Review: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

5 out of 5

Ursula Le Guin is one of the top fantasy/sci-fi writers of all time. I recently re-read this novel, the first in the Earthsea series for a paper. Le Guin writes in a very straight forward style and her novels are no where’s near as long as most fantasy novels. A Wizard of Earthsea introduces us to Ged, a young mage. An error in judgement that may have been caused by a local sorceress leads Ged on a voyage of discovery that takes him both inside himself and to the far corners of his world. What is interesting about the first three Earthsea novels is the lack of positive women characters, despite the author being a woman. This was actually the topic of my paper. Ged lives in and among other male mages. Women with any type of magic are frowned upon. Le Guin does rectify this in the fourth novel, Tehuna. Also the hero and his countrymen are all dark skinned while the enemy is light skinned which was a major break with fantasy traditions at the time the novel was written in 1968. Le Guin’s writing is superb. She creates a wonderful and believable world in182 pages. The climax and conclusion sneak up on the reader and are not what you expect. Le Guin definitely stepped outside the traditional hero tale with this novel. Ged is not the typical hero and his battles are not with the typical enemy. It is hard to say anymore without giving spoilers. This series is a reading must for any fantasy fan.

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