A Wizard of Earthsea
Beginning in November 2019, Mythgard Academy will offer a free seminar on Ursula K. Le Guin’s quintessential work of modern fantasy, A Wizard of Earthsea. This is the first book in the Earthsea Cycle, and the second of Le Guin’s books that we have studied in the Mythgard Academy, making her the only other repeat author for our free seminar series other than J.R.R. Tolkien. (The first book of hers we looked at was The Dispossessed.)
Published in 1968, A Wizard of Earthsea is the first book in what later became known as the Earthsea Cycle. It tells the coming-of-age story of a young boy dubbed Sparrowhawk who is discovered to have a natural talent for magic and is sent to a school for wizards. The story follows Sparrowhawk’s progress toward becoming the titular wizard, which involves among other things an encounter with a mysterious shadow.
The novel spawned a series of other books set within the archipelago of Earthsea, including The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, Tehanu, Tales from Earthsea and The Other Wind, along with several short stories collected in various places. Most of the Earthsea Cycle was collected in The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition, including her final Earthsea story titled “Firelight” published posthumously in The Paris Review. Stories from the Earthsea Cycle have also been adapted into other various media, including at least two radio plays, a Legend of Earthsea miniseries on the Sci Fi Channel (2005) – of which Le Guin was famously critical – and a Japanese animated film titled Tales of Earthsea (2006). A new television adaptation based on the Earthsea stories is reportedly in the works.
A Wizard of Earthsea is available from Amazon in a variety of formats.
A Message from Dr. Corey Olsen
Our Mythgard Academy series provide a way for people to study and read imaginative literature they might not otherwise have encountered. Our weekly conversations continue to amaze me in terms of their ability to provide new insights by those who are able to attend live, and recordings of the live discussions are shared on the Signum University YouTube channel for all to enjoy.
A Wizard of Earthsea will be the first book we look at after the end of Signum University’s most recent annual fund campaign, which provides material support for the Mythgard Academy series. Our books are chosen by those who donate, whether during our campaign or regularly throughout the year. Other works of fantasy that have been chosen by The Council of the Wise included Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, The Princess Bride by William Goldman, Dracula by Bram Stoker, and of course the ongoing trek through J.R.R. Tolkien’s The History of Middle-earth.
A Wizard of Earthsea will take us through the end of the 2019 calendar, but we will be choosing other books in 2020. If you’re interested in joining The Council of the Wise to nominate and vote on upcoming books, check out Signum’s donor perks – nearly all donors get a vote, but there’s even opportunities to skip the whole nomination process at certain donation levels!
– Dr. Corey Olsen
Schedule for A Wizard of Earthsea
A Wizard of Earthsea will meet on Wednesdays at 10 pm Eastern Time
Read: Chapters 1-2
Date: November 6, 2019
Read: Chapters 3-4
Date: November 13, 2019
Read: Chapter 5-6
Date: November 20, 2019
Read: Chapter 7-8
Date: December 4, 2019
Read: Chapter 9
Date: December 11, 2019
Read: Chapter 10
Date: December 18, 2019