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The Earthsea Quartet (Earthsea Cycle #1-4)

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  4,867 ratings  ·  214 reviews
As a young dragonlord, Ged, whose use-name is Sparrowhawk, is sent to the island of Roke to learn the true way of magic. A natural magician, Ged becomes an Archmage and helps the High Priestess Tenar escape from the labyrinth of darkness. But as the years pass, true magic and ancient ways are forced to submit to the powers of evil and death.
Paperback, 691 pages
Published October 28th 1993 by Penguin (first published January 1st 1984)
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Jen Jones In the Afterword of The Other Wind, Ursula states "But in the Tombs Ged is at least thirty, and middle aged in The Farthest Shore......"
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Neale
The ‘Earthsea’ trilogy is, I think, the finest work of fantasy written in the twentieth century. What makes it stand out above so many others - quite apart from its beauty and wonder and terror and wisdom - is the fact that it achieves its effects with such perfect economy of style. Post-Tolkien, most fantasies achieve their world-building by layering detail upon detail, accompanied by genealogies, maps, appendices and such-like. Ho hum. Le Guin doesn’t waste a word. Not one. There isn't a singl ...more
Martine
Sep 23, 2009 Martine rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like fantasy with a philosophical slant
The Earthsea Quartet contains the first four of Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea novels (I believe there are five now, plus a collection of short stories). Earthsea is a large archipelago of islands, some of which are inhabited by dragons, but most of which are inhabited by humans. It's a fairly well-realised world which never gets bogged down in unnecessary details, unlike many other fantasy series. LeGuin sticks to basics, both in terms of world-building and in terms of style. Her writing is sparse an ...more
M.J. Johnson
I first read the Earthsea Trilogy when I was in my early twenties and absolutely loved it.
As for reading the first three books again over thirty years after my first outing to Earthsea, the experience was quite simply better than I’d imagined. I was both entranced and delighted by the books, not only by the clarity and drive of Le Guin’s narrative but also by the richness and depth of her always economic prose. I love The Lord of the Rings for its wealth and genius as an epic narrative, however
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Parks
I would not recommend these books to anyone. The dragons and wizards parts of the books are well-written and imaginative, but the archaic, reified gender roles are offensive. I suspect Le Guin was attempting to convey some version of second-wave feminism with the idea that women are Freudian beings of the earth/caves/womb/darkness whose place is in the home and certainly not in school or civic life. The power of (heterosexual, fertile) women is described as reproductive only, while men's power l ...more
Pete Foley
These books are simply wonderful. I concur wholeheartedly with Le Guin being held up alongside Tolkien.

The Wizard of Earthsea: First of all the pace of this book is so refreshing. In the first chapter it establishes a young boy who has a hint of a gift, suddenly he defends his village and is wished away to apprentice with a wizard. One chapter. So great. The world created is so full, and the lore is beautiful; magic is in the understanding of the true names - magnificent.

The Tombs of Atuan: a hu
...more
Fi Michell
I'm giving this five stars because when I was about eleven, it changed my reading life forever. I had never been so captivated nor so terrified by a single story. For some time, I could not walk inside our house at night alone without imagining Ged's shadow reaching out behind me.

It was the first real fantasy book I'd ever read, with the exception of fairy tales. It did for me what Harry Potter must have done for many children some decades later. Afterwards, I went through every fantasy and sci
...more
S.j. Hirons
"To light a candle is to cast a shadow..."
A teacher forced the first book on me when I was about 11 and, at the time, I hated it. I think a fair few parts of it creeped me out and I stopped reading it way before the end. I was probably 17 or 18 when I picked it up again and I’ve re-read the original trilogy on a yearly basis, each summer, ever since because for me they’re the template of how to write intelligent, thought-provoking fantasy. LeGuin’s world is fully realized and wholly recognisable
...more
Trisha
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Peter

I read the first of these novels in High school, back in the 1980's and all that I could remember, this time around was that it was about a guy called Sparrowhawk and that, back then, I absolutely loved it. I had no idea that there were five more! Now having read the whole quartet I have to say that my memory serves me well. Three of the four are excellent, well crafted stories, at times lyrical, beautifully, poetically descriptive and yet, at other times leaving details unsaid; written with an
...more
Allison
I really loved these books. I liked the amime that Miyazaki did and of course saw that first, but the books are so much better. It's actually been the first time that I was a little disappointed in Studio Ghibli.
Going into the books I was already aquainted with the character Sparrowhawk and really enjoyed reading the progression of his personality through them. I think my favorite of the four was 'The Farthest Shore'. In that one you really get to see Sparrowhawk as a person and a mage. It's s
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Jemma
I don't even know where to begin with this quartet. I had excellent fun reading it. It did take me almost a whole month, but it's rather large as well. I'll talk about each book:

#1 'A Wizard of Earthsea'
Ursula Le Guin immerses us into a world full of magic, dragons, and unknown dark powers, an Archipelago of islands. I was thoroughly enchanted by the story of Ged growing up, and his mission to correct his wrongs and restore the balance.

Ged has humble beginnings in a village on the island of Gon
...more
Felix Dance
I was given this Ursula Le Guin classic also by Pip and read it within a few days at the Nepali orphanage. It’s a collection of the first four Earthsea novels written in the 60s and 70s. The first, A Wizard Of Earthsea, is definitely the best, about a boy becoming a wizard (like in Harry Potter) and embarking on a Search and Destroy of evil demons. The second is shorter story about rescuing a priestess from meaningless worship, the third a fairly good quest involving the reversal of magic’s dimi ...more
James
This was a very fun read, and one which I think across the four novels had elements of excellent writing and some things very poorly written, as well as some sublime construction of themes and some implemented very clumsily.

Individually, I would have given A Wizard of Earthsea 3/5 , The Tombs of Atuan 4/5, The Farthest Shore 4/5 and Tehanu 2/5. I was in two minds whether to continue reading after finishing the first of the four, since I felt that what was ultimately a good story in a well-establ
...more
Irene
I owed this book a little review at least.. :)

Since it is a quartet, one should mention that the whole Earthsea world and particular stories consisting this book was a very bright fantasy conception from the author, as the background created was unique and well-detailed (as regards the maps and the use of more that simply 1 or 2 isles in the stories). I really enjoyed the fact that Ged travelled almost all around the Earthsea map, unveiling the differences and the marvels of every land :)
I r
...more
Diogo
* A Wizard of Earthsea
Read some time ago. Meh. Improved my appreciation for J.K. Rowling.

* The Tombs of Atuan
Wonderful, the best of the quartet. Unfortunately it's a single gem. I wish it was the last one. The characters are very well portrayed, the conflicts, internal and external just make sense. The storytelling feels effortless. The one book I recommend. And it can be read independently, it's mostly context free.

* The Farthest Shore
Nice wrapping up of the story but it just wasn't enough. On
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Jedidiah Tritle
The first three books are pure magic, and I would certainly classify them among the best of the fantasy genre. Tehanu (Book 4) is incredibly boring, and does very little to advance the plot of the Earthsea Cycle beyond introducing the character of Therru (Tehanu), who is instrumental in the fifth novel (Book 6). The first three books are easy reads, and the exciting plots kept me interested the entire time. The greatest aspect of the books, in my opinion, is that--beyond being great stories--som ...more
Sparrowlicious
This edition includes the first 4 books of the Earthsea cycle, as well as the map illustrations from each book.
Le Guin is a master of writing, or so to say. The first time I read "A Wizard of Earthsea" I didn't like it. Only some years later I could see why that was: Back then I read the german translation instead of reading the english original. Language is important in the world of Earthsea. If it wasn't, all the spells wouldn't work. Le Guin takes you on an adventure of the Archipelago in th
...more
Nigel Gray
I am part way through reading these stories again. I first read them back in the early '70s and enjoyed them then. After such a long gap I've come to them again and found the stories quite unsatisfying. As stories go, they're OK but the problem with all fantasy is that there is no root in the real world. To compare them to Tolkein or Lewis or even J.K.Rowling does all those writers a disservice. Fantasy writing has always struck me as very lazy writing. If your hero is stuck, then a bit of magic ...more
Noah
The stories were incredible and deep. The message of each one was clear and thought provoking. At the same time, they all felt unfinished. I realize that the point was not so much the stories as it was the message of the stories, but all the same I wished there had been more. However, the author has a right to choose when her book is finished, and she chose the ending that suited her message. I suppose that my desire to have more is a testament to how much I loved the stories and characters.
Unsung Stories
One of the things that makes Le Guin so interesting for me is how she creates these great world-encompassing struggles, and then sets her stories around the edge. The Earthsea Quartet (a series served very well by being collated into one volume) is the perfect example of this. The battles between light and dark, life and death, Cob and Ged, Tenar and Kossil, are all presented in service of the over-arching themes. And those themes are as complex as life, power, and wisdom.

What Le Guin achieves i
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Eea
This is one of my favourite books. I have just finished the last page today. Le Guin's language is beautiful and mesmerising. Each story is exciting, terrifying and emotionally charged, yet at the same time, includes the gentle rhythm of normal life, so it does have a way of bringing you back down to earth. Each story seemed to have a philosophical way about it, containing messages that any ordinary person can take into their heart. The characters are endearing but real. Unlike some fantasy fict ...more
Matilda
The Earthsea Quartet is a fantasy based series of books circled around the theme of sorcery. The books follow the life of a Mage named Ged, a dragonlord who travels around Earthsea seeking knowledge and the quest to restore the balance of nature.
I can easily say is one of the best series I have ever had the joy of reading, ranking it among writers such as Tolkien and JK Rowling. The four books are linked in the theme of characters however they can be read in any order without experiencing confus
...more
Schuyler
Rarely have I read writing as beautiful as Le Guin's. Each of the four books as a distinct feel, and offers a different kind of satisfaction, but all are marked with this beauty and ease of writing. There were passages throughout that struck me in such a way that I had to read them three or four times through before I could bring myself to move on.

I had not started reading fantasy until a couple of years ago (at least not since I was young enough to still hope, in a determined and not dreamy wa
...more
Elizabeth Bennet
This is a wonderful and I recommend it to everyone regardless of your interest in the genre or not.

I have read the Turkish translation more than 10 years ago and either the translation was bad or I was not ready for the novel(s) but I love them now and they are most definitely a keeper.

My favorite of the four is A Wizard of Earthsea and Tehanu followed by Tombs of Atuan and lastly The Farthest Shore (I simply was not that interested in Arren although the dragons were nice)


One last thing, do no
...more
Bookworm
Epic, intense, original, and so beautifully written it will make your heart sing. If you like fantasy, you will adore this. And if you don't like fantasy, this will convert you. I've been reading and re-reading this since I was 18 and it never gets stale. I have to say it's one of the most gorgeously-written series I've ever read, and even though book 4 (written so many years after) doesn't hit quite the same spot as the first three, I'm still glad Ms Le Guin wrote it as I craved a conclusion to ...more
Patrick Bättig
Erdsee entführt den Leser gekonnt in eine andere Welt und garantiert ein paar angenehme Abende im Reich der Fantasie. Die einzelnen Bücher sind nicht sehr lang, wodurch sie auch nicht schwer zu lesen sind, trotz der leichten Längen (lange Segelfahrten). Band 1-3 sind wundervolle Fantasie in einer untypischen Fantasy-welt mit symphatischen Charakteren, mit denen man sofort mitfühlen kann und die man auf ihren Reisen gerne begleitet. Es ist etwas andere Fantasy als die Mehrheit des Genres, wodurch ...more
Ash
My ratings actually average out closer to three and a half stars, but I feel that would be doing Le Guin a disservice. So, four stars it is. Individual ratings and reviews below.

A Wizard of Earthsea: three and a half stars
A straightforward tale in many respects, perhaps simple, even, although that sounds more damning than it deserves. But the central conflict facing Ged is a strong and, dare I say, important one, rendered with well-built characters and a world allowing for beautiful scenes. Ofte
...more
Lea
Really I can't even describe how much I loved this series. Thank you to Shakespeare & Company where I found this amazing volume with the first 4 Earthsea novels! And thank you to Ursula Le Guin, who has a gift more wonderful than any magic. Earthsea is built like no other fantasy world I've ever read.

The first three are beautiful fantasy novels, classics, wonderful tales. And if you read them and think they are perfectly good the way they are, and would not change a single thing about that w
...more
Lina Al-Midfa
POSSIBLE SPOILERS - Tread with care...

Part 1: A Wizard of Earthsea
An extremely well written book, A Wizard of Earthsea is a very relaxing read, that's what the title is and that's what you'll get. My favourite parts of the story: the journey of Ged all over the map of Earthsea, I found myself navigating the shores on the map just as he did. Although detailed in the landscaping part of his journey, I found myself wanting more of Ged himself, more character building, if that makes any sense. It wa
...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)
  • A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)
  • 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)
A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1) The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle, #2) The Farthest Shore (Earthsea Cycle, #3) The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle, #4) The Dispossessed (Hainish Cycle, #5)

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