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The Earthsea Quartet
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 10 February 2013
This week, I managed to actually finish a book. It's only a little book, but since that's the first time in over a year I've been able to concentrate enough to get beyond a couple of pages, I think that's a Good Thing.

Unknown stories are still too vague to hold me so A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula le Guin is a book I've read many times before, each time for a different reason, and each time it has a different relevance.

I find it funny that the first time I came across it, in my very first week of teaching back in 1984, I dismissed it as a dull children's book (a poor Puffin cover - yes, I do judge books that way!) and put off reading it with the first years. At various points since I finally gave in a couple of years later, it's appeared in my hand again (each time with a different cover, ironically), and I've re-read it, and each time it's been the right thing to read. So when I saw a copy of the whole quartet with a nice feeling cover in a bookshop a couple of weekends ago, I knew it was time again.

The journey either to or from the shadows in our lives is one we all recognise, however fantastical the setting, and our own attitudes to readying our boat, recognising the sincerity of genuine help, and how we set our sail to face what we need to face is all enormous stuff embedded in an apparently simple archetypal tale of hubris and humility.

I've not picked up the next instalment for a couple of days; perhaps I've have hit the sand again, but since Tombs of Atuan is usually my favourite of the now 5 books in the 'trilogy', I'm expecting the tide to come back in and lift me off. I'm hopeful that at last I might have set sail in my own personal Lookfar, and shadows can be met.

Whatever the outcome, A Wizard of Earthsea is one of those books I'm grateful to, one of those books I want on the bookshelf at the end.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 15 March 2012
I was first introduced to Earthsea late last year by the Ghibli movie, I'm not a fan of the Miyazaki films but I loved the premise of the story (at least until it veered violently away from anything resembling the original novels) and dismayed that the animation had let down what were clearly brilliantly imaginative stories, I set out to read the tale as Le Guin intended.

There is a quote on the cover of this new edition of the book; "Rowling can type, but Le Guin can write." How true it is! Undoubtedly this masterwork, first published in the late 60s, sets the precedent for all children's (and indeed a great deal of adult's) fantasy. It's written with the most gorgeous narrative, and does not come across as naïve or simplistic given that they are children's tales - The Tombs of Atuan in particular features some of the most suspenseful and atmospheric writing I have ever read in any genre.

For those wondering about the cover of this re-vamped edition, it's the size of a standard novel - having originally read the quartet as ebooks I was surprised by how compact the collection is. It's regular matte finish and is as pictured. Unfortunately, despite being a new print of a classic collection, they did not slot "The Other Wind" in as well despite it being the most recent addition to the series and, in my opinion, one of the best. "Tales from Earthsea", the collection of short stories also remains a separate volume, sadly.

None of these books should be approached as "kid's books", they are absolutely wonderful tales for any age, masterfully written with rich characters who do not conform to any pre-set ideals of heroes and villains or of power and magic. A gorgeous collection which must be owned!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2012
I was thrilled when I read the subject heading from Amazon in my email box: "Ursula K. Le Guin's New Book". I eagerly opened the email and read:
"Ursula K. Le Guin's New Book
Releasing on February 23, 2012
The Earthsea Quartet"
I thought, 'I'm sure that title's not new', clicked on the link, and found that indeed it was a dearly beloved favourite. I was somewhat disappointed that there wasn't a new book, but thanks in part to Amazon, as the facilitator, I do have plenty still to read!

'The Earthsea Quartet' is really an original trilogy from the early 1970s with a sequel, 'Tehanu', published in 1990. The Puffin, New Edition that I have was, under the same title of 'The Earthsea Quartet: "A Wizard Of Earthsea"; "The Tombs of Atuan"; "The Farthest Shore"; "Tehanu" (Puffin Books)' published in June 1993, and if you haven't read it already, I would truly recommend it to you. It is beautifully written and will take you on some wonderful journeys in the course of the four stories. I won't give away any of the plot, that is part of the joy of discovery.

One of my favourite authors, Ursula Le Guin has written novels, poetry, children's books, essays, and short stories, most notably in the genres of fantasy and science fiction. First published in the 1960s, her works explore Taoist, anarchist, ethnographic, feminist, psychological and sociological themes, Ms Le Guin has received many prestigious literary awards down the years. She Le Guin has received five Hugo awards and six Nebula awards, and was awarded the Gandalf Grand Master award in 1979 (Honouring achievement in fantasy literature, they were named for Gandalf the wizard, from the Middle-earth stories by J. R. R. Tolkien)and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Award in 2003. She has received nineteen Locus Awards for her fiction, more than any other author. Her novel The Farthest Shore won the National Book Award for Children's Books in 1973.

Le Guin was the Professional Guest of Honour at the 1975 World Science Fiction Convention in Melbourne, Australia. She received the Library of Congress Living Legends award in the "Writers and Artists" category in April 2000 for her significant contributions to America's cultural heritage. The Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association gave her a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. In 2004, Le Guin was the recipient of the Association for Library Service to Children's May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award and the Margaret Edwards Award. She was honoured by The Washington Center for the Book for her distinguished body of work with the Maxine Cushing Gray Fellowship for Writers on October 18, 2006.

In 2002, Le Guin received the PEN/Malamud Award for "excellence in a body of short fiction."

At their 2009 convention, the Freedom From Religion Foundation awarded the "Emperor Has No Clothes" award to Le Guin. The FFRF describes the award as "celebrating 'plain speaking' on the shortcomings of religion by public figures". Robert Heinlein in part dedicated his 1982 novel Friday to Le Guin.

If you haven't read any Ursula Le Guin, you need to put her at the top of your list!... Her writing is beautiful -- lyrical and powerful. I love how she makes all of her words count. They are all necessary, there's no fluff or redundancy -- it's simple, natural, alive, and vivid. Her understanding of different people and cultures (her father was an anthropologist and her mother was a psychologist) enhances her ability to create imaginative, creative, and believable characters and worlds. When you step into Earthsea, you feel like you're in a real world with real people. It's deep and engrossing right from the start... I came late to Ursula's works, just a few years ago, and read all the books in the Earthsea cycle, starting with this one, followed by 'Tales From Earthsea: Short Stories', 'The Other Wind: An Earthsea Novel', bar one, 'Winds Twelve Quarters', which I only recently found out about. Now, after a gap, and with more time on my hands, I am attempting to read through all of her works, and, for me, a great journey it is proving to be. - I hope that you too will take the opportunity to enjoy her works as well. Happy reading!
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on 13 April 2015
I first read Wizard of Earthsea as a child and its impact on me was profound, unfolding in new insights into how the world might work as I grew up. I remembered it through my teens and when I re-read it in my twenties realised just how powerful a story it was. Le Guin's control over language, her intense focus on story, and her ability to bring a fully imagined world into play with barely any description is legendary. Written over the course of many years, this quartet traces Le Guin's own philosophical journey and does so through captivating narrative. These books work separately and together and are as thought-provoking now as when they were written.
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on 3 November 2013
I am fun of fantasy novels and I have enjoyed The Earthsea Quartet immensely. Wizards, dragons, and dark forces ... they are all in the story, but the story is so much more than that. It is about humans and their destinies and their fight to live meaningful lives. On tope of being great fantasy book, final story Tehanu brings something new, at least something I haven't found before in this genre - this book speaks with true woman's voice.
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on 21 April 2015
beautifully written - remember reading it when I was younger, and reading it to my daughter (9) now and its still magic. So many books of this genre are so badly written its a real treat to get something this well crafted.
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on 28 April 2014
And just coudelnt put the book Down. I love the story and its so well written. One of the best books Iv ever read.
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on 12 March 2015
Four classic books in one. Can't go wrong with that.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 February 2012
This is not a new book, I loved it 1st time around and for those of you that have not read it you're in for a treat.
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on 1 December 2014
Great writer! Love it!
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