Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review: A Wizard of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
Ged is a powerful wizard who was trained at a wizarding school on the island of Roke. While he was a student, though, his pride and need to prove himself led to his unleashing a dark and evil power; a Shadow that does not have a name. The Shadow haunts and hunts Ged so that the wizard cannot live in peace. Until Ged decides to switch from being the hunted to the hunter, that is. Ged has many adventures, fighting dragons, meeting rulers under the spell of a dark power, and spending many nights at sea with only his powers to keep him alive. After many encounters and long searches, Ged finally meets the Shadow and, with the help of friends, finds the strength and knowledge to defeat the evil he released.

 This was actually the first book I have ever read by Le Guin. I have been meaning to read her fiction for a long time, but somehow another book always to comes my way first. This time, though, I finished one book and immediately went to the library for A Wizard of Earthsea. No more excuses! And the verdict is...

I think I will have to give this book another try in the future. I liked it, but it took a while to get into it and I know exactly why. My head was full of the "Song of Ice and Fire" series. I just watched the first season on DVD and am still waiting for the third book to come in from the library. A Wizard of Earthsea has a similar feel to it (fantasy, magic in a far away land and different time) but I had the "Song if Ice and Fire" characters stuck in my head. So, after all of that rambling, I'm just saying that I think if I give it another try at another time, I might get into it a bit more. 

I liked Ged. He was originally a lighthearted character who was both studious but also knew how to joke around. After he released the Shadow, he became much more melancholy, but that was understandable. I mean, if I have pure evil hunting me I don't think I would be all that happy, either. Even through his sadness, he still enjoyed helping others and easing the work of the people and towns that helped him. His friend, Vetch, was also fun. Much more jolly than Ged, but he still knew when to be serious and was there to help Ged. I did wonder what happened to Jasper, Ged's schoolyard rival. It was mentioned that no one knew what happened to him after he left Roke before earning his wizard staff. I'm hoping this mystery is revealed in one of the next books. 

I also liked the setting. Earthsea is made up of islands, and Ged had to sail to get from one place to another. In most fantasy books I have read the characters walk or travel by horseback, so this was a nice change and offered a different perspective and perils. Plus, it meant there were maps showing where Ged was traveling throughout the book, which is helpful for those (me) with no sense of direction and who have trouble picturing where places are.

So to sum up, I liked the characters and setting, but I will have to try it again. There were times when I completely zoned out and had to read pages over. Next time I will be more focused on Earthsea and not on Westeros. I will definitely read the other books in the "Earthsea Cycle."

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