"The shapeless mass of darkness split apart. It sundered, and a pale spindle of light gleamed between his open arms. In the oval of light there moved a human shape: a tall woman...beautiful, and sorrowful, and full of fear." - from A Wizard of Earthsea, first in a tetralogy that includes The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore, introduces the listener to Ged, the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, known also as Sparrowhawk. When Sparrowhawk casts a spell that saves his village from destruction at the hands of the invading Kargs, Ogion, the Mage of Re Albi, encourages the boy to apprentice himself in the art of wizardry. So, at the age of 13, the boy receives his true name - Ged - and gives himself over to the gentle tutelage of the Master Ogion. But impatient with the slowness of his studies and infatuated with glory, Ged embarks for the Island of Roke, where the highest arts of wizardry are taught. There, Ged's natural talents enable him to surpass his classmates in little time. But when his vanity prompts him to summon Elfarran, the fair lady of the Deed of Enlad, he unleashes a shapeless mass of darkness - the shadow.
©1968 Ursula K. Le Guin; (P)1992 Recorded Books, LLC
I think a print version would have helped me keep the names (of both people and places) a bit more straight, but over all, both versions are enjoyable.
This is one of the many Bildungsroman out there. LeGuin blends in both Anthropological and Daoist influences in her story. Another text (sci-fi rather than fantasy) that matches Earthsea in its scope and blend of influence might be Dune.
The very end, Ged's confrontation with his shadow.
This is a wonderful work of fantasy writing by an author who has influenced many other writers in the genre, such as Terry Pratchett. The narrator, who also did the unabridged recordings of JRR Tolkien's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, is the perfect choice to do this book justice - if only Rob Inglis could have been persuaded to read the fourth book in the Earthsea Cycle!
Earthsea is timeless, right up there with Middle Earth. Slower-paced and more sedate than a lot of modern fantasy, but has a mythic feel. Just put your earbuds in and let it take you away from whatever dull task you're doing. Le Guin is a must for fantasy fans, especially those who also love legends and folktales.
The narrator was beyond exceptional for me. there are no high tech scenes or car chases but I was held spell bound by his voice . This trilogy is a must read for the expansive ,quiet mind.
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