A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

Descriptive

Immense (yet short)

Magical

I’ve looked at the Earthsea trilogy throughout the years but I never read it.  Then I saw that Anna over at Booknotized had read it.  And really, even without the review that was enough to get me to give it a chance.  That and I found the first two books of the trilogy at the thrift store last week.  Boo-ya!

I thought this book was a very slow moving book.  There is a lot of description and often I felt that it was through the description that the plot moved.  Frequently I find slow moving books boring.  However, this book was anything but boring.  The description created an absolutely believable world.  The characters moved, spoke, and acted in ways that fit with the world that Le Guin created.  Even though the book is description heavy, I never felt I was led away from the plot just to read pretty descriptive prose, every word painstakingly chosen to be true to the world of Earthsea.  And while  I can appreciate the challenge of a an epic fantasy tale being told in such sparse language, Le Guin never shows the work it required.  Instead it felt as though she had effortlessly recorded this detailed world.

The protagonist, Ged, in the folly of his youth releases a demon.  And now he is the only that can save himself and possibly many, many others from the evil the demon would unleash.  In the climax of the book the two face.  It is good versus evil.  It is dark versus light (and as I’ve admitted before, that is my kind of conflict!).  And in a beautiful twist the climax is resolved.  The true beauty of the twist is how simple and logical it is yet the twist isn’t predictable or common.

I can’t wait to read the second novel.  And I should probably go get the third (because I hate waiting for books when I’m in the middle of a series).  If you’re a lover of fantasy this book needs to be added to your list.  And this book needs to be discussed.  Have a friend read it too, so you can have someone with whom you can converse.

A Wizard of Earthsea

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

  1. I LOVE this book! It is the SOLE reason I am a fantasy writer in the first place. Le Guin is awesome and the other books in the series are lovely. Hope you enjoy them. 🙂

    • Le Guin is amazing. Amazing. I can’t believe how realistic and in depth she made the world of Earthsea. And even more incredible is that it was done in less than 200 pages. All right George R.R. Martin, your stuff is good, but could you pare one of your novels to 200 pages? I don’t think so.

      How did it take me this long to read her books?

  2. I read this book well over a year ago, and I really should try to dig it back out and read it again; I remember really enjoying it, and it’s one of those classics, besides. I’m glad you liked it, too!

      • I’ve read it probably 10 times through, and each time it just gets better. The Tombs of Atuan (#2) and Tehanu (#4) are also of similar caliber. 🙂 The Farthest Shore (#3)has an excellent plot but I always had trouble getting through the first part of it; the opening is a bit of a ramble but the story gets better towards the middle of the book.

        Do let us know what you think of the others!

  3. Pingback: The Tombs of Atuan: a review « Three Descriptors

  4. I agree with you! My only problem was that, my goodness, she didn’t spare on the geography of the world. Did you find yourself remembering and absorbing the different island names? That was the only downside to an amazing novel. The magic, the wonder, the adventure – there were moments of genius! I got all four of her novels, and I’ll be working my way through them too. I hope the series gets better, and develops past its magical, if imperfect, beginnings 🙂

    • No, I most certainly don’t remember the names of the islands. But that didn’t bother me. I consider the names of places to be trivial, as long as I knew what was happening in the local he was currently in I was happy. (But I’m kind of a lazy reader that way).

  5. Thank goodness, I’m pleased to hear that! It makes me feel better about the read, because although the story captured me, I kept pausing in my reading to try and get my head around all the locations. I am quite lazy with names too, for me the characters and stories are the most important things in a novel!

  6. Pingback: The Farthest Shore – a review « Three Descriptors

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