Who wrote this book and when?
Ursula K. LeGuin published this in 1972.
Cover art by Gail Garraty

Has there been a film version?
Kind of. Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle) made a movie which was inspired by this book, but it hasn’t been released in the US yet and LeGuin said the film didn’t follow the plot at all.

Who are the important characters?
Ged/Sparrohawk – the Archmage of Earthsea, the most powerful wizard in the land
Arren/Lebannen – Prince of Enlad, Ged’s companion on his voyage
Sopli – a dyer of silk, he’s insane
Orm Embar – a dragon

What’s it about?
When a mysterious plague begins to affect the inhabitants of Earthsea, they lose their magic, their proper Names, and their sanity. Arren, a prince from the northern island of Enlad, is sent by his father to request help from the archmage, Sparrowhawk. Arren is immediately taken with awe for the archmage and the pair set off towards the south to see if they can find the source of the magic drain. Along the way, Arren is somehow influenced by the one working the dark magic and must consistently fight off insanity. Sparrowhawk and his consort will have to tangle with insane people, slave drivers, dragons, sea people, illusions and mind-altering drugs in order to save all of Earthsea.

Why is this book a classic/bestseller?
It’s a part of one of the greatest science fiction series of all time – Earthsea.

Do you recommend I read this book?
Yes. Strongly.

How did this book make your list?
It made a Best of Sci Fi Novels list.

Has it won any awards?
No.

Favorite quotes:
“For in this love he now felt there was compassion: without which love is untempered, and is not whole, and does not last.” – p 97

“Once away from the looming, empty docks of Lorbanery the air blew cool and clean out of the dark north, and the moon broke silver from the sleek sea before them and rode upon their left as they turned southward to coast the isle.” – p 105

Personal thoughts:
If I didn’t know better, I would have thought this was the last book of Earthsea. The entire novel is written as if LeGuin planned for the world to end. I still can’t get over the creativity she simply exudes in her works. She allows each place visited in all of the books I’ve read so far to have its own culture. And she naturally works in the concept of magic instead of making it an addition to an already complete universe. Sparrowhawk/Ged is one of the best characters I’ve come across in Fantasy literature, although he reminds me a little of Gandalf the White in this novel. I’m both anticipating and dreading reading the last novel in this series.

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