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A Wizard of Earthsea is the first installment of Ursula K. Le Guin's classic fantasy. Having read the Earthsea novels (five in all, plus a collection of short tales) years ago, I was very happy with this audio version, which is beautifully done. Re-visiting Earthsea, it's interesting to notice how many of what are now conventions of fantasy writing were in fact pioneered by Le Guin so long ago.
One thing that's different about her books: the writing is beautiful but spare. She can tell you in a few paragraphs what other fantasy writers seem to need long chapters to explain. Each of the Earthsea books comes in at something around 200 pages, quite a contrast to the bloated tomes of so many contemporary fantasy writers.
21 of 21 people found this review helpful
I can't believe I didn't listen to or read this book sooner. Ursula K. Le Guin has rekindled my believe that fantasy can be a legitimate literary genre.
Charming and entertaining like a fairy tale but simultaneously dripping with the suspense, drama, and authenticity of a Viking Saga or Epic Poem, A Wizard of Earthsea (the first of the series) cannot be ignored by any serious fantasy reader. So much sub-par fantasy is written in this, age of World of Warcraft and Eragon, that it's refreshing to have Ursula K. Le Guin to discover and delight in.
The narrator of this book makes it sound like he is recounting an ancient tale around some campfire in the Iron Age. Amazing!
37 of 40 people found this review helpful
I first read this 20 years ago and was moved to revisit it because of hearing the author, Ursula Le Guin, being interviewed on radio. She is still writing at 85, but I doubt she has bettered this magnificent book. The precursor of so much modern stuff - Harry Potter is built on its back! - but written with extraordinary sensitivity to language and character..
The hero is Ged the trainee wizard and the story is of his journey towards wisdom, the obstacles he encounters and the suffering he creates for himself through pride and the desire for fame and power. It is gripping as a yarn apart from its fascinating symbolism. I particular love the theme of self-encounter. His first mentor is Ogion, to whom he returns when he has reached rock bottom in his ability to fight the shadow. Ogion says simply:
'If you go ahead, if you keep running, wherever you run you will meet danger and evil, for it drives you, it chooses the way you go. You must choose. You must seek what seeks you. You must hunt the hunter.'
There is a whole philosophy of life in this, as it works itself out through the story.
I also love the setting of the archipelago called Earthsea, a mass of islands, inhabited by an island people whose knowledge is of the wind and the waves the sky, which is beautifully realised. And I also love the dragons! Any dragon lovers cannot afford to miss this book!
Rob Inglis's reading is adequate but it is really time we had an up-to-date version of this classic that includes all the four books in the quartet.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
This is a very thought-provoking read. Splendidly written and for once includes the responsibilities and consequences that come with great magical power.
I wish the 2nd and 3rd book were available on audible...
I was mesmerised.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful