A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin

AWizardOfEarthseaFantasy is one genre of fiction that many people shy away from, but almost every problem people have with fantasy is addressed in the Earthsea series. Ursula Le Guin provides a much-needed female perspective on traditional fantasy tropes and works against the generally male-oriented and male-constructed world of fantasy writing. There isn’t much sword-clanging and the like to be found here: simply the construction of a vivid, interesting world, filled with characters you care about and can actually tell apart.

A Wizard of Earthsea describes the early life of the main character, Ged, who becomes a talented wizard. There is much, much more to it than this, but this is really all you need to know: the simplicity and ease at which Le Guin eases into her narrative is something to behold. There is a really open feel to this entire work, which makes one feel as though they really are travelling with the characters throughout a world with plenty of open space – moreso than other works like The Lord of the Rings, which I found to be overly consumed with attention to detail and less concerned with telling a story.

The plot moves along at an excellent pace and never seems to flag or get caught up in its own details, and the focus on a single character is an excellent decision. The character of Ged is expressive and interesting enough to carry an entire book without needing the common fantasy device of a wisecracking band of travellers – not to say that the tone of the book is entirely serious and dour, which, again, is an all-too-common experience in fantasy literature. There are plenty of opportunities for the book to become mired down in drama, but this does not happen: there is simply apt and well-written description of events, relationships and happenings that entice the reader to read further.

There are plenty of plot devices in this book to be found in many other works: in fact, the idea of an academy for wizards and mages is something that Harry Potter owes a lot to. This work can be read by old and young alike, and has that magical quality of really transporting the reader to another world. It’s definitely a worthwhile read and should be sought out by everybody, even those without a real taste for fantasy.