"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
Rob Inglis brings anything he reads to life in a spectacular way. and this book was already bursting with life all its own. I highly reccomend this book to any and everyone who enjoys High Fantasy.
I was in elementary school when I first got the Tombs of Atuan on cassette from the library. A Wizard of Earthsea is an even better book, and I'm truly happy to have it to listen to whenever I want. As the main character grows, he learns to balance his desire for power with the need to use it responsibly, and to understand the consequences of his actions before taking them.
It's a very classic coming-of-age story and the setting is immense, rich and powerful.
This recording was not re-done for audible, it is the original Recorded Books cassette recording, including the directions to change cassettes every so often. That's rather jarring, because it's a good 30 seconds of gap here and there with the "please fast forward to the end of the cassette before loading the next one..... A Wizard of Earthsea, Cassette X"
I really wish they'd edited this better to remove those. Just a small touch that really would have made the book more enjoyable to listen to. The story itself is a classic, but for audio, the listening experience matters a lot. That definitely takes it down a notch.
I don't think I'd need to, since it's succinct and readily understood, but I'd certainly recommend it to a friend!
This was my first Le Guin audio book.
Rob's performance was stellar. Involving, compelling vocal timbre and cadence, good acting and use of varied voices for different characters. I would liken his performance to that of a grandfather reading a bedtime story, though perhaps somewhat more restrained and refined. I removed one star simply because the quality of the recording is somewhat lacking, i.e. low fidelity. If he is available, it would be great to have Rob re-record this book, or to attempt to restore the audio if possible.
My favorite moments were when Ged showed his wit, cunning and heart, such as when attempting to learn the name of the Doormaster of the Wizard's School, and when interacting with his pet.
I gave the story a 3/5 star rating overall. In brief, I think Le Guin establishes an intriguing world that I would be happy to explore in greater depth, but I find the character of Ged somewhat uninteresting. [Minor spoilers ahead] He spends much of the book as rather unlikable, both in his personality and his interactions with his peers. As the book is something of a coming of age tale, he does undergo an arc, which is nice to see, though at the end I still find myself much more interested in the world he inhabits than in him, himself.
There are also some strange inconsistencies in the universe of the book - for instance, a significant passage is dedicated to one of Ged's teachers explaining to him why, contrary to his desires, a rock should not be changed into a diamond, for it could upset the very balance of the world. His initial encounters with powerful, antagonistic magic also leave him stupefied, or even blind and comatose. Yet immediately upon exiting his wizarding school, his first mission is to kill a bunch of dragons. His method for confronting some of them? To TURN INTO A DRAGON. I mean, the 13-year-old kid in me was going nuts - that scene was awesome! But, within a few short chapters, we go from, "don't mess with the fabric of the world! Don't change stuff! Also, magic is dangerous and seems to be draining you when you use it in confrontational situations," to "Oh, for your first mission, take on 9 dragons at once, and turn into a dragon if you feel like it." There are later consequences for Ged's abuse of transformations, but the way the book teeter-totters between building up compelling rules for the world, and then disregarding them when convenient, is disappointing.
However, it may be the case that there is some deeper meaning here that I am simply disregarding. Perhaps Ged's use of transformations is yet another by-product of his lack of maturity and, as mentioned above, he does grow up significantly throughout the course of the book. In summary, I was not greatly moved by this book, nor by the character of Ged specifically, but am sufficiently interested in Le Guin's world to be excited for, and ready to dive into, the next book in the series.
What is a man without his shadow?
Sparrow Hawk is haunted by a darkness, much like you or I. His left his face scarred, his confidence shattered. His devours the hearts of men. His personal contrast. And, like our own, his helps define him as a great man.
This book is fantasy in its true form. It illuminates virtues and good in a way only imagination can. Enjoy.
I likes this book. I would listen to it as I was working out, it's a good way to zone out and go a little further. the story itself seemed rushed though. I would just be liking where sparrowhawk was in the book, when it would randomly jump ahead. as for the characters, besides sparrowhawk, I didn't get too attached to anyone else, because it didn't seem like they were in the story for long to effectively grow attached. Overall, a good book, but the story was a little lacking. look forward to the next book though.
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.
The narrator had a good voice and a wide range of character voices, but he inserted frequent and random pauses between lines and even in the middle of sentences. On top of that, many of these pauses were filled with heavy, loud, deep breathes, like they were easily winded. It was very distracting to listen to.
The plot was good, I liked the setting, the magic, and the characters. But the end was very anticlimactic. I mean, it made sense and all, but it seemed like they spent several days getting to the final encounter with the shadow, and then 2 minutes after landing on the island the book is in epilougue, and not a whole lot happened.
Overall I enjoyed it, but I expected more from the ending and the reader was fairly distracting.
The groundwork for Patrick Rothfuss, Terry Goodkind, etc
Inglis enhances any book he reads and elevates it to another level.
This series is a classic for a reason, it follows the genre work set by Tolkien, but branches out into a detailed magic system that the LotR never goes into. One complaint is that the plot just rambles along until it finds a conclusion. The has little in the way of a plot, almost just a character sketch of the protagonist.
"Magic like it ought to be!"
This is a very thought-provoking read. Splendidly written and for once includes the responsibilities and consequences that come with great magical power.
I wish the 2nd and 3rd book were available on audible...
I was mesmerised.
"Unbeatable fantasy classic"
I first read this 20 years ago and was moved to revisit it because of hearing the author, Ursula Le Guin, being interviewed on radio. She is still writing at 85, but I doubt she has bettered this magnificent book. The precursor of so much modern stuff - Harry Potter is built on its back! - but written with extraordinary sensitivity to language and character..
The hero is Ged the trainee wizard and the story is of his journey towards wisdom, the obstacles he encounters and the suffering he creates for himself through pride and the desire for fame and power. It is gripping as a yarn apart from its fascinating symbolism. I particular love the theme of self-encounter. His first mentor is Ogion, to whom he returns when he has reached rock bottom in his ability to fight the shadow. Ogion says simply:
'If you go ahead, if you keep running, wherever you run you will meet danger and evil, for it drives you, it chooses the way you go. You must choose. You must seek what seeks you. You must hunt the hunter.'
There is a whole philosophy of life in this, as it works itself out through the story.
I also love the setting of the archipelago called Earthsea, a mass of islands, inhabited by an island people whose knowledge is of the wind and the waves the sky, which is beautifully realised. And I also love the dragons! Any dragon lovers cannot afford to miss this book!
Rob Inglis's reading is adequate but it is really time we had an up-to-date version of this classic that includes all the four books in the quartet.
I enjoyed this book, made me think of Terry Pratchett but without the catchy humor :-).
The narrator voice was ok. A shame I can't find part 2 or book 2 on audible.
"Loved the Earthsea series as a child..."
& I really like Rob Inglis as a narrator (his reading of Lord of the Rings is fantastic).
Really frustrated to find that the remaining books in the series aren't available. But still, it's one of the great fantasy works & beautifully read.
Enough good moments that I wouldn't want to spoil them for future readers.
Whereas Tolkien gives chapter & verse, allowing you to visualise as perhaps he imagined things, UKLG is more broad sweeps, allowing the reader / listener more scope for their own imagination.
Don't do it! Series was awful beyond belief.
Any chance of obtaining the rights & getting Rob Inglis in to finish recording the rest of the series?
"Proof that classic fantasy fiction is timeless"
Yes, definitely. It is a masterclass in story-telling. Le Guin builds a world whole and complete that is both engaging and
Vetch. A simple yet beautifully drawn character.
Vetch. Rob Inglis' choice of accent for the character suited him well. He captured the essence of his likable nature perfectly.
Yes. I generally listen to audio books on my walk to and from work (an hour each way) and found myself reluctant to stop when I reached work and sitting at home saying to myself "just one more chapter..."
"The Wizard of Eathsea"
This was a bit of an experiment for me since I don't normally listen to fantasy/ sci-fi books. It is hard to know what category to put this book into. It was a nice story and the characters were described in fine detail. It just didn't really grab me and I think I will stick to more believable, realistic stuff. This for me is the great thing about having a monthly subscription: it means I can listen to all kinds of books I might not otherwise buy to read. I am glad I read it and it was a good experience.
"not my favorite book"
This book was hard to concentrate on. I found myself drifting during listening to it. A little to overly detailed for my liking. I felt it sped through the story overly describing the lands and seas but didn't really go into enough depth with the characters and their lives. The narater sounded like the same narater that narates the Lord of the rings audio books. Very old fashioned but then it was recorded in the 90s and written in the 60s. I feel the narration could do with a freshening up. Overall an OK story but I wish I'd used my free trial with audiable on a better book.
"Boring. Slow. Wordy. Avoid."
I love fantasy novels and chose this book from a list of the top 25 fantasy novels ever written. It is a dull and overly wordy tale with very little point. I stuck with it to the end hoping for something exciting to happen. Alas, even the exciting bits were dull. It is primarily an introspective story.
Not recommended. In comparison to the stormlight archive that I read before this.... Not in the same league! Avoid.
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