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Reviews of Wizard of Earthsea, a (1968)

Review by jel (2004-08-22)
This was one of the first books I picked up as an adult, when I started reading for fun again. And I didn't regret it. All in all, this is a great book -- very easy to read, interesting characters, interesting world and magic, etc. For me, it was a good introduction to heavier reading, too.

This is a classic coming of age story, I suppose. It starts off with a boy discovering his potential and making mistakes, becoming afraid, and being driven by those mistakes and fears to run, and eventually to grow, and then to turn and face them. There's a nice element of yin/yang in there, too -- that bad and good aren't always opposites, etc.

Nothing very deep here, even with the underlying Chinese philosophy Le Guin likes to include. But definitely a fun tale, and an interesting character that will stay with you. Recommended, unless you're already used to more serious fantasy reading like George R. R. Martin.

Review by mwisse (2003-03-10)
had forgotten how good these were.

The Earthsea Trilogy are the sorts of books everybody interested in fantasy should've read at least once, at age twelve. Not that they're children's books, they're books children would like. They're not condescending, they're not written down and they stay interesting even for adults.

To be honest though, calling this series a trilogy is stretching the definition of trilogy a bit too far. This is not a continuing story, you can read all of them without knowledge of the other two. However, they read best in the order they were published. what they do have in common, apart from being all set in the world of Earthsea, is that these are all stories about growing up, about having to become adult in order to be able to deal with an external menace. They're classic coming of age stories, which is surley part of their lasting appeal.

Another part of which is surely the world of Earthsea itself. Girded by an endless sea it is a world of hundreds if not thousands of smaller and greater islands, some inhabitated by only a few dozen people, others home to great and beautiful cities, many more not inhabitated at all. Earthsea feels real, far more real then the average quasi-medieval world of extruded fantasy. It has some wonderful imagery, for instance of dragons so big they at first are mistaken for a castle, but it's the small details that convince me most.

The story in A Wizard of Earthsea revolves around Ged, a young goatherd who is discovered to have magical powers and eventually send to the Wizards school on Roke, where he in a fit of anger summons an evil force. The rest of the novel is about how he attempts to repair the damage he did in his arrogance and hubris. As said, a classic coming of age story.

(Taken from my booklog at

Martin Wisse

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