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.
I'd give the book a five if the reader was better.
Bujold is a superb story teller and It's a marvelous story -- well crafted, endearing characters, an appealing hero, thoroughly hate-able villains, a well-designed parallel universe (a vaguely feudal land reminiscent of medieval Spain).
But the reader is ALL WRONG for the book. The "voices" he gives the characters (particularly the women), the implausible accents -- above all that irritating little laugh to indicate whenever a character says something that we are supposed to take as humorous or satirical -- all grated.
I should have paid more attention when I ran the sample.
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