A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

A Wizard of Earthsea

Rating: 1.5 Stars

The island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-racked Northeast Sea, is a land famous for wizards.


Ged, called Sparrowhawk is a powerful mage already when he is very young. But he lacks wisdom and restraint and so, in the magic school of Roke, he accidentally unleashes a dark shadow into the world. Unless he can defeat it, the shadow will never cease hunting him.


This book reads like a mixture of fairy tale and old legend. For me, that did not work at all.

Then as autumn came they set to their tasks afresh, practising new magic. So Ged’s first months at Roke went by fast, full of passions and wonders.

The main reason was that I had absolutely no connection with Ged. This book is all tell. We are told that Ged is sad or angry or doesn’t like someone. But there’s nothing more to it. We never get to experience it with him. That is why, in the end, I didn’t care about Ged at all. I never felt his struggle. I never felt his joy.

Which is why for me, Ged remained an annoying, arrogant boy that for some reason is hailed as a hero by the narrator. Without getting to witness any of his emotions, he remains utterly flat. I didn’t like him.

But for the most part he was all work and pride and temper, and held himself apart. Among them all, Vetch being absent, he had no friend, and never knew he wanted one.

He has this amazing power everyone is awed by. He is really arrogant about it. He hates the people who don’t fall head over heels in awe of him.

What also annoyed me is that Ged never has to fight for anything.  He just stumbles upon stuff all the time. People died because of him but somehow that never changes how they treat him. People help him when he needs help.

He knows the right magic when he needs it. He stumbles upon forces that we are told are evil and powerful and just defeats them easily.

Sure we are told that he struggles but we aren’t shown it. What we are shown is him defeating these powerful forces in a matter of a few sentences.

Two dragons like the first rose up from the base of the highest tower. Even as the first one they came driving straight at Ged, and even so he caught both, hurled both down, and drowned them; and he had not yet lifted up his wizard’s staff.

The main conflict got more and more boring as the book progressed.

It could have been great. Boy accidentally summons shadow that follows him relentlessly. But it wasn’t great. I was never scared for Ged.

Ged never struggled and the final “struggle” was absolutely underwhelming and yawn-inducing. I was just glad the book was over.


Flat characters and an annoying protagonist that has everything fall into his lap with barely an effort at all makes for very boring reading.


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