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on 25 February 2003
Earthsea has to be one of the greatest and most powerful fantasy worlds ever created.
This collection of the 4 original Earthsea novels charts the story of Ged, a young boy who discovers his magical powers, as he rises to power as one of the great mages of Earthsea. His journey from boyhood to manhood is accompanied by a maturing of the Earthsea world as it too, struggles to change and grow. Ursula K Le Guin's world is not a utopia and people don't always live happily ever after, but the combination of fantasy and reality is utterly compelling.
It is horrible, coming to the end of the quartet, when Earthsea seems to be on the edge of change, but the book has finished. Readers can't help wanting the book to continue, to know more. However, all is not lost ! "Tales of Earthsea" and "The Other Wind" are the latest additions to the quartet. They are just as impressive as the original "Wizard of Earthsea", written over 30 years ago.
But if u can't afford to buy the entire collection, make sure u get "The Earthsea Quartet" - it will provide food for your imagination for decades to come. This book will appeal to young and old alike - something u can't say about many works of fiction.
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on 21 March 2011
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. In both books we see her strength and courage and I love how she takes charge of her own life in both of the books. On the whole Tehanu is my favourite of all four books, since everything comes full circle here and all our protagonists return. And of course light conquers dark yet again.

If I had one complaint with the books, it would be that the story didn't seem finished. This could have been intentional, as a sort of "Endless struggle of good against evil" cycle. It also leaves room for perhaps one more book, in fact a collection of short stories, Tales of Earthsea, and a final novel, The Other Wind, were published in 2001. The Earthsea Quartet remains a classic of the speculative genre, written by one of its Grand Masters. Any fan of the genre should have read some Le Guin and these books. I know I'll be looking to read more of Ms Le Guin's work.
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on 4 April 2000
This set of four books is the best read ever. After reading A Wizard Of Earthsea I didn't think it could get any better, but I am pleased to say I was proved wrong. Al the stories are enchanting and extremely well written, I wished I could have carried on reading the book forever, it was so good. The last story was the least satisfying for me, but it was still a good tale and I would reccomend this book to anyone who can read.
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on 1 June 2000
I first read this book (the whole saga) 4 years ago, at the age of 14. At that time I was amazed that the story wasn't true, it seemed so realistic to me and this is proof that it is extremely well written. Since then I have read the book several times, each time enjoying it just as much, and each time just as reluctant to turn that last page. I would recommend this book to anyone, and I believe that it by far surpasses any of Tolkiens works in all areas. The Lord of the Rings just didn't seem detailed and believable enough after reading this fantastic book.
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on 7 January 2002
As someone who read these first as a child and still periodically re-reads them, I think that they are great (at least the first three). The world of Earthsea is perfectly self contained and internally coherent. I see them as very Jungian - Wizard is about naming the shadow, Atuan is Ged dealing with the feminine (anima) in a labyrinth, etc. This is not a criticism, but does give another level to (re)reading as an adult. Enjoy!
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on 4 June 2016
It's always been on my bucket list to read at least one of Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea novels as i've read so much that is positive about them. A recent illness gave me a lot of time so i finally got around to reading this the first four books in the series.
I have to reluctantly say that i was very disappointed.
There's dragons and wizards etc. and all the usual stuff that i normally love to read.
It's very, very slow moving and for long passages not an awful lot happens. I found it difficult to warm to any of the characters although i did like Tenar and would say that the 2nd book 'The Tombs of Atuan' is probably the best of the lot here.
There's nothing essentially wrong with the writing style, i just found it dull.
I also find it hard to see why it's classified as a children's series as i can't imagine children getting much out of it?
I realise that it's supposed to be a fantasy classic and is loved the world over but they're not for me.
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on 26 November 2004
This is one of the best fantasy cycles ever written. While some other books by U. Leguin are a bit boring this is her absolue best. She created a world, cosmology, mythology and geography nearly equal to Middleearth's. The founding idea is great, Ged - the protagonist likeable and easy to identify with. If however you like great battles and empires this is not a book for you.
It is a book about a man who is a great wizzard but his humanity limits him like all of us. The downbeat atmosphere is there, there are no cheerful happy-endings but still it is a captivating read from page one. And this edition is a real bargain.
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on 17 December 1999
I read the Earthsea books first when I was about 14 and loved them. I read them again when I was in my 20s and realised how beautifully written they are. The stories are gripping and the characters very engaging, but as an adult reader it is the poetry of the writing and the vividness of the descriptions of an entirely invented world which captured me. I think they are wonderful books for all kinds of young people and would help to encourage an appreciation of language and the emotions it can evoke. Marvellous stuff.
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on 5 August 2003
The first three books are of course classics - mythical, high fairy tales. The fourth is startlingly real by contrast: the same people, but in a much more everyday and rougher vein - but still very beautiful, and very honestly written: by someone older, perhaps, more thoughtful and less prone to high gestures. For an adult, at least, the fourth book fulfilled much of the promise that flashes through the younger books. I haven't read the fifth yet, but look forward to it....
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on 24 August 2006
Set in an ancient world of wizards,magic,darkness and light this is an amazing fantasy that combines breath-taking detail

and mild horror which pulls you seductively into 'Earthsea'.

A thoroughly stimulating read.
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