A Wizard of Earthsea (A Re-read)

The following is a re-post of a review that I put up on Goodreads. Five stars!

I read A Wizard of Earthsea probably 15 years ago, and just now, re-read it. My gosh, I had forgotten; it is sooo good. The prose is almost like poetry. But not in a way that makes it hard to read; quite the opposite.

Ged is a young man with an incredible talent for magic. Even in a world where many people have that talent, he stands out. Consequently, he is arrogant, hard to teach, impatient to get on with things and to realize his greatness. The main danger in this book comes NOT from some dark, ancient force outside of Ged, like Sauron, but from within his own ignorant, arrogant, immature young heart. But this doesn’t make this book boring. Ged’s flawed nature takes on a creepy, demonic reality outside of himself, and he must fix the evil he has unleashed before it destroys the people he loves.

Ursula Le Guin isn’t a Christian, and I would say this book flirts with the Jungian idea that we all need our shadow side and need to “embrace” it in order to be whole. But there is so much wisdom in this book as well. The novel recognizes that the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, and that humans must face this fact. This is a fact about the world, taught in Judeo-Christian doctrine but also observable to anyone. And Le Guin has observed it.

Another big perk of this book is the worldbuilding. Earthsea is a world of oceans, archipelagos, and “far reaches.” Each island has its own distinct culture, and the fact that some of them are more remote and you of course have to sail to them, gives that expansive feeling of exploring exotic new territory that readers of high fantasy look for. Although islands, the world seems to be temperate to Arctic in climate. So it doesn’t give the feel so much of the Pacific as of ancient Britain. A lot of scenes take place in the snow or in the cold rain.

“Only in silence the word, only in dark the light, only in dying life: bright the hawk’s flight on the empty sky.” 

10 thoughts on “A Wizard of Earthsea (A Re-read)

  1. Great review. what made you decide to not write a new review? Or am I misreading that and you posted a review on devilreads recently and then just copied it here?

    I should probably check to see when the last time I read this trilogy was. Might be about time to work it into the tbr, sigh…
    (that is a happy sigh though!)

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, I can see how that would be the primary meaning of “re-post,” especially since you already cross-post your book reviews on different platforms. (Did I say that right?) So I think your reading comprehension is off the hook in this case. It’s a more a case of me getting the lingo not quite right.

          Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh interesting!

          I had heard that the televised version wasn’t great. I don’t know the details, but some books can be difficult to televise well.

          Also, I do get that Le Guin’s works have a big learning curve up front when you start to read them. (Actually, Earthsea is one of the lesser offenders when it comes to that.) Anyway, I know they do take some commitment on the part of the reader before they start to get good. But I’m going to keep pushing them anyway. 🙂 I’m glad I have found a fellow fan.


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