Earthsea: An Overview

earthseaHaving finished the third installment and halfway point of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series, I feel I should look back through the books and record my thoughts. There are few fantasy books that have the same moral and philosophical horsepower, so the temptation to reflect is just too great.

The Farthest Shore (#3) is not as atmospheric and charming as A Wizard Of Earthsea, but neither is it as dark as the second book, The Tombs of Atuan. It lies somewhere in the middle. More adventurous, perhaps, than its successors, but the adventure is not the purpose of the book. Le Guin is often vague on details, and there’s hardly the suspense you’d normally associate with a fantasy like this. Rather, the focus is on the discussions of the characters and the sum total of their experiences that lead to a feeling more of spiritual/mental journeying than of physical, though I don’t think an allegorical hypothesis of the book would hold water. Continue reading

The Wisdom of Earthsea

Here begins a series of scattered posts where I showcase some of the best lines and quotes I picked up from recent books I’ve read. Sadly, I only just read Ursula K. Le Guin’s frst Earthsea novel, A Wizard of Earthsea,  a few months ago. I’m no longer ignorant to the fact that I was really missing out on a work of stunningly original and wise literature.

I hope that by going back over some of these quotes and themes we might be inspired in our own writing. I want to be able to make something of these catalogues of great lines. Also, if any of you have read this book and have things to add, please don’t hesitate to comment! Let’s keep these stories alive.

For those who have never read A Wizard of Earthsea:

Ged was the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea. But he was once called Sparrowhawk, a reckless youth, hungry for power and knowledge, who tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death’s threshold to restore the balance.

Earthsea

Earthsea

Here is an author who has the wisdom of C. S. Lewis and Tolkien’s capacity for legend. In a world that is more sea than land, where a person’s true name is never spoken except in the greatest of trust or for the most evil of reasons…some of its best lines:

“Ged crouched among the dripping bushes wet and sullen, and wondered what was the good of having power if you were too wise to use it.” [24]

“Have you never thought how danger must surround power as shadow does light?” [31]

“…you must not change one thing, one pebble, one grain of sand, until you know what good and evil will follow on that act.” [59]

“Enjoy illusions, lad, and let the rocks be rocks.” [60]

“It is the shadow if your arrogance, the shadow of your ignorance, the shadow you cast. Has a shadow a name?” [91]

“Go to bed; tired is stupid.” [97]

“…it is one thing to read about dragons and another to meet them.” [107]

“From that time forth he believed that the wise man is one who never sets himself apart from other living things.” [115]

“And the grey sea closed over him.” [120]

“That is between me and my shadow.” [134]

“It is light that defeats the dark,” he said stammering,–“light.” [165]

“As a wizard he had learned the price of the game, which is the peril of losing one’s self, playing away the truth.” [174]

“At the spring of the River Ar I named you,” the mage said, “a stream that falls from the mountain to the sea. A man would know the end he goes to, but he cannot know it if he does not turn, and return to his beginning, and hold that beginning in his being.” [178-179]

“He knew only the torment of dread, and the certainty that he must go ahead and do what he set out to do: hunt down the evil, follow his terror to its source.” [204-205]

“…I had forgotten how much light there is in the world, till you gave it back to me.” [211]

“I was with you at the beginning of your journey. It is right that I should follow you to its end.” [221]

I had many more notes and highlights as I looked back though, but I think these are some of the best. This book comes at my highest recommendation. It could change the way we look at fantasy and add a stronger dose of thought and spirit to the flashy wars and assassin’s creeds of popular fantasy now …“if the wind blows true.”