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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece of magic and growing up
A Wizard of Earthsea ranks alongside Narnia and Middle-earth as a masterpiece of other world fantasy for children. Of course, this claim is made fairly frequently and for every new fantasy writer - but A Wizard of Earthsea has stood the test of time.
Set in a world far more detailed and fully realised than Philip Pullman's or JK Rowling's, this is a powerful tale of...
Published on 30 Jan 2003 by Martin Turner

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of tea
I bought this book as it was the required reading for my book group and we thought we'd move a bit out of our usual comfort zone. Fantasy fiction doesn't appeal to me and this book didn't either. I gave it to my 12 year old nephew.
Published 8 months ago by Dympna M. Kelly


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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece of magic and growing up, 30 Jan 2003
By 
Martin Turner "Martin Turner" (Marlcliff, Warwickshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
A Wizard of Earthsea ranks alongside Narnia and Middle-earth as a masterpiece of other world fantasy for children. Of course, this claim is made fairly frequently and for every new fantasy writer - but A Wizard of Earthsea has stood the test of time.
Set in a world far more detailed and fully realised than Philip Pullman's or JK Rowling's, this is a powerful tale of a child - Ged - growing up to be a wizard and having to meet the consequences of a single catastrophic failure in adolescence.
The scope is enormous. It wakes feelings of majesty, power, compassion, fear, terror, joy, frustration and freedom. Dragons' lair, the sea, countless islands, twisting streets, tiny villages, the weather and the world of the dead are some of the settings.
The story, the imagination and the author's voice never falter. This is in many respects a perfect work - the same thing that Tolkien achieved in the Hobbit but failed to achieve in the Lord of the Rings, and Lewis achieved with the first six Narnia books but failed in the Last Battle.
A must read - even if you don't like fantasy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book for Any Lover of Fantasy, 16 Aug 1997
By A Customer
My finding of this book occured much like Clinton Rickard's finding, but just a little different. It was assigned for my summer reading entering into the tenth grade (although I believe that it is suitable for someone entering eighth or ninth grade and anything higher than that). Guessing that it would be the harder of the two books assigned, I decided to read it first and give myself a longer time to read it. Expecting to take a few days to get through it, I planned my schedule around reading it (taking an hour out of my day is not easy). Surprisingly enough, I ended up starting *and* finishing it on the first night. A story dealing with sorcerers, wizards, mages, (clerics?), dragons, and every other amazing fantasy-style character you could imagine. Of course, you say, I could write a story that involves those characters. True. Yet when you would go to compare it to this ... it would (blatantly) suck. I find this story so involving ... so gripping (especially during the times of high suspense, when the equilibrium between the powers of the light and of the dark is shifted, and "the shadow" is inadvertently allowed into the world) that it would be virtually impossible to rip yourself back into the real world before finishing it without pondering deeply why the story took its certain course, or why the characters did what they did. (I know that sounds a bit generic, but this story is *definitely* *not* *generic*.) One of those "must-reads", I would say.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What an amazing book :-), 3 Oct 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: A Wizard of Earthsea (Paperback)
To rate this book is not really a challenge.....the five crowns come up straight away. From the first page you feel for the charaters and wahnt to know more. It really is a book you cant put down. This tale of one young mans pride leading to disaster and then the rebuilding of his shattered life makes for compellig reading...once finished you maybe thrrsting for more so when you find the other three in quartet oyu'll be running to the libary to get them :-)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How an ignorant rustic boy becomes his world's wisest wizard, 3 Mar 1999
By A Customer
LeGuin creates a completely believable world reminiscient of the days when Viking pirates plundered European settlements. Earthsea is an archipelago of small and large islands, ruled by island kings threatened by seagoing marauders and the occasional dragon. It is a region still subject to the creative power which formed the islands out of the sea and still endows a few of its inhabitants with some degree of magical power. From amongst these some are drawn to train as fully fledged wizards on the island of Roke so as to serve the island kings or attend to woes of the island people.
Into this world the young rustic boy Ged is born with exceptional powers which after their initial wonder and excitement prove more of a burden to him and serve instead to separate him from his family and people. LeGuin writes an intriguing tale of the loneliness of power and the terrible consequences of our actions, even if it is unintentional or well-meaning.
LeGuin demonstrates clearly that she is one of the few writers who appreciates that power even of the magical kind has its own rules and limitations which may set us on a path which taxes us to our limits and may deprive of us of life's simpler pleasures and the gift of peace of mind. And so Ged discovers that simple pranks when dabbling in magic have fateful consequences which pursue him to the ends of his world and that a wizard is not the master of his world but very much its servant with his hands not only full but tied.
Why and how is explained carefully and ingeniously through the course of the three novels, teaching us why magicians deserve our respect and our pity.
But LeGuin can be merciful and Ged's lonely life finds unexpected peace and comfort in the concluding novel Tehanu.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book for everyone, 27 April 1998
By A Customer
I first read this book two years ago when i was 22 and away on holiday with my fiance. It is one of his favourite books, and he has read the whole series time and again. I enjoy reading all types of literature, although science-fiction and fantasy books are my favourite. I have always favoured sci-fi, especially Asimov and Clarke, and my fiance fantasy, particularly Tolkien and Le Guin. This book, along with The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, have made me as passionate about fantasy as sci-fi.
The book works on many levels, as a good story, as escapism, as a gateway to an incredible fantasy land, and as something far deeper. The story is thought-provoking and compelling, rich and meaningful. The book examines how we consider ourselves and the world around us. What is our real self ? What are we capable of ? How do our actions influence the world around us ? How do the names that we apply to objects affect how we view and understand them ?
A brilliant book that i would recommend to anyone of any age. I think its ridiculous that great literature such as this, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Alice in Wonderland, C.S. Lewis, and so on get classified as "childrens books". They are books for everyone with imagination, who enjoys good story-telling, and interesting and unusual characters. They are tales which leave strong images for years after reading, which make you want to go back to read again and again, which offer something new each time they are read, which make you want to tell other people about them, which enthrall and inspire you, which leave you with plenty to think and talk about, and which push back the boundaries of your thoughts and imagination.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important fantasy books, 9 Jan 1998
By A Customer
"A Wizard of Earthsea" was one of the first fantasy books translated into Polish language and I am sure that fantasy became popular in Poland mainly because people liked this novel and hoped for more good reading. And they were disappointed since except some LeGuin's, Tolkien`s and maybe few other authors' books fantasy is not a good literature. In the short commentary to the Polish edition of the novel S. Lem has stressed its main valor: it is self-contained and complete. You cannot find in it any unnecessary "gadget" just for amazement of the reader, everything has its meaning and role in the Earthsea world. On the other hand - you cannot remove magic from the novel; words-spells are its building material as well as they are building material of the world created. "Words are acts." The Earthsea books are often compared to Tolkien's works but they are rather complementary than concurrent. Tolkien derived his creation from the linguistic research which is mostly hidden, while LeGuin exposed the central role of language in the creation. Certainly, if you dare build the whole world of words you should know how to use them. But this is just a writer's job - and LeGuin proves she is a very good writer. There is one more good reason why "A Wizard of Earthsea" is worth reading - it is a novel about human beings and human problems, showing true meaning of choice and responsibility. It is wise and well-written, rarity in sf and fantasy literature. You may not like it but surely you will remember it.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, 28 Aug 2003
By 
Kurt A. Johnson (Marseilles, IL USA) - See all my reviews
Born on an island renowned for its wizards, young Ged finds himself drawn to wizardry. Astonishingly, it all seems to come naturally, and he soon outstrips the witch who is teaching him the art. Arrogant and willful, he goes off to Roke Island to study under the greatest master wizards. His pride proves his undoing when, in an attempt to show his superiority to a rival, he summons up a shadow creature powerful beyond human understanding. Ged finishes his studies, and then must begin his career, knowing that somewhere out there the shadow is waiting for him.
Being such an old story, I did not expect to enjoy this story too much. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the story was entertaining and quite absorbing. I was fascinated to see what the nature of the shadow was, and what Ged needed to do to overcome it. I have not read any of Ursula Le Guin’s books before, but I intend to now. I recommend this book to any fantasy reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The classic first novel of a noted fantasy series., 27 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This is the first volume of what would become a classic fantasy tetralogy about a world of islands (the other books in the series are "The Tombs of Atuan" (1971), "The Farthest Shore" (1972), and "Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea" (1990)). "The Wizard of Earthsea" is often a required text in college courses on speculative fiction as well as in courses in children's literature. It was originally written for juveniles and teenagers; yet, it achieved a much wider following. It won the 1969 "Boston Globe" Horn Book Award for Excellence. The story is centered about the young boy known as Sparrowhawk, later known as Ged, who goes off to be trained as a wizard. His pride and anger accidentally lets loose a shadow upon the world. Ged learns humility and duty and, after confronting a dragon threatening villagers, he goes off to restore the balance in the world by facing this shadow. The reader becomes well aware of the importance of words: words, by themselves, can become acts. We have to be very careful in what we say and how we phrase sentences. In addition, the reader sees Ged face his fears and discovers an aspect of the nature of good and evil that allows him to grow more complete.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a new look on fantasy, 3 Mar 1999
By A Customer
after reading a lot of dragonlance and tolkien, earthsea was a whole new look on fantasy. one of my favorite subjects in fantasy is magic, and in the earthsea series i found a new, much more realistic side to it. the bookis written in children-style but for those who look deeper into it, it reveals deep and sofesticated messages. the power of words is shown here as a magical power which controls the things in the world of earthsea, when in our reality it is quite close to that as words can be a very powerfull thing in comunication with other beings. there are more of these thoughts buried deep or shallow in the series and in this book there maybe are more than in the others. therefore i dare put Orsula K. Le-Guin on one plain with J.R.R Tolkien which, untill now, i thought the best fantasy writer. tolkien's greatness was in his language and sofesticated details, le-Guin's is in the messages behind the story itself which is nevertheless an interesting, mystical adventure which anyone will doubtless enjoy.
it's a great loss that the series wasn't as detailed as tolkiens novels, i sure would like to know much more of the ancient language(especialy the runes), and the customs of earthsea... our loss.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It felt a little distant, 9 July 1998
By A Customer
While LeGuin's prose is beguiling and her characters believable, somehow I felt a little more removed from the scene than I like to be when I'm reading a novel. I'm not sure why that is. I would have preferred to get more deeply inside the heads of the characters than I did. Otherwise, an excellent book - I felt that things were happening even without the bloody battles and lurid affairs that so often are used in fantasy novels in place of good writing to hold the reader's interest.
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A Wizard of Earthsea
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin (Paperback - 28 Nov 1991)
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