Monday, September 11, 2006

A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin, 1968.

Sparrowhawk is marked as a child by his extraordinary power, and sent as a youth to be trained as a wizard. Pride dogs his steps, and succumbing to it he unwittingly unleashes into the world a terrible Shadow, a thing of darkness and unlife that seeks to devour him. The narrative employs a "high" fantasy voice to recount Sparrowhawk's wanderings, and includes a characteristic blending of philosophy and epic. More memorable for setting than character, and for image than for action, its climax disappoints and its protagonist, while admittedly following the convention of the flat quest hero in high fantasy, leaves me wishing for more to grasp. A narrative endowed with a stylistic excellence and burdened by overmuch contrivance and hollow philosophy. I could not enjoy it as much as I wished to.

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