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The Earthsea Quartet (Earthsea Cycle #1-4)

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  6,490 Ratings  ·  288 Reviews
A superb four-part fantasy, comparable with the work of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, the "Earthsea" books follow the fortunes of the wizard Ged from his childhood to an age where magic is giving way to evil. 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 hel ...more
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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Sep 27, 2012 Neale rated it it was amazing
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
"A Wizard of Earthsea" **
"The Tombs of Atuan" ***
"The Farthest Shore" ****
"Tehanu" *****
Having affairs he must see to before he left Iffish, Vetch went off to the other villages of the island with the lad who served him as prentice-sorcerer. Ged stayed with Yarrow and her brother, called Murre, who was between her and Vetch in age. He seemed not much more than a boy, for there was no gift or scourge of mage-power in him, and he had never been anywhere but Iffish, Tok, and Holp, and his life was easy and untroubled. Ged watched him with wonder and some envy, and exactly so he watche ...more
Sep 12, 2008 Martine rated it really liked it  ·  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
Jan 26, 2017 Auguste rated it it was amazing
To pigeonhole Le Guin as 'fantasy' is in itself a mistake - this is literature at its darkest and best. The first two volumes in particular are astonishing: I'll always remember Le Guin's view on nominalism and the Atuan realm, they keep haunting me. A treasure of a book, just read it - like, NOW.
M.J. Johnson
Nov 06, 2014 M.J. Johnson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
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
May 04, 2015 Hanne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I'm actually not finished, but i gave up about 300 pages in.
I was so looking forward to this being a fabulous book, but the archaic wording sometimes annoyed me. Book One still showed a lot of promise, but half way Book Two i just got bored.

I figured life is too short to read books that bore both pants ànd shirts off you.
S.j. Hirons
Aug 11, 2007 S.j. Hirons rated it it was amazing
"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
Pete Foley
Jan 28, 2014 Pete Foley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 01, 2012 Jemma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 07, 2011 Parks rated it it was ok
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
Fi Michell
Oct 10, 2012 Fi Michell rated it it was amazing
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
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
Jul 26, 2016 Tuomas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I had read the first book earlier and liked it, but I read it again now. I think the first book may actually be my favourite of the quarter, although they are all good. It's not all pleasure though, all in all the series is pretty sad and even dark. But the writing is amazing and the characters are interesting. For a book series that's essentially about wizards, there's not much traditional 'wizard business' here, but the approach is refreshing and makes for compulsory for anyone interested in t ...more
Phoebe Lynn
Jan 28, 2016 Phoebe Lynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love The Earthsea Cycle!

A wizard of Earthsea - I think this is my favourite out of the trilogy (the first 3 books) I liked how Ged was a flawed hero and how he needed to learn the ways of magic, and humility, in the hard way. I wish that Vetch came back in the other books though - I liked him. I also like how the events in the first book are referenced through the second and third.

Tombs of Atuan - probably my second favourite. It's a change from the Ged-focused story, with it shifting to Tena
Feb 06, 2013 Irene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 08, 2010 Diogo rated it liked it
* 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
Jedidiah Tritle
Jan 09, 2014 Jedidiah Tritle rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 22, 2015 Joe rated it liked it
My three star rating is based on the book as a whole first of all.

I really enjoyed the first book, A Wizard Of Earthsea, and would class it as a five star book. However it was the only one I really enjoyed. The other three books felt very minor and somehow insignificant compared to it. The story, characters and especially the world were so vivid and well done in the first that the other three couldn't live up to this. This was a shame as I wanted something more from them and didn't get it.

This w
Jul 08, 2012 James rated it liked it
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
Joshua Broccoli
Jan 31, 2017 Joshua Broccoli rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Real good. Classic fantasy, imaginative world building, characters who do stuff and say things. Heck yeah.
May 05, 2016 Marc rated it it was amazing
It's been close to thirty years since I first read A Wizard of Earthsea. I know I read most or all of the first three books, but had no clear memory beyond the first novel. If I read them, I suspect at the time I didn't appreciate them for the incredible literary achievement that they are. My much younger self would have wanted the characters to remain in their roles unchanged throughout the cycle. Instead, what Le Guin ultimately gives us is a mature, nuanced, and compelling sequence of novels ...more
May 16, 2011 Trisha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, epic, series
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 03, 2011 Peter rated it really liked it
Recommended to Peter by: James Stacey

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
Heather Browning
Jan 18, 2016 Heather Browning rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
1: A Wizard of Earthsea. I remember my Year 5 teacher trying to read this to us, and I was completely uninterested at the time. I decided to give it another go (25 years on!) and found it more engaging, but, despite being very well written, it still had a very generic fantasy feel. It probably didn't help that the only thing I did remember from the last time I'd heard it was the 'big reveal' of the shadow's name! I was most interested in the development of Ged's character, but that all happened ...more
Mar 29, 2011 Jasperzelf rated it really liked it
Ik kende eigenlijk alleen de naam van deze schrijfster want haar stukkies staan vaak in the guardian, dus ik dacht: kom, laat ik eens een mopje van haar lezen!

Blijkt het fantasy te zijn met met tovenaars en draken en zwaarden enzo! Maar ik wil helemaal niet met fantasy gezien worden! Ik ben wel een nerd, maar geen fantasy-nerd. Er is een verschil. Welles.

Dus: ik heb een kaft om het boek gevouwen zodat mijn reputatie intact blijft, en wat blijft: hartstikke mooi!

Ik vond Tolkien en Dune enzo allem
Felix Dance
Nov 19, 2010 Felix Dance rated it liked it
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
Jun 16, 2010 Allison rated it it was amazing
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
Nigel Gray
Nov 04, 2011 Nigel Gray rated it liked it
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
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Goodreads Librari...: Earthsea new edition listed as separate book 5 124 Aug 24, 2016 06:10AM  
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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 (7 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)
  • Aardzee 2 Tehanu / Verhalen van Aardzee / De andere wind (Earthsea Cycle, #4-6)

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