Nomenclature[ edit ] In Earthsea , one character often has several names. This is because in Earthsea, the true name of a person has power and a wizard can wield total power over someone whose name he knows. Consequently, any person guards his true name closely and only shares it with those whom he or she can totally trust. Through childhood up to puberty, children are known by a child-name; at their rite of Passage, about the age of thirteen, children are given a true name in the Old Speech, usually by a wizard, that they will keep for the rest of their lives. In dealings with most people, the Hardic peoples of Earthsea use a "use-name", usually a common word in the Hardic language rendered into English by which they are identified. A person may keep one use-name all his or her life, or may change it at whim, or may be known to one group of people by one name and to others by another name.

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Edit The world of Earthsea is one of sea and islands: a vast archipelago of hundreds of islands surrounded by mostly uncharted ocean. The term "archipelago" is used to refer only to the central grouping of islands around the main island of Havnor and the Inmost Sea. The outlying islands are loosely grouped into four "Reaches" West , North , South and East , and the Kargad Lands , four large islands to the northeast inhabited by the warlike nation of the Kargs.

People and cultures Edit The cultures of Earthsea do not directly resemble those of our world, except insofar as there are general resemblances to any literate non-industrial civilization. Technologically, Earthsea appears to be comparable to an early Iron Age society, with bronze used in places where iron is scarce.

Weapons also include the use of wood and other hard but easily crafted metals. Individual cultural elements in Earthsea can be compared with Earth cultures, without complete identification. Like the peoples of the Pacific islands or the Mediterranean basin, they have a way of life based on contact with the sea. However, on many of the larger islands like Havnor, Semel , and Way , people can live a totally inland life.

No archipelago on Earth has the mix of island sizes, close grouping, and distance from continental landmasses that Earthsea does; its largest island, Havnor, which measures about miles N-S and E-W is only slightly larger than Sicily, or Mindanao, less than half the size of Ireland. However, they are usually larger and much more closely grouped than the atolls of the Pacific. The overall climate of Earthsea is temperate, comparable to the mid-latitudes over a distance of about miles of the Northern hemisphere.

There is a yearly transition from warm summers to cold and snowy winters, especially in northern islands like Gont and Osskil. In the southern regions of Earthsea it can be much warmer.

Earthsea, with the exception of the Kargad lands, is a literate society using a writing system called the " Hardic runes. Ethnic groups Edit The racial characteristics of the people of Earthsea are for the most part "red-brown" in coloring; in the South and East Reach and on Way, they are much darker brown, but with straight black hair; in Osskil, they have a more central or eastern European look, though still with dark skin, and the Kargs resemble predominantly blond northern Europeans.

It describes how Segoy raised the islands of Earthsea from the ocean by naming them in the true speech. Little is known of the original inhabitants of Earthsea, but scattered legends suggest that humans and dragons were once one race. The ancient Pelnish lore and Kargad legends describe an agreement between them called the Vedurnan or Verw Nadan to separate because of their differing temperaments and goals.

Later, as more of Earthsea came under the dominion of the Kings of Enlad, the center of the kingdom moved from Enlad to the largest island, the more central Havnor. This dynasty of Great Kings ruled all or almost all of Earthsea, but ended soon after the death of Erreth-Akbe , and the kingdom fragmented into many separate principalities and domains. By the time of Ged and the beginning of the series, this state of affairs had persisted for millennia, though the emergence of a new king had been prophesied.

Magic in Earthsea Edit Magic is a central part of life in most of Earthsea, with the exception of the Kargish lands, where it is banned. There are weather workers on ships, fixers who repair boats and buildings, entertainers, and court sorcerers.

Magic is an inborn talent which can be developed with training. The most gifted are sent to the school on Roke, where, if their skill and their discipline prove sufficient, they can become staff-carrying wizards. A strong theme of the stories is the connection between power and responsibility.

There is often a Taoist message: "good" wizardry tries to be in harmony with the world, while "bad" wizardry, such as necromancy, can lead to an upsetting of the "balance" and threaten catastrophe. While the dragons are more powerful, they act instinctively to preserve the balance. Only humans pose a threat to it. In The Farthest Shore, Cob seeks immortality regardless of the consequences and opens a breach between life and death which endangers the living. Magic on Earthsea is primarily verbal.

Everything has a true name in the Old Speech, the language of the dragons. One who knows the true name of an object has power over it. A "use" name, which has no magical property, suffices for everyday purposes. For example, the wizard whose true name is Ged is known by the use name Sparrowhawk. One vital aspect of magic is that it is impossible for humans to lie in the old language, so that magic works by forcing the universe to conform to the words spoken by the magician.

For example, to say "I am an eagle" in the old language means that the speaker becomes an eagle, so that the statement is no longer false. The School of Magic Edit Roke Island is the magical heart of Earthsea and is protected by potent spells and a magical wind and fog that ward off evil. It contains several places of power, such as Roke Knoll and the Immanent Grove. The school of Roke was founded by Elehal and Yahan of Roke, and Medra of Havnor, as a center of learning, a refuge for magicians fleeing feuding warlords who used them to do harm.

The school gradually grew in power and influence, until eventually its leader, the Archmage , was considered second only to the king.

However, through the long centuries, the wizards of Roke remained always loyal, though no king could have stood against their magic. Even in the long interregnum when the Archipelago was without a king, the Archmage did not try to usurp power, but sought only to maintain the balance.

When the last Archmage, Ged, loses his magical abilities, no one is appointed to replace him. Teaching in the school is carried out by the nine Masters, each with a specialty: Master Windkey , whose skill lies in weather control Master Hand, who deals with illusions Master Herbal, versed in healing Master Changer, who knows the arts of transformation Master Summoner, skilled in calling or summoning Master Namer, who teaches the students the rudiments of True Speech Master Chanter, teacher of music and chanted spells Master Patterner, seeker of meaning and intent Master Doorkeeper, the guardian of the gates of the school.

Their leader is the Archmage, chosen by the nine Masters, and often from outside the school. The position of the Master Finder was abolished by the first Archmage, Halkel, and replaced with that of Chanter. Halkel also banned women from the school. It is a realm of shadow and dust, where nothing changes and "lovers pass each other in silence".

Wizards can, at great peril, cross from the land of the living to the Dry Land and back again by using their magic to step over the low stone wall that separates the two realms.

At the bottom of the valley of the dead is the dry river, and beyond that lie the Mountains of Pain. Ged loses his magical powers in the Dry Land; no longer able to cross the wall, he and his companion Arren become the first to traverse the Mountains of Pain to return to life. It is revealed that the Dry Land was a failed attempt by early mages to gain immortality. The mages stole half of the land "west of west" from the dragons to create a paradise in which their souls would dwell.

However, when they walled off the land, its beauty vanished, it fell under eternal night, the wind ceased blowing, and the immortal souls that went there existed without any meaning. The Other Wind recounts how the wall around the Dry Land is destroyed, freeing the trapped souls to rejoin the cycle of death and rebirth.


The Earthsea Quartet

Earthsea Saga: Book 1 - 4 Of these, some say the greatest - and surely the greatest voyager - is the man called Sparrowhawk. As a reckless, awkward b Earthsea Saga: Book 5 9. This puts Alder and Earthsea in Earthsea Saga: Book 6 9. Have you read The Earthsea Quartet?


The Earthsea Quartet by Ursula Le Guin

Shelves: classics , fantasy , young-adult , reviewed , own-a-copy , anthologies , read-in Call me Always Late on the Bandwagon because it took me sooo long to realize that Earthsea was a book by my favorite sci-fi writer, and not just a terrible Sci-Fi Channel series that Le Guin disavowed, by the way. When that realization hit me, I got myself a copy of the Earthsea Quartet. I cracked it open bundled up in bed, with a cup of hot herbal tea in hand, and I just vanished into this beautifully crafted world. The big tome became my bed-time reading treat for the next couple of months, and I confess I went to bed early a few times to have an excuse to read more of it. The first tome chronicles his childhood, education and training in the arts of wizardry and his early adventures.


Earthsea Cycle Series


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