“A Wizard of Earthsea is a simple but beautiful and magical coming-of-age “



I recently re-read this and was once more struck by what a great book it is on so many levels.

First of all, the story is very easy to get into. Our sympathies are immediately with Sparrowhawk/Ged, the central character.

There are no unique terms to try to learn and no being obscure just for the sake of it.

As readers, we are very quickly drawn into the story by Le Guin’s accessible writing style.

Secondly the magic system is explained simply and makes sense! (more of an issue than you might think with fantasy fiction).

Thirdly, there’s a dragon (and what fantasy reader doesn’t love that?)

The thing that really makes this novel stand out from the crowd however is how far ahead of its time it was in terms of multiculturalism. The book takes place within an archipelago and the islands contained therein all have different societies.

The book is therefore populated with people who come in all colours – indeed the hero himself is not white (a pleasant change). Perhaps even more provokingly, the aggressive, war-like race who occasionally launch raids on the islands of the archipelago are white.

[interesting aside here, one of the reasons why the author was so unhappy with the 2005 mini-series is because the producers did not respect the diversity of colours within the book].

The upshot is that the world created by Le Guin is a rich and diverse one. It is no wonder therefore that she went on to write more novels set within it as there is plenty of material to work with.

The book can be read as a stand-alone or as the beginning of the series. It works either way and is well worth a look.


Reviewed by:

Debbie McCarthy

Added 12th June 2015

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Debbie McCarthy