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.
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!
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.
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.