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The Earthsea Cycle

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Wizard of Earthsea first coverFirst edition
Novels in series ▽ Novels in series △

A Wizard of Earthsea, 1968

The Tombs of Atuan, 1971

The Farthest Shore, 1972

Tehanu, 1990

The Other Wind, 2001

Publication details ▽ Publication details △

Also known as
Earthsea; The Earthsea Trilogy

First publication
1968 (A Wizard of Earthsea)

Literature form

Fantasy fiction

Writing language

Author's country
United States

Foundation approx. 69,000 words, (A Wizard of Earthsea)

Greatest lists ▽ Greatest lists △


Novels (for A Wizard of Earthsea)

American Literature

Fantasy Fiction (for A Wizard of Earthsea)

Notable lines

The island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-racked Northeast sea, is a land famous for its wizards.

— First line, A Wizard of Earthsea

"Where is Selidor?"

"Very far out in the Western Reach, where dragons are as common as mice."

"Best stay in the East then, our dragons are as small as mice."

A Wizard of Earthsea

"To light a candle is to cast a shadow."

A Wizard of Earthsea

War as a moral metaphor is limited, limiting, and dangerous. By reducing the choices of action to 'a war against' whatever-it-is, you divide the world into Me or Us (good) and Them or It (bad) and reduce the ethical complexity and moral richness of our life to Yes/No, On/Off. This is puerile, misleading, and degrading. In stories, it evades any solution but violence and offers the reader mere infantile reassurance. All too often the heroes of such fantasies behave exactly as the villains do, acting with mindless violence, but the hero is on the “right” side and therefore will win. Right makes might. 

— Afterword to A Wizard of Earthsea (2012)

What she had begun to learn was the weight of liberty. Freedom is a heavy load, a great and strange burden for the spirit to undertake. It is not easy. It is not a gift given, but a choice made, and the choice may be a hard one. The road goes upward towards the light; but the laden traveler may never reach the end of it.

The Tombs of Atuan

When I was young, I had to choose between the life of being and the life of doing. And I leapt at the latter like a trout to a fly. But each deed you do, each act, binds you to itself and to its consequences, and makes you act again and yet again. Then very seldom do you come upon a space, a time like this, between act and act, when you may stop and simply be. or wonder who, after all, you are.

 The Farthest Shore

But in the Deed of Ged nothing is told of that voyage nor of Ged's meeting with the shadow, before ever he sailed the Dragon's Run unscathed, or brought back the ring of Erreth-Akbe from the Toms of Atuan to Havnor, or came at last to Roke once more, as Archmage of all the islands of the world.

— Last line, A Wizard of Earthsea.


Critique • Quotes • At the movies