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The Earthsea Quartet (Earthsea Cycle #1-4)

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  7,256 Ratings  ·  352 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 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
Jan 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 12, 2008 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
Martyn Stanley
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
"A Wizard of Earthsea" **
"The Tombs of Atuan" ***
"The Farthest Shore" ****
"Tehanu" *****
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
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
M.J. Johnson
Nov 06, 2014 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
S.j. Hirons
Aug 11, 2007 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
Pete Foley
Jan 28, 2014 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
May 04, 2015 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.
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
Jan 01, 2012 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 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
Nov 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Callum McAllister
Apr 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Hard to give a definitive rating because each book of Earthsea felt totally independent and very separate from the others, despite sharing characters. "A Wizard of Earthsea" is easily 5 stars and the quartet as a whole is a very satisfying, well-rounded read. Definitely one I'll come back to again.
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
Phoebe Lynn
Jan 28, 2016 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
May 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's been close to thirty years since I first read A Wizard of Earthsea. I know I read most or all of the first three books, but had no clear memory beyond the first novel. If I read them, I suspect at the time I didn't appreciate them for the incredible literary achievement that they are. My much younger self would have wanted the characters to remain in their roles unchanged throughout the cycle. Instead, what Le Guin ultimately gives us is a mature, nuanced, and compelling sequence of novels ...more
Apr 07, 2011 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
Eirini Robin
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
Oct 08, 2010 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
Jedidiah Tritle
Jan 09, 2014 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
Apr 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
Jul 08, 2012 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
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
In order for a word to be spoken, there must be silence; before and after.
a collection of four really quite disparate stories that were first published as individual novels.
A Wizard of Earthsea is the first and undoubtedly the weakest of the four, a very lightly sketched and familiar feeling story of a young wizard coming into his power and learning to control it and himself. I honestly was feeling a little disappointed as it seemed to lack any of the deeper meanings that Le Guin usually packs
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Viimeinenkin kirja luettu. Oli kyllä hyvä. Erinomainen. Le Guinin kirjoitustyyli on ihan mahtava ja tarinat on kerrottu hienosti sellaisella tavalla, että koko ajan ollaan jonkin maailmanmyllerryksen keskellä, mutta kuitenkin siitä vähän sivusta. Eniten pidin kakkos- ja nelososista. Sinällään harmittaa, että en lukenut näitä silloin nuorena, kun näitä ekan kerran minulle suositeltiin, mutta uskon että sain näistä enemmän irti nyt.
Sadie Slater
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's probably 35 years since I first read what was, at the time, Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea Trilogy. Although I've counted the first three books among my favourites ever since, and Le Guin as one of my favourite writers, somehow even though I bought copies of the updated "quartet", Tales from Earthsea and The Other Wind when the last two were published in the early 2000s I had never got round to reading any of the later books until now (I did try, about 14 years ago, and hit a bad patch of reader ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Earthsea new edition listed as separate book 5 127 Aug 24, 2016 06:10AM  
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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
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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