A Wizard of Earthsea: The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1 Book Poster Image

A Wizard of Earthsea: The Earthsea Cycle, Book 1



Classic, magical fantasy novel for tweens up.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Ged is arrogant and filled with anger and jealousy, but he learns better.


A battle with some deaths, Ged is injured by a nameless shadow, a small pet is killed.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that there is a battle scene with some deaths, which is not described. Otherwise there is little to be concerned about.

What's the story?

Ged, a motherless goatherder from a small island village, shows early signs of magical power. First taught by the village witch, he is then apprenticed to the wizard of the island. But he is restless for power and glory, and is eventually sent to study at the Wizard School on Roke Island.

There he is a top student and shows signs of one day becoming one of the greatest of wizards. But his pride and jealousy foolishly lead him to accept the challenge of a snide older boy to show his power.

In doing so, Ged accidentally unleashes into this world an evil shadow from the land of the dead, and causes the death of the Archmage. Now Ged must figure out how to overcome this shadow before it possesses him.

Is it any good?


Ursula LeGuin's first book in the Wizard of Earthsea series is high fantasy, written by a master, one of the great works of young adult literature of the 20th century. Grounded in Celtic and Norse mythology and written in flowing, formal language, this is not a slam-bang, sword and sorcery, action fantasy: When Ged goes to battle a dragon, they negotiate an agreement instead, and the climactic moment is as quiet as a whisper. There isn't even a real villain.

So what keeps the pages turning? It's all in the details, the gradual unfolding and perfecting of another world, with its own rules and geography and magic. Ged is a fascinatingly flawed hero, and the action, though placidly paced, moves relentlessly forward toward a final confrontation that has more to do with Ged coming to understand himself than with overcoming world-dominating evil. This is a fantasy for the intellect rather than the gut.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the ideas about personal responsibility and about life and death raised here. What responsibility do we bear for the unintended consequences of our actions? What do you think of how life and death are presented here? Also, the author was very vocally unhappy with the miniseries adaptation of this book. What do you think of the adaptation? How could it have been done better? Why are film adaptations often so different from the book?

Book details

Author:Ursula K. Le Guin
Topics:Magic and fantasy
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Bantam Books
Publication date:June 26, 2006
Number of pages:183

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byWill Turner April 9, 2008

Great Book

Since I requested this book to be reviewed I ought to write my own. One word: AMAZING
Parent of a 7 and 10 year old Written bysarafmc March 27, 2012

Excellent trilogy

This is one of the best, and best-written fantasy books I read as a kid, it won several awards (published 1968) and I have no problems letting my 10 year old read it (he's reading at a middle grade level, and there's nothing offensive in it). Very rich world, strong ethical values, including the value of respect and education.
Kid, 12 years old September 11, 2011

An exciting fantasy for all ages!

I read this when I was 12, and I love it! Set in a world similar to J. R. R. Tolkien's, where magic is to be used as a last resort, A Wizard of Earthsea is an exciting book that deals with balance, good and evil, and the consequences of your actions. There are almost no female characters, and the two that come to mind are not especially good. Ged (or Duny or Sparrowhawk) has to battle an evil force he released for a dare. This book also deals with fixing the problems you created, even if you don't particularly want to, or a scared to. Parents should know that though this is fantasy it is not a light story, in fact it has almost an eerie aspect, due to the nasty "shadow" that Ged has. An exciting start to the Earthsea cycle, it does not have a definite end, though the main issue is resolved.
What other families should know
Great role models