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The Earthsea Quartet (Earthsea Cycle #1-4)

4.23  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,762 Ratings  ·  245 Reviews
Synopsis 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 ...more
Paperback, 691 pages
Published October 28th 1993 by Puffin Books (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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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
Sep 23, 2009 Martine rated it really liked it
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
Aug 19, 2015 Hanne rated it did not like it
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.
M.J. Johnson
Nov 26, 2014 M.J. Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 07, 2011 Parks rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
May 24, 2015 Pete Foley rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 27, 2013 Jemma rated it it was amazing
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
Fi Michell
Oct 10, 2012 Fi Michell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
S.j. Hirons
Aug 12, 2007 S.j. Hirons rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Oct 08, 2010 Diogo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
* 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
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
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
Phoebe Lynn
Mar 02, 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
Mar 04, 2016 Peter rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished reading this book. I never thought I would ever read this type of fantasy but I found the book engaging and it carried me from one story to the next wondering what was going to happen. All four books are underpinned by a basic philosophy that violence does not solve problems. Though it helps to have a fire-breathing dragon on your side. The "Tombs of Ataun" was so spooky it gave me bad dreams and I had to stop reading it last thing at night. No book has ever done that to me before. Th ...more
Heather Browning
Feb 29, 2016 Heather Browning rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 21, 2014 Trisha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, epic, series
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 12, 2014 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 25, 2010 Allison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 23, 2012 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 14, 2014 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
Jedidiah Tritle
Feb 01, 2014 Jedidiah Tritle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Matthew Lloyd
A Wizard of Earthsea - Finished 7th January 2010 (4*)
The Tombs of Atuan - Finished 16th January 2010 (5*)
The Farthest Shore - Finished 5th February 2010 (5*)
Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea - Finished 24th February 2010 (4*)
Alex Stargazer
Oct 01, 2015 Alex Stargazer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of traditional fantasy
Recommended to Alex by: A librarian

Ah, Ursula! A well-praised author indeed; but one whose works seem not to my fancy, alas. For although the Earthsea Quartet is not without its merits—not least of which includes the author’s propensity for phantasmagoria—it is nevertheless a sore disappointment. Why? Well, read on...

The Quartet in Short
First off, let’s be clear with what exactly the Earthsea Quartet really is. You may be able to guess that it is, in fact, a Quartet; but to elucidate further: it is a collection of four short nove

Dec 12, 2014 Noah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
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.
Dec 31, 2015 Forgoszel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Folyamatosan újraolvasós.
Sarah Dale
Earthsea is a fascinating world which consists of multiple islands, cultures and dragons. Magic is controlled by mages, witches and sorcerers through the true names of all things. The spoken word holds more power over the written word, meaning that practitioners of magic are trained to speak the true names of people, creatures, plants and things, which is also the language of dragons. All those who speak the true names of everything are both respected and feared across all the islands of Earthse ...more
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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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)

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