Earthsea (miniseries)

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Legend of Earthsea
DVD cover
Genre Adventure
Written by Ursula K. Le Guin (novels)
Gavin Scott (teleplay)
Directed by Robert Lieberman
Starring Shawn Ashmore
Kristin Kreuk
Danny Glover
Isabella Rossellini
Sebastian Roché
Chris Gauthier
Theme music composer Jeff Rona
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 2
Producer(s) Hallmark Entertainment
Bender-Brown Productions
Cinematography Steve Danyluk
Editor(s) Allan Lee
Running time 172 mins
Distributor Sci-Fi Channel
Original release December 13 (2004-12-13) – December 14, 2004 (2004-12-14)

Legend of Earthsea (later shortened to Earthsea) is a two-night television miniseries adaptation of the "Earthsea" novels by Ursula K. Le Guin. It premiered on the Sci-Fi Channel in December 2004.


In Earthsea, a world of one thousand and one islands, priestesses led by the High Priestess Thar lock in the tomb of Atuan the diabolic Nameless Ones. However, the ambitious King Tygath, who intends to unite the realm, wants also to release the demons to learn their secret of immortality, and uses his mistress Kossil to poison Thar. Kossil expects to be nominated the next guardian and get the keys and enchantment that keeps the darkness forces apart, but Thar selects the pure Tenar. Meanwhile, in the island of Gont, the reckless and rebel son of a blacksmith Ged dreams on being a wizard. He is sent to the island of Roke to learn magic, but in a dispute with a corrupt mate, he accidentally summons a powerful Nameless One that becomes The Gebbeth and wants to devour his soul. Now his only chance to survive is to follow the lead of a dragon and find the two parts of an amulet to destroy the Nameless Ones



The series was produced by Hallmark Entertainment in association with Bender-Brown Productions. It was adapted by Gavin Scott (The Mists of Avalon) from the Earthsea novels for executive producers Robert Halmi, Sr. (Merlin, Gulliver's Travels, Animal Farm), Lawrence Bender (Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction) and Kevin Kelly Brown (Roswell). The series was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Critical reception

Reviewing the miniseries, the book The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy claimed Legend of Earthsea "totally missed the point" of Le Guin's novels, "ripping out all the subtlety, nuance and beauty of the books and inserting boring cliches, painful stereotypes and a very unwelcome 'epic' war in their place".[1] The Moria website's review of "Legend of Earthsea" states "Earthsea feels exactly like tv filler. In the books, Ursula Le Guin expended a great deal of time creating a world with a depth and culture, but nothing of this survives in the mini-series". The review also argues Legend of Earthsea "is shabbily and indifferently directed" and "The dialogue is dreadfully clunky and often excruciatingly bad".[2]

Author's response

Le Guin, author of the novels on which the miniseries is based, was not involved in the development of the material or the making of the production. She has written a number of responses to the handling of this adaptation of her works, "A Whitewashed Earthsea"[3] and "Frankenstein's Earthsea".[4] She noted, "When I sold the rights to Earthsea a few years ago, my contract gave me the standard status of "consultant"—which means whatever the producers want it to mean, almost always little or nothing.,"[3] and that, "Mr. Lieberman, one of the producers, published a statement telling people what 'Ursula' (whom he has never met) 'intended' by the books. That changed the situation. They were taking advantage of my silence by sticking words in my mouth. I put a reply on my website...."[4]


  1. ^ Pringle, David, ed. (2006). The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy. London: Carlton. p. 145. ISBN 1-84442-110-4.
  2. ^ "Legend of Earthsea". Moria: The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Le Guin, Ursula K. (December 16, 2004). "A Whitewashed Earthsea". Retrieved October 12, 2012.
  4. ^ a b Le Guin, Ursula K. (January 2005). "Frankenstein's Earthsea". Locus Magazine. Retrieved October 12, 2012.

External links

  • Earthsea on IMDb
  • Ursula K. Le Guin: Earthsea
  • "Earthsea". Official site ( Archived from the original on 23 November 2008. Requires blocking with cursor to be made visible.
  • "Ashmore Takes Lead in Earthsea". Sci Fi Wire (Sci Fi Channel). 10 December 2004. Archived from the original on 17 December 2004.
  • "Rossellini Gets Earthsea Sick". Sci Fi Wire (Sci Fi Channel). 10 December 2004. Archived from the original on 17 December 2004.
  • "Kreuk Has Faith In Earthsea". Sci Fi Wire (Sci Fi Channel). 13 December 2004. Archived from the original on 17 December 2004.
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