I last read this book when I was around 10 years old, and I know I enjoyed it then. But when A Legend of Earthsea came out on the SciFi Channel, I decided I needed to read it again. I wasn’t disappointed.
Ursula K. LeGuin is not a member of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame because she writes bad books, and A Wizard of Earthsea is just what you would expect from a Hall-of-Famer. In fact, I would say that anyone who wants to know the Fantasy genre should read this entire series, but especially A Wizard of Earthsea.
Some things you should note:
- Books were shorter then. This book is only around 200 pages long, unlike the epics that are coming out as trilogies, 600 pages per book (aka 1800 pages for the trilogy). This makes it a quick read, and fun. Not something that ends up seeming like a chore to complete.
- Fantasy doesn’t have to be a Lord of the Rings clone, and this isn’t. I actually stopped reading fantasy for a long time because it seemed like every book that comes out was about a group (usually called a Fellowship) on a quest to stop some great doom from befalling their land. And the hero was always someone you least expected. Plus elves and wizards. UGH!
This is the story of Ged Sparrowhawk and how he comes of age as a wizard in his land. He is a typical teenager in many ways, not too sure of himself, but knowing what he wants and going after it without thinking of the consequences. Because of this, he ends up unleashing something that he shouldn’t have. And so spends the rest of the book figuring out what to do about it.
What I like best about this fantasy is that it was easy for me as a 10-year-0ld to appreciate and it’s still easy for me to appreciate. Ged is an engaging character who is interesting, and while he has character flaws (pride primarily) he does work to redeem himself. The hardest thing for me about the book was the hammering on about his pride. She must have mentioned it five or six times, and it is what gets him in trouble.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about fantasy or wanting to see how a true master of the genre writes. You won’t be disappointed. And if you read it back when it came out (1968) or in the 70s when you were 10, then I recommend you read it again. It stands the test of time, and remains a great book.