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This tale of wizards and dragons features the character of Sparrowhawk. Tempted by pride to try spells beyond his powers, Sparrowhawk lets loose an evil shadow-beast. Only he can destroy it and so he begins a quest which leads him to all corners of Earthsea. This is the first book in a quartet. November 2010 Guest Editor Jonathan Stroud: I think this is one of the greatest of fantasies, with a very different flavour to Tolkien or C S Lewis. Ursula Le Guin is a master at world-making: from the moment I opened the book as a boy, and saw the map of Earthsea, with its thousands of little islands, each with its own name and character, I was hooked. We follow Ged, a young and ambitious wizard, who finds his route to power is not at all straightforward. He must journey across the oceans, contending with dragons, witches, sinister shadows, speaking stones and (most dangerously of all) with himself. The magic in this book (and the rules that govern it) seem utterly real. The writing is beautiful, austere and restrained, and everything feels drenched with the salt-spray of the endless sea.