The Earthsea Quartet Book reviews


Author(s): Ursula K. Le GuinDownload  


As a young dragonlord, Ged, whose use-name is Sparrowhawk, is sent to the island of Roke to learn the true way of magic. A natural magician, Ged becomes an Archmage and helps the High Priestess Tenar escape from the labyrinth of darkness. But as the years pass, true magic and ancient ways are forced to submit to the powers of evil and death.

Some Reviews: 519 in


Andrew rated it     

And so draws to the end another book I have been meaning to read for far too long – and I must admit I am both impressed and exhausted (mentally at least).

This is an book which to me at least was the meeting of many things. It is a fantasy which was intended to be a childrens tale and yet has many mature ideas and concepts which really were ahead of their time (the first book was written in the 60s).

The book has such a vivid portrayal of a world utterly different to ours (from the idea of a world of many hundreds if not thousands of islands to the presence of dragons and the use of magic) and yet at the same time can focus of ideas which are still related to today.

However this is not just one book but in fact the collection the first 4 books. (There are in fact another two but these were written much later and to some treated as additions to the world rather than a continuation of the series, something I will need to explore more).

Even so there is a continuity through the 4 books which give the feel of a greater world history than just the tale itself which for me at least gives the stories a timeless quality – almost as if I am reading a historical biography of a long lost age.

The books are classics and rightfully so – I would say that at times they were slow to get in to but once started they were equally hard to put down. I can see why they are treated as classics and rightfully so.

Pete Foley

Pete Foley rated it      

These books are simply wonderful. I concur wholeheartedly with Le Guin being held up alongside Tolkien.

The Wizard of Earthsea: First of all the pace of this book is so refreshing. In the first chapter it establishes a young boy who has a hint of a gift, suddenly he defends his village and is wished away to apprentice with a wizard. One chapter. So great. The world created is so full, and the lore is beautiful; magic is in the understanding of the true names – magnificent.

The Tombs of Atuan: a huge change from WoE. Slower, more deliberate. But this slow pace builds a menacing situation and then finally reveals an beloved old friend. Tenar is just such a wonderful character. I adore her.

The Furthest Shore: This story is a long (but exciting) drifting sadness. The premise of enthusiasm and magic leaking out of the world is so hauntingly told. Dear goodness I want to meet a dragon.
It also really shows how skilful Le Guin is at writing doubt, self-doubt, despair, and then turnarounds from that. She is masterful at the human experience.

Tehanu: Much less seems to happen in this as opposed to the first and third books but it was marvellous. So exciting to see Tenar again. And the hinting of the power of women’s magic was fantastic. I did wonder why, in the first, a female author would hold by the boring trope of magic being for men. But now I can see what she was building to (whether originally intended or not). Apparently the following books expand on this even further. I’m pretty dang excited by that.
The climax and revelations of this story had me squinting through excited tears.

Dear Le Guin, oh my word. I can’t type enough < or 3s to express my adoration of these characters and this world that you have created for us.


Ariya rated it     

What to be said about the books you come to love is that even you find their flaws, lack of consistency, a lot of plot holes and obscure pacing, you will not be afraid to defend all the world against it. The fascinating context about the book is the gap years of each book’s publication (1963 – 2001) creates a strong evolution momentum. When reading through all four books as the “quartet” (I heard there’re two more books to catch up later), the character developments and the aspects of each book are vastly different like spectrum.

There are branches of the stories: adventures, journeys, discussions, even a dull domestic rural life of an individual. The mage, the dragons, and women play the essential roles around four books. It is like Le Guin using the saga as the vessel to explore the ways she blends fantasy genre with philosophy and social criticism, lastly, the story is mush more expanding beyond her. It creates so many thoughtful questions, self-awareness not about human beings and gender roles but tackles on life and death debates that could be taken more profound explored much more than the limited plot and tone. Some part of the stories outlive the wisdom of the writer, leaving more discussion unanswered questions. For example, the part about Equilibrium is a bit bundled up with the prejudice on races and genders, not only the balance is tactless, only to be understood by the mages but not the witches and other human beings. I have some debates with myself during almost 900 pages and lost in which to begin with. To be a little more cheerful, I’m certain it’s the good thing to both love and criticize the book which might not make Le Guin unhappy about it.


Sparrowlicious rated it      

This edition includes the first 4 books of the Earthsea cycle, as well as the map illustrations from each book.
Le Guin is a master of writing, or so to say. The first time I read “A Wizard of Earthsea” I didn’t like it. Only some years later I could see why that was: Back then I read the german translation instead of reading the english original. Language is important in the world of Earthsea. If it wasn’t, all the spells wouldn’t work. Le Guin takes you on an adventure of the Archipelago in the first book, into the world of the Kargard Lands in the second book, to mend the world in the third and then gives you more insight about magic and Ged’s healing in the fourth.
If you like magic, dragons and witty wizards whose power comes from words, then this is a book for you. The author shows how words can be magic, just as a story inspires the reader’s mind and paints a picture inside.


Tuomas rated it      

I had read the first book earlier and liked it, but I read it again now. I think the first book may actually be my favourite of the quartet, although they are all good. It’s not all pleasure though, all in all the series is pretty sad and even dark. But the writing is amazing and the characters are interesting. For a book series that’s essentially about wizards, there’s not much traditional ‘wizard business’ here, but the approach is refreshing and makes for compulsory reading for anyone interested in this genre!


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