Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Books In Order

There might not be an author who is both as influential and underrated in the world of late 20th-century fantasy and science fiction as Ursula K. Le Guin.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Books In Order

Her works combine philosophy and speculative fiction in a way that has inspired audiences for generations after, including the likes of Neil Gaiman and Iain Banks, among many others.

Le Guin is probably best known for her high fantasy Earthsea series, which has become one of the most popular fantasy series for both children and adults.

That also means that it’s become some entertaining homework for literary and fantasy fans across the world, too!

In this guide, we will take you through this critically acclaimed and widely loved book series, as well as give you a little more information on what you can expect from these books.

There are lots of books to cover, so let’s get started!

What Is Earthsea?

Before we dig into the works of this literary juggernaut, there might be some people who have heard of Ursula K. Le Guin but aren’t exactly the most familiar with the Earthsea series as a whole.

Totally understandable. Le Guin had written tons of speculative fiction in her life.

It’s very easy to start on another one of her books, like The Left Hand of Darkness or The Dispossessed, and not realize that she has a whole other fantasy series to her name!

Earthsea actually refers to both the book series, and the world in which these books take place in.

The world of Earthsea comprises a series of archipelago islands, where magic is a common part of everyday life – Except for the island of Gont.

It’s also on Gont where we will meet our protagonist for almost the entirety of the Earthsea series, Ged, who will grow into a wizard of great power someday. If he can survive the trials of his life, however!

How Many Books Are In The Earthsea Series?

The Earthsea Cycle

When it comes to tackling the literary greats of speculative fiction, many people often like to go into these series knowing what they’re getting themselves into, so to speak.

Are they looking at finishing a fantasy duology series, or are they accidentally signing themselves up to read the entirety of the Dune series? Like, all of the Dune books?

Fortunately for us, and you, Le Guin’s Earthsea Series does not overstay its welcome nearly as much as the former!

Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series spans 5 full-length novels that take place in the world of Earthsea, including 4 short story collections.

It’s certainly no walk in the park, but that’s a comparatively light read when compared to some other authors in this genre.

Earthsea Novel Series In Order

Being the main bulk of Le Guin’s entries in this series, these 5 entries are what most people mean when they are referring to this series.

A Wizard Of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle, 1)

If you’ve heard the name Ursula K. Le Guin, then chances are that you have at least heard of the first book in the Earthsea series, A Wizard of Earthsea.

This novel introduces us to a lot of the major features of the world that we will soon come to love here, including introducing us to Ged, and his first steps toward becoming a wizard.

Through his hunger and curiosity for knowledge and power, as well as his impatience when it comes to learning the deeper secrets of magic, Ged accidentally unleashes an unspoken monster into the world.

Through his hunger and curiosity for knowledge and power, as well as his impatience when it comes to learning the deeper secrets of magic, Ged accidentally unleashes an unspoken monster into the world.

It is up to the wizard in training to put right what he has made wrong, and he quickly learns that this is harder than he could have ever imagined…

Considering that this is one of the books that first got Le Guin the recognition as an author that she rightfully earned, this is an easy place to start for pretty much any reader. In fact, it’d be a little weird to start with any other book.

(Well, except maybe one other. But we’ll get there eventually!)


  • A phenomenal introduction to the magical world of Earthsea.


  • The main driving force of the plot takes a while to get started.

The Tombs Of Atuan

The Tombs of Atuan (2) (Earthsea Cycle)

Moving on to the second book in the series, we have the book that solidified Earthsea as a living, breathing world and series, The Tombs of Atuan.

Do you know how we said before that Ged was the protagonist for most of the series? Well, this is one of those times when he isn’t. Don’t worry, fans, he still makes his appearance here!

Instead, this book focuses on the story of Tenar, a young girl, believed to be the reincarnation of a high priestess, who is taken from her family and all she has known, to become the new high priestess of the Nameless Ones.

Forced into a life she did not ask for, she finds her set course shattered by the arrival of a young, upstart wizard, who is searching for a lost artifact.

Hmm. A young upstart wizard looking for power? Who could that be?

Introducing a new protagonist, this book successfully continues exploring Le Guin’s deep and intricate world.


  • A fresh new perspective on the world of Earthsea.


  • The move from Ged being the protagonist may not be appreciated by everyone.

The Farthest Shore

The Farthest Shore (3) (Earthsea Cycle)

With a series that is as high fantasy as this one, magic is going to be a big feature of every part of life on Earthsea.

So, the idea of losing all of that just sounds like a terrifying, yet still fascinating twist to a series like this, doesn’t it?

That’s the problem that Le Guin poses in the third book in the series, The Farthest Shore.

As magic starts to leave the world of Earthsea, it is up to our favorite mage and dungeon-crawler Ged to find out the cause of this strange loss of magic!

Going where the Earthsea books have never gone before, The Farthest Shore lives up to its name!


  • The world-traveling events and character development are excellent.


  • The changing of the status quo may not be to everyone’s tastes.


Tehanu (4) (Earthsea Cycle)

If you were wondering about some of the things that happened to Tenar from the second book, then the fourth book in the Earthsea series, Tehanu, is exactly what you’re looking for.

Having finally broken free of the chains and isolation of the childhood that she had, Tenar has been enjoying the pleasures of a simple life in the time since then.

However, as Ged must come to terms with the events of the previous books, they are forced to work together again after events lead a young orphaned girl to her doorstep.

Taking us not just back to an old protagonist, but also the island of Gont, you start to appreciate the lived-in nature of the world with this book.

Maybe we’re wrong about Ged being the main hero of this series. It seems more like a double job between him and Tenar.


  • The return of a well-liked character.


  • Comparatively low-magic feel is very different from other stories. In the series.

The Other Wind

The Other Wind (The Earthsea Cycle) (The Earthsea Cycle, 6)

The final full-length novel in the series, The Other Wind, is perhaps the most appropriate ending to a series as long-running as this one.

The story focuses on a mage named Alder, who has been having nightmarish dreams since the passing of his wife, about the land of death.

And if you’ve been paying attention to the other books in this series, that’s not a good sign!

The themes of death and cycle are all over this book and make it stand out as the final novel in this series.


  • A fitting finale to the main Earthsea series.


  • Ged doesn’t get much page time.

Earthsea Short Stories In Order

So, those were the main books that you’ll find in the main Earthsea series. For many, that would probably be enough.

But hold on there for a second, bud, that doesn’t mean that we’re done here!

Le Guin was almost more prolific as a short story writer than she was as a full novel writer. And you’d better believe that there are at least a few of those that took place in the world of Earthsea!

The following are the main collections of short stories that were published in the wider Earthsea world.

These are the books and stories that you’ll want to read if you want a complete view and understanding of this fantasy series!

The Wind’s Twelve Quarters

The Wind's Twelve Quarters: Stories by Le Guin, Ursula K.

We mentioned earlier how A Wizard of Earthsea was the first book in the Earthsea series.

And while it is true that it was the first full-length novel in the series, it isn’t the first work of fiction that Le Guin wrote in this world.

That honor goes to the short stories collected in this particular book, Wind’s Twelve Quarters!

While not every book in this short story compilation is directly tied to the Earthsea, The Rule of Names and The Word of Unbinding are considered some of the earliest stories tied to Earthsea.


  • Lots of different short stories from different genres.


  • Not every story in this collection is based in Earthsea.

Tales From Earthsea

Tales from Earthsea (The Earthsea Cycle) (The Earthsea Cycle, 5)

If we’re discussing which of these short story collections is considered to be a central part of the overall Earthsea cycle, this one is often included, with Tales from Earthsea often being considered the sixth book in the cycle.


  • A great collection of different lives and perspectives in the world of Earthsea.


  • Not all of these stories contribute to the overall narrative of the series.

The Daughter Of Odren & Firelight

The Daughter of Odren (Kindle Single)
The Paris Review, Summer 2018 (No. 225)

While not considered central parts of the Earthsea series, we still believe that The Daughter of Odren and Firelight is an important smaller sample of this wider narrative, especially the latter.

If you’re looking for a short piece that helps contextualize Ged’s life up to that point, these are great stories to finish your journey with.


  • A contemplative end to Ged’s story


  • Very short compared to the main series.

Final Notes

So, there you have it!

Spanning over 5 decades, the Earthsea series is not going away anytime soon and is still impacting audiences to this day.

In short, we love this series, and we think you will too!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is The Earthsea Cycle High Fantasy?

Yes, the Earthsea books are considered high fantasy.

Are There Any Movies Based On Earthsea Books?

Tales From Earthsea was adapted into an animated film by Studio Ghibli in 2007.

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Anna Davis