I read my first Ursula K. Le Guin book in October when I read The Other Wind for Witch Week 2018. I started this series by reading the final book first, and although the book can be read as a stand alone book, I knew that I wanted to start at the beginning because there was obviously a lot that I was missing out on.
So, for 2019, my goal is to read through this series. I just finished reading the first book, A Wizard Of Earthsea, and enjoyed it!
Here we are introduced to a young Ged who is full of pride and arrogance. Add to the mix anger and jealousy and when he summons someone from the dead, a shadow comes along with it, scarring and almost killing Ged, who must then figure out how to confront and defeat this evil thing.
This story is about learning and growing for Ged: learning both who he is and more about the shadow. A thing is released, not a spirit, not a being, but a creature belonging to Ged and only he can defeat it. I must say that the way this was done totally surprised me. I did not expect the story to end the way it did.
It was clear pretty early on that there is power in knowing someone’s name– one’s name is to be protected. Our protagonist is known as Sparrowhawk and only reveals his true name to those he trusts. Knowing a person’s true name gives one power over them. A few observations related to the power of a persons true name:
- Ged was allowed to enter the school doors because of his name
- Friendship deepened when Vetch shared his true name
- Ged had power over a dragon by knowing his name
- The shadow had power over Ged because it knew his name
Is the power in sorcery related to knowing the name of something? It was interesting that the sea creatures in the deep, vast unknown part of the ocean didn’t know their name and so sorcery didn’t work very well on them. Is knowing the name of something or someone the way to understand them more fully? I think so– it speaks of identity. After all, Ged believed he could defeat the shadow if he knew it’s name– if he knew it’s identity and nature he could equip himself for the battle. Knowledge is power, but understanding is key.
This was a wonderful story not only of discovery but also of friendship and the way it strengthens and restores hope when all seems lost. I look forward to reading more about Ged’s adventures and finding out where life takes him next!