Saturday, June 23, 2012
48. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
And what an awesome epic it is. It's still fresh in my mind, but I might say that A Wizard of Earthsea may be my favourite fantasy novel ever. I think it surpasses for me The Lord of the Rings. One of the elements of the fantasy novel is the training and levelling up and this book is all about that, in the coolest way. Plus, the setting is amazing, a land of many, many islands, with a cool map and Le Guin's subtle, moving, evocative voice to reveal bits and pieces to the reader.
The story is about Sparrowhawk, a young boy from the humble, goatherding island of Gont who has the magical potential to become a wizard. His potential is recognized and he is sent to the Wizardry school on Roke. There, his youthful pride clashes with his enormous innate power and he unleashes a darkness that sends him on a quest across the Earthsea. Ultimately, his story is about growing up and the terrible price of being powerful. In that sense, it is kind of a sad book, though there is so much coolness along the way that it doesn't get you down.
I suspect that most of my nerdy brethren have read this book long ago. But if you haven't, I would say you need to get this book and read it right away. This shit far presages Harry Potter (and does it better), so if your kids are into that, sneak this one into the pile at some point.