetuous, cocky teen to a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders. I also enjoyed the way the magic worked — simple and tied to the land. And it’s clear that there’s more to Sparrowhawk’s story. If you enjoy fantasy, this is a classic worth reading. ( )
  miyurose | May 19, 2016 |
I seem to be developing a habit of loving books until about 3/4 of the way through, whereupon I lose sight of what I thought was the whole point of the book and get extremely bored, and then find myself exceedingly dissatisfied with the ending. This, as you may have guessed, was one of those books. ( )
  BraveNewBks | Mar 10, 2016 |
I think I missed the window of opportunity to read this series. This book and the third book in the series, [b:The Farthest Shore|13667|The Farthest Shore (Earthsea Cycle, #3)|Ursula K. Le Guin|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388200537s/13667.jpg|1322014], didn't satisfy me. The world was interesting, especially as seen in the second book, [b:The Tombs of Atuan|13662|The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle, #2)|Ursula K. Le Guin|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1417900879s/13662.jpg|1322146], which features a young priestess, but the characters were somewhat two dimensional. I can see if I'd read it at age 12 or thereabouts, I would have loved it.
  seschanfield | Mar 7, 2016 |
Duny is a young boy on Gont, one of the larger islands which dot Earthsea. His mother is dead, his much older siblings have all left home, and his father is a dour, taciturn bronze-smith with nothing in common with his son, so the boy grows up wild and headstrong. Duny discovers by accident that he has an extraordinary talent for magic. His aunt, the village witch, teaches him the little she herself knows, but his power far exceeds hers.

One day, he uses his talent and a fog-gathering spell he learned from a passing weatherworker to save his village from Karg raiders. The tale of his remarkable feat spreads far and wide, finally reaching the ear of a wise Gontish mage, Ogion the Silent. He recognizes that the boy is so powerful he must be trained so as not to become a danger to himself and others. In the rite of passage into adulthood, he gives the boy his "true name", Ged, and takes him as an apprentice. In this world, a magician who knows someone's true name has control over that person, so one's true name is revealed only to those whom one trusts implicitly. Normally, a person is referred to by his or her "use name". Ged's is Sparrowhawk.

1971 Puffin edition. 201 pagesThe undisciplined young man grows restless under the gentle, patient tutelage of his master. Ogion finally gives him a choice: stay with him or go to the renowned school for wizards, on the island of Roke. Though he has grown to love the old man, the youngster is drawn irresistibly to a life of doing, rather than being.

At the school, Sparrowhawk masters his craft with ease, but his pride and arrogance grow even faster than his skill and, in his hubris, he attempts to summon a dead spirit - a perilous spell which goes awry. An unknown creature appears and attacks him, scarring his face. It is driven off by the head of the school, the Archmage Nemmerle, who expends all of his power in the process and dies shortly thereafter.

Sparrowhawk is wracked with guilt at causing the old man's death, but after a painful and slow recovery, he graduates from the school. Normally, Roke's wizards are much sought after by princes and rich merchants, but the new Archmage sends a willing Sparrowhawk to a poor island group instead, to protect the inhabitants from a powerful dragon and its maturing sons, who have been seen scouting the region.

Sparrowhawk eventually comes to realize that he cannot both defend the islanders against the dragon and himself against the nameless thing he summoned into the world. He takes a desperate gamble; in the old histories, he has found the true name of a dragon which might be the one he faces. His guess is right and by using the dragon's name, he is able to force the dragon to vow that neither it nor its offspring will ever trouble the islanders.

Then, with no idea how to deal with his other foe, Sparrowhawk tries to return to the safety of Roke, but the magical, protective Roke-wind drives away the ship on which he is a passenger. He is nearly caught by a gebbeth, a man taken over by his nemesis, but finds what appears to be a safe haven in the domain of one of the Old Powers. However, he is nearly enslaved by the ancient guardian instead. He realizes his peril just in time and, taking the form of a falcon, flees yet again.

He instinctively returns to Ogion, who advises him to turn about and seek his shadow. In following his master's wise guidance, the roles of Sparrowhawk and his enemy become reversed, and he becomes the hunter.

Sparrowhawk is nearly drowned when the shadow lures him into steering his boat onto rocks. The vessel sinks, but he manages to reach a small island inhabited by only two old people, a man and his sister, who have lived there alone so long they have forgotten there is an outside world and other people. After Sparrowhawk regains his strength, he constructs another boat, held together by magic. When he is ready to leave, he offers to take the pair wherever they want to go, but the man fearfully turns him down and the woman does not seem to understand that there are other people and other lands. However, she gives him a parting gift of one of her few possessions, a broken half of an armlet. (The siblings' story and the gift's significance are revealed in the sequel).

Back at sea, the shadow nearly takes Sparrowhawk unawares, but he senses it just in time and comes to grips with it. His enemy flees, but he senses that he has forged a bond that cannot be broken and that the shadow cannot now avoid a final confrontation.

During his pursuit, Sparrowhawk encounters Vetch, the only friend he made at school. Together, the two wizards set off into the open sea. Sparrowhawk perceives the ocean gradually turning into land, an immensely powerful magic. Though Vetch cannot see the transformation, the boat runs aground. Sparrowhawk steps out of the boat and walks off to confront his waiting shadow. Though some of his teachers had thought it to be nameless, Sparrowhawk and his adversary speak at the same moment, each naming the other "Ged". Sparrowhawk embraces his foe and the two become one.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 200 (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 (48 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Le Guin, Ursula K.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Archer, KarenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cases, MadeleineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon. DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ellison, HarlanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harman, DominicCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rambelli, RobertaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rikman, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robbins, RuthIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saunders, Micksecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-racked Northeast Sea, is a land famous for wizards.
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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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