I first read this in the 70s. It was among the first fantasy novels I encountered, and hooked me into the gene. It was a delight to encounter it once again.
These days we tend to compare magic systems and world building, but when LeGuin was writing it was as one of the pioneers of modern fantasy. If it seems familiar at times, that would be because she helped to chart these waters. After 40 years, I had forgotten much of the story. To me, it still stands strong and tall on its own.
As this is an old school audio book, the narrator doesn't use character voices, and apparently didn't need to. His resonate deep voice carries the story along in a strong, clear, captivating tone.
There was a curious moment when out of nowhere came instructions to switch to the second cassette. But that adds to the old school charm of the book.
I would recommend this book to people who can enjoy a fantasy book for more than its action. It is appropriate for YA, with any dark elements being fairly tame. There is a coming of age element to the book. In fact, it has many delightful layers of elements to uncover if you choose to dig in. But some will want to know that there is not a significant love interest.
Enjoyed the creative story, imagery, colorful legends. the narrator is not my favorite, but seemed the story well.
Le Guin developed her characters, premise of magic...the whole world of earthsea.
I want to read the series. I care about the characters. I want to learn more about this world.
This is an archetypal story told much like a ballad from times of old. It is sparse yet full of detail at the same time. The narrator readsbeautifully, with feeling, pacing himself lovingly through the tail. I felt like I was a child again listening to my granddad. It is a wonderfully told story that I can't wait to listen to again.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea (1968) is a heroic fantasy classic, telling the tale of the growth of Ged, the future Archmage of Earthsea, from a proud and reckless boy hungry for knowledge and power to a young man at peace with himself. Written with poetic concision and grace, Le Guin's novel depicts compelling events in an other world with more thought, imagination, philosophy, and care than the majority of the bloated heroic fantasy novels these days can begin to muster. Her convincing depiction of a fully realized secondary world, Earthsea, complete with legends, traditions, songs, tales, different cultures and environments, and well-thought out and philosophically consistent and cool system of magic, is impressive, especially given how short her book is.
Although the short novel adheres to some genre traditions, as in, for instance, depicting the maturing of a hero through adversity and adventure with female characters playing subordinate roles as flawed teachers, beautiful temptresses, or cute supporters ("weak or wicked as woman's magic"), it also performs (especially given its era) some remarkable subversion and expansion of the genre, as in making Ged and his fellow Archipelagans people of color, depicting a school for wizards with different types of magic to be mastered, and rendering the climactic struggle as something much more interesting and meaningful than a struggle between the hero and an external evil monster.
And Le Guin's prose is a taut pleasure, every sentence being comprised of the perfect words in the perfect order with the perfect syntax and punctuation and rhythm, so that the book may be re-read multiple times, each time with a new appreciation. This is so whether she is describing characters ("He grew wild, a thriving weed, a tall, quick boy, loud and proud and full of temper") or settings ("Now the dark forest-crowned cliffs gloomed and towered high over his boat, and spray from the waves that broke against the rocky headlands blew spattering against his sail, as the magewind bore him between two great capes into a sound, a sealane that ran on before him deep into the island, no wider than the length of two galleys"), or voicing wise aphorisms ("Heal the wound and cure the illness but let the dying spirit go"), or evoking horror ("So it came over the sea, out of the Jaws of Enlad towards Gont, a dim ill-made thing pacing uneasy on the waves, peering down the wind as it came; and the cold rain blew through it") or epiphany ("In that moment Ged understood the singing of the bird, and the language of the water falling in the basin of the fountain, and the shape of the clouds, and the beginning and end of the wind that stirred the leaves: it seemed to him that he himself was a word spoken by the sunlight").
Some words about the audiobook read by Robert Inglis. I have twice listened to Inglis' definitive readings of the entire The Lord of the Rings and think he is ideally suited for Tolkien's masterpiece, giving them their necessary gravitas, pathos, suspense, humor, and beauty (including effectively doing different voices for the different characters—his Gollum, Gandalf, Frodo, and Sam are all perfect—engagingly singing the different genres of songs, and so on). However, perhaps because I first listened to Harlan Ellison's over-the-top but entertaining reading (in which he shouts, screams, whispers, sighs, sobs, sings, laughs, lectures, or just reads, endowing key words with special weight or particular pauses with extra pregnancy), Inglis sounds here a touch pale, thin, and tired. Or is it that Le Guin and Ellison are American, Inglis British? Whereas Ellison's version brought out different aspects of A Wizard of Earthsea that I hadn't noticed before, Inglis' version felt more routine. Mind you, Inglis is an excellent, professional reader, and Ellison's version is no longer available on Audible.
Anyway, people who like philosophical, poetic, concise, and original fantasy should read Le Guin’s Earthsea books, beginning with this one.
the earthsea is a wonderful workd of ordinary people and amazing powers. A true delight for the imagination.
I spent the first half of this book waiting for character development - it was only when I realised that I wasn't going to get any that I actually started to enjoy the story.
I appreciated the simplicity of this tale. I will be coming back to this series when I have children old enough to appreciate it as a bed time story.
I don't want to spoil anything, suffice to say my favourite scene involved a dragon.
If this were made in to a movie I would go and see it. I think it would be difficult to fit everything in to one movie as the story covers so many small adventures without really delving into anything with much detail.
This is the sort of story I would read to my kids at bed time because it's just that, a story. There isn't much in the way of a complicated plot, in depth characters or intricate character relationships - it's just a nice story.
I would have enjoyed this a lot more knowing what I was getting in to.