Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Wizard of Earthsea

So...What did everyone think?

I finished the novel a couple of days ago. I have to say I was really impressed. It read very fast and easy, but was still dark and sophisticated enough to have me really engaged all the way through. Le Guin really seems to have a knack for fiction that appeals to many age groups. I know our library had this in the "young adult" section, but I still thought it was quite adult, even dark.

Here are some prompts that Laura and I thought of (actually, mostly Laura):

-What is the significance of the Shadow? What do you think it is?

-What does Ged learn? How does he change?

-Is Ged good, bad or somewhere in between?

-What did you want to learn more about? Do you want to read more in this series?

-Is there anything you didn't like about the book?

-What do you think of Le Guin's writing style? Did anything stand out to you, style-wise?

Feel free to raise any questions of your own, or simply comment on your experience of the novel.


  1. The gebbeth, or Ged's shadow, represents the shadow side of us all. I believe. That dark, snarly part of us that is all-too-human, yet, is all-too-denied. I think this is best illustrated when we discover that the name of the gebbeth is, indeed, Ged's name.

    I particularly love the Power of Words in this novel. When Segoy spoke, the Word Created the world. Very biblical. To know a name, is truly to have power over something. It's a large part of what makes us human. This ability to Name something.
    I was also reminded of some of the Irish fiction I'd read that addressed this point. During colonization, the English went to great lengths to stamp out the Gaelic tongue. Indeed, this is generally true of colonization in general. And why? Because to be the creator of a name, and to force others to recognize that name, is to have power.

  2. To extend this: Yes, to name a thing is to exercise dominion over it. In parallel (and you know I've got to go here!), this was one of Adam's two great tasks- tilling the garden and naming the animals. In a sense, the power to name is the power of God. The power to name is the power of identity, and in that power, we are co-creators with God because we are created in the image of God.

    In relation to your point on the gebbeth, it is this power that is so easily distorted and used for selfish purposes. How is the gebbeth released? In a moment of pride. It is in a moment anger, weakness, and rage in which we seek to place ourselves in the position of prime importance (center of value or as the center or meaning through an exercise of will- will-to-power) that the darkness of sin is released upon the world. To take this another step forward, I find a wonderful parallel between the gebbeth and the mark that Cain bears after he kills his brother Abel. Literally, Cain is cast out into Nod, the shadow lands, as punishment for his pride. Ged, too, goes into self-imposed exile, and even travels to Nod in Atuan.

    Oh, and let's not even get started on what the gebbeth is. In the desire to release this undead thing, are we talking about a fundamental struggle to escape our own mortality by the prideful need to master the power of death? The gebbeth is more than the dark side of our natures. It is our nature in rebellion, imprisoned by the power of sin and death. In our moment of supposed mastery, we become its slave, our lives becoming a struggle to escape it. It is only in surrender to it, surrender to who and what we are- accepting our place in the universe- that we are able to conquer it. Grace requires surrender through simple trust.

    Genesis 4:6-7 "6 The LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, SIN IS LURKING AT THE DOOR; ITS DESIRE IS FOR YOU, but you must master it."