It’s strange that I’d gone through so much life without hearing of this series. Apparently, it was a huge children’s book phenomenon, right up there with Narnia and others. I’ve been diving into Le Guin as of late and decided to check it out.
I am disappointed.
I think I can bypass the influence factor here. Clearly Earthsea has influenced countless books. Harry Potter for one. The Name of the Wind for another. But in both examples, we see novels that do it so much better.
Firstly, the wizards name is Ged. Okay, god? He has godlike powers? Got it. The story blows through his education like a bad 80s movie montage. Seriously, why should I care about Ged? He has zero redeeming qualities. He does nothing likable until halfway through the book. He barely has any dialogue until a quarter of the way through the book. I don’t automatically feel bad for orphans. Let me be near them, learn why I should root for them.
Also, the first thing he does when he gets to school is pick a dude and say, “You’re my nemesis.” At least Malfoy picked out Harry Potter so there was a reason to hate him. I just think Ged is an asshole. An asshole who goes to school, where we see him learn nothing specific, and then goes off and kills a bunch of dragons with powers not even hinted at.
The book’s plot is mostly about coming to terms with your darker side. And it’s boring as hell. It was cool at first, this shadow being that had no weakness. Only for it to be a life lesson.
AND Ged travels to like every part of the planet in very little time. Fantasy 101: it takes a long time to get places, that’s why you spent days drawing that crazy map at the front of the book so readers can enjoy the journey.
Maybe if I read this as a kid, I’d enjoy it. But I doubt it. There is much better fantasy out there, especially children’s fantasy. Le Guin is a great author, but this is a flop for me.
1 out of 4 stars.