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The Earthsea Quartet (Earthsea Cycle, #1-4)
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The Earthsea Quartet (Earthsea Cycle #1-4)

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  4,397 ratings  ·  197 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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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
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
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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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
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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
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
...more
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
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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.
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
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
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
Kathryn
A Wizard of Earthsea:
Pretty good, albeit now-standard fare. I didn't feel it was as deep as many others feel it is, but that's just my own experience. Interesting to see how little fantasy has truly changed over the years, though one does have to point out that Earthsea is more racially diverse.

The Tombs of Atuan:
Honestly? It was a fair read, but on the whole it just didn't work for me. The protagonist is utterly awful, goes through a 180-degree personality change randomly and the set up is just
...more
Ronel
Ursula Le Guin has a beautiful, though dated, way of writing that simply draws a reader into her stories. I often found myself captivated by the way she described a scene more than the scene itself. In The Earthsea Quartet you follow the life and adventures of Ged, a great wizard, from boyhood through to old age. However, Le Guin twists these stories as each one is told from the perspective of a different character; and I simply cannot say that I enjoyed all four stories but 'The Farthest Shore' ...more
Stephen Hayes
I've read the first three books of the quartet three times, and the last one, Tehanu once. I liked A wizard of Earthsea best on first reading. I was slightly disappointed by the second reading. By the third reading none of the first three books was as good as I remembered them, and the fourth, Tehanu, was positively boring.

So I would have given the first book four stars on first reading, three on the second and two on the third. The tombs of Atuan three on the first reading, two on subsequent r
...more
Ale
See, when someone recommends me a book, I am usually much more inclined to read it, because I like to listen to other people (especially when they used to live with me and knew about my interests in fantasy) and also because an endorsement must be worth something, right? So I dove right in to the Earthsea Quartet, thinking it would be great and amazing and earth-shattering. I'll review each book individually, because that really makes more sense, and my opinions vary (hence the middle-of-the-roa ...more
Cécile C.
Four lovely stories, where social commentary blends with fairy tales in a discreet way. The four novels tell the story of Sparrowhawk, a powerful mage in many conventional ways, except that the cycle doesn't begin or end quite where you'd expect it to, thus showing Sparrowhawk's life in a rather moving light.

There are many different ways to enjoy these stories. You can read them like fairy tales, or traditional fantasy. You can go hunting for all the subtle details that undermine the traditiona
...more
Jasperzelf
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
...more
Lisa
Comprising four books, so shall jot down as I read each one...

A Wizard of Earthsea - 2 stars

At the moment I feel a little bit like I've been promised a roast dinner and been given a sandwich, and while I like sandwiches they're nowhere near as good as a roast.

Chucking away all the trimmings and sticking to basics, it felt like I was rushed through the story although I did appreciate it's philosophy, and liked the resolution.

The Tombs of Atuan - 3 stars

This one I enjoyed a lot more - partly due
...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
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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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