Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

 So, you had to know it was going to happen. Once I read the latest Earthsea book, I simply couldn't resist going back to the beginning and reading them through all over again. A Wizard of Earthsea is the first book, most commonly thought of as a young adult fantasy novel, and in relation to most fantasy today, it is definitely G-rated - no sex and minimal violence.

Wizard begins with the tale of a young boy named Cluny who lives in a village on the isle of Gont, working in his father's smithy. Cluny really doesn't care about the smith trade all that much, and he's always off and about playing in the meadows and forests when he can get away with it. Cluny's aunt, a hedge-witch of sorts, discovers that Cluny has some hidden mage talents, and begins to teach him some of the sorcerous arts. When his village is invaded by barbarians of Karego-At one day, Cluny manages to weave together the natural fog of the island with some illusions and lure the invaders away from his village, for the most part, coincidentally nearly killing himself in the process, for the enormous energy the spell required came from the boy, himself.

A master mage, Ogion, hears about the boy and comes to awaken him from his coma, then, when he is old enough, returns to name the boy Ged and take him on as apprentice. But Ged is impatient with Ogion's slow, cautious magery, and longs to soar free, learning all there is to learn about magic - right away. So Ogion sends him off to the isle of Roke, where the Archmage and eight other Masters have an academy for training young wizards.

Before too very long, Ged's foolish pride gets him in trouble, and attempting a spell far too advanced (and a little on the dark side of the Force) ends with him horribly disfigured by some sort of dark spirit he has unwittingly loosed upon the world. He is allowed to return to his studies and complete his apprenticeship on Roke. When he finally ventures back out into the world, he finds that he cannot run from his nemesis, but that it hunts him down and finds him wherever he flees.

Le Guin weaves a wonderful beginning to a saga in this one, written 45 years ago, which stands the test of time, remaining a classic in the genre.


ProudHillbilly said...

You made me consider starting over, too.

Jon said...

One of the reasons I acquired such a ginormous library is because I can never tell when I might want to re-read an old favorite.