A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin
Author: Ursula K. LeGuin
Series: Earthsea Cycle #1
Release Date: 1968
Dates Read: October 19-21, 2011 (2nd time)
Ged was the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, but once he was called Sparrowhawk, a reckless youth, hungry for power and knowledge, who 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.
I came back to this book after a long bout of urban fantasy and dystopian novels in my read pile, and I must admit it was a bit jarring. I read this book for the first time as a young girl, so to be fair to the book, I feel like my review is a combination of my feelings from both times I read the book.
A Wizard of Earthsea is a true fantasy book distilled to its purest form. LeGuin does not use many words, and does not waste time with fluff. The me now found this a jarring transition because I find that most of the modern books I read are very descriptive, and focus more on the showing of events and worlds than the telling of the story. At some times, the lack of pronounced downtime and character development felt a tad tedious. Younger me, I felt, had more of an imagination to feel in the gaps. I really do enjoy the story itself. I like that in the Earthsea novels, magic doesn’t come from the elements, or pseudo-Latin words, but from holding the power of a things true name. I think that is one of the things I find appealing about faerie mythology, so I enjoy seeing the theme here in a different light. One of the things I like most about this novel, both now and in the past, is it a parable that warns of the consequences of having power and of abusing that power.
I’d recommend it if you have a good imagination (or don’t mind terser books) and like true fantasy books (wizards, magic, dragons).