Wisdom of Earthsea

Ged

 

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.

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