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

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3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  165,905 Ratings  ·  5,291 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.
Hardcover, Atheneum, 197 pages
Published 1991 by Macmillan (first published 1968)
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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)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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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
Bookdragon 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
Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 02, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
”The hunger of a dragon is slow to wake, but hard to sate.”

 photo Earthsea20Dragon_zps6ietclom.jpg
The Folio Society edition is superbly illustrated by David Lupton.

The boy is born on the island of Gont in the archipelago of Earthsea. This is a world infused with magic. Not everyone can control this magic, but those who know the right words and have a wizard soul can learn to utilize the power of the Earth to manipulate objects and events. The boy’s name is Duny; I can tell you that name because the name has no power over him. His tr
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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
Lyn
Feb 14, 2013 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
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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.
Brad
Here's an odd bit of trivia: I had just read Beagle's Last Unicorn this month, so it is still very fresh in my mind. I agreed with everyone that it was a real classic with so much to love within its pages.

And yet, right after reading A Wizard of Earthsea, I'm gonna have to say I think A Wizard of Earthsea is better. Not only better, but a lot more enjoyable, fascinating, and exciting!

Not by a lot, mind you, but enough that I can easily say that this Le Guin's classic is superior. :)

I hope this c
...more
Apatt
Aug 09, 2012 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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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
Cait • A Page with a View
Wow. This had all of the plot points and awesome fantasy world that I'd normally love. The writing was almost mesmerizing at times. So why was it so painfully boring?!



This really reminded me of The Name of the Wind, but at least it was better than that. Ged is a sulky, prideful boy who starts out being trained by a wizard to learn the true name of things. He eventually leaves him to go to a school and has experiences similar to Kvothe.


I LOVED the elements of the world with the mages and dragons
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Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
So... this really wasn't for me!

I love fantasy and the overall story was good, the writing was beautiful (definitely helped me practice my english!) but I was so bored. Like REALLY bored. I ended up skimming a bit..

It reminded me of Uprooted - which I also didn't like! Also couldn't get attached to the main character due to the third person narration and how often months or years of his life were described in one sentence.

Will not continue the series.
Brad
Mar 26, 2008 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
Oct 23, 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
Alex
Sep 16, 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
Tracy
Jan 29, 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
Aristea
Nov 30, 2016 Aristea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-read-on-shelf
This is such a precious book of fantasy, of a classic (if it even exists) fantasy tale, of a mage who learns his true nature, who fights himself and his fears to become a better version of himself.
The plot is nice and simple, straightforward and entertaining.
The writing style is superb, impressive in the simplicity of the delivery. Yet, the words used tend to be of a refined palate; it is pure gold.
I dare saying this is felt as a family tale, a book to share with your loved ones; it also feel
...more
Ryan
Dec 13, 2014 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
Zanna
Dec 01, 2016 Zanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: y-a
Appropriately for a YA novel, this story is, I think, about processes of identity. In Earthsea, magic-workers are various; from the Archmages on Roke island to the village charm-maker, many folks have some wizardish powers. These come in many forms, but they are based on words, specifically the “True Names” of things in the “Old Speech”. Names are of extreme importance and power then, and a person must guard her true name, given in a ceremony performed at the age of around 13, with great care, r ...more
José
Oct 15, 2016 José rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Puedes encontrar esta y otras reseñas en mi blog.

«Sólo en el silencio la palabra, sólo en la oscuridad la luz, sólo en la muerte la vida; el vuelo del alcón brilla en el cielo vacío».

«Un mago de Terramar» es el libro que da comienzo a una saga de fantasía compuesta por 6 libros, y es considerada como un clásico dentro de este género. Su autora, Ursula K. Le Guin, se inspiró en obras clásicas de fantasía como «La serpiente Uróboros», mitología nórdica y «El señor de los anillos» para crear
...more
M. Ihsan Tatari
Feb 21, 2017 M. Ihsan Tatari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ne yalan söyleyeyim, biraz çekinerek başladım seriye. Çünkü büyücüdür, ejderhadır vs beni biraz sıktı artık. Tamam, yazıldığı dönemde muhteşem bir eserdi mutlaka, zira yeniydi, ilklerdendi. Ancak aradan geçen bunca zaman içerisinde büyücülük okulları, birinin ismini bilmenin kudreti vb temalar o kadar çok taklit edildi ki... beğenmeyeceğimden, hak ettiği değeri veremeyeceğimden korktum.

Neyse ki yanılmışım. Evet, ilk basıldığı yıllarda okuyup da her şeyi birinci elden deneyimleme fırsatını kaçıra
...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
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
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
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
Nikki
Nov 20, 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
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Is this book epic fantasy? 20 167 May 27, 2017 03:21AM  
Around the Year i...: A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K Le Guin 12 47 May 10, 2017 07:26PM  
Fantasy Book Club...: Earthsea Cycle: A Wizard of... No Spoilers 46 65 Nov 23, 2016 05:44AM  
The Raven's Writi...: Just finished Wizard of Earthsea - It was FANTASTIC 2 5 Sep 29, 2016 06:14AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Correct info 2 12 Sep 24, 2016 03:39AM  
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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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18 trivia questions
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“But it is one thing to read about dragons and another to meet them.” 288 likes
“It is very hard for evil to take hold of the unconsenting soul.” 273 likes
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