My book reviews are written as a discussion of a book, and not as an advertisement. Please be aware that there may be information that some would consider spoilers and continue on at your own risk!
A few years ago I watched Tales From Earthsea and enjoyed the story and world that was created. I remember having a hard time trying to find the novel ‘A Wizard of Earthsea’ in an eBook version. Recently, I found it on the Kindle and decided to read it. It was not until I sat down to write this review, did I notice that I had already read this book (I had rated it on GoodReads). I read a lot of books, and I can’t remember them all, but sometimes if I am re-reading something, I will remember tidbits and pieces will seem familiar. Perhaps when reading this time, I chalked up any familiarity to the animated movie that I watched. Any ways- here’s what I thought (this time around):
A young wizard, Ged (aka Sparrowhawk) goes to wizard school, and out of rage and jealously ends up setting lose a shadow from ‘beyond’. He graduates from school (because, you know, the shadow can wait) and goes out to hide and eventually confront this shadow, which represents the darker qualities that are in all of us.
Plot Score: 3/5
Location, Location, Location
This novel takes place in Earthsea. The location is like medieval earth, with wizards and dragons. It’s nice to note that in this book (unlike several others) wizards are actually accepted and celebrated. There was no mention of fear or hatred of wizards.
Location Score: 2/5
Characters and Relationships
This was really Ged’s story of self discovery. At the beginning he is proud and arrogant and at the end humble and cautious. This reflects huge character growth, and it was very realistic. He didn’t grow in one day, the events were laid out in such a fashion that his growth was very realistic. However, there is something about this character that I never really liked. He did not open himself up to many friends in the book, and I never felt as if he opened himself up to the reader. “For the most part he was all work and pride and temper, and held himself apart.” I feel like one of his peers at school- we see him, we may have a brief interaction, but we don’t really know him. Perhaps if this book had been from his perspective we could have come to know- and care about- his character. To me, Ogion, who barely spoke, was more ‘open’ than Ged.
Character Score: 3/5
A lot of times, books will be all plot and no lesson, no unique perspective on the world, nothing to take away other than a simple tale. I always like when a book has more to it than just interesting characters and a good plot line. It is that little extra that gives a book something special.
WIth this book, the bigger meaning was the best part. This story speaks to finding yourself, being honest with yourself and understanding until you do that, until you know your own name, you can not move forward. “A man: who knowing his whole true self, cannot be used or possessed by any power other than himself, and whose life therefore is lived for lie’s sake and never in the service or ruin, or pain, or hatred, or the dark” If you run from the darker qualities within yourself, they will just grow stronger, it’s not until we turn and face them head on that we have a hope of defeating them. And there is no one, not our best friend, mentors, teachers, who can do this for us, we must take it on ourselves.
There is also a theme of the importance of language and the power of words. The concept of being able to speak a word and cause something physical to happen, whether its creation of a world or just control of someone else, is interesting. “My name, and yours, and the true name of the sun, or a spring of water, or an unborn child, are all syllables of the great word that is very slowly spoken by the shining of the stars. There is no other power. No other name”. We speak so much and say so little, perhaps we should listen to hear the great word that is being spoken.
Bigger Meaning Score: 4/5
For me this story didn’t flow. Sometimes the plot moved very quickly (one paragraph would talk about Ged’s naming day being months away, and then it happens in the next paragraph). And sometimes the plot just sat there and did nothing. There were several parts I skimmed, as they offered no additional value to the story (useless descriptions that didn’t help me imagine the world any clearer and didn’t factor into the plot). I will say that I like action and I like a plot that moves, I feel that if you (as a writer) are dragging the plot out then you don’t have enough plot.
Style Score: 2/5
– I read this book, forgot it, read it again and will probably forget it again. Hopefully I won’t pick it up for a third time.
-This is supposed to be the most powerful wizard of all time, I was hoping to see him do something fantastic (other than just conquering himself)
Total Score and Recommendation
14 / 24- Skip the book, if you are really curious, watch the animated movie.