LE GUIN, Ursula (author). David SMEE (dustwrappers designer). A Wizard of Earthsea; The Tombs of Atuan; The Farthest Shore; Tehanu; The Other Wind; Tales from Earthsea. London; Victor Gollancz Ltd [and] Orion. 1971-2003.
8vo.; 6 vols.; sepia, royal blue, grey, mid-blue, red and purplish-blue linson boards, lettered in gilt or silver to spines, in pictorial dustwrappers; pp. [xii], 13-191; [x], 11-159 + [i]; [viii], 9-206 + [i]; [x], 11-219; [x] + 246; [xv] + [iii] + 296; with pictorial map endpapers in Farthest Shore, The Other Wind and Tales from Earthsea; with 5 maps and diagrams, one device, and one half-page image in monochrome; a beautiful set, fresh throughout, with one very minor, and small, slightly darker mark (8mm) to upper joint of A Wizard of Earthsea, none of the books with ownership inscriptions or marks; the dustwrappers (the first three by David Smee) all in very good to fine condition with the usual sun-lightening to spines of Earthsea and Tombs of Atuan; remarkably scarce as a complete set in dustwrappers; the jackets all unclipped (£1.25; £1.25; £1.60; £9.95; £10.99; £10.99),
First U.K. editions. Published in the U.S. 1968-2001. This six-volume set of the fantasy saga of Earthsea, which was originally penned for children, but which swiftly gained a wider audience, was written over decades and is now regarded as a modern literary classic. The award-winning first book in the series, A Wizard of Earthsea has been described by critic and author, Amanda Craig, writing for The Guardian, as "the most thrilling, wise and beautiful children's novel ever", and by author Margaret Atwood as one of the "wellsprings" of imaginative writing.
In essence it is a coming-of-age tale about a young mage, or wizard boy, Duny, known as "Sparrowhawk", who develops extraordinary powers in his youth, in his village on the island of Gont, near the fictional archipelago of Earthsea. As a child he saves his people from invading Kargish raiders by drawing down a fog to encircle them. A powerful mage, Orgion, hears of his feat and takes him under his wing as an apprentice, awarding him his "true name" - Ged.
The titular hero joins a school of wizardry (ring any bells?) where, vaunting his talents in a magical duel with another student, he inadvertently unleashes a shadow-creature which becomes his nemesis and attacks him. The subsequent story unfolds as Ged tries valiantly to free himself from this adjunct. The work is in the tradition of the epic adventure, happily subverted somewhat by the fact that Ged is dark-skinned.