Saturday, June 23, 2012

48. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

I've been curious about the Earthsea books for a while now, having had the setting dance around at the periphery of my nerd vision for some years now.  It took me a while to pay attention to it.  Often, if I don't get the structure of a series of books and their basic deal, I won't really pay attention to them.  After reading The Left Hand of Darkness, I started checking out the Le Guin section of the used book stores shelves and I found the second and third books in the trilogy (with the handy numbers on the top of each book) in a neat, slim paperback edition.  They were super cheap, so I picked them both up with the new knowledge that it was indeed a trilogy and that the first book was named A Wizard of Earthsea.  I have since learned that there are a few short stories and a fourth novel published much later.  What I particularly appreciate about these books is that they are slim.  Why do all fantasy novels have to be three inches thick today?  Le Guin proves that you can pack an epic into less than 200 pages.

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.

1 comment:

rafınasığmayanlar said...

I can say that A Wizard of Earthsea may be my favourite fantasy novel ever, too although i read first book of series. i thing that this book includes not only fantastic things, includes also deep thoughts behind the fantastic events. btw ur blog is really awesome, and i am very impressed of ur books :)