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The Earthsea Quartet

(Earthsea Cycle #1-4)

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  9,547 ratings  ·  576 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 1984)
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Jenni 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......"…moreIn the Afterword of The Other Wind, Ursula states "But in the Tombs Ged is at least thirty, and middle aged in The Farthest Shore......"(less)

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 ·  9,547 ratings  ·  576 reviews

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Sep 27, 2012 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
Manuel Antão
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 1994
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

RIP Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929 – 2018: The Earthsea Quartet (Earthsea Cycle, #1-4) by Ursula K. Le Guin

"To light a candle, is to cast a shadow": Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929 – 2018

Who now has the stature and respect to call out poseurs like Atwood and Ishiguru? Who is there who can be relied on to correct the lazy and meretricious? She led by example, not just in speeches or reviews. The world is poorer for this but it's going to be decades be
Abbie | ab_reads
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Wizard of Earthsea - 4/5
The Tombs of Atuan - 4/5
The Farthest Shore - 5/5
Tehanu - 5/5

I am SO happy I finally took the plunge and read some Ursula K. Le Guin! All of my fantasy dreams came true with this quartet (I know there is another book and short stories). I think the effect was heightened by reading these four books in one go thanks to my compilation edition - I was completely immersed in her world for almost a week and it was glorious. It also allowed me to see the 'difference' that I'd h
The library kindly offered up this one volume collection containing A Wizard of Earthsea (1968), the tombs of atuan (1972), The farthest shore (1973), and Tehanu (1990). The first three I had read in childhood, possibly around the age of tenish (view spoiler). The last one I had never read before and had no intention ever to read, but there I go.

It might be that in child
Jan 26, 2017 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. ...more
T.D. Whittle
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just gorgeous and moves from strength to strength, Tehanu bringing the quartet down to earth in a deeply human way. Less reliance on wizard magic and more on human magic. Loved it.
Call me “Always Late on the Bandwagon” because it took me sooo long to realize that Earthsea was a book by my favorite sci-fi writer, and not just a terrible Sci-Fi Channel series (that Le Guin disavowed, by the way). When that realization hit me, I got myself a copy of the Earthsea Quartet. I cracked it open bundled up in bed, with a cup of hot herbal tea in hand, and I just vanished into this beautifully crafted world. The big tome became my bed-time reading treat for the next couple of months ...more
Martyn Stanley
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wow! What a journey! I started this book back in October 2016 and occasionally broke off to read others, such as The Last Wish only returning to Ursula K. Le Guin afterwards. I was particularly interested in reading this multi-book edition, because I wonder whether I ought to compile my own Deathsworn Arc series into one book. [] I don't know whether to wait until more of the series is complete first or whether to split into a volume of books 1 - 3 and boo ...more
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
And so draws to the end another book I have been meaning to read for far too long - and I must admit I am both impressed and exhausted (mentally at least).

This is an book which to me at least was the meeting of many things. It is a fantasy which was intended to be a childrens tale and yet has many mature ideas and concepts which really were ahead of their time (the first book was written in the 60s).

The book has such a vivid portrayal of a world utterly different to ours (from the idea of a wor
"A Wizard of Earthsea" **
"The Tombs of Atuan" ***
"The Farthest Shore" ****
"Tehanu" *****
Sep 12, 2008 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
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
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Honestly - forget any of my previous thoughts on the Earthsea series. Looking back, this has to be one of the most significant and beautiful fantasy series written in the 20th century, or ever, for that matter.
M.J. Johnson
Nov 06, 2014 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
Victoria Rose
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, feminism, dragons
I can't believe it took me such a long time to get around to reading these four short novels. Their reputation precedes them of course, and I was so happy to read them and agree that they deserve all the love and attention and respect in the world!

A Wizard of Earthsea
Any fantasy fan reading these books will be sure to see how they have influenced other writers and stories, especially in this first novel. Ged starts his life as a humble goatherd with a great well of magic within him. He is watch
S.j. Hirons
Aug 11, 2007 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
May 04, 2015 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.
At last, I have defeated Earthsea--and I deliberately use the word 'defeated' because ye gods, this collection was a slog to read. Whilst I did for the most part enjoy my foray into Earthsea, I found the archaic writing style extremely dense and difficult to be getting on with. Given the rise and fall of each book's narrative in addition to this, I had to take a one-book-break after The Tombs of Atuan, just 'cause I was so sick of having to work so hard at something I do for leisure. I never hat ...more
Pete Foley
Jan 28, 2014 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
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For nearly six decades since launching her literary career, in 1959, during which she wrote a multitude of novels and short stories, as well as other works, Ursula Le Guin (1929-2018) was known as one of the greatest American writers of her generation. A legend that in her life was the subject of intense critical attention, translating her works around the world and receiving numerous accolades and honours for them, and becoming an enormous influence on the field of speculative fiction, as well ...more
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads
What to be said about the books you come to love is that even you find their flaws, lack of consistency, a lot of plot holes and obscure pacing, you will not be afraid to defend all the world against it. The fascinating context about the book is the gap years of each book's publication (1963 - 2001) creates a strong evolution momentum. When reading through all four books as the "quartet" (I heard there're two more books to catch up later), the character developments and the aspects of each book ...more
Fi Michell
Oct 10, 2012 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 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 quartet, 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 reading for anyone interes ...more
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
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first time I tried to read these books I didn’t make it more than twenty pages in, because I was reading them badly. They are myths and I was asking them to be novels. But embracing the rhythm and elevation of style, you can read them like scripture, texts to return to, structures to meditate on. And they are ideal for Christmas, for solstice, Sunreturn, for the darkest time of the year. I came late to them but expect to be back often, rereading year on year.

Also, I had no idea that Earthsea
Sep 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Let's see if I can write anything coherent because I'm definitely not feeling so. This has suddenly become an important saga for me, and I already know I'm going to think about it for a long time. Each of the books has, more or less, a theme, like hubris, death, adulthood, choosing, doing, becoming, etc. I should hate the soft-building of Ursula Le Guin, she always leaves me wondering about stuff (what's Lebannen' taxes policy?) but I'll forgive her, I always will.
Right now I feel like I could
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Earthsea: The First Four Books is a bind up of four books in the Earthsea cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin. The first book in the series is A Wizard of Earthsea and it was published in 1968. It follows the coming of age of a wizard named Ged as he navigates his powers and discovers the source of the darkness he is afraid of. The second book in the series is The Tombs of Atuan and it was published in 1972. It follows a girl named Tenar who is the priestess of a dark place. She comes across a matu
Bon Tom
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all fantasy lovers
Epic fantasy, comparable in its ambition, scope, quality and whichever other criteria you want, to unbeatable LOTR. What I like about this one is the time span, e.e. the fact it's basically coming of age story, which is something of a rarity in fantasy genre. You follow this wizard from his childhood to old age through whole width and length of, well, Earthsea of course. Great book and true classic. Not one of the run-of-the-mills that spawn in huge quantities these days in fantasy genre. Long t ...more
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful! absolutely loved reading The Earthsea Quartet - fell in love with the characters ...
* A Wizard of Earthsea was 4 stars for me -it was so exiting and even a little spooky.
* The Tombs of Atuan was 5 stars - I loved it so much! a little spooky too...I couldn't put it down! it was my favorite. :)
* The Farthest Shore was 3-4 stars -such an adventure, but did get a little bored sometimes but it never lasted long -then something exiting would happen -it left me feeling a little sad but Teh
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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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