A Wizard of Earthsea

Ursula K. Le Guin
A Wizard of Earthsea Cover

A Wizard of Earthsea


At 205 pages, Ursula Le Guin's novel A Wizard of Earthsea shows that a talented author does not need 600 pages of bloated prose and descriptives to create a world that will fully immerse the reader (Yes, I'm speaking to you J.K. Rowling). This novel is the story of Ged, also known as Sparrowhawk, who grew up in a small village in the archipelago world making up Earthsea. Ged has tremendous magical power, but is ruled by his pride and fears of looking foolish. He is sent to "wizarding school", (which is the only thing I see in the novel to draw comparisons to "Harry Potter"). While in school, Ged in a brash act, trying to prove himself to his peers, releases an evil force. But his schooling is only a small part of the novel. The remainder of the novel is Ged's attempt to at first run away from it, and to eventually defeat it.

This novel was found in the juvenile section of my local library, so I did not expect much from it. The writing style is simplistic and I finished the book in a couple hours, but that only left me wanting more. I immediately went back to the library and picked up the next two books in the set.

The amazing thing about this book is how completely Ms. Le Guin is able to draw the reader into what is essentially a novella. The characters are fully developed, both Ged as the main character and all the supporting characters, as well as the world created by the author. These are characters that seem to be fully fleshed and not just single dimensional characters whose only job is to move the plot along. The islands felt real to me, and my only complaint is that we were not able to more completely explore all the islands. Instead of describing each island visited completely, we as the readers saw only what Ged saw. The best example of this was the old brother and sister Ged meets on his travel, we learn that there is a back story to these characters, but, at least in this novel, only gets glimpses of what it is. There is a hint that in future novels we, the readers, will be getting more details.

I wish I could tell the reader of the review why I fell into puppy love with this novel. All I can tell you is that when I read the last page of The Wizard of Earthsea, all I wanted was to start the next book, and that is the ultimate praise I can give to any writer.