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A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1)
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A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1) [Paperback]

Ursula K. Le Guin (Author)
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (432 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Often compared to Tolkien's Middle-earth or Lewis's Narnia, Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea is a stunning fantasy world that grabs quickly at our hearts, pulling us deeply into its imaginary realms. Four books (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, and Tehanu) tell the whole Earthsea cycle--a tale about a reckless, awkward boy named Sparrowhawk who becomes a wizard's apprentice after the wizard reveals Sparrowhawk's true name. The boy comes to realize that his fate may be far more important than he ever dreamed possible. Le Guin challenges her readers to think about the power of language, how in the act of naming the world around us we actually create that world. Teens, especially, will be inspired by the way Le Guin allows her characters to evolve and grow into their own powers.

In this first book, A Wizard of Earthsea readers will witness Sparrowhawk's moving rite of passage--when he discovers his true name and becomes a young man. Great challenges await Sparrowhawk, including an almost deadly battle with a sinister creature, a monster that may be his own shadow. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

Product Description

Ged was the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea,  but once he was called Sparrowhawk, a reckless  youth, hungry for power and knowledge, who tampered  with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow  upon the world. This is the tale of his testing,  how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an  ancient dragon, and crossed death's threshold to  restore the balance.

From the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra (September 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780553383041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553383041
  • ASIN: 0553383043
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (432 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Ursula K. Le Guin
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Customer Reviews

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Average Customer Review
4.1 out of 5 stars (432 customer reviews)
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186 of 200 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Jung, Myth and Ursula LeGuin, January 6, 2001
Ursula Le Guin is the daughter of Alfred Kroeber, an anthropologist, and Theodora Kroeber, a psychologist and writer. It's easy and accurate to say that her parents' interests inform her brilliant writing, and that cultural anthrpology and Jungian psychology are at the core of Wizard of Earthsea and its three sequels.

But the book isn't a treatise. It's a wonderful, well-told story of a young man, Ged, coming of age in a world where words can have the power of magic and dragons are as real as earthquakes. There is nothing didactic about this story; Le Guin's writing is compelling and her characters are vivid: Ogion, the Mage of Silence, whose word had stilled an earthquake; Vetch, who helps Ged on a deadly quest for no reason but friendship; Murre, Vetch's sister; Yevaud, the dragon of Pendor; and Skiorh, possessed by a gebbeth.

Earthsea doesn't exist in a vacuum. Le Guin constructs a deep and textured history, and her characters act in ways that are consistent with that world. She manages the trick of writing a mythic tale without falling into the traps and foibles of sounding like you are trying.

The climax is straight from Carl Jung, but you don't need to know Carl Jung from Steve Young to appreciate it.

From time to time, religious groups call for this book to be banned from school libraries, claiming it promotes witchcraft. Nonsense. This is a book every teenager should read. It speaks to self-understanding, nothing more.

And some feminists criticize Le Guin because Ged is a male character. Again, nonsense, Ged is an archetype, and his gender matters not at all.

This is an important book. It's also terrific fun. Highly recommended.

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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Jungian psychology at its best..., May 28, 2000
By A Customer
Not only is the "Earthsea" trilogy a wonderful series for adolescents but it also contains profound wisdom for adults seeking their own path to individuation. Rich in timeless myth, the series has the young mage Ged surmount many trials on his way to understanding himself and therein lies the key to his ultimately becomming the Archmage of Roke. Each book in the series has the main story turn on the issue of trust between two people and upon Ged's courage in facing dark issues either within himself or in the enviroment. Ged is a powerful role for young people developing a sense of their inner integrity and for middle-agers every where beginning to deal with their shadow issues. Of course there are plenty of dragons, battles, transformations and journeys which can be enjoyed simply as a good storey, but don't pass up the chance to re-read to catch the deeper meaning. This series is too good to be eclipsed in popularity by LOTR and the Chornicles of Narnia, "Earthsea" stands on its own! If I haven't convinced you, please read the essay by Noel Perrin in his book, "A Child's Delight."
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89 of 102 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars Anthropological Fantasy Masterpiece, April 21, 2003
Ursula K. LeGuin's "A Wizard of Earthsea" comes from a different place then the other two fantasists with whom her Earthsea trilogy is so often compared. Tolkein's so-called fantasy was a real attempt to capture what Tolkein believed the languagues lost before the beginnings of early English, while his Oxford colleague wrote his Narnia fantasies from a Christian viewpoint. LeGuin's fantasy novels derive from her background in anthropology and show it in every way.

The story concerns the Wizard Sparrowhawk and his education. Sparrowhawk comes from a desperately poor village in the mountains, from among illiterate peasants (compare to the world of the hobbits, where, though illiterate, there is no squalor) who live with their goats. His home island, Gont, is the birthplace of Goatherds, Pirates, and Wizards, and from an early age Sparrowhawk shows his powers. After saving his village from an invading army, Sparrowhawk is apprenticed to Ogion, the great Mage. There Sparrowhawk begins to learn what Wizards know: the names of all things. He also is drawn to showing off, including calling up the dead.

Too powerful and curious for Ogion, Sparrowhawk goes to the isle of Roke to attend the school there ( Rowling only stole from the best) and finds he's not only the best pupil, but he can make enemies. In a boast, he calls up a spirit and brings out a sort of un-him. The un-him scars Sparrowhawk and kills the school's Archmage who uses his power to try and undo what Sparrowhawk has done.

Ged, Sparrowhawk's true name, must now pursue this unhim while fighting dragons, evil stones, and gibbeths, people the unhim have entered and destroyed.

Finally, Ged turns on his pursuer to fight an epic battle on the unsea and reunite himself.

LeGuin's spare prose is based on folktales, and myths, and Earthsea's theology of balance, true names, and magic is clear: Ged has disturbed the balance, so he must restore it. Like Tolkein's and Lewis' books, there is a sexual innocence here: Ged is a mage first and foremost: he feel attractions, but no lust. Of course, Heros of Myth are too good to be lustful; chastity preserves their power.

Unlike the other fantasies, the Earthsea Trilogy is not England, but an actual mythical place, albeit medieval in a European sense. Ged is no Englishman either, being copper-colored.

The deep understanding of what makes a culture a culture underlies everything LeGuin has written, from "The Dispossed" to "Terhanu." The intelligence behind these books is impressive, neither sentimental nor baroque, almost clinical in its portrayal of an premodern world where magic does work, and where every action has personal consequences and real pain.
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Key Phrases - Statistically Improbable Phrases (SIPs): (learn more)
bronze smith, binding spell, yew wood
Key Phrases - Capitalized Phrases (CAPs): (learn more)
Inmost Sea, Roke Knoll, Ten Alders, Low Torning, Open Sea, East Reach, Master Herbal, Old Speech, True Speech, Isle of the Wise, Roke Island, Scale of Miles, Dragon of Pendor, Armed Cliffs, Gontish Sea, Sea Guild, Court of the Terrenon, Warder of the School, West Reach, Great House, Master Hand, Master Patterner, Outer Reaches, Still Ged, Roke Ged
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