A Wizard of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula LeGuin, is my first book for the Dewey’s Books Reading Challenge. It’s actually a re-read for me — I read it 30 years ago and didn’t care much for it. Dewey read it and reviewed it, and felt the same way about it, so I was curious to read it again to see if my response to it was different after this many years. I did like it better than I remembered, but I didn’t fall in love with it, which was disappointing because I know that so many people dearly love it.

Dewey’s review was short, but the book didn’t capture her, either, and she blamed that on the fact that she didn’t care for the fantasy genre. I love to read fantasy, so my problem with it was something else.

I’ve been mulling it over for a few days and this is what I’ve been able to pinpoint about my own reaction to the book … I liked the main character, Ged, and the storyline kept me interested, but I felt that Le Guin labored a bit too much to create this entire fantasy world. I haven’t gotten that same “labored” feeling when reading the complete fantasy worlds created by Tolkien or Patricia McKillip, or Charles de Lint. And I haven’t felt that way when I read other works by Le Guin! . Will I feel that way after I read the other books in the series? Perhaps all that labor pays off in the subsequent books?

I listened to the audiobook version this time, (with my hardback copy of the book sitting next to me). It was read by Rob Inglis, the same narrator for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and he did a fabulous job of reading it … but I ended up feeling disappointed nonetheless.

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5 thoughts on “A Wizard of Earthsea

  1. Nymeth

    “Perhaps all that labor pays off in the subsequent books?”

    I really think it does. I only grew to love this book after having read the following 5. Earthsea gets so much better as it goes along. And it’s too bad this book is the first, because I think it gives people a wrong impression. Sort of like with Discworld 😛

    I think you’ll like The Tombs of Atuan much, much better, Robin. It’s a much more personal story, and Ursula is good at personal stories, not at epic ones, in my opinion. I think she realized that herself, because when she returned to Earthsea twenty years later to write books 4, 5 and 6 the stories she told were personal ones. And as she said herself, she was much more aware of issues she had ignored before(namely violence and gender) and took that into account when writing the books.

    I know that a lot of fans feel differently, but for me it’s those later books that make Earthsea brilliant. It’s because of them that this is one of my favourite series.

    (I wish I’d had a chance to tell Dewey this, and that she’d had a chance to read them. Tehanu in particular deals with so many issues she cared about.)

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  2. valentina

    I don’t know why so many people don’t care about this book. I loved it the first time I read it (maybe at 13-years-old) and I loved it the other 2 times that I re-read it. There’s something so mythical about it, and the language is perfect. I never liked the following two as much. But I loved Tales of Earthsea and haven’t read the Other wind yet.
    Don’t know how much this comment would be useful to you though:P

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  3. Robin

    Thanks, Valentina. I think the majority of people do love this book, and I liked it, just didn’t love it, which was disappointing. But I’m going to read the rest of the series, like Nymeth talked about, and see if I don’t love it by the end of it all.

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  4. Kailana

    Yeah… I hate Earthsea. I have read two books in the series and I couldn’t get into them at all! It makes me wonder if I should bother with the rest of the series, but I might! Never know!

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