The Earthsea Cycle: A Wizard of Earthsea (Book 1)
Intro to Earthsea
“The wise needn't ask, the fool asks in vain.”
My first exposure to Ursula K. Le Guin’s work, I’m a little sorry to say. I’m not sure what’s taken me so long… but I CAN now see some of her influences in more recent fantasy authors.
The book is a fairly quick read—no more than 6 hours investment—and provides both the base worldbuilding blocks to the Islands-only realm of Earthsea along with the origins of one of its most famous wizards. One gets the impression that much information has been lost, but it doesn’t dwell in lament over that too long. Instead, it simply gets on with the story it can tell. The story centers on a motherless boy named Ged, who is being somewhat negligently reared on an unremarkable island by a vaguely abusive blacksmith father and morally nebulous witch aunt. When the island is invaded, the boy stretches his magical capacities in an effort to save his village—and in doing so earns the attentions of a famed wizard.
The 3rd-person semi-limited telling follows Ged through apprentice training and a sort of wizarding school, where he continually makes impatient or prideful errors, causes problems, and grows through his mistakes. It ends right around his 19th year after he goes out into the wider world to right a tremendous wrong of his own making.
The story posits a relatively soft magic system. People either have inherent magical propensity, or they don’t. And everything has a “true name” that can potentially allow a magic user to master that creature (or person.) As such, nicknames are popular and one does not give out their true name to just anyone. Dragons and wizards dominate the more obvious fantastical elements.
Le Guin’s prose is a vivid blending of the simple and the elegant. There is visceral emotion that is well expressed, but not a tremendous amount of depth. Many things are expediently skipped over rather than explored—relational development seeming to suffer the most.
There were times this felt very much like a Middle Grade read, but given the era it was written in and the eventual age of the protagonist, it would be wrong to label it as such. Is it Middle Grade appropriate? Absolutely.
But part of its appeal is in the wide range of audience who could potentially enjoy this story without it requiring too much of their focus.
*“Go to bed; tired is stupid.”
*“War as a moral metaphor is limited, limiting, and dangerous. By reducing the choices of action to “a war against” whatever-it-is, you divide the world into Me or Us (good) and Them or It (bad) and reduce the ethical complexity and moral richness of our life to Yes/No, On/Off.”
A Wizard of Earthsea is about a young magician from the Archipelago. The name his mother gave hims was Duny, but his true name is Ged. A Wizard of Earthsea is all about his journey from when he learnt his first magic trick, when he got his wizard name Sparrowhawk, to when he finally defeats the shadow he had released.
Ged was the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea, but in his youth he was the reckless Sparrowhawk. In his hunger for power and knowledge, he tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tumultuous tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death's threshold to restore the balance.
I think that it was strange that the characters didn't really have a name that everyone knew. Take the name of the main character, Ged. This was his true name, and only a select few knew it, but to everyone else he was Sparrowhawk. He didn't really have a common name that people could use, and I thought that was really strange.
This book didn't get really deep into the thoughts of Ged, and we were kinda cut off from it all. This meant we couldn't really predict what was going to happen, which meant surprises that are totally unexpected. I think that we should of been able to have a closer look into his mind, so we get more of feel what he was like.
I think that this book is truly spectacular, and that anyone who enjoys a fantasy/classic, then A Wizard of Earthsea is what will be your true love.
Reader reviewed by missy
The book has to be one of my favorites. It portaryes the journey of how power corrupts and the journey from childhood to adult hood, and excepting the reponsilbites of one actions. The book also had an iterseting perspect on wizards and the power they hold, along with the consquences of that power.
Tales of Ged
Reader reviewed by Ray
This book The Wizard of Earthsea is a series that is rather old but amazingly exciting and interesting. If your looking for a good read, look this book up. This story is about a man named Ged who must hunt down a shadow that could kill him and many others. Read this book to find out if he successfully hunts down this beast and defeats it...And at what cost...