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Summary

Ged, the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, was called Sparrowhawk in his reckless youth.   

Hungry for power and knowledge, Sparrowhawk tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death's threshold to restore the balance.  

Read by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith

©2018 Ursula K. Le Guin (P)2018 Orion Publishing Group

What listeners say about A Wizard of Earthsea

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A great classic, beautifully read.

I first read ‘A Wizard of Earthsea’ as a teenager back in 1969, shortly after it was published, in its classic, slightly psychedelic Penguin cover. Le Guin was always a true influence on those who followed, like Hope Mirlees, Tad Williams, or of course Tolkien, Lewis etc a decade or so earlier. Every dragon rider, every haunted wizard, every brave venturer into Death’s land in later fantasy fiction owes something to Le Guin.
What was so amazing to me, hearing it again after all these years, is that it is still groundbreaking, beautifully and unpretentiously written, the story of a young man’s personal development into maturity and confidence, with no tricks or over-stretched metaphor. And it’s short! Not an extraneous word or a self indulgent moment.
And of course - this has the wonderful Kobna Holdbrook Smith reading it! Having been a huge fan since ‘Rivers’, I now stalk him on Audible- if he’s reading it, I’m listening to it! At first I wasn’t sure about the slightly Norf Landon voice he gave Ged, but actually I grew to like it. It differentiated him from other voices.
So this too joins my list of favourites.

16 people found this helpful

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My first experience of Earthsea, truly excellent.

Amazing tale of being human, of facing our fears and of mastering them. A remarkable work and why I have only come to it aged 41 I do not know.

11 people found this helpful

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Brilliant

I hope they produce the others in the series and that they are read by the same narrator. His reading is excellent.

8 people found this helpful

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Hard to listen to

The reader sounds like he either has laryngitis or is trying to sound raspy and sexy for the microphone... "this one's for you ladies..." - or both. He's feeling himself, I guess. Actors often do. Unfortunately it impedes understanding - the equivalent of trying to read something written in a highly serifed and flourished font. Perhaps this irritates me more than most because I work worth actors and I cannot stand it when they interpose themselves between the audience and the material - an affliction of an Angloamerican school of acting that makes it more about the actor's personality than the craft of communication. So if that and raspy voice doesn't bother you or if you enjoy a voice actor giving you the aural equivalent of a private dance, enjoy.

6 people found this helpful

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Reputation well deserved

Le Guin can take a relatively concise description and score it on your brain indelibly. This is fantasy of the highest calibre.

3 people found this helpful

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Not for me

I adore other readings by KH-S and I know this is meant to be a classic, but I just can't get on with it. This doesn't mean others won't.

3 people found this helpful

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Narration a touch salty

I tend to hold that a noticeable narration is adding too much, and this is one such case, adding a little too much seasoning to Le Guin's beautiful but unassuming prose for my taste. But I enjoyed the performance and the book is a genre-transcending classic. Well worth a listen.

3 people found this helpful

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Narrator was a good fit for the story

I have trouble fitting a narrator to my internal voice, but he fit the feeling of earthsea really well.

2 people found this helpful

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A Bit Disappointed

I Have been hugely excited ever since this book showed up for preorder on Audible, as A Wizard of Earthsea is my go-to story for sick days, lazy Sundays, or when I'm just not feeling 100%. It has been for over 10 years!

LeGuinn is a fantastic storyteller and wordbuilder, with an accessible narrative that weaves deep questions and themes into a child friendly story that will also truly delight, thrill, and hold the imagination of adults in a chokehold and refuses to let go.

I was equally disappointed when I finally opened A Wizard of Earthsea this morning to find narration that sounds somewhat akin to Neil Gaiman with a chest infection, and about half the audio frequencies removed.

I found the narrator perfectly adequate, but also somewhat lackluster after cutting my teeth on the Harlan Ellison reading; but as the options are not there, and the BBC dramatisation (which are normally very good) was also a bit of a flop with this story, im just glad to be able to have this story accessible at all times again, though the Ellison reading is preferable every time if you can find it.

10 people found this helpful

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A Mesmerising Tale

A simple yet strong tale of reconciliation between light and dark. The main character says so much with so little. I will certainly be taking a look at the second book of Earthsea.
I was attracted to the Author for her work with Taoist literature. This work appears to be reflected and clarified in her fiction.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sam
  • 01-11-19

Quality voice acting.

He sounds like a little much at first it I was impressed by the subtle transformation of his character voice for Ged: from sullen and sulky teen to brooding young lad to stoic reserved man grown. This subtlety works with rather than against the dramatic storybook narration of the tale. Good good reading of good good book. I await the next in the series.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Paul
  • 12-02-21

Le Guin + H-Smith = Great performance 🙌👏🏻

A classic told by a great sounding voice with nuances and consistent style. Will listen to this again

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  • Helane
  • 05-05-20

Good but bad reader

I enjoyed it but it was hard to follow because of the bad reader the voice was husky and I didn’t like it at all

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-05-19

Not for me

I love the book, but I can't just get past the narrator's silly whisper-growl voice. Listened to 1 minute and gave up.

1 person found this helpful