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A Wizard of Earthsea

The First Book of Earthsea
Narrated by: Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Series: Earthsea, Book 1
Length: 7 hrs
4.5 out of 5 stars (92 ratings)

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Publisher's 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 members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Thought provoking story

A philosophical novel with a rich and interesting world. The reader sometimes lapsed when using a variety of accents, but overall it was a really stellar reading, and his voice compliments the story wonderfully. I was particularly impressed with the way the voice of the protagonist matched with the feeling of him developed in the language and description of the novel. I came to this book not fully expecting to enjoy it like I did, but I was pleasantly surprised. I'll be making my way through the rest of the Earthsea novels when time allows.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic tale and escape

Beautiful story, great escape for your boring daily commute. Wish it was a longer story. Definitely stood the test of time. If you liked Harry Potter.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic classic fantasy

Loved this story! Le Guin's prose is elegant and her world building completely intriguing. The story is classic fantasy but still a fresh, surprising and compelling read even over 40 years since publication. Plus it's not that long and can be easily read/heard in a few hours! Can't wait to read the rest of the Earthsea books!

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Love it.

I listened to this straight through. I wish there was a second book in Audible.

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Love Narrator

I love the Narrators voice so much I looked him up, hoping there are more books he's read that I would be interested in.

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  • Sam
  • 01-11-2019

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.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-05-2019

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 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Dr Ward
  • 08-01-2019

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Rebecca
  • 20-03-2019

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Adnil
  • 31-12-2018

Brilliant

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

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • AReader
  • 02-07-2019

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Dela Boy
  • 08-06-2019

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 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Dave D
  • 10-04-2019

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael Richmond
  • 13-12-2018

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.

9 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Andy
  • 18-09-2019

A staple read for any fantasy reader

This is one of those essential books that can be enjoyed as a young reader or adult alike. Narration is good although as always occasionally distracting when a succession of characters are in play in rapid succession. This is not a criticism of Kobna, who does a good job of bringing the book to life.

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  • Tomas
  • 30-08-2019

Mumbling

The narrator mumbles, not a trait I was looking for in a narrator.
The story was good tho.

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  • Oliver Cassidy
  • 01-08-2019

A familiar tale.

Ged is a young wizard whose bout is one many of us, I think, can sympathize with. Great book, well told.