A Wizard of Earthsea
Ursula Le Guin

Ursula Le Guin

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A Wizard of Earthsea


children’s fantasy

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A Wizard of Earthsea

Copyright © Ursula K. Le Guin, 1968


The Shadow
‘Wait. Manhood is patience. Mastery is nine times patience.’



‘Have you never thought how danger must surround power as shadow does light? This sorcery is not a game we play for pleasure or for praise. Think of this: that every word, every act of our Art is said and is done either for good, or for evil. Before you speak or do you must know the price that is to pay!’

The School for Wizards
‘Illusion fools the beholder’s senses; it makes him see and hear and feel that the thing is changed. But it does not change the thing. To change this rock into a jewel, you must change its true name. And to do that, my son, even to so small a scrap of the world, is to change the world. It can be done. [...] But you must not change one thing, one pebble, one grain of sand, until you know what good and evil will follow on the act.’




The Loosing of the Shadow
‘You thought, as a boy, that a mage is one who can do anything. So I thought, once. So did we all. And the truth is that as a man’s real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow grows narrower: until at last he chooses nothing, but does only and wholly what he must do . . .’

The Dragon of Pendor
From that time forth he believed that the wise man is one who never sets himself apart from other living things, whether they have speech or not, and in later years he strove long to learn what can be learned, in silence, from the eyes of animals, the flight of birds, the great slow gestures of trees.
Although the use of the Old Speech binds a man to truth, this is not so with dragons. It is their own language, and they can lie in it, twisting the true words to false ends, catching the unwary hearer in a maze of mirror-words each of which reflects the truth and none of which leads anywhere.




A wizardly man soon learns that few indeed of his meetings are chance ones, be they for good or for ill.


‘It is no secret. All power is one in source and end, I think. Years and distances, stars and candles, water and wind and wizardry, the craft in a man’s hand and the wisdom in a tree’s root: they all arise together. My name, and yours, and the true name of the sun, or a spring of water, or an unborn child, all are syllables of the great word that is very slowly spoken by the shining of the stars. There is no other power. No other name.’

Staying his knife on the carved wood, Murre asked, ‘What of death?’

The girl listened, her shining black head bent down.

‘For a word to be spoken,’ Ged answered slowly, ‘there must be silence. Before, and after.’



text checked (see note) Jan 2005

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