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The Earthsea Trilogy

(Earthsea Cycle #1-3)

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  18,667 ratings  ·  398 reviews
As long ago as forever and as far away as Selidor, there lived the dragonlord and Archmage, Sparrowhawk, the greatest of the great wizards - he who, when still a youth, met with the evil shadow-beast; he who later brought back the Ring of Erreth-Akbe from the Tombs of Atuan; and he who, as an old man, rode the mighty dragon Kalessin back from the land of the dead. And then ...more
Paperback, 478 pages
Published 1979 by Penguin Books Limited (first published 1972)
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Average rating 4.27  · 
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Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea Trilogy remains one of the more memorable books I read as a schoolboy. The claustrophobic atmosphere of The Tombs of Atuan, the dry, draining, feeling that pervades The Farthest Shore, the psychological sophistication of A Wizard of Earthsea.

The series as a whole strikes me as being a lot more philosophical than most children's books while at the same time they remain traditional Bildungsroman with their theme of growing into adult estate.

In contrast to much of the fanta
Jan 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wands-out, satirez, golden
Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Trilogy is one of my favorites. Her style is so unique and the underlying themes in her books are powerful. She has this way of saying a lot without saying much...if that makes any sense.

If you love wizardry this is the book for you. Ged is the name of the Archmage in this series and unlike Gandalf, who is presented as incorruptible, Ged must battle his own demons to gain redemption. The story is from Ged's point of view so he seems more human than the classical rep
Oct 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fantasy or Harry Potter fans
Shelves: fantasy
These are three beautifully written novels that make up a trilogy that is both highly influential in the modern fantasy trilogy and also highly unlike any trilogy out there.

The first book "A Wizard of Earthsea" follows the story of a young boy named Ged (he has a bunch of other names, but he's Ged) and his adventures as he discovers he is a wizard, goes off to a wizard academy to train, discovers he will be the most powerful wizard ever, and is inextricably linked to a diabolical evil that will
I re-read this masterpiece trilogy on a recent Buddhist retreat in New Zealand. It became something of a spiritual road-map for my inner journey. Each book seemed to address, in mythic proportions, the struggles I was having with being an heir to my actions or with feeling bound by dusty habits. Admittedly, there were less dragons in New Zealand, despite what Peter Jackson might lead you to believe.

Le Guin's thoughtful, reflective almost poetic prose engaged me on every level. The story is simp
Stefan Yates
Feb 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Having previously read Ursula Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness, I was a little leery of starting on the Earthsea Trilogy. I found Le Guin's style in Left Hand of Darkness to be very difficult to slog through for me and, while her ideas and story were very well crafted, I did not enjoy my reading experience at all.

My experience with the Earthsea Trilogy couldn't have been more different from that of Left Hand of Darkness. Maybe because Earthsea is more intended for a younger audience, none of the
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is the edition I bought as a wee lad, I only managed to finish A Wizard of Earthsea due to foolishness of the young. Recently I have finished reading all three books of the original trilogy so I thought I'd link this book to my review of the individual volumes:

A Wizard of Earthsea - My review
In which we meet young goat herder Duny soon to be named Ged and nicknamed Sparrowhawk. This is the story of Ged attending a school of wizardry on Roke Island, a serious mistake he made through hubris a
Apr 09, 2008 rated it did not like it
The first of the trilogy, A Wizard of Earthsea, introduces readers to Ged (aka Sparrowhawk) and follows him to wizard school where he learns all of the words and spells that make him one of the most powerful wizards in all of Earthsea. In The Tombs of Atuan, then second book, Tenar is taken from her family as The Chosen One to be the guardian of the tombs of Atuan. In her time there she meets Ged (now middle-aged) who is searching the tombs for a specific treasure. The third, The Farthest Shore, ...more
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spec-fic
This was a lovely classic of fantasy to find myself reading. This volume contains A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, and The Farthest Shore--the first three novels Le Guin set in Earthsea and the story of the great wizard Ged. I found it a bit slow at times, although always beautiful and always interesting and Le Guin's magic possesses a smooth self-awareness of its own philosophy that makes it especially interesting as a reader to encounter. This is a magic preoccupied with balance and w ...more
Deb Miller schultz
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
One of the first fantasy series I read. Love going to another world.
Jan 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
Unlike the Lord of the Rings, which is three volumes of one book, this consists of three books which are each quite distinct entities to themselves. (I was just too lazy to find all three books and review them separately.) They go together because they share a common protagonist, the erstwhile goatherd known as Sparrowhawk, whose true name is Ged.
The first book, A Wizard of Earthsea, deals with Ged as boy and young man, struggling to come to grips with his power. The second book, The Tombs of At
Phil Scadden
Nov 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
favorite children fiction
Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)
*Special Content only on my blog, Strange and Random Happenstance during It's a Kind of Magic (April 2017)

A Wizard of Earthsea
Date I read this book: December 2nd, 2016

On the island of Gont a young boy nicknamed Sparrowhawk is born with innate magical abilities. Motherless, his Aunt sees his potential and teaches him what she knows of magic and the words of power. When Kargish invaders threaten his small village of Ten Alders he is able to protect it by summoning a fog, concealing it from the
Stephen Smith
Jul 07, 2011 rated it did not like it
This book could be a case study in how not to write a fantasy novel. Start with poorly-drawn characters the reader will feel indifferent about. Add a world that isn't very interesting. Complete it by having the characters do next to nothing of significance. Then, when the climactic battle comes the reader has nothing invested in the outcome.

In this novel, Ursla LeGuin has succeeded in making dragons and wizards seem tedious and boring, which is no small feat.

I'll try to reiterate the plot, but
Nov 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Never really followed Le Guin's fantasy works previously, having just joined the SFBC, I picked up this omnibus edition. The writing was wonderful; their was a sense that each word was picked with care; not too much detail, not too little, just enough to evoke the tale she wanted to tell. In the current world of 800+ page books (I'm looking at you, Mr Erikson), I appreciate economy.

Story-wise; it's a slight twist on a familiar trope; the Magician's rise to Mastery from obscurity to SavingTheWor
Elyse Goldberg
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
At first, I wasn't sure if I liked The Earthsea Trilogy. I kept believing I did not, and yet I continued reading. After finishing the first two books, I'm a Le Guin convert. Her writing style is far different from anything I've encountered before. Her sentences are sparse, and as my best friend described, "leave emotional space between the lines." Le Guin includes no word that is not necessary. If you're sick and tired of 700 page fantasy novels that have a map of Europe in the front, try Earths ...more
Jason Landau
Mar 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Great writer. Scifi/fantasy that also makes you look at life.
While intended for kids it works for you oldies who like fantasy. Earthsea is a superb exercise in world-building. The novels have both depth and detail. Where many fantasy writers draw on a hodge-podge of material and clearly have only a superficial understanding of their sources, Le Guin has a wide and deep knowledge of myth, language, and history.
Erik Graff
Apr 25, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: early adolescents
Recommended to Erik by: Janny M. Willis
Shelves: literature
I recall reading these in Las Cruces, New Mexico while on break from seminary. They went quickly and left little behind. Humane and sensitive, like all of LeGuin's work, this trilogy, later expanded by more volumes and numerous short stories, seems best suited for children. ...more
Bill Mead
Jun 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Poetic and beautifully imaginative tale. Leguin writes simply and elegantly. She does not waste anyone's time with fluff, yet somehow manages to achieve a depth to her characters and her stories. I wish I could figure out how she does that ...more
Maksym Vlasov
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Read it many times. It's been one of my favourite since the childhood. ...more
Read the first one and it exhausted me so much that I need to take a break. Idk if it's the translation or the writing style but... how this story is written makes it very hard for me to get into. ...more
Feb 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was my very first fantasy book. Even before Lord of the Rings and I have loved this strange world for all of my life.

The Earthsea is unlike any other fantasy series out there and for a book aimed at a young audince it puts a lot of focus on responsibility over adventure. I don want so give spoiler so I urge you to read it and then remember to read it again efter a few years have passed. You will find different meaning in it as you grow older.
Lynnae Leigh
Aug 06, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandon
Context seemed to be so interesting, and I've heard so much about Le Guin. But I ended up getting bored so fast. And I hated the fact that magic was for boys only. So few women, too. ...more
Pixie Dust
Mar 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This trilogy comprises the first three novels set in the Earthsea world. My second time reading it in 9 years, I found that it still held up well.

The narration often takes on a matter of fact tone, almost taking for granted as perfectly natural all the magic and customs of the land, and the novels read like Icelandic sagas in the way the stories are told like old myths and legends. Despite the brevity of the novels, Le Guin manages to convey the sense that there is a vast amount of history in th
Jan 01, 2010 rated it did not like it
Very disappointing.

This book was recommended to me by one of my favorite professors, so it's hard to say I really didn't like it. But I really didn't. The plots are rambling and formulaic, the characters are flat, and the narration aspires to poetry but comes off as awkward and over-the-top. Everything in the story has been done better by some other author, usually Tolkien.

Maybe I just don't know how to read this style, but the general sense I get from it is negative. Le Guin does make her main
This is one of my long time favorites. I don’t know how many times I’ve re-read it over the years, but there has been plenty...

There’s a lot of nostalgia surrounding this book. It was the first book I bought with my own money and the first book I bought at the annual book sale. I was only 10 at the time and actually had my mind set on something else entirely. What that was, I can’t remember anymore, but next to that was a pile of blue bricks.... I remember wondering why they had put adult books
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-na
I should dislike high fantasy written for children. Usually I'm not a fan of sentimental dialogue and vague moral lessons, which turn an otherwise excellent story into a spiritual soapbox and/or allegory. (*ahem* Chronicles of Narnia, The Golden Compass *ahem*)
The Earthsea Trilogy is no exception.

I would say it's an inherent flaw of the fantasy Bildungsroman--goodly advice, exhaustingly serious, a bit predictable (light vs. dark, ideally with a dark lord thrown in somewhere for the protagonist t
Sep 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The first book in this trilogy was published in 1968, 2nd in 1970, and 3rd in 1972. Highly recommended as must read books, I had no idea what to expect.
Written way before Eragon or Harry Potter or any of the wizard/dragon books I loved reading this trilogy. Each book is very different from the others and they all were wonderful. The last book, The Farthest Shore, even took me into spituality and the meaning of life/death and light/dark.
Without meeting the people I have met through my writing
I had to read Ursula LeGuin last year for class and I think I'm sort of bitter towards her just because I hated the class so much. Honestly, this was a good book, and I know if I read it in my high school or grade school days I would have been just all about it. As it was, I felt just out of its reach- like I was just a little too old, and have read a few too many books of this ilk. Excellent storytelling, though. ...more
May 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is again another brilliant book by LeGuin. I have read this in both languages, in Italian and in English. The Tombs of Atuan remain my favorite by far.

I don't have the copies anymore. i gave the italian one away as it is a translation, and I prefer having the original ones. I gave my English copy as a present to a friend.
Aug 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Read innnnnnn -- primary school, i think? I'm sure large swathes of it flew over my wee head but several images stuck with me (navigating the maze in the dark. Well. Not image. Imagined sensedata), and i remember the books fondly. Also think Tombs of Atuan was the first book I read with a female protag who wasn't an animal. (Little Red Hen represent!) ...more
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Ursula K. Le Guin 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. She lived in Portland, Orego ...more

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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