Martine's Reviews > A Wizard of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
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's review
Sep 13, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, modern-fiction, north-american
Read in October, 2005

The first book of the Earthsea Cycle starts off much as you'd expect. A young boy, Sparrowhawk, discovers that he has special powers, is sent to a wizards' school where he is hailed as the next big thing, and gets a bit too proud for his own good. So far, so clichéd. What is original is that in his eagerness to show off, Sparrowhawk (now called Ged) unleashes an evil shadow that kills people and haunts him. Can he hide from this shadow, or does he have go on the offensive? He tries both, unsuccessfully at first. And so a long journey ensues in which Ged sees far-flung corners of the world, learns the true nature of things and eventually overcomes his fear of that which he has unleashed, which gets an interesting philosophical twist at the end.

With its distant and detached but nevertheless pleasant tone, A Wizard of Earthsea adroitly sets the tone for the rest of the Earthsea series, which has a more old-fashioned and mythological feel to it than most other fantasy series. It's not a perfect book; the story feels a bit disjointed at times, and it would have been nice if Le Guin had gone into a bit more detail on occasion, rather than staying on the surface. Still, it's an interesting and exciting story, featuring some nifty Taoist ideas on balance (here called 'the equilibrium') and a lot of Le Guin's trademark name magic. A well-deserved four stars -- closer to four and a half stars, actually.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Sam (new)

Sam Stone A really helpful review - thanks.

Martine Thanks! You're welcome. :-)

Jeremiah, escapist Ah- but it was the original cliche- Harry Potter came after this book and stole many ideas from it!

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