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review 2016-09-10 18:15
Review: A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle Book 1 of 6ish)
A Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula K. Le Guin

I was an adult before I became hooked on reading science fiction and fantasy, so there are a lot of classic books and authors I’ve still never read.  Until a day and a half ago, Ursula Le Guin was one of those authors.

The story is about a boy named Ged who, we’re told in the first paragraph, will become one of the greatest wizards of Earthsea.  We meet him just before he discovers he has magical abilities, and we follow him for several years.  Although Ged is good-hearted in many ways, he has a strong prideful streak which sometimes leads him to make bad decisions.  One of those decisions causes some serious trouble that he has to deal with.

I really enjoyed this story.  It had a lot of familiar plot elements, but the book was written in 1968 so they were likely new at the time.  They’re also things I tend to enjoy as long as they’re written well, and I thought this book was written very well.  I liked Ged a lot, particularly as he grew older, and I liked the way he embraced his magical abilities and was all gung-ho about learning everything he could.  Often characters like this in other books have a meeker and more timid reaction, so Ged’s reaction was fun even though sometimes he made me want to yell, “Noooo, don’t do that!”  

There were other interesting characters in the book also, like his friend Vetch and the wizard Ogion.  I wanted to see more page time for those characters, and I wanted to see Ged’s relationship with those characters fleshed out better.  The author tells us about Ged’s bond with them, and we see the evidence of it in events that happen afterward, but we really aren’t shown the development of those relationships.  The book is only about 180 pages, and I would extend that complaint to some other aspects of the story – in general I just wanted a little more meat and detail.  That’s my only real complaint about this book, although I guess it’s better to be left wanting more than wanting less.  

This book told a complete story, but I look forward to seeing what happens next in Earthsea.  I plan to start the next book later today.

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text 2016-08-29 13:04
July Wrap-Up
The Count of the Living Death (The Chronicles of Hildigrim Blackbeard) - Joshua Grasso
A Country Doctor’s Notebook - Mikhail Bulgakov
The Sociopath Next Door - Martha Stout
Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal - Conor Grennan
The Haunted Forest Tour - James A. Moore;Jeff Strand
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: The Illustrated Edition - J.K. Rowling,Jim Kay
Specimen 313 - Jeff Strand
Suckers - J. A. Konrath, Jeff Strand, Read by Dick Hill
A Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula K. Le Guin
Fresh Off the Boat: A Memoir - Eddie Huang

So, this is long overdue. I'm not posting my August reading list, for obvious reasons, but here's a list of what I read the previous month broken down by rating.

 

Books Read: 11

 

5 star: 0

 

4 star: 4

The Count of the Living Death

A Country Doctor's Notebook

The Sociopath Next Door

Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal

 

3 star: 6

The Haunted Forest Tour

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: Illustrated Edition

Specimen 313

Suckers

A Wizard of Earthsea

Fresh Off the Boat

 

 

2 star: 1

The Gilded Chain

 

1 star: 0

 

Reviews Written: 4

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review 2016-07-20 15:51
A Wizard of Earthsea / Ursula K. LeGuin
A Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula K. Le Guin

Ged, the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, was called Sparrowhawk in his reckless youth.

Hungry for power and knowledge, Sparrowhawk 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.

 

***Wanda’s Summer Carnival of Children’s Literature***

 

Even the greatest sorcerer has to begin somewhere—and Ged gets a harrowing beginning thanks to getting a bit too big for his britches.  The little juvenile novel is all about balance.  Balance in the world and balance within a human being.  I’m truly sorry that I never ran into it many years ago.

 

I can definitely see why it was compared to both Tolkien’s Middle Earth and Lewis’ Narnia, because the world building is excellent.  I have to wonder if J.K. Rowling ever read it, after reading about the school for wizards and all the masters teaching their specialties.  Plus those instructors help to set Ged on the course to right the wrong that he created in moment of pride.

 

Another theme is that power is dangerous if used incorrectly.  The balance between wanting power for its own sake and wanting power in order to help others.  When Ged deals with dragons, he uses power to help others.  When he sets a dark power loose in the world, he was serving his own ego. 

 

It’s a shame that this series isn’t better known.  It seems to have been overshadowed by Tolkien, Lewis, and now Rowling.  It deserves much more attention and it has valuable things to say to people of all ages.

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review 2016-07-11 13:54
A Wizard of Earthsea
A Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula K. Le Guin

Hmm. I can see the appeal this book has to so many people and I did enjoy it somewhat, but there was something missing which kept me from rating it higher. Every time I started to really get into it, the plot seemed to reach a point where it would just fizzle out. The scene with the dragon was extremely anti-climatic as was the final 'showdown' with the shadow. And for someone who is supposed to be so powerful, Ged spent an awful lot of time incapacitated. I get that this story was supposed to be a beginning for Ged, but I felt like we spent more then half the novel reading about how everybody waited around for Ged to wake up again. I'll probably give the second book a chance, first books in the
series aren't always a good indication of overall quality, but I can't see continuing past the second book if the same issues are present in the second book in the series.

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review 2015-11-11 04:55
A Wizard of Earthsea
A Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula K. Le Guin

Synopsis: Ged is a young wizard of great potential, but reckless and careless for power. When he unleashes a shadow into the world of Earthsea it seeks to consume and possess him. To defeat it he must learn its name, and face it.

 

I first read this book as a teenager, probably twenty years ago. Back then I didn't understand its messages and I found it quite boring (I didn't like to DNF back then either, and I ended reading all four books in the series that were published at the time).

 

Reading it today, I find it a bit easier. I can still see why I thought it was boring, but its message of caution against recklessness and facing your enemies rings a lot more easily with me today.

 

I liked the imagery. Earthsea is a watery world made up of islands and sea and more than a little bit of mystery, and Ursula Le Guin really paints a picture of a dark and shadowed world. I kept wondering about many of the places she kept referencing, but much of it was shrouded away from view.

 

I've got the next book Tombs of Atuan on my shelf already and its short so I may just knock it out real quick. The Lord of the Rings is also on my agenda, however, and thats likely to suck up quite a bit of my reading time for awhile (this edition gave me the entire trilogy in one glorious bind; the forward says that its not actually a trilogy at all, just that its often sold as one).

 

Anyway, A Wizard of Earthsea:

 

General rating: *** 1/2

Epic rating: ****

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