Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea
A High Fantasy Classic

by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Earthsea Cycle:
#1 A Wizard of Earthsea (1968)
#2 The Tombs of Atuan (1970)
#3 The Farthest Shore (1972)
#4 Tehanu (1990)
#5 Tales from Earthsea (2001)
#6 The Other Wind (2001)

I have wanted to read this book for a long time. I saw the miniseries when it came out in 2004 and loved it. When I saw the book was in the juvenile collection of my library AND that it was written by Ursula K. Le Guin, the series gained a firm place on my to-read list. That’s right, it’s in the juvenile collection of my library. When I saw our textbook list it as a fantasy, I was overjoyed to be able to sneak in a book that would add to my knowledge of the collection I work with as well as fulfill a class assignment.

Earthsea is rather like a medieval island country with magic and dragons throughout. A young man in a teeny village discovers he has some skill with magic. He does something extraordinary to save his village and his fame spreads to a wizard on the island. The wizard, Ogion, gives the boy his true name, Ged. If he tells anyone his true name, they will have power over him, so he goes by Sparrowhawk. Ogion’s ways of teaching magic are too slow for the prentice, so the boy goes to Roke—an island with a magic school.

Being naturally very skilled at magic, Ged soon gets himself into trouble by performing a spell to bring a spirit back from the dead. He is too young and ignorant to be able to control the spell, so he ends up making a tear in the fabric of space (or something like that). The Archmage (or the Dumbledore of the story) seals the tear using up most of his power. Before he sealed it, something had a chance to escape. This shadow creature attacked Ged but got ran off. Throughout the rest of the story, Ged is chased by the shadow creature everywhere he goes. That is, until Ged decides to become the hunter instead of the hunted.

I haven’t read a lot of high fantasy before. Some of the stuff I’ve touched on has seemed a bit too much at times, reeking of melodrama. I didn’t feel that way with this one. I really liked it and intend on reading the rest of the series.


  1. I love sentences that start, "Being naturally very skilled at magic, Ged....."

    Now, I am feel guilty I've caused you to sneak your truest reading desires. Perhaps I too am a book bully.

  2. Ah, but you still haven't found out the genre that I loathe. I will stay content with that until my annotations are complete.

    Oh, and if it helps, this is my first Le Guin. If anything, your bashing of her made me want to read her earlier so I could make up my own mind about her.

  3. Not so much a bashing of her but myself. I did add her essay about the dangers of commercializing our reading world to the class readings this term. I respect her work very much - but I fear that my brain my never catch up with science fiction.