Apr 11, 2012

#TheList, No. 579: A Wizard of Earthsea

I’ll be honest, I was not a fan of this book.  I finished it yesterday and I already forget most of what happened.  Not that it was a bad book. In fact, it’s incredibly well-written, has some strongly developed characters (which is difficult given the size constraints of most children’s and YA literature), descriptive settings, and a consistent plot (I think).  But I’m not super into fantasy books, so it was a bit of a grueling process to get through this book. 

The basic plot involves a young boy, later named Ged, who discovers he has magical powers and is brought into training.  He is tempted by a witch to attempt a spell that far surpasses his ability, and brings a shadowy being into the world, which his master, being more powerful, drives away. Ged leaves for school to strengthen his power, but pride overcomes him and he once again attempts this spell, bringing the shadow into the world and causing the death of one of the teachers.  He spends the rest of the book attempting to escape this shadow until he realizes that the only way out is to confront it.

It seems solid. I would definitely recommend it to an older kid/YA who likes traditional fantasy novels.  It’s also the first book of a trilogy, so there’s the potential to build off of the affection for series and trilogies that YAs are experiencing now with The Hunger Games and Twilight (ugh).

The one thing that really stuck with me while I was trudging through this book is how important names are to the characters.  Not in the way that Professor Lupin is named Lupin because he’s a werewolf (his first name, Remus, is even more clever #RowlingLove), but the names themselves have a sort of power.  Telling someone your real name is a big deal in this world.  So if you needed to come up with a project to tie in this book, you might consider a name definition lesson. And really who doesn’t like learning that their name means “victory of the people” or something weird like that? 

I’ve read a lot about similarities between this series and The Lord of the Rings, which makes me slightly nervous to read those books that everyone is shocked I haven’t yet read. 

One more thing: apparently Ursula K. Le Guin, the author of this series, thinks Rowling was overpraised for HP and lacks originality.  Well, now I’m glad I didn’t like her books.  I’m kidding   I’m not kidding.

1 comment:

  1. You have to think about it according to the time period it was written. Pre-harry potter and Star Wars. if you read a lot of SF that was written before Harry Potter you will see where Rowling's get her ideas from. (Secret of platform 13) .
    Le Guin writing is more about setting the stage through descriptions not dialog. Which she does rather well in very few pages.