Sparrowhawk (Ged) has now become Archmage when young Prince Arren arrives in Roke to seek help: on his island magic no longer has meaning or power and the wizards are forgetting their spells. Sparrowhawk, restless for adventure, determines to investigate and hero-worshipping Arren, despite realising that even as a prince he is just a young boy ("I am only myself"), pledges to serve. This combination of taciturn, sometimes mysterious old man and eager, brave, proud, inexperienced boy is a classic one.
So the pair venture into the ocean, moving from island to island to learn why magic is flowing from the world. In the end their quest takes them to the Land of the Dead. But will even Sparrowhawk's wisdom and magic and Arren's eclectic mixture of courage and fearfulness be sufficient to restore the equilibrium of the universe?
A great story from a master story-teller. March 2017; 240 pages
Once again Le Guin enchants with the beauty of her prose. Like a poet (or a wizard) she seems to be able to encapsulate images and ideas into as few perfectly-chosen words as possible.
- "Water leapt and fell through shadow and clear light" (p 399)
- "They go about ... without looking at the world." (p 402)
- "To deny the past is to deny the future. A man does not make his destiny: he accepts it, or denies it." (p 431)
- "He knew at last what it was like to be the hunted instead of the hunter ... It was to be alone, and to be free." (p 466)
- "On every act the balance of the whole depends." (p 478)
- "Sparrowhawk sat by him watching the dawn come and the sun rise, even as one might study a treasure for something gone amiss in it, a jewel flawed, a child sick." (p 479)
- "We have a story about the boy whose schoolmaster was a stone. Aye ... what did he learn? Not to ask questions." (p 483)
- "Only too far is far enough." (p 609)
- "You sought it and could not find it and so made wise words about acceptance and balance and the equilibrium of life and death. But they were words - lies to cover your failure - to cover your fear of death!" (p 611)
Page references refer to the Penguin omnibus edition of the first four Earthsea books.
The tale continues in Tehanu.