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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.


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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.

30 review for The Earthsea Quartet

  1. 5 out of 5

    Neale

    The ‘Earthsea’ trilogy is, I think, the finest work of fantasy written in the twentieth century. What makes it stand out above so many others - quite apart from its beauty and wonder and terror and wisdom - is the fact that it achieves its effects with such perfect economy of style. Post-Tolkien, most fantasies achieve their world-building by layering detail upon detail, accompanied by genealogies, maps, appendices and such-like. Ho hum. Le Guin doesn’t waste a word. Not one. There isn't a singl The ‘Earthsea’ trilogy is, I think, the finest work of fantasy written in the twentieth century. What makes it stand out above so many others - quite apart from its beauty and wonder and terror and wisdom - is the fact that it achieves its effects with such perfect economy of style. Post-Tolkien, most fantasies achieve their world-building by layering detail upon detail, accompanied by genealogies, maps, appendices and such-like. Ho hum. Le Guin doesn’t waste a word. Not one. There isn't a single paragraph of padding in any of the books. The result is a poetically charged and completely realised world. With the belated publication of ‘Tehanu’, the original ‘trilogy’ was repackaged as a ‘quartet’. I felt at the time that this was a mistake. The first three books are a perfect unit, and ‘The Farthest Shore’ is a perfect – though devastating – end. ‘Tehanu’ struck me as a kind of coda, a brave but rather painful attempt to ‘disenchant’ the series. It was more a comment on the original books than a continuation of them. With the subsequent publication of ‘Tales from Earthsea’ and 'The Other Wind', a new shape became apparent. 'Tehanu' isn't the fourth book in a quartet, but the first book in a new trilogy. Re-reading the first books as an adult, I was struck by the degree to which a writer with Le Guin's feminist credentials had written a series which observed all of the classic gender and power tropes. Starting with 'Tehanu', she effectively rewrites the first three books, deconstructing them, reinserting the 'outsiders'. It's a risky strategy, which could have destroyed all of the magic. In 'Tehanu' this almost happens. But taken as a unit, the 'second' trilogy is a remarkable achievement, a rare example of fantasy questioning its own basis - all the more powerfully because Le Guin understands, and loves, what she is taking apart...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. RIP Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929 – 2018: The Earthsea Quartet (Earthsea Cycle, #1-4) by Ursula K. Le Guin "To light a candle, is to cast a shadow": Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929 – 2018 Who now has the stature and respect to call out poseurs like Atwood and Ishiguru? Who is there who can be relied on to correct the lazy and meretricious? She led by example, not just in speeches or reviews. The world is poorer for this but it's going to be decades be If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. RIP Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929 – 2018: The Earthsea Quartet (Earthsea Cycle, #1-4) by Ursula K. Le Guin "To light a candle, is to cast a shadow": Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929 – 2018 Who now has the stature and respect to call out poseurs like Atwood and Ishiguru? Who is there who can be relied on to correct the lazy and meretricious? She led by example, not just in speeches or reviews. The world is poorer for this but it's going to be decades before we really see how much. Ursula k. Le Guin is one of my lifelong favourite authors who I return to often. I first read “A Wizard of Earthsea” when I was 8, in between the Hobbit at 7 and The Lord of the Rings at 9 (precocious child…), followed by the rest of the trilogy, and then later books like “The Left Hand of Darkness”, “The Lathe of Heaven”, “The Dispossessed” and on and on. What a writer - in the six Earthsea books alone, she said more, and with more purpose and clarity, than any other fantasy author, except Tolkien, at least in my opinion. If you're into stuff like this, read on.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Abbie | ab_reads

    A Wizard of Earthsea - 4/5 The Tombs of Atuan - 4/5 The Farthest Shore - 5/5 Tehanu - 5/5 I am SO happy I finally took the plunge and read some Ursula K. Le Guin! All of my fantasy dreams came true with this quartet (I know there is another book and short stories). I think the effect was heightened by reading these four books in one go thanks to my compilation edition - I was completely immersed in her world for almost a week and it was glorious. It also allowed me to see the 'difference' that I'd h A Wizard of Earthsea - 4/5 The Tombs of Atuan - 4/5 The Farthest Shore - 5/5 Tehanu - 5/5 I am SO happy I finally took the plunge and read some Ursula K. Le Guin! All of my fantasy dreams came true with this quartet (I know there is another book and short stories). I think the effect was heightened by reading these four books in one go thanks to my compilation edition - I was completely immersed in her world for almost a week and it was glorious. It also allowed me to see the 'difference' that I'd heard so much about when it came to Tehanu, but honestly? That was my favourite of the four. Let's get this out of the way - if you don't like fantasy in general, you aren't going to like this. It's a classic of the genre and at the beginning of A Wizard of Earthsea I thought it was showing its age. It was first published in 1968, and I found her style a little hard to adjust to at first. However, I pushed through the first 30 pages or so and that was it. Hooked. It was amazing to see the inspiration behind JK's Harry Potter (which apparently she doesn't really acknowledge). A young boy, growing up modestly, is gifted with tremendous powers. He goes away to wizard school. Forms a rival. Makes friends. Heightens his powers. It's now a classic formula and hey! It works! If ain't broke, don't fix it, right? I'm a sucker for a good training montage in a movie, and Ged's time learning at the school on Roke completely delivered on that front. Ged is a typical fantasy protagonist - a tad arrogant and in need of a lesson before he gets too big for his boots. I can definitely see the inspiration behind moody Harry in HP5, ha! But I came to love him, and his brooding ways. I think some fantasy authors fall down because they try to juggle too many characters, lore, plotlines... Not so with Le Guin. Each instalment of Earthsea has a clear cut plot, a journey. And that's not to say they're overly simple - definitely not! But she presents her stories clearly and that is honestly refreshing in fantasy. I also loved the more philosophical side of A Wizard of Earthsea, as Le Guin's worldbuilding is founded in balance and equilibrium. Ged learns the hard way that his actions have consequences, that every decision has an effect on the balance of the world, one way or another. She takes her time with her storytelling; no detail is left behind, and yet you never feel like the story drags in any way. It unfolds slowly but unfold it does, and it kept me captivated. From A Wizard of Earthsea, we leave Ged behind for a little while with the Tombs of Atuan - but he comes back, don't worry! When I say this was my 'least favourite' of the four, that doesn't really mean much as I'd still give it a solid 4 stars (4.5 for A Wizard of Earthsea). I think this one is more storytelling, less reflection on philosophy than the first book. Not a bad thing, but when you read them straight after each other, it feels like it's lost a bit of its depth. But I still loved being introduced to Tenar, and the creepy sect (cult) of the Nameless Ones. Her journey from being hailed as the Priestess reborn from just 5 years old to questioning her faith in her Gods as a young woman was compelling. Then Ged arrives and all hell breaks loose. Gosh it's really hard to talk about all of these without giving too much away! And I wanted to be fairly brief but I guess that's out the window. But without a doubt the last two books in this collection were my favourites. The Farthest Shore sees a grim threat to the magical realm, with people losing their powers all over the place. Ged and Arren, a young prince, set off to, you guessed it, The Farthest Shore to find out what is going on. Dragons ensue. Who doesn't love dragons?! This was just the perfectly paced adventure, We get more of Le Guin's beautifully written wisdom as Ged passes on his worldly knowledge to Arren on their dangerous journey. It just felt like perfect fantasy. Like I was sitting by a fire with a huge mug of tea while Le Guim spun a yarn while a storm raged outside. I was transported. And then we have Tehanu. Tehanu which apparently caused a bit of a stir for being an 'outlier' of the series. On the one hand I can see why people didn't like but on the other hand ?? How could you not like this? In Tehanu, Le Guin places the magic on the back burner for this one and we get to see a more human side to the characters we've met so far. Le Guin addresses much more real topics here. Abuse. Family. The role of women. Power dynamics between men and women. Love. I can imagine while a 15 year old boy might be disappointed, but honestly there's just such heart in this story that I hope other people can see too. This book made me love Tenar even more than I did in Tombs of Atuan. Her compassion, her tenacity, her generosity. And Therru. Oh, Therru. This book made me unbearably sad in parts, incredibly angry in others, but also hold out for a glimmer of hope. The harsh mistreatment of women in this world reflects real issues in our world. And if you can't stomach that with your fantasy then I don't know what to tell ya. I think that issue lies with you. This wasn't the concise review for the four books I had in mind but it's nice to just get your feelings down sometimes. If you're a fantasy fan and you haven't picked up Le Guin yet, then sort it out! You won't regret it!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Auguste

    To pigeonhole Le Guin as 'fantasy' is in itself a mistake - this is literature at its darkest and best. The first two volumes in particular are astonishing: I'll always remember Le Guin's view on nominalism and the Atuan realm, they keep haunting me. A treasure of a book, just read it - like, NOW. To pigeonhole Le Guin as 'fantasy' is in itself a mistake - this is literature at its darkest and best. The first two volumes in particular are astonishing: I'll always remember Le Guin's view on nominalism and the Atuan realm, they keep haunting me. A treasure of a book, just read it - like, NOW.

  5. 5 out of 5

    T.D. Whittle

    Just gorgeous and moves from strength to strength, Tehanu bringing the quartet down to earth in a deeply human way. Less reliance on wizard magic and more on human magic. Loved it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    Call me “Always Late on the Bandwagon” because it took me sooo long to realize that Earthsea was a book by my favorite sci-fi writer, and not just a terrible Sci-Fi Channel series (that Le Guin disavowed, by the way). When that realization hit me, I got myself a copy of the Earthsea Quartet. I cracked it open bundled up in bed, with a cup of hot herbal tea in hand, and I just vanished into this beautifully crafted world. The big tome became my bed-time reading treat for the next couple of months Call me “Always Late on the Bandwagon” because it took me sooo long to realize that Earthsea was a book by my favorite sci-fi writer, and not just a terrible Sci-Fi Channel series (that Le Guin disavowed, by the way). When that realization hit me, I got myself a copy of the Earthsea Quartet. I cracked it open bundled up in bed, with a cup of hot herbal tea in hand, and I just vanished into this beautifully crafted world. The big tome became my bed-time reading treat for the next couple of months, and I confess I went to bed early a few times to have an excuse to read more of it. “A Wizard of Earthsea” is the coming of age tale of Ged, who is also known as Sparrowhawk, a boy who will one day grow to be a great and famous wizard. The first tome chronicles his childhood, education and training in the arts of wizardry and his early adventures. His power is discovered when he is a small child living on a small island in the north of Earthsea. His aunt, the village witch, teaches him a few basic skills, which come in handy when his island is invaded by raiders. He is eventually sent for an apprenticeship with a local wizard, and then goes on to complete his training at the magic school on the island of Roke. In this book, Ged will accidently summon a menacing shadow that he will have to face and defeat. This is actually an interesting metaphor on the theme of balance that Le Guin fans will be familiar with. The dark is part of the light and vice-versa, and there’s an interesting reflection there about what happens when you run away from your darkness, and when you decide to accept it as part of the whole you. “The Tombs of Atuan” starts off much darker than the first book, which took me a bit by surprise – in a good way. It follows the upbringing of Arha, a young girl who is the reincarnation of the priestess of the Nameless Ones, who guards the Labyrinth and the treasure of the Tombs in Atuan, a remote land at the edge of Earthsea. Her life is austere and oppressive: she grows up surrounded by priestesses and eunuchs and is raised to be very suspicious of outsiders. She decides to explore the underground structure she is responsible for, and one night, happens upon an intruder wandering in her labyrinth: a mage named Sparrowhawk. By her people’s law, a man who enters the maze should die, but Arha cannot bring herself to let him starve to death. I found this installment to be an interesting reflection on making up your own mind and being your own self. Some traditions are good, but not everyone fits in them neatly, and Arha is given an important choice. She chooses to rebel against the role her society imposed on her when she realizes the cult she is a part of is not about faith but about power and control. She realizes freedom can be harder than blind obedience, but that it is also a better life for her. “The Farthest Shore” takes place much later: Sparrowhawk is now Archmage and has gone on countless adventures. The son of a prince comes to see him on Roke, because his people have noticed that in their regions, magic seems to be dying and they believe the famous and powerful Sparrowhoawk can figure out what is going on and fix it. Through this travel, they will meet people who have never lived on land, converse with mighty dragons and visit the land from which none ever come back. This is basically some sort of Earthsea-apocalypse tale: the signs that the end of the world as they know it are coming abound, and the disappearance of magic from their world would cause this civilization to collapse. “Tehanu” reunites us with Arha - who now goes by Tenar, many years after her escape from Atuan. She is now the widow of a farmer, who takes in a little girl who was being attacked and burned by a group of men on a Gontish road. She goes to visit Ogion, Ged's very first teacher, but the visit will not end as she had planned, and she will be reunited with an old friend. Of the four stories in this book, this one is the less "eventful" but the most subtle and nuanced. There's a strong feminist commentary in this story, but Le Guin is not being didactic: she is showing us what Tenar goes through, the way power is taken away from her, then given back, then taken away again and how she reacts to this ebb and flow. It ends on an open and hopeful note that makes me want to check out more "Earthsea" books! The prose style has a soothing, comforting rhythm to it that brought me right back to the feeling of story time with my grandfather. One thing I have loved in all of Le Guin’s work is her anthropologist’s eye for creating entire worlds and culture in a coherent and believable manner. The world-building in Earthsea is just as strong as anything else she wrote, and while it does solidly fall into the high fantasy category, it doesn’t feel lofty and heavy-handed. There isn’t much in the way of exposition, but no Le Guin book I’ve ever read gave me much in the way of backstory, and it never lessened my reading pleasure. In fact, her minimalism is lovely, elegant and refreshing, while still giving the readers so many layers to peel and discover! Her characters grow and evolve completely naturally and it’s a pleasure to follow them and watch them evolve. Le Guin was preaching to the choir with me, but I loved the Taoist aspect of her magic system, which puts emphasis on balance: every action has consequences, and that understanding is the keystone of the wizardry of Earthsea. That magic must be used as sparingly as possible to presence the delicate equilibrium of the world is brilliant, because it underlines the price of the kind of power gifted unto wizards, and the wisdom necessary to restrain and use it adequately. The importance of being true to yourself is stressed many times in those stories, as well as the importance of doing the right thing as the occasion arises. The power of True Names is a classic trope of fantasy and it used so well to drive the story. My only complaint would be that her endings always feel a bit easy… The characters go through all these trials and tribulations, and then things just sort of resolve themselves. I suppose that for younger readerships, that’s fine, but I felt like I wanted a bit more to chew on as each story concluded. The subversion of certain stereotypes, and the open diversity within her cast of characters is also a breath of fresh air. The “Tombs of Athuan” was especially interesting: the gender relations and the coming of age of Arha were an usual choice of topic at the time it was written, and captures something quite true about the internalized isolation of women in some societies, the development that is more or less imposed on them instead of being a result of their choices. By the end of the tale, Arha sees herself more clearly, and gains an understanding of her value, same with Arhen. It was interesting to realize that I enjoyed many famous works these books very obviously inspired: “Harry Potter”, Rothfuss’ “Kingkiller Chronicle” and “How to Train Your Dragon” owe a lot to Le Guin’s creation.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Martyn Stanley

    Wow! What a journey! I started this book back in October 2016 and occasionally broke off to read others, such as The Last Wish only returning to Ursula K. Le Guin afterwards. I was particularly interested in reading this multi-book edition, because I wonder whether I ought to compile my own Deathsworn Arc series into one book. [https://www.goodreads.com/series/1115...] I don't know whether to wait until more of the series is complete first or whether to split into a volume of books 1 - 3 and boo Wow! What a journey! I started this book back in October 2016 and occasionally broke off to read others, such as The Last Wish only returning to Ursula K. Le Guin afterwards. I was particularly interested in reading this multi-book edition, because I wonder whether I ought to compile my own Deathsworn Arc series into one book. [https://www.goodreads.com/series/1115...] I don't know whether to wait until more of the series is complete first or whether to split into a volume of books 1 - 3 and books 4 and 5. I've reviewed ALL of the books contained in this volume separately too:- Wizard of Earthsea [https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...] - 4 Stars Tombs of Atuan [https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...] - 5 Stars Farthest Shore [https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...] - 3 Stars Tehanu [https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...] - 5 Stars Of the quadrology, books 2 and 4 were runaway winners. They are both perhaps among my favourite books of all time and definitely favourites for the last 12 months. After adding the scores and dividing them between four, I get 4.25, rounded down to 4 stars. So, having read the first four Earthsea books, what did I think of the whole volume? Well, it's an odd one. There were parts of this huge book, which I loved reading and couldn't put down. There were OTHER parts, which were an utter slog and I nearly gave up on. Ursula K. Le Guin writes beautifully, but it's the themes and stories which occasionally caused me to lose interest. Ged as a character, was okay in book 1. Just that. In book 3 I didn't really gel with Ged or Lebannen. The strengths of the series for me are the mundane. Arha's life as 'The Eaten One' - Priestess of Atuan and Tenar's life on Gont in book 4. The grand adventures, sailing over the sea, with a mage-wind in their sails, simply wasn't as engaging. It wasn't as gritty or as real. To me this is a stark reminder to exercise caution when throwing too much magic into fantasy. Magic is exciting, but it's much more exciting when it's used sparsely and subtly. The characters I felt for the most in this series are the children on the reef. I never really got closure over their ordeal or the twisted, bitter fate which befell them. I've given up hope that they will. Maybe this is Ursula K. Le Guin telling us that life is messy and loose ends don't always get tied up? I loved this book, even though I did NOT enjoy book 3. I gave it 3 stars, because it's very well written, but in my heart of hearts I feel it's really a 2 for me. I don't know why, but I found it really boring. The trouble is, I don't think book 4 would have had the strong impact it had on me, if I didn't know the context in which Ged was returning to Gont. So reading book 3 seems essential. Many people really enjoy book 3, so it could be me. My advice, is read the whole quadrology. Books 2 and 4 are by far the best and I honestly loved them both enough that I expect to read them again multiple times. You DO really need to read 1 and 3 too, 1 is good, 3 well, it's okay really. The important thing is it's worth reading 2 and 3 so you can get the full enjoyment of reading books 2 and 4. Overall this was a mixed compilation, with varying points of view. Each book has it's own distinct character, but the story is a good one and I recommend it to any who enjoys slightly old school fantasy and quite poetic prose. Paperback:- http://amzn.to/2wwEYhq Kindle Edition:- http://amzn.to/2wxIcRT Martyn Stanley Author of:- The Last Dragon Slayer (Free to download)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    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 wor 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.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Knjigoholičarka

    "A Wizard of Earthsea" ** "The Tombs of Atuan" *** "The Farthest Shore" **** "Tehanu" ***** "A Wizard of Earthsea" ** "The Tombs of Atuan" *** "The Farthest Shore" **** "Tehanu" *****

  10. 5 out of 5

    Martine

    The Earthsea Quartet contains the first four of Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea novels (I believe there are five now, plus a collection of short stories). Earthsea is a large archipelago of islands, some of which are inhabited by dragons, but most of which are inhabited by humans. It's a fairly well-realised world which never gets bogged down in unnecessary details, unlike many other fantasy series. LeGuin sticks to basics, both in terms of world-building and in terms of style. Her writing is sparse an The Earthsea Quartet contains the first four of Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea novels (I believe there are five now, plus a collection of short stories). Earthsea is a large archipelago of islands, some of which are inhabited by dragons, but most of which are inhabited by humans. It's a fairly well-realised world which never gets bogged down in unnecessary details, unlike many other fantasy series. LeGuin sticks to basics, both in terms of world-building and in terms of style. Her writing is sparse and detached, which suits the philosophical themes she addresses. It is also nearly sexless, which gives the stories collected in this book a lovely archaic and Tolkienesque ring. Apart from its detached tone, what most sets The Earthsea Quartet apart from other fantasy series is its concept of magic, which involves knowing the true names of things -- the names things were given back when they were first created, many of which are now forgotten. In LeGuin's universe, the way to power is to know lots of true names, be they of people, dragons or inanimate objects. So people who can divine true names, like the intrepid hero of the Earthsea Quartet, Ged, are potentially very powerful indeed. Not that Ged cares about power. All he cares about is keeping Earthsea a safe place to be, which basically means preventing other wizards from using too much magic. You see, the central conceit of the Earthsea novels is not that it's cool to know magic and use it as often as possible, as in, say, the Harry Potter books. In Earthsea, the wise wizard uses his powers sparingly, so as not to upset the world's equilibrium. The general idea seems to be that the more magic you use, the more you'll end up disturbing the natural equilibrium, with potentially disastrous consequences. Thus, while great feats of magic are occasionally performed in the books (usually to vanquish those who willingly upset the equilibrium), they are few and far between, and not nearly as prominent as they are in other fantasy series. Ultimately, LeGuin says, the wizard's challenge is not to become powerful, but rather to understand the nature of things and act upon this knowledge in a manner which will help keep the world a safe place to be. LeGuin has an interesting take on evil. In the first three books of the series (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore), she doesn't really go in for great villains, but leaves her evil forces largely unspecified. Her evil is a nameless and faceless force whose ancient power can be felt but not readily understood. I like that; it adds a touch of mystery and otherworldly dread to the books which appeals to me. The fourth book, Tehanu, which was written much later than the preceding three books and is markedly different in both style and substance, does put a human face on evil, and moreover has a setting which will be more familiar to earthly readers than the settings of the earlier books. I'm sure some readers will appreciate this attempt at greater humanity and recognisability, but to me it constitutes a loss of the mythical quality and otherworldliness that make the first three books so special. It doesn't help, either, that the fourth book has a strong feminist slant, in the negative sense of that word. Apparently, Tehanu is considered a bit of a feminist classic in some quarters, but personally, I think it suffers badly from its men-deprecating stance. I much prefer the ideology-free earlier books, which I'd rate at four stars, five stars and three and a half stars, respectively. If you can only read one book in the series, pick The Tombs of Atuan, which pits the hero, Ged, against a young priestess who doesn't really understand the powers she is serving. It's an excellent story, set largely in an underground labyrinth, which adds a tangible touch of claustrophobia to the proceedings. A life-and-death power struggle in a dark place from which there is no escape -- what's not to like? More in-depth reviews of the individual books can be found here: A Wizard of Earthsea The Tombs of Atuan The Farthest Shore Tehanu

  11. 5 out of 5

    Eric

    Having affairs he must see to before he left Iffish, Vetch went off to the other villages of the island with the lad who served him as prentice-sorcerer. Ged stayed with Yarrow and her brother, called Murre, who was between her and Vetch in age. He seemed not much more than a boy, for there was no gift or scourge of mage-power in him, and he had never been anywhere but Iffish, Tok, and Holp, and his life was easy and untroubled. Ged watched him with wonder and some envy, and exactly so he watche Having affairs he must see to before he left Iffish, Vetch went off to the other villages of the island with the lad who served him as prentice-sorcerer. Ged stayed with Yarrow and her brother, called Murre, who was between her and Vetch in age. He seemed not much more than a boy, for there was no gift or scourge of mage-power in him, and he had never been anywhere but Iffish, Tok, and Holp, and his life was easy and untroubled. Ged watched him with wonder and some envy, and exactly so he watched Ged: to each it seemed very queer that the other, so different, yet was his own age, nineteen years. Ged marvelled how one who had lived nineteen years could be so carefree. Admiring Murre's comely, cheerful face he felt himself to be all lank and harsh, never guessing that Murre envied him even the scars that scored his face, and thought them the track of a dragon's claws and the very rune and sign of a hero. The two young men were thus somewhat shy with each other, but as for Yarrow she soon lost awe of Ged, being in her own house and mistress of it. He was very gentle with her, and many were the questions she asked of him, for Vetch, she said, would never tell her anything. She kept busy those two days making dry wheatcakes for the voyagers to carry, and wrapping up dried fish and meat and other such provender to stock their boat, until Ged told her to stop, for he did not plan to sail clear to Selidor without a halt. "Where is Selidor?" "Very far out in the Western Reach, where dragons are as common as mice." "Best stay in the East then, our dragons are as small as mice. There's your meat, then; you're sure that's enough? Listen, I don't understand: you and my brother both are mighty wizards, you wave your hand and mutter and the thing is done. Why do you get hungry, then? When it comes suppertime at sea, why not say, Meat-pie! and the meat-pie appears, and you eat it?" "Well, we could do so. But we don't much wish to eat our words, as they say. Meat-pie! is only a word, after all... We can make it odorous, and savourous, and even filling, but it remains a word. It fools the stomach and gives no strength to the hungry man." "Wizards, then, are not cooks," said Murre, who was sitting across the kitchen heart from Ged, carving a box-lid of fine wood; he was a woodworker by trade, though not a very zealous one. "Nor are cooks wizards, alas," said Yarrow on her knees to see if the last batch of cakes baking on the hearth-bricks was getting brown. "But I still don't understand, Sparrowhawk. I have seen my brother, and even his prentice, make light in a dark place only by saying one word: and the light shines, it is bright, not a word but a light you can see your way by!" "Aye," Ged answered. "Light is a power. A great power by which we exist, but which exists beyond our needs, in itself. Sunlight and starlight are time, and time is light. In the sunlight, in the days and years, life is. In a dark place life may call upon the light, naming it. But usually when you see a wizard name or call upon some thing, some object to appear, that is not the same, he calls upon no power greater than himself, and what appears is an illusion only. To summon a thing that is not there at all, to call it by speaking its true name, that is a great mastery, not lightly used. Not for mere hunger's sake. Yarrow, your little dragon has stolen a cake." Yarrow had listened so hard, gazing at Ged as he spoke, that she had not seen the harrekki scuttle down from its warm perch on the kettle-hook over the hearth and seize a wheatcake bigger than itself. She took the small scaly creature on her knee and fed it bits and crumbs, while she pondered what Ged had told her. "So then you would not summon up a real meat-pie lest you disturb what my brother is always talking about - I forget its name-" "Equilibrium," Ged replied soberly, for she was very serious. "Yes. But, when you were shipwrecked, you sailed from the place in a boat woven mostly of spells, and it didn't leak water. Was it illusion?" "Well, partly it was illusion, because I am uneasy seeing the sea through great holes in my boat, so I patched them for the looks of the thing. But the strength of the boat was not illusion, nor summoning, but made with another kind of art, a binding-spell. The wood was bound as one whole, one entire thing, a boat. What is a boat but a thing that doesn't leak water?" "I've bailed some that do," said Murre. "Well, mine leaked, too, unless I was constantly seeing to the spell." He bent down from his corner seat and took a cake from the bricks, and juggled it in his hands. "I too have stolen a cake." "You have burned fingers, then. And when you're starving on the waste water between the far isles you'll think of that cake and say, Ah! had I not stolen that cake I might eat it now, alas! - I shall eat my brother's, so he can starve with you-" "Thus is Equilibrium maintained," Ged remarked, while she took and munched a hot, half-toasted cake; and this made her giggle and choke. But presently looking serious again she said, "I wish I could truly understand what you tell me. I am too stupid." "Little sister," Ged said, "it is I that have no skill explaining. If we had more time-" "We will have more time," Yarrow said. "When my brother comes back home, you will come with him, for a while at least, won't you?" "If I can," he answered gently. There was a little pause; and Yarrow asked, watching the harrekki climb back to its perch, "Tell me just this, if it is not a secret: what other great powers are there besides the light?" "It is no secret. All power is one in source and end, I think. Years and distances, stars and candles, water and wind and wizardry, the craft in a man's hand and the wisdom in a tree's root: they all arise together. My name, and yours, and the true name of the sun, or a spring of water, or an unborn child, all are syllables of the great word that is very slowly spoken by the shining of the stars. There is no other power. No other name." Staying his knife on the carved wood, Murre asked, "What of death?" The girl listened, her shining black head bent down. "For a word to be spoken," Ged answered slowly, "there must be silence. Before, and after." A Wizard of Earthsea: 4 1/2 stars The Tombs of Atuan: 4 1/2 stars The Farthest Shore: 4 1/2 stars Tehanu: 4 1/2 stars 4 3/4 stars

  12. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    Honestly - forget any of my previous thoughts on the Earthsea series. Looking back, this has to be one of the most significant and beautiful fantasy series written in the 20th century, or ever, for that matter.

  13. 5 out of 5

    M.J. Johnson

    I first read the Earthsea Trilogy when I was in my early twenties and absolutely loved it. As for reading the first three books again over thirty years after my first outing to Earthsea, the experience was quite simply better than I’d imagined. I was both entranced and delighted by the books, not only by the clarity and drive of Le Guin’s narrative but also by the richness and depth of her always economic prose. I love The Lord of the Rings for its wealth and genius as an epic narrative, however I first read the Earthsea Trilogy when I was in my early twenties and absolutely loved it. As for reading the first three books again over thirty years after my first outing to Earthsea, the experience was quite simply better than I’d imagined. I was both entranced and delighted by the books, not only by the clarity and drive of Le Guin’s narrative but also by the richness and depth of her always economic prose. I love The Lord of the Rings for its wealth and genius as an epic narrative, however, as a piece of fantasy writing, the world and people created by Le Guin in her Earthsea books have a depth and sense of reality with which Tolkien, in my opinion, never managed to imbue his land of Middle Earth or its characters - and she can cover in fifty pages what JRR would need most of a book to say. This was the first series I ever read that was about a school for the training of wizards, and whilst another school is almost certainly more popularly famous these days, if given the choice I’d definitely want my own wizard’s training to take place on Roke. The first three books were wonderful to read again, and the writing, perhaps not heeded by me then as much as now, was elegant and sublime. This brings me to Tehanu , the final book in The Earthsea Quartet (as my volume, re-issued in 2012, is entitled). The writing is once again impeccable, however, this is not a tale of epic fantasy like the first three adventures. The main character of the first three books, Ged, is largely absent and the main focus of the narrative is Tenar who we first meet in The Tombs of Atuan. Tehanu has, unlike its predecessors a mainly domestic setting and is concerned (it seemed to me) with the process we all must go through of accepting and accommodating ourselves with life and to how our lives may ultimately fall out. Le Guin has a number of points she wishes to make about gender inequality and the differences between male and female power. I felt that she was (for Le Guin that is) a little heavy-handed at times in her treatment of these matters, and there were just a few moments when I wanted to declare: yes, I already got that. The Taoist philosophy of balance that so firmly binds together this world of Earthsea is never pointed-up or highlighted in such a deliberate way as these feminist issues are in Tehanu. However, Le Guin is a very fine writer and whatever her motives for writing Tehanu, perhaps she simply wished to redress the balance and tidy up the rather male-centric world she’d created in the first three books, and while I’m not wholly convinced that this book should ever have been marketed as the final part of a quartet (so as not to disappoint those anticipating something altogether different, perhaps it should have been presented as a separate story about Earthsea? Just a thought!) it is still a very good book indeed. I thoroughly enjoyed it. So, I find myself with two more Earthsea books left to go. I shall definitely be looking forward to reading Tales from Earthsea (2001) and The Other Wind (2001) in the not too distant future.

  14. 4 out of 5

    S.j. Hirons

    "To light a candle is to cast a shadow..." A teacher forced the first book on me when I was about 11 and, at the time, I hated it. I think a fair few parts of it creeped me out and I stopped reading it way before the end. I was probably 17 or 18 when I picked it up again and I’ve re-read the original trilogy on a yearly basis, each summer, ever since because for me they’re the template of how to write intelligent, thought-provoking fantasy. LeGuin’s world is fully realized and wholly recognisable "To light a candle is to cast a shadow..." A teacher forced the first book on me when I was about 11 and, at the time, I hated it. I think a fair few parts of it creeped me out and I stopped reading it way before the end. I was probably 17 or 18 when I picked it up again and I’ve re-read the original trilogy on a yearly basis, each summer, ever since because for me they’re the template of how to write intelligent, thought-provoking fantasy. LeGuin’s world is fully realized and wholly recognisable, I think. More importantly I’ve always found it instructive, in the sense that time after time it makes the point that while knowledge may be power, power is dangerous in the hands of those ignorant of wider contexts. It values craftsmanship, patience, control and the natural rhythms of living - and shows it by being sublimely crafted, measured, wise and endlessly rewarding: Things my 11 year-old self could’ve done with knowing about and, certainly, things that seem to be disappearing from real life with dismaying rapidity. In no particular order; I like its lyricism; that it follows the archetype of a quest story (but secularly); because it’s about the importance of mastering language and the ability to express one’s self appropriately and with clarity in a confused world; because the “evil” in it is palpable when it is meant to be and realistically banal at other times; that it shows that acting on behalf of others is actually very often good for you, too; because it is about growing up, the value of education (in many forms) and facing our mortality rationally. Lastly I think it shows beautifully how the world tends to betterment through human effort, human openness and human honesty. All of which I think is pretty good going for a book that is meant to be for children and that manages to keep a strong narrative going all the way through. Sold?

  15. 5 out of 5

    Hanne

    I'm actually not finished, but i gave up about 300 pages in. I was so looking forward to this being a fabulous book, but the archaic wording sometimes annoyed me. Book One still showed a lot of promise, but half way Book Two i just got bored. I figured life is too short to read books that bore both pants ànd shirts off you. I'm actually not finished, but i gave up about 300 pages in. I was so looking forward to this being a fabulous book, but the archaic wording sometimes annoyed me. Book One still showed a lot of promise, but half way Book Two i just got bored. I figured life is too short to read books that bore both pants ànd shirts off you.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Rose

    I can't believe it took me such a long time to get around to reading these four short novels. Their reputation precedes them of course, and I was so happy to read them and agree that they deserve all the love and attention and respect in the world! A Wizard of Earthsea Any fantasy fan reading these books will be sure to see how they have influenced other writers and stories, especially in this first novel. Ged starts his life as a humble goatherd with a great well of magic within him. He is watch I can't believe it took me such a long time to get around to reading these four short novels. Their reputation precedes them of course, and I was so happy to read them and agree that they deserve all the love and attention and respect in the world! A Wizard of Earthsea Any fantasy fan reading these books will be sure to see how they have influenced other writers and stories, especially in this first novel. Ged starts his life as a humble goatherd with a great well of magic within him. He is watched over by an older wizard before heading over to Roke, where he attends a great school of magic. However, he suffers from arrogance and this gets the best of him, leading him on a quest. This first story sets up Ged's character and his world so beautifully. While I found Le Guin's writing to be a tad hard to really fall into at first, I loved the world building and the descriptions of this universe, made up of archipelagos and islands. The Tombs of Atuan This story is set in the East, where a young girl named Tenar serves The Nameless Ones in some dark and forbidding tombs. Ged is still a part of this story, but the focus shifts to Tenar for the most part, and does a great job of broadening the world of Earthsea and playing with some darker themes. I really loved Tenar and enjoyed this story more than the first, simply because the first is a little predictable (but only because it's so influential!). The Farthest Shore The story with the widest scope of the four, The Farthest Shore follows an older Ged who takes a companion on a quest to save the world. Again, it's clear to see how this story has impacted other writers. There are some wonderful moments in this novel, and I absolutely loved the introduction of other sects and areas of Earthsea. Tehanu Without a doubt my favourite of the stories. Tehanu is completely different from the classic high fantasy escapades of its predecessors, and focuses on Tenar again, and her life in Earthsea following her adventure with Ged. This story explores sexism, feminism, power, and shame, and is easily the most emotional of the four. I personally also found it the most tense - strange, considering The Farthest Shore was literally about the end of the world! Tenar's story reflects the sufferings of people all around the world so well, however, and it's easy to imagine oneself in her shoes, and feel her terror and her pain. It definitely got the biggest reaction out of me, and balanced hard to read moments with genuinely warm, emotional passages.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    At last, I have defeated Earthsea--and I deliberately use the word 'defeated' because ye gods, this collection was a slog to read. Whilst I did for the most part enjoy my foray into Earthsea, I found the archaic writing style extremely dense and difficult to be getting on with. Given the rise and fall of each book's narrative in addition to this, I had to take a one-book-break after The Tombs of Atuan, just 'cause I was so sick of having to work so hard at something I do for leisure. I never hat At last, I have defeated Earthsea--and I deliberately use the word 'defeated' because ye gods, this collection was a slog to read. Whilst I did for the most part enjoy my foray into Earthsea, I found the archaic writing style extremely dense and difficult to be getting on with. Given the rise and fall of each book's narrative in addition to this, I had to take a one-book-break after The Tombs of Atuan, just 'cause I was so sick of having to work so hard at something I do for leisure. I never hated my reading experience enough to DNF--I actually thought the stories were pretty good--but finishing this thing still feels like an achievement. I can see in a lot of reviews prior to mine that people praise Ursula K. Le Guin for her economic writing style ('not one word wasted', 'elegant prose' etc.). Sadly this is not an opinion I share; I find Le Guin's style to be wordy, flowery and entirely non-engaging. Whilst I do understand this book is 'old', and I love a good classic as much as the next person (check out my Favourites shelf), I do not have as much patience with books written like this published beyond the 1950s (a Wizard of Earthsea was first published in 1968). When vibrantly snappy books like James M. Cain's Mildred Pierce exist, published way back in 1941, there really is no excuse. I also felt like there was an awful lot of name-dumping in place of genuine world-building; I had to constantly refer to the map at the front of the book. This did admittedly get better as the books went on, and by the end of my reading it was very clear to me that Ursula K. Le Guin had put a lot of work and thought into the world of Earthsea; I just wish she'd written about it in a way I cared. The collection starts with A Wizard of Earthsea, which follows the early years of a young wizard called Ged learning magecraft at a school for wizards on the isle of Roke. Talented but arrogant, Ged tries to best a rival by summoning the dead, but accidentally summons a 'shadow' instead. Of the four stories, this was probably the most 'epic' and I did really enjoy it. I appreciated the message of balance and acceptance, even if it was boring to read. Rating: 3/5 stars. Of the original trilogy, book 2 (The Tombs of Atuan) was my favourite. Unlike the previous book, which followed Ged all over Earthsea across a span of many years,The Tombs of Atuan takes place almost entirely inside a labyrinth, where the main character is actually Ged's antagonist--a young and brainwashed priestess called Tenar. I found Tenar to be a much more interesting protagonist than Ged. The action is subtle, the atmosphere claustrophobic, and the story a lot more character driven than the other two books in the trilogy. Whilst A Wizard Of Earthsea and The Farthest Shore fall into the trap of merely telling a series of events, The Tombs of Atuan takes its time, allowing everything to live and breathe. I loved this book. Rating: 4/5 stars. Much to my dismay, The Farthest Shore went back to the sins of the first book (telling, not showing; bouncing around the map like a ping-pong ball and flat characters). Again, I appreciated the messages concerning the delicate balance between life and death; some of the physical descriptions of dragons were truly awesome; and the final showdown in the Dry Lands was so clever and powerful, and full of pathos--I saw the influences on Robin Hobb the most in this book. But again, the writing was just so boring... I found it so difficult to care. And I did not enjoy it as much as either Book 1 or 2. Rating: 2/5 stars. Then we come to Tehanu. Ah, Tehanu... Tehanu reads pretty much exactly like how I'd imagine a fourth book in a previously concluded trilogy would read (published 18 years later, no less): disjointed and disappointing. Once again, Tenar is the protagonist in this book, but she is older, different, and pretty much exists only to undo absolutely everything that's already been established in the first three books. Ged too suffers a similar character assassination to serve the same purpose. It's clear to me that Ursula K. Le Guin was passing commentary on her own work with Tehanu, carefully taking apart the inherent misogyny within her world and shining a spotlight on the marginalised. Whilst I find this intent very admirable and the idea very interesting, the execution is clumsy and extremely heavy-handed. It's also very dated, and overly reliant on gender essentialism (yes, I get that this book was written in the 90s and things were extremely different back then--it's still an issue). The writing style is so different from the previous books as to be postively jarring. Tonally it's different too; the original trilogy was published as a children's book, but Tehanu is decidedly adult. Rape, sex, torture, murder... It's all here folks. Whilst this isn't necessarily a bad thing--in fact I welcomed the darker turn--it is different. On top of that, the pacing was all over the place. The 'plot' (or lack thereof) moved along at a snail's pace, only for things to get a little bit interesting and then abruptly stop--leaving several unanswered questions--in the space of about 25 pages. Unacceptable. Rating: 1/5 stars. All this being said, overall, I'm pleased I read the Earthsea quartet. I greatly appreciate just how formative and influential these books have been on the fantasy canon. My favourite fantasy author, Robin Hobb, has clearly been deeply influenced by Ursula K. Le Guin's work; I saw the Realm of the Elderlings everywhere. But I also noticed some similarities to Philip Pullman, Terry Pratchett, J.K. Rowling... That aspect of things was really interesting. It's always good to take something back to its roots. Plus I really did enjoy the vast majority of the stories, despite how they were written. Overall rating: 2.5 stars--rounding up to 3.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pete Foley

    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 hu 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.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kostas

    For nearly six decades since launching her literary career, in 1959, during which she wrote a multitude of novels and short stories, as well as other works, Ursula Le Guin (1929-2018) was known as one of the greatest American writers of her generation. A legend that in her life was the subject of intense critical attention, translating her works around the world and receiving numerous accolades and honours for them, and becoming an enormous influence on the field of speculative fiction, as well For nearly six decades since launching her literary career, in 1959, during which she wrote a multitude of novels and short stories, as well as other works, Ursula Le Guin (1929-2018) was known as one of the greatest American writers of her generation. A legend that in her life was the subject of intense critical attention, translating her works around the world and receiving numerous accolades and honours for them, and becoming an enormous influence on the field of speculative fiction, as well of literature. And in The Earthsea Quartet, the omnibus edition of the Earthsea Cycle that collects her four most famous fantasy books: A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore and Tehanu, Le Guin creates through the Native American legends and Norse mythology her own fantasy world, taking us in four stories of wizards, dragons, priestessess, and evil beings; but also of magic and lore, power and balance, and darkness and light, in a classic high fantasy series. A Wizard of Earthsea – 7.5/10 Since the time of myths, when Segoy raised the islands from the Open Sea, Earthsea has been inhabited by many cultures. Yet, on the island of Gont – a land famous for wizards – Duny, born in the lonely village called Ten Alders and brought up without tenderness by his father, had grew before his great destiny a wild child between the pastures and the meadows – until his deceased mother’s sister, the village witch, discovered his innate power, teaching him the little magic she knows and singing him deeds of heroes. But, when one day a great wizard – coming to his village after hearing the tale of his deeds against the Kargish warriors who invaded the island with a lust of conquest – gives him his real name – Ged, taking him as his apprentice and teaching him magic and the natural order of the world, he will soon yearn a greater purpose in his life, travelling to the island of Roke to learn more about the higher arts. Nevertheless, with his pride to have released into the sunlit world a shadow from another realm, hunting him across all Earthsea and leading him wherever he goes in danger and evil, when his voyages bring him back to where he began from, and takes the decision to stop running, Ged will find himself in a hunt for his very survival, bringing him before a shapeless creature – a creature that, if he fails to confront it and prevent it from possessing him, could cost him himself. Asked by her publisher to try to write a book for older children, giving her complete freedom over the subject and approach and coming with no prior experience with the genre of young adult literature, Ursula Le Guin builds through her familiarity with Native American legends and Norse mythology her own fantasy world, taking us to A Wizard of Eathsea among the many islands of Earthsea: to Gont, where it is famous for goat-thieves, sea-pirates, and wizards; to Roke, the Isle of the Wise, where the Nine Masters of Roke teach the High Arts; to Pendor, where – once the island of the Sealords – has now become the lair of dragons; to Osskil, at the Court of Terrenon, where at the base of the tower and locked with binding-spells lies an Old Power; and to Astowell, Lastland, where its people dwell all alone at the edge of all maps. A Wizard of Earthsea is written in the style of a traditional fairy-tale. A first novel in which Le Guin, drawing inspiration from her two earlier short stories, The Rule of Names and The Word of Unbinding, using their concepts as her basis of her setting and of her imagination, crafts a world full of myths and legends, songs and Deeds, creating a tale both poetic and epic that deals with the troubles of youth, and of the balance between magic and the natural order – a wonderful coming of age tale, as well as a study of cultural anthropology. The Tombs of Atuan – 8/10 Since a time long ago, before the mighty wizard and dragonlord of the West, Erreth-Akbe, was defeated and his amulet was broken in half, before the Godkings of all Kargad came to rule, the Tombs of Atuan have been a holy place of worship to the Old Powers of the Earth: the Nameless Ones. But Tenar – now called Arha, the Eaten One – having been born on the night the One Priestess died and chosen among other child-girls to take her place in her reborn body, had always belonged to the Place of the Tombs of Atuan. However, when – after years of waiting, rites and duties – the High Priestess of the Godking, Kossil, takes her to the Labyrinth of the Tombs, the Dark Places, watching up close the domain of the Nameless Ones and learning tales of ages long ago, will soon be lost into the ancient mysteries of the caverns, strucked by their hidden wonders. Nevertheless, with her explorations beneath the Tombs one day to have brought her onto a man from the Inner Lands, disrupting her whole world and seeing and hearing things she would never have imagined, when Kossil – learning about his existence – tries to take matters into her hands, and her time for a way out starts narrowing, Tenar will find herself in a struggle between her faith and her identity, coming against the dark powers of the Nameless Ones – dark powers which, if she fails to trust the man and to face the unknown ahead, could cost her all of those things she never had. Intended originally for A Wizard of Earthsea to be a stand-alone novel before deciding otherwise, wanting to write a sequel and develop the loose ends that the first book left, Ursula Le Guin transports us to one of the south-eastern islands of the Kargad Lands – Atuan, taking us in The Tombs of Atuan to the Place of the Tombs – the most ancient and sacred place in the Four Lands – where young girls are brought up in the mysteries of the gods in which they are dedicated to, and where the One Priestess – reincarnating into a new body every time the old one dies – serves the Nameless Ones for thousands of years, taking care their will to be fulfilled; and in the Labyrinth of the Tombs, where the domain of the Nameless Ones lies, holding in its caverns ancient secrets and treasures of their power, and where no man is allowed to enter. The second novel follows the story of Tenar. A sequel in which Le Guin, using this time a female protagonist, taking a different approach to her storytelling and world-building, shows her world from the opposite perspective, crafting an intriguing and full of meanings story that explores the coming of age of her character, and the struggle of her identity. But, even though the story focuses entirely on the Tombs, Le Guin manages to delve deeper into the ways and beliefs of the Four Lands, exploring a number of religious themes and ethical issues, as well as themes of gender and power, that reveal the cultural differences between the people of Kargad and the people of the Archipelago, and bring to the forefront an unexplored thus far land in the world of Earthsea. The Farthest Shore – 9/10 For eight hundred years since Maharion, when the reign of the Last King came to an end and the heart of the world was left empty, a prophecy has spoken of the one who will become king and sit upon the throne of Earthsea and wield the Sign of Peace... Yet today, having passed almost two decades since the restoral of the Ring of Erreth-Akbe and the relations between the barbarians of Kargad and the Inner Lands, a strange blight is spreading to the islands of Earthsea, making the magic to lose its power and its people to plunge deeper and deeper into madness – but Arren, son of the Prince of Enlad and the Enlades and heir of the Principality of Morred, has been sitting in the Court of the Fountain, at the Great House of Roke. Carrying a message from his father to the Archmage – the greatest wizard in all of Earthsea – sent on an urgent voyage to bring word of an evil in their part of the world and seek the advice of the Wise, Arren will sail soon with the Archmage on a quest, wanting to find out the cause of these dark tidings. Nevertheless, with their quest to have taken them to strange seas and troubled places, seeing the work of evil first-hand and their path becoming ever darker, when they reach the last shore of the world, and the two of them stand upon the balance-point of Earthsea, Arren and the Archmage will be faced with their greatest enemy, bringing them before the Unmaking – an Unmaking which, if they fail to close the door between worlds and restore the equilibrium, could plunge everything and everyone into an eternal darkness. Continuing a few decades after the end of the second book, The Tombs of Atuan, moving on to the next story after further consideration and beginning on the final loose ends of A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula Le Guin travels us again to the wondrous places of Earthsea, taking us in The Farthest Shore to the School of Roke, the Great House, where the boys who show promise of sorcery are sent from all Earthsea to be taught, learning about the highest arts of magic until they become proficient, and be named wizards so they can receive the staff of power; to Hort Town, one of the Seven Great Ports of the Archipelago, where once the market-places were full of activity and business, but has now become a city without law or governance, and leaving it with neither order nor prosperity; to Lorbanery, the Isle of Silk, where its people once lived wealthily, making their island famous for their silk, but has seen now nothing but poor seasons; to the uncharted seas of the South, where the Children on the Open Sea have made their own floating city, living year after year past any land and outside the knowledge of men, and following the path of the Great Ones; to Dragon’s Run, where lies the Keep of Kalessin, and where dragons – older than any living thing – have made the rocky isles their home, flying freely in the wind; and finally to Selidor, at the edge of the world, where the last island of the west has been avoided by men, leaving it a desolate land, and mentioning it only in tales. The Farthest Shore is certainly the most powerful novel of the first trilogy. A third novel in which Le Guin, using again a different protagonist as her main character, developing her imagination through his eyes and showing us his coming of age through his challenges, takes her storytelling to the next level, crafting a story as much adventurous as dark, rich in ideas and colour. A novel which, although is told mostly from Arren’s point of view, goes into the fundamental places of the world of Earthsea, revealing us the Balance that encompass it and sustains it, while exploring at the same time through her compelling storytelling themes of power and responsibility, desire and courage, and darkness and light, and thus bringing to a close the Deeds of Ged with a wonderful, fitting and powerful finale. Tehanu – 7/10 Since Segoy raised the islands of the world from the sea in the beginning of time, the Song of Creation tells of a time when dragons, the firstborn of the land, and humans were all one – one people, one race, and were speaking the True Language... Yet today, with the new king of Earthsea to have been found, filling its empty heart and fulfilling what was foretold, the Rune of Peace has been healed, making the world whole again and bringing the days of peace – but Tenar – now called Farmer Flint’s widow, Goha – having passed twenty-five years since she fled the forces of darkness of the earth and build a peaceful life with her husband and children before he passed away and they left away, has been living alone in the house of her farm. But, when one evening – after the loss of Ogion, her father and dear friend – Ged arrives riding a dragon, meeting again for the first time after a long time and seeing him unconscious and near death, Tenar will take him back to the wizard’s old cottage, wanting to look after him till he gets better. Nevertheless, with Ged’s return from death and the past of little Therru – abused and burned by her people – she took in her charge to have disrupted her quiet life, bringing her into unwanted situations and forcing her to take measures for their safety, when one day she receives news of Aunty Moss’s poor health, and all three of them return soon after to Re Albi, Tenar, Ged, and Therru will fall victim of a dark plot, bringing them face-to-face with an evil wizard – an evil wizard who, if they fail to break free of his control and stop him from causing harm, could cost them everything she fought hard to gain. Returning to the world of Earthsea almost two decades later, picking up slightly before the conclusion of The Farthest Shore and starting a new story, Ursula Le Guin brings us back to where all began – to the island of Gont, taking us in Tehanu to Re Albi, the Falcon’s Nest, where the small village and its few inhabitants are ruled by the Lord of Re Albi; to Gont Port, the chief city of the island, where in its quays come ships from all over Earthsea, filling it with market-places, shops, houses and crowds of people; to Valmouth, where in the sleepy little harbour the only concern of its inhabitants are the fish and their drying; and to Oak Village, where the villagers hold a life interesting in work and profit of the farming. Tehanu is quite different in style than the initial trilogy. A fourth novel in which Le Guin, continuing the stories of Tenar and Ged, bringing back the characters that marked the series and exploring their lives after the end of their grand adventures, moves away from the classic fantasy tropes of the first three, creating a slower, introspective, adult story. A story which, written from Tenar’s perspective, showing us the fears of a mother, of a parent, for her child as well as of a woman confronted in a male-dominated world, raises questions about the differences of magic and power between genders, but managing also to bring through her undiminished in power narrative a more human approach, and to fill it once more with meanings. All in all, The Earthsea Quartet is a wonderful, classic quartet, with Ursula Le Guin building an incredible world of myths and legends, exploring in each one different themes and questions, and travelling us through her powerful storytelling to wondrous lands and quests full of magic.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ariya

    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 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.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Fi Michell

    I'm giving this five stars because when I was about eleven, it changed my reading life forever. I had never been so captivated nor so terrified by a single story. For some time, I could not walk inside our house at night alone without imagining Ged's shadow reaching out behind me. It was the first real fantasy book I'd ever read, with the exception of fairy tales. It did for me what Harry Potter must have done for many children some decades later. Afterwards, I went through every fantasy and sci I'm giving this five stars because when I was about eleven, it changed my reading life forever. I had never been so captivated nor so terrified by a single story. For some time, I could not walk inside our house at night alone without imagining Ged's shadow reaching out behind me. It was the first real fantasy book I'd ever read, with the exception of fairy tales. It did for me what Harry Potter must have done for many children some decades later. Afterwards, I went through every fantasy and science fiction book I could lay my hands on in my local library. Although I discovered many other authors I loved, I will never forget The Wizard of Earthsea and the impact it had. Rereading the book as an adult was not frightening like that first time, and I knew everything that would happen, but there was still much to enjoy. This book is a must-read for anyone who loves the fantasy genre, though there is much more available now, and adults may prefer more recently written books aimed at adults. But when my own kids are ready, I can't wait to share my copy with them. At the same time, because their exposure to fantasy through television and movies, let alone books, is much greater than my own was at the time, the experience for them will be different.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sparrowlicious

    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 th 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.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tuomas

    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 interes 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!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jemma

    I don't even know where to begin with this quartet. I had excellent fun reading it. It did take me almost a whole month, but it's rather large as well. I'll talk about each book: #1 'A Wizard of Earthsea' Ursula Le Guin immerses us into a world full of magic, dragons, and unknown dark powers, an Archipelago of islands. I was thoroughly enchanted by the story of Ged growing up, and his mission to correct his wrongs and restore the balance. Ged has humble beginnings in a village on the island of Gon I don't even know where to begin with this quartet. I had excellent fun reading it. It did take me almost a whole month, but it's rather large as well. I'll talk about each book: #1 'A Wizard of Earthsea' Ursula Le Guin immerses us into a world full of magic, dragons, and unknown dark powers, an Archipelago of islands. I was thoroughly enchanted by the story of Ged growing up, and his mission to correct his wrongs and restore the balance. Ged has humble beginnings in a village on the island of Gont, as a young boy. The wizard living on Gont, Ogion, gives him is true name of Ged, but everyone else calls him Sparrowhawk because birds flock to him when he calls. In this world, one's true name is of great power, and can be used against another by somebody with power. Ogion tries to make Ged his prentice, but Ged has bigger ideas and wants to see the world, and so decides to go and learn structured magic at a high school on the island of Roke. I was sad when Ged decided to leave the kindly Ogion; he was like a grandfather figure, but I thought they must see each other once more. In fact, they do meet again at Ged's most desperate time. Ged's training in Roke was kept brief, but I felt genuinely the friendship Ged built with Vetch, another pupil. The trust between them was strong and later Vetch agrees to help Ged on his difficult journey. I didn't really understand the rivalry Ged built with another student, Jasper, and we never see him again. I guess it was the pride of the young, and it worked as a catalyst for the dark event Ged has to put to rights. I thought the masters of Roke were friendly, and the classes sounded interesting: spell weaving, binding, illusion, naming. I loved his little rat-like pet otak, 'Hoeg', but unfortunately he meets a sad end. Ged happens to be a dragon-lord, one whom dragons will speak to. The dragons are wise and old, and rather interesting. This was an exciting introduction to Le Guin's world, and we are left with a nice happy ending. Ged manages to save himself and the world from the 'gebbeth', and Ged makes a great friend in Vetch. Unfortunately we do not see him in the other books, but a long time passes between them so Ged probably sees him! #2 'The Tombs of Atuan' I expected the second book to be much like the first, so I was pleasantly surprised when it was different. We get to know Arha, the Eaten One, who is the First Priestess 'reborn', taken from her parents aged 5. Arha serves the Nameless Ones, their primitive gods, and the mortal Godking. The land of Atuan is a dry desert, isolated, compared to the Archipelago where Ged lives, which is verdant and green. Arha lives with other priestesses, guards, eunuchs, and young girls who are priestesses in training. Only women and eunuchs are allowed to enter the sacred places which have stood for hundreds of years. There is great ritualism and respect in 'the Place'. I got quite absorbed in the rituals and rules, the solemnity and the religion Arha has to obey. It was exciting when Arha walked the Undertomb and the Labyrinth alone. It was one of the most special places. No light was allowed in the Undertomb, and Arha got to know that and the Labyrinth by touch and memory, spending hours and hours getting to know her way, her own secret playground. Sure enough, Ged/Sparrowhawk turns up, almost killed as a thief in the Labyrinth. He searches for a ring of great power to reunite the lands in peace. He develops trust with Arha, who has never seen a man, and she escapes with him, from everything she has known, and Ged gives her her real name: Tenar. The people of the Archipelago are red-brown skinned, and Tenar is white skinned, so when Ged brings her home she is called Tenar the White. It turns out that the Nameless Ones are not just superstition, because when Arha and Ged leave 'the Place', there is a massive earthquake, destroying the sacred buildings and tombs. We learn, with Tenar, how different the world is outside Atuan. The last part of the book focuses on her apprehension about going to the white city of Havnor. The book served as an introduction to Tenar and the legend of the Ring of Erreth Akbe, and we presume it will have significance in the next books. #3 'The Farthest Shore' Book three was a grim, powerful story. I didn't enjoy it as much as the first two, but in some ways I enjoyed parts more. A boy, Arren, arrives on the island of Roke, the Isle of the Wise. He meets with Ged, now the Archmage Sparrowhawk. There is worrying talk about people forgetting magic and becoming unskilled and lethargic. Ged decides to take Arren with him on a quest to restore the balance. He seems to let fate guide them, with Arren helping. They travel to a couple of western and southern lands whose people have lost all purpose, are apathetic, no more magic or happiness is seen. Crops fail, orchards are untended, the dyers can't see the colours and the chanters forget the songs. Even the dragons are becoming mere animalistic beasts, losing speech and nobility. Ged and Arren must travel into the land of the dead. We learn that Arren is called Lebannen, and his true name keeps him safe with Ged. I love Ged's ability to know true names! It's a mage thing. They must defeat a man who believes himself immortal and appears in illusions. In doing so, Ged loses all his magic, spends it out, and Lebannen brings him home. Ged makes Lebannen the King of Havnor, and the people hope for peace at last. At the end of the book, no-one knows where Sparrowhawk went, whether he went west to the dragons or retired in the forests of Gont. It really made me look forward to book 4! #4 'Tehanu' This last book begins just before Ged returns to Gont, at the end of 'The Farthest Shore'. We catch up with Tenar from 'The Tombs of Atuan', and she is called Goha in her village. She has had a family, now is widowed, and her children have left home. Goha/Tenar takes in a severely burned, and raped child. She calls her Therru, flame in her native language. She is blind in one eye and has a claw for one hand because of the burning. Tenar wants her to have the best life she can. This book is very pastoral, concerned with Tenar's neighbours and friends, and some village witches. There are simple pleasures like goats and sheep, growing onions, a peach tree, farming the land. Tenar was the wizard Ogion's pupil for a little while when Ged brought her to Gont, but not for long. In any case she goes to him when he is dying, and respectfully looks after his home, trying to teach Therru about life and the great stories and songs. There is always a worry in Tenar about who will have Ogion's magic books... There is an occasional reference to Therru's skin being scorching hot. Therru also very much likes the story of dragon-people who split into dragons and people. This book focuses a lot on "the woman question". What are women good for? Should men do women's jobs like cooking and cleaning? Would a woman ever have the same rank or power as a man? Tenar is surrounded by kind women, and the bad people she meets are all men. There is also a theme of fear, of the future, of men, women's vulnerability, wizards, and even the king's men. Ged is dropped on Gont, in his weakened state, by a dragon named Kalessin. He spends a lot of time with Tenar, recovering from his ordeal in the land of death, and the fact that he has no more magic. It is inevitable that Tenar falls in love with Ged...we realise she always was. The ending of the fourth book is left as a cliffhanger of sorts, like all of the books: open and slightly uncertain. The ending of Tehanu is pleasant enough. However now I have found out that there are several short stories about this world, and even a fifth book, called 'The Other Wind', which references a line from the story about the dragon-people Therru liked so much. In fact, at the end of 'Tehanu', it is Therru who saves everyone with the help of the great dragon Kalessin. Overall, as a quartet, I enjoyed these books immensely. While I couldn't say I was gripped the whole way through, I was most of the time. It was fantastic and thought-provoking. It touched on important societal and magical issues. Although it was meant for young-adults/teenagers, I think it has value for adult readers too. I can't wait to find another of Ursula Le Guin's books based in this world!

  25. 4 out of 5

    bronwyn

    The first time I tried to read these books I didn’t make it more than twenty pages in, because I was reading them badly. They are myths and I was asking them to be novels. But embracing the rhythm and elevation of style, you can read them like scripture, texts to return to, structures to meditate on. And they are ideal for Christmas, for solstice, Sunreturn, for the darkest time of the year. I came late to them but expect to be back often, rereading year on year. Also, I had no idea that Earthsea The first time I tried to read these books I didn’t make it more than twenty pages in, because I was reading them badly. They are myths and I was asking them to be novels. But embracing the rhythm and elevation of style, you can read them like scripture, texts to return to, structures to meditate on. And they are ideal for Christmas, for solstice, Sunreturn, for the darkest time of the year. I came late to them but expect to be back often, rereading year on year. Also, I had no idea that Earthsea was such an important source for Terry Pratchett, and that discovery lent a kind of delightfully dissonant hilarity to the whole enterprise. My only serious complaints are about the final, belated volume. It is a great shame that Le Guin rarely writes women, but then when she does you sort of wish she hadn’t. I don’t know what Tehanu was trying to say about gender, but it wasn’t good, and anyway it failed. Her line on disability and trauma is clearer and more successful, except that there is Heather, incomprehensibly standing by as a recurring joke about intellectual disability. There was so much potential in this novel, and its flaws just gut it. But when a great writer of myths sets out to write a realist domestic novel terrible things are bound to happen. Not impossible to throw them over our shoulder and enjoy the bits about dragons, and stories, and learning, and goats. But someone should rewrite this from the point of view of Heather (and Aunty Moss!).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Darío

    Let's see if I can write anything coherent because I'm definitely not feeling so. This has suddenly become an important saga for me, and I already know I'm going to think about it for a long time. Each of the books has, more or less, a theme, like hubris, death, adulthood, choosing, doing, becoming, etc. I should hate the soft-building of Ursula Le Guin, she always leaves me wondering about stuff (what's Lebannen' taxes policy?) but I'll forgive her, I always will. Right now I feel like I could Let's see if I can write anything coherent because I'm definitely not feeling so. This has suddenly become an important saga for me, and I already know I'm going to think about it for a long time. Each of the books has, more or less, a theme, like hubris, death, adulthood, choosing, doing, becoming, etc. I should hate the soft-building of Ursula Le Guin, she always leaves me wondering about stuff (what's Lebannen' taxes policy?) but I'll forgive her, I always will. Right now I feel like I could reread it all over again and soak up all the information and all the things I missed (depending on my mood I read superficially or not) and give it a fixed place in my heart. I might as well do it since I don't have any other physical book right now to my disposition. The first three books are my favourites, chef kiss, Tehanu not so much, (spoiler!) due to the unnecessary heterosexuality/relationship between Tenar and Ged and his loss of power, I think both things were unnecessary. The whole sexism existing throughout the books is also unnecessary. I had hoped Ursula had gotten rid of her misogyny/gender problems smh but maybe in other books? I'll read the rest of Earthsea books soon as well. Despite the flaws I recommend this to everyone!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    About: Earthsea: The First Four Books is a bind up of four books in the Earthsea cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin. The first book in the series is A Wizard of Earthsea and it was published in 1968. It follows the coming of age of a wizard named Ged as he navigates his powers and discovers the source of the darkness he is afraid of. The second book in the series is The Tombs of Atuan and it was published in 1972. It follows a girl named Tenar who is the priestess of a dark place. She comes across a matu About: Earthsea: The First Four Books is a bind up of four books in the Earthsea cycle by Ursula K. Le Guin. The first book in the series is A Wizard of Earthsea and it was published in 1968. It follows the coming of age of a wizard named Ged as he navigates his powers and discovers the source of the darkness he is afraid of. The second book in the series is The Tombs of Atuan and it was published in 1972. It follows a girl named Tenar who is the priestess of a dark place. She comes across a mature Ged and together they escape the darkness. The third book in the series is The Farthest Shore and it was published in 1973. It follows a boy named Arren who joins Ged, who is now the most powerful wizard in Earthsea, to try and find what has been causing all the havoc and loss of magical power in Earthsea. The fourth book in the series is Tehanu and it was published in 1990. It follows a much older Tenar and her relationship with Ged who is trying to become used to something that has happened to him and Tenar’s ward Therru who is a fire burned little girl who may be extremely powerful. Did I Like It?: This was wonderful! I don’t read much fantasy, even though I do have interest in it as a genre. I picked this up because I heard that this series was a classic of 20th century fantasy and because David Mitchell (my favorite contemporary author!) has said in interviews that Ursula K. Le Guin’s books are some of his favorites and have inspired him. To start off, these books had wonderful world building. Earthsea seemed so intricate and felt like a real place. There was also an inclusion of a map in the front of the book, which was probably necessary to look at to really get a sense of where you’re reading about and I loved that. I got lost in the world of Earthsea. Second of all the characters were fabulous! I liked that Ged was always a main character and that the books mostly followed him even though only the first book was from his perspective. I loved Tenar as well and liked that I got her younger and older perspective. I became so attached to the characters and their story by the end. A Wizard of Earthsea was a great start to the series. It was a five star read for me. Seeing Ged’s beginning was fabulous and I loved the ending of the novel. Ursula K. Le Guin was very philosophical in these books and I thought that was really cool. The way the book ended and the moral of it was so surprising and yet so profound. I really felt like I got something important from that first book. The Tombs of Atuan I enjoyed. It was different from the first novel and more of a four star read for me. I didn’t feel like it had the philosophical complexity of the first book, which I missed. It was nice reading about the beginning of Tenar’s and Ged’s relationship though, which I later on ended up appreciating. The Farthest Shore was also a four star read for me and probably my least favorite of the four. It was still good though. This also had some philosophical plot lines thrown in, which I liked. It just felt like it dragged more than the other books. Tehanu was a huge surprise for me! I didn’t think I would love it as much as I did. It was definitely a five star read. I liked that we got to revisit favorite characters and that Tenar and Ged were older. I liked that instead of the on the brink of adulthood perspectives we got the perspective of a middle aged woman. That was unusual and such a lovely surprise. This one started to tackle some gender issues, which was cool since the world of Earthsea has the fantasy trope of being more male dominated, so it was nice that she started to discuss the power of women. This was the quietest of the novels, which I actually really liked. It also felt much more mature. This one seemed like it was more targeted towards adults. Perhaps it was targeted at the people who grew up with the first three and at the time of Tehanu’s publication were adults themselves. Do I Recommend This?: Yes! If you have any interest in fantasy I think you would enjoy this series. If you only feel like reading one book, A Wizard of Earthsea has a lot to offer in it’s own right. The Quartet ends up being rewarding though if you’re interested. There is one other novel in the series and a short story collection, I’m just not sure if I’ll be picking those up. I loved the series I’m just not a series person and I think I got enough out of these four. Although, I may be tempted to finish it off at some point!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bon Tom

    Epic fantasy, comparable in its ambition, scope, quality and whichever other criteria you want, to unbeatable LOTR. What I like about this one is the time span, e.e. the fact it's basically coming of age story, which is something of a rarity in fantasy genre. You follow this wizard from his childhood to old age through whole width and length of, well, Earthsea of course. Great book and true classic. Not one of the run-of-the-mills that spawn in huge quantities these days in fantasy genre. Long t Epic fantasy, comparable in its ambition, scope, quality and whichever other criteria you want, to unbeatable LOTR. What I like about this one is the time span, e.e. the fact it's basically coming of age story, which is something of a rarity in fantasy genre. You follow this wizard from his childhood to old age through whole width and length of, well, Earthsea of course. Great book and true classic. Not one of the run-of-the-mills that spawn in huge quantities these days in fantasy genre. Long time no read though. From the first reading, I got to, let's say the "Book 3" of my own lifecycle so I guess I'll have to read it again these days to check if anything changed in perspective. I don't doubt it's still good reading though. Maybe even better. Probably better, come to think of it. First reading through, I could only have guessed what it means to grow old (mature?) and take it on the face value. Now, (Book 3:), I have some idea. For better or worse.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rhiannon

    Wonderful! absolutely loved reading The Earthsea Quartet - fell in love with the characters ... * A Wizard of Earthsea was 4 stars for me -it was so exiting and even a little spooky. * The Tombs of Atuan was 5 stars - I loved it so much! a little spooky too...I couldn't put it down! it was my favorite. :) * The Farthest Shore was 3-4 stars -such an adventure, but did get a little bored sometimes but it never lasted long -then something exiting would happen -it left me feeling a little sad but Teh Wonderful! absolutely loved reading The Earthsea Quartet - fell in love with the characters ... * A Wizard of Earthsea was 4 stars for me -it was so exiting and even a little spooky. * The Tombs of Atuan was 5 stars - I loved it so much! a little spooky too...I couldn't put it down! it was my favorite. :) * The Farthest Shore was 3-4 stars -such an adventure, but did get a little bored sometimes but it never lasted long -then something exiting would happen -it left me feeling a little sad but Tehanu fixed that. * Tehanu 4 stars - So beautiful... a good conclusion to the quartet ..but also an exiting beginning to new adventures! - has me looking forward to getting my hands on The Other Wind!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    My three star rating is based on the book as a whole first of all. I really enjoyed the first book, A Wizard Of Earthsea, and would class it as a five star book. However it was the only one I really enjoyed. The other three books felt very minor and somehow insignificant compared to it. The story, characters and especially the world were so vivid and well done in the first that the other three couldn't live up to this. This was a shame as I wanted something more from them and didn't get it. This w My three star rating is based on the book as a whole first of all. I really enjoyed the first book, A Wizard Of Earthsea, and would class it as a five star book. However it was the only one I really enjoyed. The other three books felt very minor and somehow insignificant compared to it. The story, characters and especially the world were so vivid and well done in the first that the other three couldn't live up to this. This was a shame as I wanted something more from them and didn't get it. This will, probably, be updated when I've given it some deeper thought.

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