NEA Big Read
A Wizard of Earthsea

A Wizard of Earthsea

by Ursula K. Le Guin

To me a novel can be as beautiful as any symphony, as beautiful as the sea.

  1. What are some characteristics of a young-adult novel?
  2. Why is this world called Earthsea? Why might Le Guin have decided to set her story in such a world?
  3. On the first page of the novel, we learn that Ged will eventually become Archmage and dragonlord. Doesn't this undercut a certain amount of suspense? Why would Le Guin tell us this?
  4. The language of A Wizard of Earthsea is often quietly poetic. Comment on three sentences that you find particularly beautiful or moving. In what ways is a writer or artist like a wizard?
  5. The young Ged tends to be impulsive, getting into trouble like the sorcerer's apprentice. Point out occasions in the book when Ged loses control of himself or his magic.
  6. Why do Ged and Jasper quarrel? Who is to blame? Why do Ged and Vetch become friends?
  7. There are several mentions of shadows even before Ged's attempt to raise the dead Princess Elfarran. List them. What do these various shadows suggest about Ged?
  8. Discuss the meaning of Ged's two encounters with the Doorkeeper of Roke.
  9. Compare the evil of the Shadow with the evil of the Stone of Terrenon. Are they evil in the same way? How do they differ?
  10. What does Ged learn from his encounter with the dragon Yevaud?
  11. Why do Ged and Vetch avoid using magic on their last voyage?
  12. Were you surprised by what happens when Ged confronts the Shadow? Would you say that his realization is true of all human experience?
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