Review of A Wizard of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


When I was younger I was foolish to think I didn’t really like fantasy all that much. Wizards? Hobbits? Spells? Dragons? Bah, give me good science fiction. As a result, I missed a lot of good stuff like Ursula K. Le Guin and the Earthsea Trilogy. I’m on my way to fixing the errors of my youth, and especially after watching a PBS show about Le Guin.

I picked this one up at Munroe’s Books on a trip to Victoria. This was a marvelous book originally published in 1968. Intended for older children–sort of a proto young adult novel. The book follows the origin story of Ged/Sparrowhawk who is destined to be a great wizard. It follows him through his first lessons, his first grave error, his wizard school and the quests he undertakes to fix it. The book is spare–it is less than 250 pages long but the prose and the action descriptive.

Here is the wonderful first line, “The Island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts, its peak a mile above the storm-racked Northeast Sea, is a land famous for wizards.”

The publisher included an afterword from Le Guin about the writing and publication of the book which is a well-worth read for an aspiring author or book history buff. And–she talks about the characters of the book being of color and how she slipped that and a few “subversive” themes into a book of that publication time.

And what is it about the Pacific Northwest that produces such wonderful fantasy writers? Ursula Le Guin, Patricia McKillip, and Robin Hobb, three of my favorites are all from Oregon and Washington. If like me, you’ve missed out on fantasy, I’d start with these three.



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