Wisdom of Earthsea



In Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea, the boy-wizard Sparrowhawk gets some advice from the Archmage of his school before he sets out into the real world:

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…

Closer to the great epics of Tolkien than to the more easily accessible Harry Potter books, Le Guin's story happens in Earthsea, a self-contained archipelago inhabited by men and dragons and other magical creatures. What I find most appealing is that magic in Earthsea is governed by certain laws; it has specific limits (intrinsic or enforced) ; as the story unfolds, the reader actually begins to care about the natural balance of all things. But, even though magic is at a premium and is unglamorous in its use compared to the charms of the Potter books, the writing is full of beautiful passages and the occassional mischief. To the last, the story of Sparrowhawk has a kind of aching grandeur, as the gifted young hero broods constantly over his worst fears and resolves to defeat the shackles or perish in the process.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s