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A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)
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Ursula K LeGuin Collection > A Wizard of Earthsea - NO spoilers

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Melanti | 2386 comments This thread is for background information and general discussion of our April 2018 New School Group Read selection, A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Please DO NOT post spoilers in this thread.


Candi (candih) | 751 comments I've started this one already. This is my second Le Guin book. I previously read The Left Hand of Darkness, and although I am not a big sci-fi fan, that book really impressed me. So I was happy to dive into another one of her books! I've owned a copy of this one for some time, so the nudge to read this one is much appreciated. It took me perhaps 3 chapters or so to really become immersed in this story, but now I am really enjoying the read. I'm not well-versed in fantasy, but I would say that the world building, atmosphere, and the character development are very well done. I've reached some exciting, tension-filled scenes also!


J_BlueFlower (j_from_denmark) | 1470 comments I am joining this reading. I have read The Left Hand of Darkness - nothing special - and The Dispossessed, a great book that I often think about. Not much of a fantasy reader, but I read a lot of sci-fi.


Rosemarie | 1549 comments This book is an excellent example of fantasy, especially the quality of her writing.


Bat-Cat | 1300 comments I plan on reading this with the group. I read the quartet many years ago and loved them. I am really looking forward to rereading this one and the others too (when I can).


Francisca | 368 comments I read the quartet many years ago as a teenager, though I remember effectively nothing other than really liking them, so much so that I mentally bookmarked LeGuin as one of my favorite authors even though I've never gotten around to reading anything else by her. I'm really enjoying revisiting it so far! :)


Melanti | 2386 comments I've actually read this a couple of times.

The first time around, I didn't like it at all. The next time around I guess I was just in the right mood and thought it was pretty good - though I remember thinking it was sort of like an impressionist's painting version of a fantasy novel.

There's just something about Le Guin's writing I can't really get into. She usually comes off as rather detached or academic to me.

I probably won't be rereading this anytime soon, though I do still have a couple of the later books in the series on Mt. TBR.


message 8: by Laurie (last edited Apr 01, 2018 01:19PM) (new)

Laurie | 1605 comments I read this thirty years ago as a college student, and I don't remember anything about it. Apparently it did not make a strong impression on me one way or the other. I plan to read it now with the group and see what my thoughts are this time around. The only other Le Guin book I have read is The Dispossessed and that was just last month. It was an incredible experience for me, which I know will not be duplicated with this book. But I still hope to enjoy it.


Michele | 1008 comments Very happy we're reading this. Le Guin's Earthsea books are long-time favorites of mine.


J_BlueFlower (j_from_denmark) | 1470 comments Melanti wrote: "... like an impressionist's painting version of a fantasy novel.

There's just something about Le Guin's writing I can't really get into. She usually comes off as rather detached or academic to me."


I completely agree. And I can see why people find her boring. She is boring at places. But now and then are these ideas that makes it worth while.


J_BlueFlower (j_from_denmark) | 1470 comments Laurie wrote: "...I have read is The Dispossessed and that was just last month. It was an incredible experience for me."

It is usually an overreaction when people say “this book changed my life”. But that one comes close. I do not see myself as a materialist, but this book really changed the way I see things especially material values. Yes, it is academic the way part of the culture is explained in how they use words.


message 12: by Laurie (new)

Laurie | 1605 comments J_BlueFlower wrote: "Laurie wrote: "...I have read is The Dispossessed and that was just last month. It was an incredible experience for me."

It is usually an overreaction when people say “this book changed my life”. ..."


Agreed. I have thought a lot about politics in the last few years and The Dispossessed was eye-opening in looking at a different kind of system that actually worked quite well with values 180 degrees from the one most of us live in.


message 13: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bob | 4850 comments Mod
I finished this last night. While I have been thinking about reading Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness for years. A Wizard of Earthsea was not a book I was even aware of until it became a group read. After reading Wizard I feel comfortable reading Left Hand of Darkness, I like Le Guin's writing. I haven't decided how to review this yet, it is definitely good, I don't consider it great.


Tonia (yestonia) | 250 comments Like others here, I have previously read the Quartet, but have started re-reading now. Really liking it, even though I don't often enjoy re-reads!


message 15: by Michele (last edited Apr 02, 2018 06:41PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Michele | 1008 comments One of my favorite aspects of this book is Le Guin's conception of magic (it's there in the other Earthsea novels but is most explicitly dealt with in this one). In the world of Earthsea, magic is deeply organic (as opposed to involving "foolish wand-waving or silly incantations"), is dangerous/costly and not to be done lightly, and is linked to knowing the true names of things. In other words, language matters :) The idea that there is power in knowing a thing's true name (or a person's) crops up in many different cultures and many different eras, which suggests that it connects to something universal in the human psyche.


message 16: by J_BlueFlower (last edited Apr 03, 2018 12:29AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

J_BlueFlower (j_from_denmark) | 1470 comments Earthsea Quartet? As 4 books? The Goodreads series list mentions 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)

https://www.goodreads.com/series/40909

What is the difference?

I will probably start The Tombs of Atuan later this month. I am about 80% into A Wizard of Earthsea (it is really short) and it is fun to read what must be a corner stone in the foundation of Fantasy. I can name a major series that have been greatly inspired ;-) Actually now it puzzles me that when people say 'I have read Harry Potter - what should I read next?', Earthsea is not mentioned.


Melanti | 2386 comments J_BlueFlower wrote: "What is the difference? ..."

Age, mostly. Books 1-3 were published in the '60s and '70s. 4 in 1990. But 5 and 6 weren't published until the early '00s.

You'll still see people refer to it as a trilogy too.


Tonia (yestonia) | 250 comments Michele wrote: "One of my favorite aspects of this book is Le Guin's conception of magic (it's there in the other Earthsea novels but is most explicitly dealt with in this one). In the world of Earthsea, magic is ..."

I really like the concept of true names too - the idea that the real name of a plant will be known to Ged when he is ready to learn those spells but that before then the plant by the name he knows it is useless I find really intriguing.

@Blueflower, I have this book The Earthsea Quartet which contains books 1-4. I will likely carry on and re-read them all as I'm enjoying them more now when I read them way-back-when.


Carlo | 206 comments This was a clever and thoughtfully written fantasy book. I appreciated the Taoist themes, although I'm sure much of it went over my head. A bit too abstract in places for me, and I have to agree it was dull in parts. I may consider reading the rest of the series but I'm not in any rush. 3*


Michele (micheleevansito) | 127 comments It was interesting to read it again, as an adult. Read it as a teen. I picked up on more and did sees the taoist themes in it when I didn't as a teen.


message 21: by Suzy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 63 comments J_BlueFlower wrote: "Earthsea Quartet? As 4 books? I can name a major series that have been greatly inspired ;-) ..."

I just had this conversation yesterday when discussing A Wizard with my guy. It definitely had to be an influence, although HP is much more diverse in its characters and scenarios and has a little bit of a fun factor that is missing in A Wizard. But I'm really enjoying it!


message 22: by Suzy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 63 comments I'm so happy A Wizard of Earthsea is a group pick this month. I read this fantastic profile of her in The New Yorker from the fall of 2016 and fell in love with her! https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20...
I also realized that she had never been on my radar screen as someone to read.

I'm almost finished reading No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters, which is a compilation of posts from her blog, and I have fallen in love with her all over again. She gives one so much to think about and has such a great sense of humor. I especially loved learning that she started her blog at age 80 after seeing that José Saramago had a blog. Never too late to learn.

I'll dip back in to discuss A Wizard as I get further into the book.


Tammy | 391 comments I just started reading this tonight. This is my first UKL and I am not a huge fantasy fan. It has a promising start and I look forward to following the group discussion!


message 24: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1199 comments I first read A Wizard of Earthsea in a Norwegian translation when I was... maybe 10? It made a really strong impression on me. In my late teens I found the quartet in English and read the whole thing. I still loved the first book, but found parts of the others somewhat dull. I read them all again in my mid twenties and found that I had a greater frame of reference and a greater appreciation for them. Nothing quite lives up to the nail biting tension of my childhood boat journey with Ged, but I love that I can find new things to appreciate in the books.

Until recently I was unaware that the quartet had been added to with a short story collection and another novel. I have now bought those as well, and plan on reading the whole cycle. Starting Monday when I am back from holiday.


message 25: by BAM (new) - rated it 4 stars

BAM Endlessly Booked | 803 comments This a great fantasy series! I need to remember it for my niece when she gets a bit older.


message 26: by Suzy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Suzy (goodreadscomsuzy_hillard) | 63 comments BAM wrote: "This a great fantasy series! I need to remember it for my niece when she gets a bit older."

I just bought this for my great nephew! I will be eager to hear how he likes it.


message 27: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah | 587 comments Going to be getting started on this tonight.

Its my first Ursula K. Le Guin read.


siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2011 comments Hope you enjoy it..


message 29: by Christine (new) - added it

Christine | 1218 comments I will read this book before the end of April! I read the first few pages earlier in the month and then got sidetracked by life. It looks like I will have a couple of free days next week though, so I am excited to get back to it. :-)


message 30: by Leni (new)

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 1199 comments I just finished rereading the first four books, and I want to go straight into the short story collection that fills in the gaps and provides a bridge to the final book. Earthsea always has me spell bound.


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