I’d only ever read The Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, on which I wrote a short essay – and I quite enjoyed it – but I knew I just had to read her Earthsea books as well. They’re considered classics, and I was already familiar with the Earthsea miniseries (which, I have to admit, seems pretty lacking now), so I bought The Earthsea Quartet while in London. Of course, back then I didn’t know there were more books to enjoy.
The Earthsea Quartet consists of:
- A Wizard of Earthsea
- The Tombs of Atuan
- The Farthest Shore
Ged, a young boy from Gont, is sent to Roke to learn magic and become a wizard. He’s a natural and in the years to come, Ged becomes the Archmage. He has many adventures: some involving dragons, some involving a boy who would be king and others involving a priestess of Atuan and a labyrinth of darkness.
I absolutely adore these books! I can’t believe I’m only reading them now I’m in my twenties. I kind of feel I’ve been missing out for all these years. Ursula K. Le Guin’s world of Earthsea is so very rich and diverse, I’m in awe of her world-building. It was also great to see heroes who weren’t the standard white-skinned, blue-eyed, blonde-haired heroes Fantasy is full of. Not to say other authors don’t have darker-skinned protagonists, but these books are pretty old, and I wasn’t expecting that. (Also, in the miniseries Ged is white.)
Even though the books are pretty old, they don’t feel old. They feel as if they could’ve been written yesterday. The characters too feel timeless. They feel real, and jump off the page and right into my heart. Ged, lovely Ged, who had to learn not to be prideful and arrogant. Tenar, who had to learn there was a whole world out there with men, and wizards and a different language. Tehanu, who was burned as a child and is burned still by all the cold and hard stares of the people who lay eyes on her. Lebannen, who went to the farthest shore as a young boy, shoulder to shoulder with an Archmage, and came back from that darkness. They all have a place in my heart.
I’d recommend these books to anyone. They’re classics for a reason. A very good reason.