A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

My edition (in poor lighting, alas) of A Wizard of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula K. Le Guin
Puffin Books, 1971 (First published 1968)

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I read my first Ursula Le Guin, everyone!

Not having written many posts about books lately, I am a little lost for words, really..

A Wizard of Earthsea is the story of Ged, a boy who we are told will be a great wizard in later years, but of which very little is told about his earlier ones. In A Wizard of Earthsea we follow his training during his first years, as Ged aims to become a wizard. This is training in skills, but also in character. As Ged is tempted by pride, he unleashes an evil that he subsequently has to chase through the archipelago of Earthsea, in order to set his mistake right.

The thing is, I was happy to remember that Ana told me that while this is the beginning of the series, it might not really portray what is so great about it. That later on, more would be done with gender assumptions etcetera that would make it more enjoyable.

I did enjoy reading A Wizard of Earthsea. The prose was wonderful, felt a little lyrical – and yet remained very readable. It drew me in, and the world building that came along with it felt utterly natural.

What remains is the question of immediacy. While I felt for Ged, I missed a certain compunction to really care, that rush that makes you want to turn page after page.. Instead, it were the words and the prose that kept me reading through the first half, while it was only during the second half that I was pulled in by the story (even though, I admit, the sorcery school in the first half was intriguing, as these settings, I think, will always be to me).

The ending was satisfactory, and I liked the exploration of fear and finding the true nature of yourself as empowerment.

I fear there is little more to say, but I am happy I have a few more books left in this series, and a whole lot more of Le Guin. I am very much looking forward to reading more about Ged, and hopefully finding some challenge to the idea that “these are just women” in subsequent novels – which seemed to be voiced by characters a few times during the first half of the book.

Other, much more articulate, opinions can be found here.

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9 thoughts on “A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

  1. Jeane

    I loved these books as a kid but revisiting them as an adult, they don’t quite work as well for me. I think when I was younger my imagination carried me through the story more. I still enjoy them, especially because of the nostalgia, but have to be in the right frame of mind to read them now. And yes, it does get better as you go along! My favorite is the second book.

    Reply
  2. buriedinprint

    I’m sitting on the couch with Ana on this one, whispering that the best is yet to come! I’ve reread the series a couple of times, but when it comes to the first three books, I have to get them from the library, with the lovely woodcuts illustrating them, to remind myself that they are of another time, because my love for her writing didn’t start until Tehanu. I hope you enjoy the others more!

    Reply
  3. Christina

    I wasn’t terribly impressed with A Wizard of Earthsea either, but I LOVED The Tombs of Atuan! I suspect you will too, so I hope you do try it sometime! :)

    Reply
  4. Nicola

    I’ve dabbled with science fiction (I loved Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time) but I’ve never read Ursula Le Guin. I like the sound of this.

    Reply
  5. Nish

    I usually devour Fantasy/sci-fi series books but I’ve never tried Le Guin. Sounds like a solid but not exciting series start.

    Reply
  6. Pingback: Library Loot: A Visit to my Local Library | Iris on Books

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