A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin: #BookReview.

304 pages

Children’s/Science Fiction and Fantasy

It may seem like an odd time of life to be reading children’s literature. In my defence, I bought this book ‘blind’ as one of a number I ordered after being gifted a book token for my 70th birthday. I’d heard of Ursula Le Guin, had her books recommended, but had never read any of her work, and this title came up as a potential taster.

Like all good children’s classics, this is intelligent writing with no condescension, and a challenging vocabulary. There’s certainly no reason an adult would turn it down.

What’s initially surprising about the work is its slow build to action.

This slowness is beautifully compensated by easy engagement with the characters and, in particular, with Ged, the main protagonist. Wonderfully drawn; this credible youngster inhabits a world depicted with just enough detail to encourage imagination.

Magic in fantasy has always been a slight irritation for me; it smacks of an easy solution to worldly problems. But in this author’s hands it works well and fails to become the panacea it so often represents in other works.

The adventure builds when the unusual antagonist is introduced. That the enemy is created by the ignorance and pride in power of the protagonist is a subtle lesson for children (and, perhaps, for all leaders of all ages) everywhere.

A myriad islands make up the world of this novel, and Le Guin manages to give each an individual personality, often in very few words.

The denouement builds tension at an increasing rate, making it hard for the reader to put the book down once this stage is reached. And the conclusion is superb and as surprising as it is inevitable.

I enjoyed this book and will seek out her more adult titles to read in future.

[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]

13 thoughts on “A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin: #BookReview.

  1. That was quite a suprise – because your review was in stark contrast to one I read just one post previously, about the same book. You made it sound like a wonderful read, which is what I prefer rather than just wading in feet first into someones creativity. I must add it is also very refreshing to come across someone who admits to reading childrens books at 70 – Keeping it real hey! Thats worth a follow

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment, alderleywizard. I see reviews as a way of helping other readers decide whether they would like to read the book.
      As for reading childrens’ books at 70, I’ve always felt that an open mind is more likely to engaged creatively. Too easy to settle for narrow genres and never explore beyond the comfort zone. I write challenging fiction, so I enjoy a challenge from other writers. Mind you, sometimes it results in some pretty dire reading! On this occasion I was pleasantly surprised.


  2. Beautiful, splendid book. It is a parable. Its apparent simplicity is just that: apparent. As with the best fairy stories it is a working out in fiction of the forces of good against evil. An ancient and fundamental human concern, linked inextricably to our search for meaning and safety in an uncertain world. One of the reasons we seek gods and wizards.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Anthony.
      IMost of the fantasy novels I’ve read (and written) are parables, and most deal with that eternal theme of good against evil; I beleive it goes with the territory, if you’ll forgive a cliche. Of course, how we view those two opposites, and what contitutes either good or evil can vary according to our philosophy, history and even our geographical location.
      Had a quick look at your website: eclectic and well presented, so I’ve tweeted a couple of your posts.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. Ah! Sci Fi – my favorite genre. I was going to have the temerity to recommend some of Ian Banks to you – I love his “parables” and recently felt very deeply about something he wrote in Surface Detail. Now \i understand (and indeed share) you interest in parables. I will download and read one of your books with great pleasure.

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            1. But I see you read my post: “Chay is rescued from a high tech Hell (a simulated reality to deter bad behavior) and becomes a nun or devotee in a convent of sorts on a mesa in the middle of a desert. “

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            1. For SciFi, you could try my novella, The Methuselah Strain, or, if you don’t mind a series (each of them can be read as a stand-alone as well) my Generation Mars series. Blood Red Dust is the first novel: it’s written in a slightly different style to most of my novels and some readers have found it challenging. The other two in the series, War Over Dust and Return to Dust, are written in a more conventional style. Probably the best bet is to pop up to the ‘Books and Other Published Work’ tab, click on ‘Science Fiction’ in the drop down menu and have a gander at the descriptions for each book.
              If you prefer short stories, there’s also an anthology ‘Ten Tales for Tomorrow’, which is also science fiction. Enjoy!


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