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An Introduction to A Wizard of Earthsea

Ursula K. Le Guin
Copyright © by Marian Wood Kolisch

Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea (1968) is arguably the most widely admired American fantasy novel of the past 50 years. The book's elegant diction, geographical sweep, and mounting suspense are quite irresistible. Earthsea-composed of an archipelago of many islands-is a land of the imagination, like Oz, Faerie, or the dream-like realm of our unconscious.

Earthsea may not be a "real" world but it is one that our souls recognize as meaningful and "true:' Actions there possess an epic grandeur, a mythic resonance that we associate with romance and fairy tale.

Songs, poems, runes, spells-words matter a great deal in Earthsea, especially those in the "Old Speech" now spoken only by dragons and wizards. To work a spell one must know an object or person's "true name," which is nothing less than that object or person's fundamental essence. In Earthsea, to know a person's true name is to gain power over him or her. "A mage;' we are told, "can control only what is near him, what he can name exactly and wholly:'

Understanding the nature of things, not possessing power over them, is the ultimate goal of magic. Indeed, the greatest wizards do all they can to avoid using their skill. They recognize that the cosmos relies on equilibrium, appropriateness, and "balance"-the very name Earthsea suggests such balance-and that every action bears consequences. To perform magic, then, is to take on a heavy responsibili­ ty: One literally disturbs the balance of the universe.

Read more: An Introduction to A Wizard of Earthsea

Michael Chabon Visit

Save the Date

Michael Chabon Author Michael Chabon will visit the Pioneer Library System in March as part of the 2015 Big Read. Mark your calendars and check here for more information as the events draw closer. 

March 25
PRIVATE Reception for Pioneer Library System Foundation Donors

March 26
Both events are first come, first seated
10 am - 11:30 am: Presentation at Oklahoma Baptist University's Geiger Center with book signing
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm: Presentation at Sam Noble Museum of Natural History with book signing

Read more: Michael Chabon Visit

Originally published in 1968, Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea is the first of six Earthsea Cycle titles.

The novel shares the story of Ged, the greatest sorcerer in Earthsea, who was known as "Sparrowhawk" as a reckless youth. In his hunger for power and knowledge, he tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world.

This is the exciting tale of his journey to manhood as he masters the words of power, tames a dragon, and restores balance to the world.

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. Look for more information about the 2015 Big Read events and programs coming to your hometown library.