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The Earthsea Quartet: "A Wizard Of Earthsea"; "The Tombs of Atuan"; "The Farthest Shore"; "Tehanu" (Puffin Books) Paperback – 24 Jun 1993


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The Earthsea Quartet: "A Wizard Of Earthsea"; "The Tombs of Atuan"; "The Farthest Shore"; "Tehanu" (Puffin Books) + The Other Wind: The Sixth Book of Earthsea: An Earthsea Novel + Tales From Earthsea: Short Stories
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Product details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Puffin; REPRINT edition (24 Jun. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140348034
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140348033
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ursula Le Guin has won many awards, including a National Book Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Newbery Honor and the World Fantasy Award For Life Achievement.

Product Description

About the Author

Ursula Le Guin was born in Berkley, California, in 1929, daughter of the writer Theodora Krober and the anthropologist Alfred Krober. Her published work includes twenty-one novels, eleven volumes of short stories, three collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation. Among her novels are the The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, both winners of the Nebula and Hugo awards, Always Coming Home, winner of the 1985 Kafka Award, and Four Ways to Forgiveness. In 2009 she won her sixth Nebula award for Powers. Penguin/Puffin published the first volume of the Earthsea books, A Wizard of Earthsea, in 1971. The Earthsea books have been translated into many languages around the world and are global bestsellers.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

134 of 140 people found the following review helpful By Paul Lessingham VINE VOICE on 14 Jun. 2004
Format: Paperback
'The Earthsea Quartet' is really an original trilogy from the early 1970s with a sequal, 'Tehanu', published in 1990. Unfortunately, Le Guin's philosophical interests had shifted quite dramatically in the meantime, and the fourth book doesn't sit too well alongside the others.
The world of the original trilogy is based around the relationship between language and reality (anyone with an interest in literary theory will soon see why Fredric Jameson became interested in Le Guin's work). Everything and everyone has a true name, hidden from all but the most trusted because the possession of the individual's name brings power over them. The language of true names is that of creation and is the source of magical power.
The first novel, 'A Wizard of Earthsea', is a satisfying adventure that focuses upon the youthful career of Ged, the future Archmage of Earthsea. It's a fairly conventional doppleganger story in the tradition of 'Faust' and 'Jekyll & Hyde', though it has enough battles, magic and dragons to keep the story moving along.
The trilogy really takes off in 'The Tombs of Atuan'. Much darker than the first book, this is an adventure of Ged's adult life seen through the eyes of Arha, a young priestess of dark powers. The philosophy starts to become more complex here as Le Guin explores the relationship between faith and power.
'The Farthest Shore' is, for me, the high point of the series. Magic is disappearing from Earthsea and Ged, now Archmage, must find out why. The story explores the longing for immortality and the need for death in order to bring meaning to life. There is still plenty of action, but this is Le Guin at her thought-provoking best.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By "thirteen-13" on 10 Feb. 2003
Format: Paperback
Many critics of this book would like you to believe that the Earthsea novels are childrens books. I first read them as a young child and I enjoyed them very much. It was only in later years that I realised what the word "allegory" meant...
Ged is a wizard in the island archapelago of Earthsea, a land populated by strange magic and dragons just as much as it is by humans. Blessed by strange and powerful magics, he is sent to the island school of Roke where he unleashes some of the most powerful magic ever to scar the face of the earth. He has been taught that magic is a balance which must be maintained.
The first novel in the book deals with Ged's desire to be a powerful magician. In the end he has to choose where the worst evil lies, within himself or within his creations. During the course of the remaining novels, Ged uses less and less magic and eventually in old age he begins to realise the true enlightenment of the dragons.
The fourth book is without a doubt the worst in this quartet. It changes the focus away from Ged, much to the detriment of the story and the series as a whole.
The other books are delightful and should please anyone with an interest in fantasy books.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Dec. 1999
Format: Paperback
If you're an adult and you enjoy Harry Potter, here's a book you can really taste! The story could have been the inspiration for Harry's tales but the writing contains less comedy and more beauty. You'll wish you could witness the majesty of a dragon for yourself and you'll perhaps be amazed at the vulnerability as well as the sheer power of the wizards. You could live in this book...
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Booksthatmatter on 14 May 2004
Format: Paperback
Reading the Earthsea Trilogy was one of the highlights of my childhood. Discovering that it had become the Earthsea Quartet and now Quintet is one of the highlights of life today. Le Guin is the daughter of anthropologists and through all her fiction there is a deep, ingrained understanding of societies work and how they are built and evolve (or disintegrate). It's very interesting to see how her own interests have matured and deepened over the decades of writing this series - the latest Earthsea Title - The Other Wind is a fabulous rendition of concerns about gender/sexism/prejudice and the very nature of things. BUT that's for the grown ups, what really matters is that underneath all her incisive intelligence Ursula Le Guin tells a gripping, exciting and devastating series of stories that come at one in a rush of tight telling and delicately realised plots. She is simply one of the greatest writers for older children - or anyone!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By W.M.M. van der Salm-Pallada on 21 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
The Earthsea Quartet, an omnibus version of all four Earthsea books, is another one of my #bookfails. I'd never read any Le Guin and this book has been standing in my bookcase since 1997. I did start it at the time I bought it, but I just couldn't get past the first fifty to sixty pages. In this way it reminded me of The Lord of the Rings a lot, since I had similar problems there. It wasn't just the false starts that made the books feel similar to me, it was the language as well. The share a similar stately feel in the rhythm of the prose. But were Tolkien uses the entire section set in the Shire to set up for the action, Le Guin sketches out the scene in three pages and away we go. Though it took me until Ged gets to the school in Roke to become fully immersed in the story.

In the flap text the books are called parables, stories that illustrate a lesson or moral, and the books certainly do that. Each book seems to have its own lesson, while the overarching leitmotif for the books seems to be fear in all its facets and not to let oneself be limited by it. Each book has its own protagonist who has to deal with fear, be it their own or other people's. Two of the books include a physical journey, while the other two are more spiritual journeys. But in all of them the journey is more important than the destination. There is a lot of symbolism in the books, such as the maze in the Tombs of Atuan, the juxtaposition between the rise of the new king in The Farthest Shore and Ged's waning power, and the echoing of Ged meeting the Archmage at the fountain on his arrival on Roke and his similarly receiving Arren.

My favourite character in the books is Tenar. I like that we got her history as a girl in The Tombs of Atuan and later got to see the story of her later life in Tehanu.
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