"It is very hard for evil to take hold of the unconsenting soul."
This seemingly simple statement actually says a lot about the human nature - just as all the Ursula Le Guin's books that I've read so far seem to do.
A Wizard of Earthsea is a simple but beautiful and magical coming-of-age story of a young wizard Ged, who starts out as a brash and cocky boy who in his arrogance unwittingly releases a terrible Shadow upon the world, but who eventually grows up and succeeds in embracing the darker part of himself. A word of caution if you are expecting a traditional fantasy adventure - it is, more than anything, an introspective book, so be warned.
"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 surface.
"You 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 shadow.In 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 more - 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 ALL.
“He 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 begun.”Ursula 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
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.
- Release date: 02.09.2004
- Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
- Publisher: Bantam Spectra
- ISBN: 9780553383041
- 183 pages
- Book rating: 4.67 (121219 votes)
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