3.5 stars out of 5?? I think either 3 or 3.5
I did really enjoy A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin but I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more when I was 12. It’s a really good middle grade epic fantasy novel but I just prefer my fantasy to be a lot more strange and weird such as The Left Hand of Darkness by Le Guin (one of my favourite novel) and I don’t enjoy middle grade as much as I used to. So, when I say I would have loved it when I was 12, that’s not an insult to the book, I’m just merely saying that I’m not the target audience.
The novel is about a boy called Ged (or Sparrowhawk) and you follow his journey in becoming a really powerful wizard.
Despite that fact, I’m so glad that I have read this book. As you probably all know this book is one of the classics in fantasy literature and popularised/ invented then tropes and “typical” concepts in a fantasy novel. This book is cliché and it doesn’t try to be any other than that, it just tries to tell a fun quick story for children and I think it achieves that.
Personally, I think the starting was way too quick, its as if Le Guin wanted to get us up to speed on Ged’s life. For the first 80 or so pages it feels as if the story is being told rather than shown, as Le Guin is like Ged is learning magic!! Now he is learning more magic!! Wooo!! I really wanted the wizard school and Ged’s backstory to be explored a lot more. Although I do understand why she did tell Ged’s backstory so fast, as she wanted to show Ged’s power and magic rather than having the audience wait around for book and books to see Ged gain that power. I think that she could have started the novel half way through the story and the audience won’t have missed much.
For the second half of the book, there is a lot more showing and we got to see Ged do some epic things, which I really liked.
As we are being told a lot of story rather than shown I don’t think Ged is really characterised that much because who is Ged really?? The only words I can think of is badass and good. He is just the embodiment of goodness, no real depth, no nothing. I could ask the same question for each character and again I don’t really know who they are, I know what they do, but not how they and perceive their lives. It didn’t bother me that much because the book is more focused on Ged being epic and good vs evil, the usual middle grade fantasy themes, which is fine. I just would have liked to get to know Ged a bit more I want know his opinions, experiences, how he thinks etc. I didn’t hate him, it just wasn’t a character driven novel, which was fine.
Another thing that I wanted to mention is that The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (my favourite book) is essentially A Wizard of Earthsea but with all the problems I had with the novel fixed. I don’t know Rothfuss influences or inspiration for The Name of the Wind, but damn are these books general ideas and concept similar, but obviously very different in execution. They are both about a boy (Kvothe and Ged) who goes to a wizard school that have Masters (eg. Master Namer) and they aren’t the chosen one(but very powerful), they both were trained by some guy before hand that through they were really powerful, and “Naming” is the most powerful magic in the world. I would also say that Kvothe and Ged conflicts in their stories are often caused by them (normally being idiots or being ignorant) rather than external sources. I just thought it was interesting to compare these books.
Anyway, if you really love middle grade fantasy or just enjoy fantasy I think you should try this novel out.
Artwork: Westminster Sunset by JMW Turner, oil painting, 1800