Ian's Reviews > A Wizard of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
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Jul 02, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: author-knows-my-life, must-read-again, audiobook

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 of The Story is one that I can understand, one that fits and mirrors many of my own life experiences. A Wizard of Earthsea is the story of Ged, a young man with a natural gift and a powerful potential. Ged's journey to understand his gift will be longer and more difficult than his impatience allows him to admit. He is sent away to learn from those who know how to control such a gift. Then, just as Ged is truly beginning to harness and develop his latent power, his pride leads him to overreach his abilities and loose a terrible shadow upon the world. Ged’s life then becomes one of fear and evasion, until he decides to turn and confront his shadow. Now, I don't flatter myself to think that I have the power to set free some evil that puts the world in danger. But LeGuin's story fits my life in its own way, and on a smaller scale :)

So, A Wizard of Earthsea gave me a much-needed archetype to contextualize my experiences—including my fair share of physical and emotional hardships—of the last 18 months and articulate what is happening in my life. I’ve stopped running from my shadow. I’ve become the hunter and I’ve cornered my shadow on the distant sea. I’m embracing the entirety of “me,” for better or worse, even as I write these words. Already I like the person who is emerging from this fusion. Perhaps of equal import, I think my loved ones like that person, too.

This begs the question: was it mere chance that I read A Wizard of Earthsea at this time, in this place in my life? Or was I maneuvered ... influenced in some subtle way by some deliberate force ... to read it now? That’s an unanswerable question, I suppose, and that’s fine with me. What’s important is that I did read this book. No, that’s not precise, I experienced this book, and at a time when I could get the most out of it, at a time when I most needed the counsel of an author who knows how to meet people where they are.

I still haven't read the text of A Wizard of Earthsea; instead I listened to the audiobook narrated by Harlan Ellison. What a powerful way to experience LeGuin’s work! Mr. Ellison’s sense of pacing, tone, volume, and timing, not to mention his ability to dramatize and entertain the listener, were a perfect match for LeGuin’s natural storytelling. I listened to the book while commuting to and from work, or mowing the lawn, or—my favorite way—lying on the couch with eyes closed, absorbing LeGuin’s world as her words fill my senses. My five-star rating applies with equal force to LeGuin’s story and Ellison’s reading.

Thank you, Ms. LeGuin. Thank you, Mr. Ellison. And thank you to my GR friends whose reviews convinced me I couldn’t wait any longer to read A Wizard of Earthsea!
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Reading Progress

June 26, 2010 – Started Reading
July 2, 2010 – Shelved
July 2, 2010 –
page 150
81.97% "Listening to a very well done audiobook version and loving the heck out of it."
July 3, 2010 – Finished Reading
July 5, 2010 – Shelved as: author-knows-my-life
July 5, 2010 – Shelved as: must-read-again
February 22, 2011 – Shelved as: audiobook

Comments (showing 1-18 of 18) (18 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte I always meant to read this one. Is it as good as people say?


message 2: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian I have not been dissapointed.


Girl With A Book Ian wrote: "I have not been dissapointed."

aaahhhh... The Soul of brevity


Robert It's better than people say...even if they say it's better than people say.


message 5: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Finished it yesterday and was fairly blown away. I had very high expectations but at the same time was skeptical because of ... well, because of my very high expectations. My expectations were more than fulfilled and my skepticism quashed.


message 6: by Julie (new) - added it

Julie You're definitely making me want to read it again. I was a very young teen and though I don't recall liking it very well, I also suspect I didn't "get" it at such a tender age.


Robert I was about 9 when I first read it and I'm not sure I've plumbed its full depth yet, who knows how many re-reads later...


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

I missed this review...lovely, Ian.


message 9: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Why thank you, Ceridwen :)

I just finished Tombs of Atuan and will be posting a brief review today. I loved that book, also, especially for its imagery.


message 10: by Sebastian (new)

Sebastian I read this as a kid and loved it, but it sounds like I should read the series again as a middle-aged man.


message 11: by Brad (new) - rated it 5 stars

Brad I wish I'd read this as a kid. Too bad I cam to it so late.


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

"You're welcome," she somewhat arrogantly said.

I love this book so much it hurts. I'm glad you found some truth in here. Makes me want to freak out and read a bunch more UKL - I'm still considering the one that keeps defeating me.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Wait, what the fuck? I just accidentally unliked this - I've read it before, and liked it, but it was on my feed again today.


message 14: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian I was doing some GR bookshelf maintenance today. I periodically check my ratings to see if they still reflect what I think about books compared to more recent reads, also go through and clean up older reviews if I find some editing/improving that needs to be done, and make new shelves for categorizing recent and older reads. I didn't consider that it meant all my old stuff would be clogging up my friends' feeds today. Sorry about that.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

No, that's cool. I'm always jazzed to see a review I liked for a book I loved go by the feed.


Terry Madden You have convinced me to re-read it. It's been since high school for me and has always been a favorite.


message 17: by Ro (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ro This is such a relatable review. Thank you


message 18: by Eugene (new)

Eugene Thank you for the review. I listened to the same audiobook. Ian don't you know what's the music in the very beginning of the audio?


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