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Mr. Bassett

9th Lit/Comp honors

29 November 2012


A Map of Earthsea

Cover of the book when it first came out in 1968

The new, updated cover of the book.

Book Review

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Mr. Bassett


9th Honors lit/comp


29 November 2012


     A Wizard of Earthsea surprised me when I read this. At first I expected this to be like a standard fantasy book, with the same boring plot as all of the other ones. Even before I finished the first page I was shocked. In the beginning the book introduces the setting and the main character. After I read "who in his day became both dragonlord and Archmage," (LeGuin 1) I realized that most books do not have these sort of things in it. With both mages and dragons, it had to be promising. Things like these made Earthsea different.


     In some places of the book, following what the author was talking about seemed hard to do. In one spot it says "Benderesk stood still, his clouded eyesfixed hateful  and unseeing upon Serret." (LeGuin 167) I didn't understand what the author meant, for it seemed like he was fine with the main character at one point, but wanted him dead the next. Many other moments such as this happened throughout the book. 


    The plot kept me interested in this book almost the whole time. It seemed that something interesting happened on every page. On one page "He ran, he ran, through that vast dusk land where there was no hiding place," (LeGuin 148) and in a few pages awoke in a strange place which he did not know his whereabouts. Dull moments did not exist in Earthsea.  


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     Throughout A Wizard Of Earthsea, Ged goes through many experiences that shape his character. Even though he seems like a quite unlikely hero, Ged undergoes the trials and hardships that any hero goes through. He grows from a small farm boy to "both dragonlord and Archmage." (LeGuin 1)

     As far as the hero's journey goes, most aspects seem to apply to Ged just fine. Ogion, his mentor, starts him on this journey. After being seperated from each other for a few years, Ged says that he has "walked with great wizards," (LeGuin 180) but he thought of Ogion as his true master. Sparrowhawk, as Ged was also called, had many adventures, but these would not have happened without Ogion. 

     With Ged only being a teenager, many things still needed to be learned. He had too much pride in what he did and craved power. However, he had these flaws before he summoned the shadow and lost his power. Once he unleashed the creature, Ged started back from the ground up, and he learned from his mistakes. After the incident, Sparrowhawk became more humbled about what he did and kept to himself. If the decision of what to do with his life was completely up to him, he would have wished to remain on the Isle of the Wise "To stay. To learn. To undo." (LeGuin 90) Eventually, he had no choice but to leave and stop what he had started.

     Since this book is a fiction novel, the authors purpose stands out quite a bit. Like most other fiction books, this one entertains the reader. Surprisingly, the author just goes and states the theme in the book by saying "but to finish what he began." (LeGuin 208) It does not take much effort to understand that the author means to finish anything that you start. A fantasy novel like this can actually have an interesting lesson inside of it.

     All in all, this book never ceased to keep my attention. Sparrowhawk, an unlikely character, rose to the top to become the greatest wizard in all of Earthsea. This goes to show that the most unlikely people can end up greater than anyone would imagine. 

Journey of the Hero

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Hero's Journey

Call to Adventure: Ged discovers that he has the ability to use magic, and uses the power to manipulate fog to save his village. A man named Ogion discovers this and comes to ask Ged to study under him. Ged eventually leaves Ogion to go to school on Roke Island. After a while of learning on Roke, Ged tries to show off by summoning a spirit from the dead. The spirit attacks Ged and almost kills him.

Refusal of the Call: Once he recovered from the attack, he learns that he needs to go out into the world, out of the safety of Roke. Ged was scared that once he leaves the island, the shadowy spirit would find him and possess him. He is left with the decision to face the world and end what he started, or hide in the safety of Roke. 

Supernatural Aid: Being in a world of fantasy like this, Ged has the ability to use magic. At roke, he learns how to use the magic, but his powers are what brought the spirit into the world.

Guide/Mentor: The master wizards at Roke helped Ged learn, but he thinks of Ogion as his real mentor. He was the one who first taught him the basics and principals. When Ged had to face the shadow, Ogion was the one who gave him the advice he needed.  

Talisman: Ged does not have a specific item, but his scars from the shadow would go along these lines. They helped Ged remember what he unleashed into the world, and these serve as motivation to keep on.

Companion: For the most part, Ged goes by himself, but he does have a pet with him. He keeps a small otak, which is like a rat, in his jacket. The creature saved his life once when he was lost in the spirit realm, so the otak is quite special to him. However, the otak is killed by the shadow while Ged is running away. 

Crossing the Threshold: After Ged is mage at the small village of Low Tourning, he decides to face the dragon that is threating the villagers and find a way back to Roke. He discovers that he cannot return to Roke, for the shadow haunting him keeps him from entering. At this point he is forced to wander on his own to find a way to be safe. 

Threshold Guardians: The dragon of Pendor and the shadow keep Ged from moving on with his life. He could not leave the village until something was done about the dragon. Once the dragon was out of the way, the shadow prevented him from entering Roke. The island has protections that keep evil from entering, and with the shadow nearby, Ged could not enter.

Tests/ Road of Trials: After trying to enter Roke, Ged goes off in search of some way to face the shadow. A man finds him in the streets and tells him to go to the Court of the Terrenon. Ged finds his way there, but it turns out that the shadow organized the whole scheme of him getting there. He overcomes the power of the Terrenon and escapes the evil place.

Atonement (“at one with”) with or Recognition by the Father: Ged's father lives in some village in Gont, and Ged never became too close with him. After leaving the Court of the Terrenon, he is reunited with Ogion. Ogion isn't really his father, but he serves the place of his father figure in a way.

Entering the Belly of the Whale: Ged must hunt the hunter and find the shadow. He decides it has been too long running away, so he goes after what he has been running from for so long.

Climax/Final Battle: Ged finds the shadow in the Open Sea, and at last confronts him. No fight scene or anything happens at this point, just the two meeting face to face and a word being spoke. 

Ultimate Boon / Magic Elixir: After plenty of thinking time, Ged realizes what the shadow's name is: Ged. Since the being was created by him, it was just an alternate form of himself. By speaking his own name, he masters the creature, for one only masters himself completely when he knows himself thoroughly. 


Refusal of the Return: Ged willingly heads home, since the quest has been finished and there is nothing left for him in the Open Sea.

Magic Flight / Pursuit: When the shadow was taken care of, it completely left. There was no trace of it left for it to do anything else to anyone. 

Crossing the Return Threshold: Once Ged returns to Vetch's house in Iffish, he at last is safe. He has a place to stay and a sort of family to be there for him.

Master of Two Worlds: Since the shadow was part of Ged, he masters his mind when he takes care of the creature. Clearing himself of the burden of it completely changed his way of life, and he overcame the obstacles in his way.

Freedom to Live: Ged becomes a free person when the shadow leaves. He finally has a chance to go and live out all of his dreams and wishes. His lifestyle is completely up to him, and there is nothing else there hindering him from what he wants to do.



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A Wizard of Earthsea takes place in the magical land of Earthsea. The main character's name starts as Dunny, but later Ogion changes it to Ged. Ged learns how to use magic, then Ogion takes him in to teach him. 


At school on Roke Island, Ged wishes to be powerful, but the learning goes too slow for him. He tries to prove to his peers that he has great power, so he attempts to summon a spirit from the dead, but something goes wrong and Ged is attacked by the spirit. He almost dies, but the archmage gives his life to save Ged. 

Rising Action: 

After he recovered, Ged set off to the Ninety Isles to be mage of a small town there. He discovers that a dragon on Pendor Island is threatening the villagers. Ged sets off to deal with the dragon, and he calms it by speaking its true name. Not so long after, Ged sails to Roke Island to seek advice about the shadow. The Island's magic properties prevents him from entering the island, so he starts running from the shadow. He comes across a man who says to go to the Court of the Terrenon, but he encounters the shadow along the way. At the court, he discovers what the Terrenon is. The Lord of the Terrenon becomes angered at Ged, and he sends these creatures after him. Ged turns into a hawk and flies to Ogion's house. Ogion says that he should hunt the shadow, so he does what Ogion says.


After meeting his old friend Vetch, Ged sets sail southeast, towards the edge of the world. Based off of the hunch that the shadow can be found there, the two sail there for several days. At their destination, the world seems to be all strange and mixed up. The ocean turns into sand, the sun disappears, and all sound is gone. Ged steps off the boat into the darkness, and the shadow meets him there. The two finally come face to face and Ged stops the shadow by saying its name: Ged. The world goes back to normal, and Ged is completely shocked for a while, but he soon comes to his senses. 

Falling Action: 

The two companions sail back to where they came from, in good spirits all the way. The quest has come to an end, and they remained safe. Even though the trip home takes a little longer than they expected and the food runs out along the way, the two eventually make it home to Iffish.


Vetch said that he would write a song about the journey of Ged, but if he did, no one knows what happened to it. All the different parts of Earthsea have different variations of some sort of story like this. In The Deed of Ged, his encounter with the shadow never comes up. The reason why no one knows the story never comes up in the book. 


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6. Identify at least one concept or skill you will devote more study and practice to:

Pacing myself is one concept I could use some practice on. I seem to fall behind on my schedule, and then I have to cram everything at once.


1. Describe some specific things you learned during this unit?

I learned much about figurative language. This could greatly help me in my writing.


2. Identify one or more specific concepts in this unit you found relatively easy to understand:

Figurative language came quite easily to me. With it being a huge part of poetry, it was just easy to learn, for poetry is one of my strong points.


7. How well were you able to budget your time during this project? Identify at least one thing you can do (starting today) to better manage your time:

For the most part, I managed my time quite well. There were several spots (mostly at the end) where I fell behind, and I had to work hard to finish what I was working on. I have heard that making a schedule works, so I might give that a try.


4. Identify one or more specific concepts in this unit you found confusing:

Writing three annotations per page confused me. I am not sure if it was because I did not understand the correct way to annotate, or if it was the amount of annotations. This required some work, but I became less confused after I worked on it some.




Works Cited

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Le Guin, Ursula K. Earthsea: A Wizard of Earthsea. United States. Graphia. 1968.