This was a re-read for me, although the first time I read it was way back when, at least fifteen years ago, as I was definitely in primary school.
I read this largely because the author’s first name begins with U, so I was able to cross another category off my challenge list (the full version of which is coming next week, when I finally finish it). I didn’t remember much liking it when I was small, and I really didn’t much like it now either.
The first book of “Earthsea” is a tale of wizards, dragons and terrifying shadows. The island of Gont is a land famous for wizards. Of these, some say the greatest – and surely the greatest voyager – is the man called Sparrowhawk. As a reckless, awkward boy, he discovered the great power that was in him – with terrifying consequences. Tempted by pride to try spells beyond his means, Sparrowhawk lets loose an evil shadow-beast in his land. Only he can destroy it, and the quest leads him to the farthest corner of Earthsea.
Okay, so maybe Earthsea is a seminal children’s fantasy series, and the adventures of Sparrowhawk are a key part of any fantasy-reader’s childhood. But I just wasn’t gripped by this. There wasn’t anything wrong with it, per se. There’s certainly a decent enough story, and a solid world rich in detail. But there was nothing there to hook me. I didn’t care about Sparrowhawk. He had no human ties to keep him going. He had no real interest for me as a person, being nothing more than arrogant and hot-headed. And his quest for a shadow was, frankly, dull.
So maybe this is a classic of children’s fantasy literature. But I found it dull. There was nothing really wrong with it, and reading it didn’t incite within me the furious anger of other books I’ve read this year, but there was nothing really right with it either. A very middle-of-the-road book.