A Wizard of Earthsea - Ursula K. Le Guin Tolkien is famously quoted as saying "I wisely started with a map."

Well, Ursula LeGuin drew a heck of a map. LeGuin's Earthsea world has enough islands to make a salad dressing. She obviously knows and cares for each of them. She LOVES her geography.

Now, I like geography. I've spent hours poring over maps of Middle Earth or the worlds of Eddings, Jordan, Brooks, and many others. I like maps. I like how they draw you in; how they make you want to explore new regions and meet new people. I LIKE a book with a map.

This one was a mess. Too large and complicated to be printed in one piece, LeGuin threw the map at you in random sections of the book, each page centered on a different portion so as to give you the entire picture. The problem? I didn't care.

LeGuin cares. She really loves her geography. She never hesitated to point out what islands the characters passed by, or mention in passing some far isle. The problem? None of it meant anything. The geography wasn't central to the plot, and there was simply too much of it not only to keep track of, but to care about.

Okay... that was gripe one of two. Let's talk about the story.

The story was fun-- it was a good fantasy novel, but not a great fantasy novel. I liked the death-symbolism at the end, but LeGuin doesn't do it as well as Tolkien. Is it fair to compare fantasy writers to Tolkien? Probably not, but everybody does anyway. The characters were fun but not particularly relatable-- the friendly characters never became my friends, the antihero was never really liked or despised or related to. Anyway, this was an okay fantasy novel but not a great one.

...and now on to gripe number two: The main character's name is Ged. Given the font the book is published in, (and I have very good eyesight) my eyes often read that e as an o, leading to funny lines like "God laughed at the situation" or "God was very hungry and tired" I guess it goes to show that font choice is important...