A novel by Ursula K. Leguin
(2012, Usula K. Le Guin [original copyright 1968, Houghton Mifflin
A boy is sent to a school for wizards when he shows enormous
potential. Impatient, he learns magic, but dabbles in dark spells,
during which time he unleashes a dark shadow that haunts him through
his adventures until he decides to face it.
Read March 30th to
April 24th, 2017, in ebook
I was caught right away by the
author’s very epic way of writing, and by the way the character is
presented. The world is well-developed very early on, and it was quite
peaceful. I liked the way the main character had to confront his own
demons without resorting to war with his neighbors.
From the first
pages, I quite enjoyed this book. It’s written in the style of an epic,
telling the history of the world and the development of the main
character at the same time, while hinting at his future greatness. It
shows that this story is just one in a greater universe.
Unfortunately, like the chase scenes in many books (and movies and TV
shows for that matter), the voyages sometimes go on for way too long. I
understand that the world is large, and Ged had to travel a long time to
get out beyond the world that he knew, but these were the times when the
author seemed to miss the mark and the story sagged.
For most of
the book, however, which focuses on Ged as he grows from a small boy to
a powerful wizard, the author strikes the right balance, showing us how
dark Ged’s soul is, and that he becomes observant enough (and scared
enough) to recognize it. It’s obvious to the reader that Ged’s desire
for recognition is going to cause him trouble. What is refreshingly
surprising is how he changes because of being exposed to the darkness,
becoming a stronger person who no longer wants power or recognition, and
even shies away from his power for a while. Most characters written in a
story such as this would rush headlong and try to take over the world.
In this book, the only thing that Ged wants control over is his own
soul. I really appreciated the story for this.
The many different
islands clustered together seem to form the entire world. From Ged’s
travels at the end of the book, it looks like nothing else exists. But
the islands are spaced far enough apart that each has its own weather,
from the cold north to the hot south, east and west. Interestingly, this
book has all sorts of cultures and people with different skin colors
from these different regions, instead of a unified people. The magic is
one that has been seen in ancient history as well. A person or thing’s
name is the key to getting it to do anything you want. Nobody knows a
person’s name unless there is extreme trust between them, because the
person who knows your name can do a lot of damage.
liked the brief time we spent on Ged’s childhood, where the foreigners
attacked his home, and he was able to spin a fog around them to save his
village. This brought him to the attention of the local witch, who
started teaching him, until an experienced wizard takes him under his
wing. Ged’s time with Ogion is brief, and Ged is very impatient to
learn. Much like the Karate Kid, Ged doesn’t realize how much he is
being taught. When a young sorceress nearby goads him into learning
about dark arts, he gets in trouble, summoning a darkness that fills
Ogion’s house until the wizard returns and closes the breach into the
As Ged’s ambition exceeds that of the gentle Ogion,
he is given the choice to go to the island of Roke, where there is a
school for wizards. I really like the way wizards are held in high
regard. They can get free passage across the various seas, in most
places, even if they have no skill in weather manipulation. Ged’s
education is left rather vague, but he does gain a lot of wizarding
power and control -until he is egged on by Jasper, and ends up releasing
a darkness into the world that hunts him for the rest of the story. I
really liked the way he withdrew from the world after that encounter,
and it haunted him until it was vanquished. His small posting in the
outer sea, the encounter with the dragon, his trip up north in the icy
sea, all led him to realize that he was avoiding what he must do. So he
went to see Vetch and recruited him to join him on his quest to find the
darkness. The journey was too long, but the result was worth it, quieter
than I would expect, but gentle and satisfying somehow.
interested, now, in reading other books, as I have no memory of the one
other Earthsea novel (The Farthest Shore)
that I’ve read in the past.