A Wizard of Earthsea
Ursula k. LeGuin
This is the first in a series of books. There are 4 novels in the series and two collections of short stories. It follows the life and career of Ged a young man from the Island of Gont. Le Guin has created a very unique world, a world that is mostly water and each nation is a collection of islands. This book is also one of a few that has different editions published for children, teens and adults ans scifi. This book is also one of a few that has children’s teens and adult editions in print.
Ged apprentices to the local Wizard on God, and is eventually sent to the school for wizards on Roke. There in anger during a fight with other youths he releases a dark shadow, an evil. The Masters of the school appear and banish it from the island. However this shadow and Ged are now tied together in a very unique way.
After leaving the school Ged becomes haunted by the shadow he has released. He tries to return to the protection of Havnor but cannot return to the island the magic protecting the island will not let him approach. So he decides to head south.
The shadow is getting closer and closer to him, and he must discern it’s true name or else he will not be able to defeat it. Can he solve the puzzle, will he wrestle with his shadow and win or will he succumb to the evil he has let loose.
This is a book I first read back in highschool. Then a few years back had to read it for an English literature course at the University of Waterloo I was about a third of the way through it when I realized I had read it before and that is when I found our that the story continues. Since then the two collections of short stories have been published in this world.
Le Guin deals with some big questions of life in this book. Such questions as:
Who am I?
Do I have a role or purpose in life?
Can I defeat the darkness within me?
Can good conquer over evil?
Why am I here?
Can I make a difference?
This book will be a good read for anyone who has ever struggled with some of these questions. Or who wants to use a novel to help them grow to have a deeper understanding of themselves.
Reading Notes on this book:
This book brings to mind many images and many of the books I have read. Also the themes that play so often in my mind and my own life.
Like in A Wrinkle in Time the power of naming and unnaming or X-ing. Also the gift of our real name that we are given. As well the importance of friendship especially Vetch's sticking with Ged on the long journey.
Also the old maxim "Every man must face his own devil." Ged in anger and pride released his own evil, through growth time and humility he conquered his own evil to become whole and balanced again.
The Last theme is the importance of balance in the universe and that all we do has affects beyond us. Either for good or for bad. Either these effects are on others, things, the environment or even the cosmic battle of good and evil.
The Books of Earthsea:
A Wizard of Earthsea - 1968
The Tombs of Atuan - 1971
The Farthest Shore - 1972 (Winner of the National Book Award)
Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea - 1990 (Winner of the Nebula Award)
Tales from Earthsea - 2001
The Other Wind - 2001
The Short Stories of Earthsea:
The Word of Unbinding - 1964
The Rule of Names - 1964
Dragonfly - 1997
Darkrose and Diamond - 1999
The Finder - 2001
The Bones of the Earth - 2001
On The High Marsh - 2001
The Word of Unbinding
Darkrose and Diamon
The Rule of Names
The Bones of the Earth
A Wizard of Earthsea
The Tombs of Atuan
On the High Marsh
The Farthest Shore
The Other Wind
Note: The short story "Dragonfly" from Tales from Earthsea is intended to fit in between Tehanu and The Other Wind and, according to Le Guin, is "an important bridge in the series as a whole".
Also check out this great Earthsea site. It should be noted as well that these books have editions in Children's (9-12) Teen, Sci-Fi and adult fiction, It appeals to a very wide audience.