|A Wizard of Earthsea|
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
Series: The Earthsea Trilogy, Book 1
Review by: CL6 Raederle McDermot
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In a land where magic is based heavily on knowledge, the untold story of one of the greatest wizards and dragonlords begins! Unfortunately, an interesting magic system is a rare plus in The Wizard of Earthsea, which is the first and worst of Ursula Le Guin's trilogy. You will find this series compared to the likes of Tolken and CS Lewis, but don't let that fool you. Popularity does not a classic make.
The prose of The Wizard of Earthsea is horrible, and anyone with a sense of aesthetics is going to find it hard to read. Her descriptions are lacking, and her characters are flat. I personally can't get into a novel whose characters are poorly developed. True, she has a firm grasp on the Hero's Journey, which shows excellent examples of the Innocent Ged, how he falls from Innocence, is punished for it, then moves on to redeem himself. However, Ged is little more than an archetype, and while it is necessary to give your characters flaws to make them realistic, it is also necessary to give them virtues! Being too strong, or too "human", do not count in my book. You need to have a whole "person" to make a character. There is not a single adequately written character in this book, and the whole series suffers for it.
Also, though her system of magic, which I will divulge to you lies in knowing the True Names for things and seems to be based somewhat on ancient religious ideas (I site the Celtic-esque grove on the island of Roke), and is interesting enough to make one curious. Le Guin does not properly organize her novel so that the reader receives the needed impact of how the magic works! Elements which should have been established in the first chapter are put off until the fourth, while the first two chapters drag on endlessly with events that seem completely unimportant until you've read the entire novel. After which you feel as though she simply sat down, wrote it, and would not deign to edit. The last few chapters are written much better, as Ged is given some dialog. And surprisingly enough, he has a sense of humor.
So much could have been done with this part of the story. It could have been the size of Tolken's books. But don't insult him by including this drivel into the same class as these other writers. My recommendation is to read a summary and skip this book entirely, so you can begin the adventures not completely hating Ged, with whom you are supposed to relate in some way. I found myself by the end of the third chapter seriously wanting to drive a sharp stick into his eye.
Title: A Wizard of Earthsea