A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K. Le Guin
Originally published in 1968, Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea marks the first of the six now beloved Earthsea titles. Ged was the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea, but in his youth he was the reckless Sparrowhawk. In his hunger for power and knowledge, he tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tumultuous 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. (www.ursulakleguin.com)
This book is a classic fantasy book written for young readers before YA was a genre. Published in a time when women were not believed to be able to write fantasy nor be compelling characters in books, Ursula K. Le Guin challenged these norms in her own way, by presenting a nonwhite protagonist in a book she fought to publish. For many years, the cover was whitewashed to make Ged, the protagonist, white, as was common for the time.
While the book will challenge readers with some outdated ideas (especially pervasive misogyny), we will look at it in context of the literary history of fantasy and science fiction books and woman authors. Importantly, it laid a path for future works of fantasy and young adult fiction to flourish, especially stories with more focus on girls and women. We can see in current works many echoes of the coming-of-age story about a young person who makes grave mistakes from pride, learns from their errors, and strives to make things right again. This book will be compared actively to the previous month's book, Aru Shah and the End of Time, to help readers appreciate these contextual elements.