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A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)
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A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle #1)

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  152,011 Ratings  ·  4,486 Reviews
Ged was the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, but once he was called Sparrowhawk, a reckless youth, hungry for power and knowledge, who tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the 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.
Library Binding, 182 pages
Published April 1st 1984 by Turtleback Books (first published 1968)
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Popular Answered Questions

David Leow This is a beautifully written book but it is not Harry Potter. Rowling's books are plot driven team based struggles while Le Guin's tales are woven…moreThis is a beautifully written book but it is not Harry Potter. Rowling's books are plot driven team based struggles while Le Guin's tales are woven around the metaphysical. If you have any interest in morality or spirituality you may find these books profound and deeply affecting. If not, Le Guin's books could well leave you feeling a bit bored.

For what its worth, below is the Guardian's and Le Guin's take on Harry Potter

--------------------

Q: Nicholas Lezard has written 'Rowling can type, but Le Guin can write.' What do you make of this comment in the light of the phenomenal success of the Potter books? I'd like to hear your opinion of JK Rowling's writing style

UKL: I have no great opinion of it. When so many adult critics were carrying on about the "incredible originality" of the first Harry Potter book, I read it to find out what the fuss was about, and remained somewhat puzzled; it seemed a lively kid's fantasy crossed with a "school novel", good fare for its age group, but stylistically ordinary, imaginatively derivative, and ethically rather mean-spirited.(less)
Ami It's a "can read", not a "must read" (my opinion). A 10 years old heavy reader should get to reading it. A one-book-a-year reader shouldn't. Anyway,…moreIt's a "can read", not a "must read" (my opinion). A 10 years old heavy reader should get to reading it. A one-book-a-year reader shouldn't. Anyway, It's not a lighthearted book. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kat Kennedy
If there were ever a time I'd curse my constant reading of Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance or YA lit, it would be now.

Because clearly, CLEARLY this is a fantastic book that deserved to be finished. Ursula K Le Guin is a phenomenal writer and whilst this book (up to what I read) wasn't absolutely perfect, it was enchanting. It was different, it was QUALITY.

Yet I didn't finish it because, thanks to the aforementioned reading habits, my ability to concentrate and enjoy quality literature has slip
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Nataliya

"It is very hard for evil to take hold of the unconsenting soul."

This seemingly simple statement actually says a lot about the human nature - just as all the Ursula Le Guin's books that I've read so far seem to do.

***

A Wizard of Earthsea is a simple but beautiful and magical coming-of-age story of a young wizard Ged, who starts out as a brash and cocky boy who in his arrogance unwittingly releases a terrible Shadow upon the world, but who eventually grows up and succeeds in embracing the da

...more
Bookworm Sean
This is old school fantasy at its finest. It has all the classic elements. It has a young and naïve protagonist who learns the dangers of power; he overcomes his initial stupidity and learns how to wield his power effectively. It also has wizards, dragons and creatures of great evil. It’s a standard fantasy plot, delivered in basic way, but, nonetheless, it is still great. I think this is because of the plot itself. Le Guin drew me in completely, and made me reach the ending rather quickly. I ha ...more
Ben Babcock
This what A Wizard of Earthsea taught me:
* To know a thing's true name is to know its nature.
* Don't fuck with dragons (unless you know their true names).
* Summoning the spirits of the dead is a bad idea, especially on a schoolboy dare.
* Truly changing your form is dangerous, because you can become lost in the aspect you assume.
* If you find yourself hunted, turn it around and become the hunter.
* Above all else, know yourself.

I don't know how I acquired this particular copy of A Wizard of
...more
J.G. Keely
As a reader of Fantasy, this book felt like a return home, even though I had never read it before. The tale of this young wizard and his hardships and coming to terms with his own darkness is one that has been redone again and again, from Rowling to Jordan to Goodkind, and so far, despite adding gobs of length and endless details, no one has managed to improve upon it.

Though she isn't the first to explore the Bildungsroman-as-Fantasy (Mervyn Peake precedes her), he was an author who eschewed sym
...more
Manny

How come Harry Potter is the publishing sensation of the century, and this is only a moderately popular cult novel? Life seems unfair sometimes, but I suppose that in a few hundred years it will all have sorted itself out. The ending is one of the best I know in any book.
Ian
I couldn’t have chosen a better time to experience LeGuin’s reimagining of the story—pardon me, I mean The Story—which we weave into our lives and the lives of those around us. At 35, I’m not really old but I don’t often feel young anymore, and it’s only now that I feel like I am finally confronting my shadow and embracing who I am.

There are an infinitude of ways to reflect upon, analyze and understand our life experiences. But LeGuin provides a framework that is just right for me. Her telling o
...more
Lyn
Sep 20, 2015 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin is a beautiful fantasy.

First published in 1968, it has clearly influenced many fantasy novels since. Orson Scott Card, with his 1980s era Alvin Maker series, stated that he wanted to make an American fantasy, and escape or at least distinguish his work from the inherently English Tolkien sub-genre of fantasies. This is not quite such a departure from the Tolkienesque fantasies, but a difference can be seen and enjoyed.

Another Goodreads reviewer made th
...more
Apatt
Feb 22, 2016 Apatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading this book as a child and loving it, and that is all I can remember, the reading and the loving. Anything about the contents has slipped through the old grey cells somehow. As it turned out my brain knew what it was doing when it jettisoned all the details of the book so yesterday I was able to read it as if for the first time. Like A Virgin.

Nowadays any fantasy book that features a school of wizardry can not help but bring up Harry Potter comparisons (I can't help it anyway).
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Brad
Dec 07, 2009 Brad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faves, fantasy, the-best
When I was in grade seven I had a Language Arts teacher named Mr. Hore (you can imagine the fun we had with that in junior high school). He noticed that I was a voracious reader, and that I was devouring fantasy books at the time, so he nudged me in the direction of his favourites: Ursula K LeGuin and Anne McCaffrey.

The nudging began in class with a LeGuin short story. I remember sterile white homes that were pre-fab pods, I remember odd, sci-fi-ish flora and a girl as the protagonist. I also r
...more
j
I wish I'd read this one as a kid. It's one of those books that crams an epic story in under 200 pages, sketching the world and the details and the action rather than spelling everything out. As a kid, you get lost inside of a book like that, and it seems the better for it (the closest comparison I can think of is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - I was shocked to re-read that and discover the "epic battle" at the end is about two pages long).

I can tell that's what UKLG was going for with t
...more
Sparrow
I have been reflecting a lot lately on the hugeness of my own limitations. This story represents one of my most obvious limitations when it comes to appreciating books. I don’t understand world building. I think this is my limitation when it comes to historical fiction as well. I don’t understand why an author would want to make a story more complicated than just what it takes to tell what happens to characters. That’s how I experience world building in both sci fi/fantasy and historical fiction ...more
Tatiana
Dec 29, 2010 Tatiana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tatiana by: Ashley Waldron
Shelves: fantasy, 2010
I can't believe I am giving a Le Guin book 2 stars, I have nothing but respect for this writer and her work, but alas, A Wizard of Earthsea was a chore to get through.

Frankly, I only enjoyed the very beginning and the very end of this story. What's in between is excruciatingly boring. A Wizard of Earthsea is an introspective book. What I mean is, it's all about one wizard's personal quest to overcome the dark entity - Shadow - that he unleashed during a youthful boasting about his magical power
...more
Tracy
Feb 09, 2008 Tracy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young adults and adults
The fantasy classic A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin was first published in 1968 and this fantasy book deserves the praise it has often received. The fantasy world, Earthsea, created by the author is rich in detail. The fishy odor at the dock of every village and the salty tang of the sea literally wafted off the pages. The magical system revealed by Le Guin is convincingly real as well, and the way in which the wizards, witches, and sorcerers fit into the society felt natural and logic ...more
Alex
Nov 18, 2007 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: fiction, sff
The thing to remember about Earthsea, like all of LeGuin's writing, is that it is less fiction that it is Taoist parable. LeGuin is a philosopher cleverly disguised as a sci-fi/fantasy writer. Her writing is beautiful and languid; her characterization and plotting range from excellent to mediocre. But character and plot serve as a vehicle for the themes of balance, simplicity and serenity that infuse all of her works.

Earthsea is, on its face, a fantasy saga along the lines of Tolkien or Rowling.
...more
Ryan
Oct 02, 2015 Ryan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Good:
Written in an amazing mythic style, this book initially blew me away. The societies depicted weren't just modern Western cultures with bronze/iron age furniture - the setting felt like a truly ancient place shaped by geography and history, and where lack of technology actually mattered. The magic and metaphysics were freakin' sweet too.

The Bad:
The second half of the story really dragged, probably for a few reasons. The mythical style certainly keeps the reader at arm's length (not in it
...more
Wanda
***Wanda’s Summer Carnival of Children’s Literature***

Even the greatest sorcerer has to begin somewhere—and Ged gets a harrowing beginning thanks to getting a bit too big for his britches. This little juvenile novel is all about balance. Balance in the world and balance within a human being. I’m truly sorry that I never ran into it many years ago.

I can definitely see why it was compared to both Tolkien’s Middle Earth and Lewis’ Narnia, because the world building is excellent. I have to wonder if
...more
Evan
Jul 02, 2007 Evan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: left-unfinished
One of the first aphorisms of a creative writing class is "Show, not tell." Not that I don't believe in turning aphorisms on their heads, but this one is there for a reason. Le Guin, for the greater part of the book, just tells. It makes for a painful reading experience. Children's literature in the 21st century is not limited in its range of boy in fantasy realm turns amazing magic user, and so the dull setting, plotting and characterization of "A Wizard of Earthsea" is best left unread. In 196 ...more
Samir Rawas Sarayji
Like so many fantasy books, this one started out promising. My first impression was excitement at a well written book, particularly the verse - I mean how often is it that one reads fantasy with alliteration and a sense of rhythm?

Sadly though, the same technicalities that made this book special also made it frustrating. Alliteration and rhythm are what this is all about to the point where even the story takes a background. The level of detail and character development is strong early-on before a
...more
Kat  Hooper
Mar 31, 2009 Kat Hooper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Le Guin's writing is beautiful -- lyrical and powerful. I love how she makes all of her words count. They are all necessary, there's no fluff or redundancy -- it's simple, natural, alive, and vivid. Her understanding of different people and cultures (her father was an anthropologist and her mother was a psychologist) enhances her ability to create imaginative, creative, and believable characters and worlds. When you step into Earthsea, you feel like you're
...more
Brad
Feb 03, 2012 Brad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Milos & Bronte
Pa: Which book did you like better, Loš? The Hobbit or A Wizard of Earthsea?

Loš: Wizard of Earthsea!

Pa: How about you, Të, which did you like better? Hobbit or A Wizard of Earthsea?

Të: Wizard of Earthsea. But I really did love them both.

They're seven going on eight (for those of you who don't know or aren't sick of hearing it), and I read them Tolkien and Le Guin back to back. I read the former with deliberate performance and emotion. I read the latter in a monotous, almost plodding voice. I thi
...more
Nikki
Dec 22, 2015 Nikki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, dragons
This month’s challenge in the Book Club on Habitica is reading (or rereading, in my case) Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books. I scarcely need the encouragement to come back and read them again, so of course, I was in for this. It’s interesting reading this first one as an adult, having gone through my own coming of age and seeing Ged as young — just seventeen! It’s also interesting because I’ve read some of Le Guin’s critiques of her own work: the lack of place for women, “weak as women’s magic”, t ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Ged, aka "Sparrowhawk," goes to wizard school on the Isle of Roke. In rivalry with another student, he abuses his new powers, unintentionally unleashing a dark force. He pays dearly for his foolish dabbling and is scarred for life. He feels great remorse and wants to make things right, vowing to use his powers only for good, but he can't seem to outrun the shadow spirit he awakened. Finally, Ged comes to understand that he'll have to pursue the shadow and conquer it, or it will plague him and Ea ...more
Cindy
I dropped one star because of one major flaw, discussed after my nostalgia trip discovering this book…

Two weeks ago it was a beautiful warm afternoon, so I decided to walk to the library to return my latest read. I figured I should bring some cash in case I wanted to buy a drink or take the bus home afterward. I couldn’t find cash in my purse, so I filled my pocket with quarters and set off with just the addition of my library card. After the tiring walk, I figured I should sit and rest, and may
...more
Eric Lin
Jan 09, 2015 Eric Lin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Dude. What can I say?

I love wizards, and I love the sea.
Laila
Mar 20, 2015 Laila rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Bazı kitaplar vardır nasıl bittiğini anlamazsınız, Yerdeniz Büyücüsü'de o kitaplardan işte. Le Guin okumaya Mülksüzler'den başladığım için, Yerdeniz Büyücüsü'ne başlamadan önce yazım tarzı ile ilgili kaygılarım vardı. Hikayenin içine girmekte zorlanır mıyım gibi endişelere sahiptim.

Okumaya başladıkça fark ettim ki kurgu sizi içine çekiyor, sayfaların nasıl geçtiğini anlamıyorsunuz. Basit bir "fantastik" kitap değil bence. İçinde ustaların derinliğinden gelen bir mistisizm de var. Son sayfayı ka
...more
Stephen
3.5 stars. A good book and an enjoyable read, but I must admit I was a little disappointed. I love Ursula K. Le Guin and I was expecting to really love it. Maybe it is a case of having my expectations too high. That said, there were parts of the story that were classic such as the "wizard's school" and the magical system employed. All and all, a good book and I am glad I read it.
NadiaN99
Jan 14, 2016 NadiaN99 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to NadiaN99 by: Neda
وقتي ميگم دلم ميخاد در مورد يه جادوگر بخونم دقيقا منظورم همين كتابه
تو همون صفحه ي اول جوري جذب داستان شدم كه نميخاستم ولش كنم برم واسه امتحان ترم بخونم
يني انقدر خاق العاده بود كه من كه شديدا با توصيف زياد مشكل دارم هم لحظه اي حوصلم سر نرفت
و گد.....
خدايا چقدر قابل ستايشه
فكر ميكنم توي تمام فرهنگ لغت ها بايد جلوي واژه هاي شجاع و شجاعت عكس گد باشه
ممنون از نداي عزيز براي رك كردن اين كتاب
;))))
...more
Mladen
Sep 16, 2015 Mladen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originalna priča u divno osmišljenom, jedinstvenom svetu, vešto ispripovedana, bez ijedne suvišne reči ili događaja. Svet je tako slikovito predstavljen da možete svaki deo u kojem se dešava radnja jasno da zamislite, kao i junaka, kojeg upoznajete postepeno, ali podrobno.
Ursula Legvin je sagom o Zemljomorju zadala domaći zadatak svim savremenim piscima epske fantastike u sledećem - u zaista kratkoj knjizi predstavila je potpun svet i potpunog junaka - ništa ne nedostaje, viškova nema. Za razli
...more
вełłαтяıχ  Party Poison
Nov 02, 2013 вełłαтяıχ Party Poison rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one looking for a good story
Recommended to вełłαтяıχ by: My English teacher
Well, this ranks as one of the most undeserving fantasy works that have received critical acclaim, on my list. Even though I haven't read this for a while, and my comments may seem unfair because of this, I honestly just detested this book. It was baffling to me how such great potential for a story could be so brutally asphyxiated. LeGuin could have written an internationally-known bestseller, but, instead, she chose to pen a singularly uninteresting account of a wizard named Ged who happens to ...more
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As of 2013, Ursula K. Le Guin has published twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received many awards: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc. Her recent publications include the novel Lavinia, an essay collection, Cheek by Jowl, and The Wild Girls. Forthcoming ...more
More about Ursula K. Le Guin...

Other Books in the Series

Earthsea Cycle (6 books)
  • The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle, #2)
  • The Farthest Shore (Earthsea Cycle, #3)
  • Tehanu (Earthsea Cycle, #4)
  • Tales from Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #5)
  • The Other Wind (Earthsea Cycle, #6)

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“But it is one thing to read about dragons and another to meet them.” 257 likes
“It is very hard for evil to take hold of the unconsenting soul.” 232 likes
More quotes…