A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le. Guin is the classic tale of how Ged, a young wizard, comes into his powers and repairs the mistakes of his youth, restoring balance to the land of Earthsea. Along the way he attends a school of magic, battles a dragon, and faces true evil. I really wanted to love this book. It’s high fantasy with a cult following and I wanted it to capture my heart the way that it has for so many people over the years. But A Wizard of Earthsea is unlike any other fantasy that I have ever read in that it isn’t very heavily plotted and there isn’t a ton of detail. All of which did not appeal to me. The book is also only 205 pages, which is uncanny in fantasy literature. Especially considering how little of those 205 pages are actually spent on action. Of course, exciting things happen (Ged faces a dragon for pete's sake), but they just aren’t very exciting to read. With fantasy books I have found that one initially needs a bit of patience, but after getting into the book it is nearly impossible to tear oneself away. I couldn’t really get into A Wizard of Earthsea and I suppose that is the heart of my problems with it. I was expecting an exciting fantasy, but what I got was an incredibly dry story that required a good deal of my patience. Furthermore, a hallmark of fantasy is an abundance of rich and vibrant characters and this book didn’t have a lot of characters nor a lot of vibrancy. Even Ged, the book’s main character, felt bland. On the level of pure opinion, though A Wizard of Earthsea has been lauded for its prose, I personally did not find that aspect of the book very appealing. I tend to lean towards writing that is either grand or familiar and Earthsea just felt simple and impersonal.
I rate A Wizard of Earthsea three out of five stars because, although I (obviously) did not love it, it is clearly a cornerstone of the fantasy genre and home to some of the earliest appearances of many excellent fantasy tropes. I definitely think that it’s worth a read for fantasy fans. People looking for something a bit more exciting might want to try The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss or something by Brandon Sanderson.