A Wizard of Earthsea

Publisher: Puffin

Duny, a young boy living in a small rural village, grows up wild without a mother and without much attention from his blacksmith father. One day, he witnesses his aunt calling out strange words to a goat, commanding it to do her will. Fascinated, he repeats the words.

His aunt, a witch, teaches Duny the magic she knows – words of power that can call and command different elements of nature, but Duny soon learns everything she can teach him. One day, the  wizard Ogion hears of Duny’s magical prowess and takes him as his apprentice, giving him his true name, Ged. Under Ogion’s tutelage Ged learns much, but it also tempted into working dark magic that he doesn’t truly understand, creating a shadow that is bound to him. Ogion gives him the choice: to stay with him at Re Albi or learn high magic at the wizard school far away on the island of Roke. Taking his shadow with him, Ged embarks on his training as a wizard.

The first in a classic series of fantasy novels, A Wizard of Earthsea follows Ged’s development from goat herder to magician and from boy to young man. Le Guin’s magic is less the pointing-wands-at-things type and a far deeper, philosophical and organic system where much of the magician’s job is to understand the true nature of all things and their secret names, as well as mastering the elements outside and inside ourselves. Much of Ged’s journey at first is to come to terms with the shadow his magical power has created and vanquish it, a reminder that magic is not external to him, but more about powerful internal change.

Flawlessly written and by turns exciting, insightful and thought provoking, A Wizard of Earthsea has a timeless, mythical feel – a truly wonderful book.

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