A Wizard of Earthsea

By Ursula K. Le Guin,

Book cover of A Wizard of Earthsea

Book description

The first book of Earthsea in a beautiful hardback edition. Complete the collection with The Tombs of Atuan, The Furthest Shore and Tehanu

With illustrations from Charles Vess

'[This] trilogy made me look at the world in a new way, imbued everything with a magic that was so much deeper…

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission

Why read it?

11 authors picked A Wizard of Earthsea as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

The original boy wizard with a scar, A Wizard of Earthsea is a fantasy novel that has influenced writers to this day.

Sparrow Hawk/Ged is a boy with a lot of power and pride. As a result of both, he releases a great evil into the world which he has to defeat. It is a cautionary tale of the need to know thyself, and the dragons are a nice touch.

One of my favourite coming-of-age fantasy novels which, even many years later, remains so firmly imprinted in my mind. I remember having a bit of difficulty at the start (perhaps I was a little too young) but soon became utterly immersed in the magical world that Le Guin created, devouring the series with an ever-increasing wonder and obsession. There was a spiritual essence to Ged’s journey which I found incredibly powerful and moving, with mature ideas so elegantly and poetically expressed. A heartwarming tale, perfect for both children and adult readers alike. 

Growing up, I always dreamed of what it would be like to sail from island to island, exploring the simple villages and quiet meadows of a natural, peaceful world. A Wizard of Earthsea drops the reader into such an idyllic world, but then takes us on a complex journey that explores the morality of great power and the challenges of growing up. A timeless take on the hero’s journey, A Wizard of Earthsea is sure to stay with the reader throughout their life, regardless of how old you are when you read it. 

From R.'s list on YA to satiate your travel bug.

This fantasy adventure is a classic for good reason. From page one, Le Guin whisks you away to a faraway island in a storm-racked northern sea where we meet Ged, a soon-to-be wizard bound for greatness. Le Guin’s storyteller voice makes you feel like a kid again, hearing the first fairy tale that truly captured your imagination. Add to that the non-stop adventure and subtle philosophical undertones that set this novel apart from male-written fantasy classics, and A Wizard of Earthsea is a timeless story.

As a boy, Ged accidentally releases a dark force that shadows him throughout his magical education; as a young wizard, he sets out on a quest to meet and destroy it. When Ursula Le Guin published this novel in the 1960s, she quietly subverted many then-prevalent conventions of fantasy—making her protagonist a person of color, building a plot that didn’t revolve around violence. Personally, I wish she’d gone even further by creating more interesting female characters. That said, this book is a seminal work that explores the limitations of magic, and shows how magic can reveal character in a novel.…

From Emily's list on fantasy about learning magic.

This one's a bit of a cheat because the Wizard Ged isn't a pirate, and he's usually just a crew of one on his boat Lookfar, but it's worthy of inclusion in any book list.

A Wizard of Earthsea is a classic fantasy story that doesn't feature on many lists of the best fantasy novels, which is a shame because it truly deserves more love.

I love this story because it is so singular. It has a full coming-of-age story about a person searching for salvation. While you might guess the twist at the end of the story, it's no…

This, the first full-length fantasy ever written specifically for young adults, remains by far my favorite novel of its kind, both because of the unsurpassed beauty of its style and the depth of the ideas it expresses. I much prefer its conception of magic to that of the Harry Potter series. Magic, in this story, is integral to the world; it is never a mere casual pastime that depends on external paraphernalia. And it has serious consequences, both for the world and for the mage, or student-mage, who employs it unwisely at his peril. Though the story takes place in…

From Sylvia's list on YA about imaginary worlds.

Some “children’s books” are so sophisticated that they can hardly be categorized so narrowly. This classic, published in 1968, is widely recognized as a masterpiece of fantasy, a coming-of-age tale, but also a dissertation on death, power, and the humility that defines one’s true calling. It belonged to a whole generation of children, yet spoke just to me, or so it seemed, as if LeGuin had led me by the hand into the deepest caverns of experience. I understood, in the way that only a child can understand, the true horror of being hunted. So often we underestimate the…

Yes, I’m aware that two more books were written but the first three books were written together and follow main character Ged more closely, providing a satisfactory ending. I often re-visit this world for its rich cultural flavor. Ursula K. LeGuin was the daughter of anthropologists, and she was masterful at writing adventures that span a variety of cultures within Earthsea. It's original with well-described magic which leaves the reader with the scent of salt air in the room and the brush of the sea-wind in your hair.

This children's book is beloved by all ages and filled with Le Guin's lyrical power. The tale inspired my child's imagination and was one of my earliest fantasy influences, encouraging me to dream and create stories of my own.

One of the wisdoms I gained here was this: our darkest parts are essential to us, and to be whole, we must know them, name them, and accept them.

From Sonia's list on profound nuggets of wisdom.

Want books like A Wizard of Earthsea?

Our community of 9,000+ authors has personally recommended 10 books like A Wizard of Earthsea.

Browse books like A Wizard of Earthsea

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in wizards, magic-supernatural, and dragons?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about wizards, magic-supernatural, and dragons.

Wizards Explore 81 books about wizards
Magic-Supernatural Explore 502 books about magic-supernatural
Dragons Explore 158 books about dragons