ê Read å A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin å A man would know the end he goes to, but he cannot know it if he does not turn, and return to the beginning, and hold that beginning in his being If he would not be a stick whirled and whelmed in the stream, he must be the stream itself, all of it, from its spring to its sinking in the sea Three years ago I picked up my first Ursula K Le Guin novel, The Left Hand of Darkness I did so as part of a challenge to read a science fiction book, a genre in which I was not at all well read I didn t really expect to like the book, but was happy to check one off the list To my great surprise, I adored it In fact, I still think about it fairly regularly, even with loads of other books read between now and then I was determined to read of her work and see if it was just a fluke that such a novel would appeal to me I had seen a copy of A Wizard of Earthsea at a used bookshop at the time and hesitantly purchased it an illustration of a wizard with staff in hand and a dragon on the cover very nearly told me to leave well enough alone, but I risked it I m not necessarily a fantasy kind of gal either with a couple of exceptions It has sadly sat on my own shelf for three years, until two of my Goodreads groups recently decided to read her work shortly following Le Guin s passing I jumped at the opportunity, and once again was astonished by both the writing as well as the perceptive concepts developed within I won t attempt to make any sort of comparison between this book and others within the genre, as I am not qualified to do so I am aware that J.
R Tolkien came first and J.
K Rowling after I cannot delve into a written discourse on the elements of fantasy or the influence of various genre writers upon one another What I can do is tell you why I admired this work of fiction The quote I ve included at the start of my review is one that illustrates a journey of sorts That is what I feel this book on its most basic level embodies not just a trek across the lands of Earthsea, but a journey of the self, a discovery of one s very substance or essence I can see the similarity between Ged s quest in this book and that of Genly Ai s flight across the harsh and icy landscape of the planet Winter in The Left Hand of Darkness Two very different characters with distinctive lessons to be learned along the way, both Ged and Genly develop and make discoveries of self as well as understanding of others At the beginning of The Wizard of Earthsea, we meet a boy born with special gifts one destined to become the greatest wizard of Gont a young man called by his use name , Sparrowhawk, and later by his true name , Ged Le Guin makes a distinction between use names or nicknames and true names, with true names not being known to all, but rather to a select few that can be trusted to keep this secret For, in Earthsea it is believed thatWho knows a man s name, holds that man s life in his keepingWhen we first meet Ged, or Sparrowhawk, he is a teenager with a temperament that one might expect from a typical teen He is na ve, a bit rash, and prone towards arrogance He is a know it all who can let pride in his power get in his way I didn t like him initially, but he seemed very real to me as a result Full of natural flaws, he is not a typical hero He could have been one of us He eventually goes to train on Roke Island, essentially at a school for wizards to be He is sent there on the advice of Ogion, his quintessentially wise early master in the craft Ogion, in fact, is one of my favorite characters He sends Ged forth with such prudent advice asTo hear, one must be silent,andHave you never thought how danger must surround power as shadow does light every word, every act of our Art is said and is done either for good, or for evil Before you speak or do you must know the price that is to paySensible words that can be applied to than just your standard wizard in training Pride is not easily shed, however, and as a result Ged lets loose upon the land of Earthsea a dark and dangerous creature This evil entity will haunt his dreams as well as his waking moments He is kept safe from this being by the Nine Masters of Roke and the Archmage while continuing to study under their tutelage But, as we all know, one reaches adulthood and must strike out on his or her own given the knowledge and tools that have been imparted to us Thus Ged goes out into the world as a wizard yet with the fear of this creature termed gebbeth As he travels from land to land, Ged is pursued by this gebbeth, endangering those inhabitants of Earthsea with whom he settles for a time As a result he moves on until he realizes that the cycle can only be broken if the hunted in fact becomes the hunter Thus begins a new journey to seek the gebbeth and destroy it But in order to do so, Ged must know its true name , a name that eludes him Many of his encounters are dark and frightening and I found the plot to move forth quickly and dramatically it was quite gripping At times it seemed the being would overwhelm him completelyThe body of the gebbeth has been drained of true substance and is something like a shell or a vapour in the form of a man, an unreal flesh clothing the shadow which is real So jerking and billowing as if blown on the wind the shadow spread its arms and came at Ged, trying to get hold of him devouring him out from within, owning him, which was its whole desire I can t give away whether gebbeth or wizard wins in the end you ll have to grab a copy for yourself to find out Needless to say, I loved it It is a quick read for a fantasy novel, with so much packed inside There are moments of great adventure, but also a lot of introspection which I highly esteem You have to open up your mind to fantasy a bit to read this, but you most certainly don t have to be a genre fan to appreciate the messages Le Guin offers to us The world building was excellent and I loved the growth of Ged throughout Le Guin s themes are so compelling and leave me reflecting for quite some time after reading her work Her worlds are a place where we can go and allow ourselves to think about ideas in ways that we otherwise might not She helps to open our minds by painting a vivid world first, and then makes us take the next step and learn that there are in fact other ways of thinking about our own worlds and those within them 4.
5 stars rounded up to 5 for this excellent worka man who, knowing his whole true self, cannot be used or possessed by any power other than himself, and whose life therefore is lived for life s sake and never in the service of ruin, or pain, or hatred, or the dark This what A Wizard of Earthsea taught me To know a thing s true name is to know its nature Don t fuck with dragons unless you know their true names Summoning the spirits of the dead is a bad idea, especially on a schoolboy dare Truly changing your form is dangerous, because you can become lost in the aspect you assume If you find yourself hunted, turn it around and become the hunter Above all else, know yourself.
I don t know how I acquired this particular copy of A Wizard of Earthsea It s an old, 1977 reprint that is, aside from its yellowing pages, in remarkably good condition for something that, in its day, cost 1.
50 in Canada or 50 p in the UK It bears no evidence of a previous owner, be that person, library, or used bookstore Perhaps someone gave it to me However I got it, I remember that I read A Wizard of Earthsea for a second time through this copy I read it mostly in the backseat of my mom s van and then in a hair salon while waiting for her to get her hair done So this book is firmly ensconced in my mind as a book I read when I was younger, and I associate it with my childhood even though I suspect I was probably in my early teens.
When I first came upon China Mi ville a few years ago, I was an adult and approached his books with an adult s ideas about fantasy I ve only ever known Mi ville s works through the eyes of adulthood, and that is something outside of my control, but it definitely affects how I view his works In contrast, Ursula K Le Guin has been with me my entire life, stalking me, if you will Curiously enough, her books have never played the formative role in my reading, especially my fantasy reading, that others like The Belgariad, A Song of Ice and Fire, or Hitchhiker s Guide to the Galaxy have done I don t have a pithy story about reading a Le Guin book as a child or adolescent that then opened my eyes and inspired me to read fantasy So it s all the intriguing that I distinctly remember Le Guin being in my life ever since childhood I don t remember when I first read one of her books, only that I did And when I pick up A Wizard of Earthsea, I m connected to my childhood, to that memory of this particular copy, as well as to memories of reading fantasy in general This is a gateway book, and that s why it means so much to me.
If you don t have this type of connection to Le Guin or to A Wizard of Earthsea, I can understand how easy it is to dismiss this book as a 2 or 3 star endeavour It s a condensed story with a small cast of characters who aren t necessarily the most intriguing bunch you ll ever meet There s a lot of narration and exposition covering most of Ged s childhood and adolescent years It s not exactly the big budget, epic type of fantasy story that is so popular now Nor is Ged your typical fantasy farm boy Called to be the Chosen One He s a wizard of no small talent who, because he s a cocky adolescent boy, screws up and spends no small part of his adult life attempting to rectify the mistake.
There s a lot of darkness in this book It reminds me, this time around, of Arthurian legends well meaning, valorous people struggling against their darker selves, and sometimes losing Even the Knights of the Round Table had the advantage of knowing they were heroes though Ged is not a hero he s just this guy, you know He s not preternaturally gifted with good sense, so like any inexperienced adolescent, he makes bad decisions and is full of flaws He ditches his master on Gont, Ogion, to go learn wizardry at Roke because he s eager to learn real magic He feels like Ogion is holding him back we readers, of course, recognize that Ogion is the wise sensei who teaches his student the value of wisdom and work first At Roke, Ged allows himself to be manipulated into magical pissing contests by his rival, Jasper The result is the escape of a shadow into the world of Earthsea, and its encounter with Ged leaves it with some of his power and a hunger to absorb the rest of his aspect This would be bad, for Ged, and for the world But A Wizard for Earthsea shares with Arthurian legend that underlying motif of temptation and the sin of pride people and magic continually tempt Ged, and his successes are measured in the varying degrees by which he overcomes and rejects those temptations Sometimes he fails miserably, resulting in the unleashing of a gebbeth into the world Other times, he succeeds admirably, such as in the case of the dragon Yevaud.
Ged s encounter with the dragon of Pendor is nominally what turns him into a legendary dragonlord He manages to learn the dragon s true name, and with it he wrangles from the dragon a promise never to fly to the Archipelago The safety of the islands of Earthsea thus secure, he departs Pendor to resume his life and his apparently eternal flight from the gebbeth.
Ged s confrontation with Yevaud is right out of the classical man versus beast battle of wits canon What stuck with me for the rest of the book, however, was how Ged deals with Yevaud s brood He ruthlessly does battle with these dragonspawn, killing six of them Dragons in Le Guin s Earthsea are predators but intelligent ones their speech is the same Old Speech from which Earthsea wizards draw power So I can t help but feel that in slaying these creatures, Ged is wreaking destruction on a much larger scale He s destroying something unique and wonderful, even if it is dangerous to humans And Ged is rather cavalier about it he goes to Pendor because he s decided to leave the town he was protecting from possible dragon attacks, and before he goes he wants to ensure the town will be safe This is his first act of major wizardry as a full fledged wizard, and it is interesting that it is one of destruction, even if it benefits those he swore to protect.
After his encounter with Yevaud, Ged bums around Earthsea for a little while, faces another great trial, and almost doesn t survive Fortunately he finds his way back to Ogion, who sets him straight and gives him the best possible advice If you go ahead, if you keep running, wherever you turn you will meet danger and evil, for it drives you, it chooses the way you go You must choose You must seek what seeks you You must hunt the hunter.
If you read A Wizard of Earthsea as a straight fantasy story about good versus evil and wizards and dragons, you will probably be disappointed read this way, it s a good book, but it isn t great It s too brief to be a satisfying epic meal The strength of Wizard of Earthsea is neither its style nor its substance but its subtext This book embodies literary fiction a lot better than much of what gets marketed under that term today The cover of my edition, aside from its regrettable whitewashing of the characters, seems to support the idea that this is a children s book The brief description on the back of the book continues this illusion A tale of wizards, dragons and terrifying shadows, in which the young wizard Sparrowhawk strives to destroy the evil shadow beast he has let loose on the world This description does not do the book justice, nor do I think calling A Wizard of Earthsea a children s book does any favours for the book or for children This is not a children s book any than other books that children or adults might read are adult books This is a book, a book for children and for adults, and frankly one that people should read early and often.
I read A Wizard of Earthsea as a child, again as an adolescent, and now I ve read it as an adult Each time, I ve read it slightly differently, and it has told me different things my opinions of Le Guin and her works have changed as my perspective changes from childhood to adulthood For me, A Wizard of Earthsea is memorable and magical because of what it teaches through its story It deserves five stars because, for a fantastic tale at a slim 200 pages, this book seems to contain an inordinate amount of truth.
My Reviews of the Earthsea series The Tombs of Atuan Ged, The Greatest Sorcerer In All Earthsea, Was Called Sparrowhawk In His Reckless Youth Hungry For Power And Knowledge, Sparrowhawk Tampered With Long Held Secrets And Loosed A Terrible Shadow Upon The World This Is The Tale Of His Testing, How He Mastered The Mighty Words Of Power, Tamed An Ancient Dragon, And Crossed Death S Threshold To Restore The Balance A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K Le Guin is a beautiful fantasy First published in 1968, it has clearly influenced many fantasy novels since Orson Scott Card, with his 1980s era Alvin Maker series, stated that he wanted to make an American fantasy, and escape or at least distinguish his work from the inherently English Tolkien sub genre of fantasies This is not quite such a departure from the Tolkienesque fantasies, but a difference can be seen and enjoyed Another Goodreads reviewer made the observation that the Harry Potter series has been wildly successful while Earthsea has achieved only a cult following and peer respect I can wholly agree with this finding and think it too bad that so many young readers have not discovered this gem of the genre My admiration for Le Guin continues to grow, she is an amazing writer 2018 Re readSecond time around I was not as entranced by the story itself but still amazed and inspired by her timelessness, her forward vision and for what this book has meant to the genre.
I wondered again about the influence this may have had over J.
K Rowling, perhaps has the book itself, or just a foundation on our modern fantasy literature.
I also compared the long voyage sequences here to the long walk across the glacier in her Hainish book The Left Hand of Darkness and see that a journey tale may be a ubiquitous theme in her writing, a metaphor for growth and spiritual evolution.
A good book by itself and a wonderful work for fantasy writing as a whole.
How come Harry Potter is the publishing sensation of the century, and this is only a moderately popular cult novel Life seems unfair sometimes, but I suppose that in a few hundred years it will all have sorted itself out The ending is one of the best I know in any book.
This is old school fantasy at its finest It has all the classic elements It has a young and na ve protagonist who learns the dangers of power he overcomes his initial stupidity and learns how to wield his power effectively It also has wizards, dragons and creatures of great evil It s a standard fantasy plot, delivered in basic way, but, nonetheless, it is still great I think this is because of the plot itself Le Guin drew me in completely, and made me reach the ending rather quickly I had to discover how a young mage could defeat a dark and corrupted version of himself, one that had left him scarred forever and running in fear A story of growth and magic Ged is your typical protagonist he is brave, honest and good He goes on a journey of self discovery in which he learns the limits, and potential, of his power He has rather humble origins he began life as a mere goat herder Through this he learnt how to take care of himself rather than rely on others However, he is also very young and rash With his innate magical power also comes the innate arrogance that can only be associated with a wizard He is easily tempted and goaded A fellow apprentice entices him into a magical duel, which turns disastrous In the process of working an extremely complex spell, aimed at the other wizard, the young Ged accidently summons great evil into the worldYou thought, as a boy, that a mage is one who can do anything So I thought, once So did we all And the truth is that as a man s real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow grows narrower until at last he chooses nothing, but does only and wholly what he must do He spends the rest of the novel trying to redeem this initial folly, and trying to survive the thing that he has actually summoned It is a dark horror, and one that only he, personally, can defeat because he was the one who called it forth This is a harsh lesson for Ged, and, undoubtedly, one that will make him into a much better mage He learns caution and develops wisdom he learns to listen and take the advice of those who are experienced than himself But, importantly, he learns not to be so foolish with magic in the future because it could easily lead to his own ruination Magic is most dangerous, in this world, and it must be handled with care Short and sweet The narrative of this is incredibly bare and simple, surprisingly so The author doesn t dwell on things, as she is constantly pushing the story forward The prose is basic and unembellished, but at the same time it is delivered perfectly She tempts you to reach the end and see the worthy resolution with your own eyes The ending is also delivered in a quick and frank manner, which completely reflects her storytelling in general This book could have, quite easily, been four times the length But, Le Guin s style is quick and sharp She doesn t mess about with her characters They re there to be seen rather than described This is a style rarely found in fantasy, and most of the time it doesn t work that well, but in this can Le Guin does in masterfully She gives you just enough to add depth, and in the process she doesn t waste a single word or drag you on a long and tireless journey I don t think many authors could quite achieve this balance in the genre I can t believe that I ve only just read this Le Guin is clearly a major voice in the fantasy genre, yet her existence is quite new to me When reading this I noticed many ideas that I ve seen several times before in fantasy, yet, I never really considered with whom these ideas originated Indeed, Le Guin created the first school of magic It is vast and excellent, but largely underrepresented in the story Pat Rothfuss and J.
K Rowling took this idea, and actually made it better in their novels because it is the centre point of their worlds Le Guin, however, uses the entire world of Earth Sea to tell her story I think because of this I have a clearer mental image of her world when compared to other fantasy universes One thing is for sure, this won t be the last Le Guin book I read Earthsea Cycle1 A Wizard of Earthsea Four worthy stars 2 The Tombs of Atuan A redeeming four stars3 The Farthest Shore A strong four stars As a reader of Fantasy, this book felt like a return home, even though I had never read it before The tale of this young wizard and his hardships and coming to terms with his own darkness is one that has been redone again and again, from Rowling to Jordan to Goodkind, and so far, despite adding gobs of length and endless details, no one has managed to improve upon it.
Though she isn t the first to explore the Bildungsroman as Fantasy Mervyn Peake precedes her , he was an author who eschewed symbolic magic, and so has been duly ignored by most authors and readers in the genre Le Guin s approach is much familiar, able comfortably to abide alongside Moorcock, Tolkien, and C.
Yet her work has none of the condescension or moralizing that mark the last two, nor the wild pulp sentiment of the first Her world unfolds before us, calmly and confidently, as we might expect from the daughter of noted anthropologists.
As is often the case in her work, we get poignant asides on human nature, but overall, her depiction here is less novel than in, for example, the Hainish cycle There is something flat in the plot progression, and as has been the case with every Le Guin book I have read, I found myself longing for her to take things a little further, to expand and do something risky Often she seems just on the cusp, but rarely takes the step.
Part of the flatness is the depiction of the characters, who fall victim to the show, don t tell problem Again and again, we are told of conversations characters had, of how they reacted, of whether they were clever or unsettling, but we never actually see these conversations take place Many times, the conversations would not have taken any longer to read than the descriptions of them, so why Le Guin chose to leave so much of her story as an outline of action is puzzling and disappointing.
Fundamentally, what characters do is not interesting What they do does not differentiate them What is most important is how they do it their emotional response, their choice of words, the little pauses and moments of doubt At the end of the day, the four musketeers are all men in the same uniform, with mustaches, dueling and warring and seducing women, but they each go about these things in such distinct ways that we could never mistake one for the other.
The import of personality is also shown in Greek tragedy, where we know what is going to befall the character the plot , but we have no idea how they will react when it happens All the tension lies within the character s response, not with the various external events that inspire it.
So I found it very frustrating that, again and again, Le Guin didn t let the characters do their own talking, and so I often felt estranged from them, that I didn t know them or understand their motivations or interrelationships because the fundamental signs were missing As we near the end of the story, and is revealed in conversation and interaction, but that s the reverse of the ideal once you have established a character, we can take some of their actions for granted, but it s important in the beginning to let their idiosyncrasies reveal them.
As others have pointed out, Le Guin covers a lot of ground in a short span, and perhaps it was a desire to make things brief and straightforward that caused her to take the words from her characters mouths, but again, it seems backwards to me I would rather see a story shortened by taking out specifics and leaving promising implications instead of the other way around A single, well written action or turn of phrase can reveal about a character than paragraphs of narration.
In her influential essay on fantasy From Elfland to Poughkeepsie, she talks about how Dunsany does not really use dialogue the way other authors do that indeed, she finds it difficult to locate any sustained conversations in The King of Elfland s Daughter Perhaps on some level, she was trying to imitate his style But, while it works brilliantly for him, it does not serve her as well.
The main reason for this is that Le Guin is much a modern, psychological, realist author than Dunsany Her fantasy setting is sensible, physical it feels like a different place, a world like our world Her characters are inhabitants of that world, the product of its cultures and history So, when she removes their discourse and means of expression, she closes the reader s window onto the character s inner life.
Dunsany, on the author hand, takes a different approach his worlds are dreamlike, the worlds of fairy tale His story takes place in the clash between the possible and the impossible, the real and the dream His characters are not self contained psychological portraits of individuals, but symbols, appendages of the dreamland he weaves So it makes sense that they do not express themselves through the dialogue of psychoanalysis, but through the instinctual pre knowledge of the dreamer.
Indeed, Le Guin herself in that same essay talks about the danger of imitating Dunsany s style, that it is so unique, and his pen a master s, so that any attempt to recreate what we has done is bound to end in embarrassing failure Yet, she also remarks, it s a stage most fantasists seem to go through attempting to produce that sort of natural, lovely false archaism She managed to leave that behind, but now I wonder whether she didn t simply end up imitating another of Dunsany s stylistic modes without realizing it one just as problematic to a thoroughly modern, anthropological writer.
What is most interesting about her story is how small and personal the central conflict is Many authors in fantasy have tried to tackle the conflict of the Shadow Self , from Tolkien s Gollum to the twin alter egos of Anderson sThe Broken Sword , but none have used it as a representation of the internal conflict of the adolescent which must be overcome in order to transition to adulthood.
By so perfectly aligning the symbolic magical conflict in her story with the central theme, Le Guin creates a rare example of narrative unity in fantasy Most authors would have made it a subplot of the grand, overblown good vs evil story, and thus buried its importance beneath a massive conflict that is symbolic only of the fact that books have climaxes Once again I am struck with the notion that modern authors of fantasy epics have added nothing to the genre but details and length.
If only Le Guin had given her lovely little story the strong characters and interrelationships it deserved, it would have been truly transformative As it is, it is sweet, and thoughtful, and sometimes haunting the scenes of stranding on the little island had a particularly unearthly tone and it lays out an intriguing picture of a young Merlin, but in the end, it felt like an incomplete vision.
My List of Suggested Fantasy books
Here s an odd bit of trivia I had just read Beagle s Last Unicorn this month, so it is still very fresh in my mind I agreed with everyone that it was a real classic with so much to love within its pages.
And yet, right after reading A Wizard of Earthsea, I m gonna have to say I think A Wizard of Earthsea is better Not only better, but a lot enjoyable, fascinating, and exciting Not by a lot, mind you, but enough that I can easily say that this Le Guin s classic is superior I hope this comes across as high praise because that s the intent I love everything about it It s all magic and equilibrium The magic is super impressive and the world of islands is gorgeous But most importantly, it s Sparrowhawk that I love This young kid has gone through a lot in his short years and almost all of the hell and shadow is of his own making Bad decisions leading eventually to wisdom, and all the while, the magic surges and surges.
Want a dragon fight Raising the dead Awesome shadows underneath the waters Great discoveries It s all here.
Maybe people just want unicorns I don t know It s not me I want magic that s clear and deep all at the same time, with a fundamental message that isn t corny and that s interwoven so deftly within the tale of discovery that the result is always obvious and profound.
This here tale does that Perfectly I love it.
If there were ever a time I d curse my constant reading of Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance or YA lit, it would be now.
Because clearly, CLEARLY this is a fantastic book that deserved to be finished Ursula K Le Guin is a phenomenal writer and whilst this book up to what I read wasn t absolutely perfect, it was enchanting It was different, it was QUALITY.
Yet I didn t finish it because, thanks to the aforementioned reading habits, my ability to concentrate and enjoy quality literature has slipped to the point that I am unable to focus on a book unless one of the following is occurring or about to occur.
1 Somebody uses their super awesome powers to take down five bad guys with Kung Fu or a huge sword Preferably a glowing sword Preforably also throwing out witty one liners while doing so.
2 Somebody is boning.
3 Somebody is thinking about boning but can t yet until the sexual tension is properly built.
4 There s some mysterious creature literally murdering someone in a sickeningly violent way.
What A Wizard of Earthsea has shown me is that if my rate of decline continues, then I will quickly morph from a semi respectable, semi intelligent, semi quality individual into this Don t move It can t see you if you don t move What s measurably worse is that I will be proud of my decay and revel in it like a pig wallows in mud Like this only far less appealing to frat boys and those with strange mud fetishesClearly, this descent must be stopped If it isn t, the worst could occur We could all be sucked into a blackhole fuelled by fangirl squees and not nearly enough shame Pictured Not nearly enough shameSo feel free to help me, Goodreaders It s obvious I need help A Wizard of Earthsea deserved a better run on my reading shelf than it got Even if we have to shoot a Rocky esque montage to get me back into reading shape, I m sure it will be worth it I can use big words again
You thought, as a boy, that a mage is one who can do anything So I thought, once So did we all And the truth is that as a man s real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow grows narrower until at last he chooses nothing, but does only and wholly what he must do.
A 1968 book with a non white hero LOVE There are the traditional coming of age fantasy elements wizarding school, true friend, bitter rival, fighting a dragon, finding love But there is something that sets this story apart from the newer variations on the similar theme, featuring Kvothe and Harry Potter and the like Part of it, of course, is the narration The story is told in the fairy tale tradition, with that particular strangely fascinating, lyrical and melodic fairy tale rhythm But mostly is because instead of focusing on what is on the surface the learning and the adventures A Wizard of Earthsea goes straight for the deeper meaning, for what lies beneath the surfaceYou must not change one thing, one pebble, one grain of sand, until you know what good and evil will follow on that act The world is in balance, in Equilibrium A wizard s power of Changing and Summoning can shake the balance of the world It is dangerous, that power It is most perilous It must follow knowledge, and serve need To light a candle is to cast a shadowIn her amazing brilliance, Ursula Le Guin takes what could have been a straightforward tale of the fight of good versus evil, and turns it into something a lesson in self discovery and acceptance of the darkness that lives inside all human beings This is a story about the fascination with knowledge and the temptation of power and dangers of presuming too much and upsetting the natural balance It is a story about getting to know your own self, including the darkest corners of your soul And the resulting epic battle of good versus evil well, let me tell you that the resolution was brilliant and poetic, and I did not see it coming AT ALLHe knew now, and the knowledge was hard, that his task had never been to undo what he had done, but to finish what he had begunUrsula Le Guin takes the elements that would be a dangerous set up for fail in the hands of most other writers and somehow unexpectedly turns them into the strengths of this book Take the characters except for Ged, they exist only as sketches to support the ideas in this story it s not supposed to ever work but it does She brushes over the years of Ged s life and training in just a few words, not detailing the tedium as many writers are prone to doing Her worldbuilding is not very detailed, but manages to capture the essence of this world in a few brush pen typewriter strokes We know Ged is in no danger as from the beginning the book refers to his subsequent adventures as a great mage, but this seeming lack of danger for the protagonist does not diminish neither the suspense nor the enjoyment of the story My one criticism goes to the some symbolism overkill I passionately hated all the high school teachers neverending discussions about symbolism yawn , but hey even Le Guin can t be always perfect Wonderful, mesmerizing read that fully deserves 4.
5 stars Loved it dearly and highly recommend.