Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wizard of Earthsea (A book whereby shaped my ethics)

From your childhood to your adulthood, there are stories, movies and events which shaped your lives.
There are idols, both fictional and in real life, whom inspire and motivate one to greater heights.
Great books or stories learnt when one is young would stay with one for a lifetime.
To me, a wizard of earthsea is a story which stayed in my heart for a long time.
My first read of this book was when i was about 10.
The greatest line which i liked is as follows. Ogion to Ged "To listen, one must be silent."
The wizards in the story do very very simple stuff and not very awesome stuff.
The most awesome thing which was seen in the book was in my opinion, Ged's duel with the dragon of Pendor's spawn.
In addition, it was mentioned in the book that Ogion stopped an earthquake. (useful if he was in china)
Le guin's style of writing and incorporation of zen and taoist principles to the story is very evident.
From the significance of the Shadow, which could be pride, fear of the unknown.
She uses simple words and not complex prose to make a fantastic story.

Plot summary from Wiki.

Duny is a young boy from Gont, one of the larger islands which dot Earthsea. His mother is dead, his siblings have all left home and his father is a dour, taciturn bronze-smith with no interest in Duny. At twelve, he is essentially alone, headstrong and wild. The boy discovers he has a strong talent for magic. His aunt, the village witch, teaches him what few spells she herself knows, but his power far exceeds hers.
One day, he uses his natural talent and a fog-gathering spell he learned from a passing weatherworker to save his village from a raiding party of Karg pirates. The tale of his remarkable feat spreads far and wide, finally reaching the ear of a wise Gontish mage, Ogion the Silent. He recognizes that the boy is so powerful he must be trained so as not to become a danger to himself and others. In the rite of passage which leads to adulthood, he gives the boy his "true name", Ged, and takes him as an apprentice. (In this world, a magician who knows someone else's true name can control that person, so one's true name is revealed only to those whom one trusts implicitly. Normally, a person is referred to by his or her "use name". Ged's use name is Sparrowhawk.)

The undisciplined young man grows restless under the gentle, patient tutelage of his master. Ogion finally gives him a choice: stay with him or go to the renowned school for wizards, on the island of Roke. Though he has grown to love the old man, the youngster is drawn irresistibly to a life of doing, rather than being.
At the school, Sparrowhawk masters his craft with amazing ease, but his pride and arrogance grow even faster than his skill and, in his hubris, he attempts to conjure a dead spirit - a dangerous spell which goes awry. He inadvertently summons a spirit of darkness which attacks and scars him. The being is driven off by the Archmage, who exhausts himself in the process and dies shortly thereafter.
Sparrowhawk is wracked with guilt at causing the old man's death, but after a painful and slow recovery, he graduates. Normally, Roke's wizards are sought after by princes and rich merchants, but the new Archmage sends Sparrowhawk, with his willing acquiescence, to a poor island group, to protect the inhabitants from a powerful dragon. Sparrowhawk struggles both to defend himself against the spirit he released on Roke and to protect the islanders against the dragon, but realizes he cannot do both.
He takes a desperate risk; in the old histories, he has found the true name of a dragon which might be the one he must confront. His gamble succeeds and he forces the dragon to bind itself with oaths to never trouble the islanders. Freed from one responsibility, Sparrowhawk resolves to track down his other foe and destroy or banish it.
Sparrowhawk is pursued by his nemesis, being forced to flee each time it finds him. Eventually, he instinctively returns to Ogion, who advises him to overcome his fear and turn and hunt his shadow. He tracks his own flight across the world, until he finds his shadow and he faces it a second time. This time he tries to physically grapple with it and through this act overcomes his fear. From this point on he himself becomes the hunter. He no longer rushes because through their shared bond he knows that the shadow cannot escape him and he eventually meets his old friend Vetch again. After some time with Vetch, Sparrowhawk senses that the shadow has found a way to escape him and he and Vetch set off into the open sea, eventually coming upon a place that Sparrowhawk perceives as land but Vetch cannot, though he does notice that rowing the boat does eventually feel like it has run aground. Sparrowhawk at this points gets out of the boat and sets off across the shadow lands/water toward his shadow which waits for him. Though some of his teachers had thought it to be nameless, Sparrowhawk masters his enemy by speaking its true name. The shadow had in fact been a shadow of himself, his hubris and arrogance. It was connected to him in that it was a part of him, a part he had always wanted to deny and by fleeing it had thus gained power over him. By recognizing this he realized that its true name was in fact his own and speaks it aloud in the dark lands at the end of the world. In doing so, he reconciles himself with his shadow.

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