Like Clare, I had to read this for our English class. It doesn't seem too popular with our classmates (many of which are die-hard Lord of the Rings fans), who are sadly slogging through. Strangely enough, our teacher does equate her to a female Tolkien.
This series is considered her greatest work. Locus (a sci-fi and fantasy magazine) lists A Wizard of Earthsea as number 3 out of their 33 "All-Time Best Fantasy Novels." It has won several awards including a 1979 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award.
See ClareBear's summary!