The Wizard of Earthsea is the first fantasy novel in the Earthsea series. It follows a young wizard as he gets recognized and selected to be a part of a grand wizarding school. While in school, competition gets the better of him and he ends up releasing an evil spirit that leaves him horribly scarred and haunts him through his journeys. This book follows his adventures as a wizard healing the sick, tricking dragons, and fighting off the evil spirit.
At first when I was reading this book I thought it lacked originality—wizards, dragons, good versus evil, a long journey, etc. It seemed to be similar to every fantasy book that I’ve ever read, but then I learned the history of the book. This book was written in the 1960’s, a time before fantasy books became popular literature. This was the book that inspired writers, such as J.K. Rowling (ever wonder where Rowling got her idea for a school for wizards? This is it). It was also one of the first books to feature dark-skinned main characters in a fantasy (which still seems to be a rarity). It was also one of the first books to explore how old wizards learned their powers in the first place. Those facts made me appreciate this book a lot more.
However, I still think this book was just…okay. It was a pretty quick read that had a lot of events moving at a decent pace, but the first half of the book was a lot of build up. It took place in a school for wizards and I felt like I was reading a “How to be a Wizard” manual. This is a part of a series of books, so I suppose that it makes sense that the first book is setting up the world and background for the rest of the novels. I got this book based on rave reviews from several classmates, so I had high hopes going into it. I guess the book just didn’t live up to the hype to me. I would assume that the remaining books are more interesting than this one, but it didn’t hook me enough to want to continue on. Even though Rowling got her main premise from Le Guin, I still think Rowling did it better. I didn’t feel connected to the characters that much in The Wizard of Earthsea. They were all kind of lackluster and melancholy. Even the main character, Ged, was supposed to be a young wizard, but his personality him seem like a tired old man.
This book would be a good introduction to fantasy for middle schoolers. It is easy to read and has a pretty surface-level meaning. It is also good for someone who is looking for a new series to commit to.
Let me know what you think if you have read this book!
*** 3/5 Stars