A Wizard Of Earthsea

Today, Ursula K. Le Guin’s magic system may not sound exceptional. Like many, it uses the knowledge of true names to control elements, creatures, and even humans. Consider, however, that this book was published in 1968, yet remains the most interesting execution of the concept. In Earthsea, every magical action has a consequence. Learning it is as much a practice in ethics as it is names, as even the smallest spell can change the world. Stop rain in one part of the world, and another may be hit with terrible storms. As a result, mages must have a deep understanding of the world. Learning an item’s name isn’t enough; the caster must understand how it fits into the bigger picture. As a result, wizards usually specialize. There are healers, enchanters, summoners, and illusionists. Each much consider the balance of the world so as not to upset it unnecessarily. Through the protagonist, Ged, the reader learns what can happen if that warning isn’t heeded. His overconfidence unleashes a terrible shadow upon the world; one that he must learn to both accept, and then defeat.

Books in The Earthsea Cycle Series (5)

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The Lord of the Rings

Similar recommendations: J.R.R.Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings

Riddle-Master of Hed

I also recommend Phillip K. McKillip's wonderful Riddle-Master trilogy, which features similar prose and a similar, though at the same time, very different, story. 

The Swan's War

You might also try Sean Russell's The Swans' War .

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld

This book is a classic with a complex heroine and plenty of subversions. The author is from the same mold as Le Guine.

Lyonesse Trilogy

The Lyonesse Trilogy by the great Jack Vance. Plays quite a few of the same notes as does The Earthsea Cycle: beautiful, poetic writing, well developed complex characters, a magical world steeped in welsh/Celtic mythology that you want to move into, and some deep themes explored.

Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn

Starts with The Dragonebone Chair. From boy to man and from man to hero, this is a remarkable tale that's brimming with detail. It's a story where the journey's end is not the ultimate destination, but the journey itself is.

The Curse of Chalion

The Curse of Chalion won the World Fantasy Award and the author has won Hugos and Nebula awards already for her other series. Beautiful writing, complex characters, deep themes. Something about this book brings to mind A Wizard of Earthsea, even if the plot and story are not at all the same.

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Other books by Guin, Ursula K. Le

A Wizard Of Earthsea

Today, Ursula K. Le Guin’s magic system may not sound exceptional. Like many, it uses the knowledge of true names to control elements, creatures, and even humans. Consider, however, that... Read more

The Tombs Of Atuan

 Read more

The Farthest Shore

 Read more


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Tales From Earthsea

 Read more

2002: The Other Wind

Like the previous Earthsea stories, this book seems to be centred around Ged, the sorcerer who is most often recognised by his common name, Sparrowhawk. But, like all except the... Read more

Earthsea Cycle

Another fantasy series that crops up near the top of many best fantasy lists. Earthsea Cycle is a classic fantasy tale well done.  While it doesn't rack up a sizable... Read more

Powers (2009)

Powers by Ursula K. Le Guin won the 2009 Nebula Award for Best Novel.  Read more

Tehanu: The Last Book Of Earthsea (1991)

Tehanu: The Last Book Of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin won the 1991 Nebula Award for Best Novel.  Read more

The Left Hand Of Darkness (1970)

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin won the 1970 Nebula Award for Best Novel.One of the best examples of science fiction in the genre. Read more