Earthsea

Earthsea

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Encyclopedia
Earthsea is a fictional realm
Fictional universe
A fictional universe is a self-consistent fictional setting with elements that differ from the real world. It may also be called an imagined, constructed or fictional realm ....

 originally created by Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula Kroeber Le Guin is an American author. She has written novels, poetry, children's books, essays, and short stories, notably in fantasy and science fiction...

 for her short story "The Word of Unbinding
The Word of Unbinding
"The Word of Unbinding" is a short story by Ursula K. Le Guin, first published in the January 1964 issue of Fantastic, and reprinted in collections such as The Wind's Twelve Quarters. In this story, the Earthsea realm, which was later made famous by A Wizard of Earthsea, was first introduced...

", published in 1964. Earthsea became the setting for a further six books
Hexalogy
A hexalogy is a compound literary or narrative work that is made up of six distinct works, just as a trilogy is made up of three works, and a tetralogy of four. The word apparently first appeared in English as a borrowing from German, in discussions of August Bungert's Wagnerian opera cycle...

, beginning with A Wizard of Earthsea
A Wizard of Earthsea
A Wizard of Earthsea, first published in 1968, is the first of a series of books written by Ursula K. Le Guin and set in the fantasy world archipelago of Earthsea depicting the adventures of a budding young wizard named Ged...

, first published in 1968, and continuing with The Tombs of Atuan
The Tombs of Atuan
The Tombs of Atuan is the second of a series of books written by Ursula K. Le Guin and set in her fantasy archipelago of Earthsea, first published in 1971. Its events take place a few years after those in A Wizard of Earthsea and around two decades before those in The Farthest Shore...

, The Farthest Shore
The Farthest Shore
The Farthest Shore is the third of a series of books written by Ursula K. Le Guin and set in her fantasy archipelago of Earthsea, first published in 1972. It follows on from The Tombs of Atuan, which itself was a sequel to A Wizard of Earthsea. It is the Earthsea series novel which inspired the...

, Tehanu
Tehanu
Tehanu is the fourth of Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea books. It won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1990, and the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel in 1991.-Plot summary:...

, Tales from Earthsea
Tales from Earthsea
Tales from Earthsea is a collection of short stories by American writer Ursula K. Le Guin, first published in 2001. The stories are set in the Earthsea world....

and The Other Wind
The Other Wind
The Other Wind is the sixth and last of a series of books written by Ursula K. Le Guin and set in her fantasy archipelago of Earthsea...

. All are set in the world of Earthsea, as are (to date) seven short stories by Le Guin, two of which are not collected in any of these books.

Geography


The world of Earthsea is one of sea and islands: a vast archipelago
Archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 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" (The West, North, South and East), and the Kargad Lands, four large islands to the northeast inhabited by the warlike nation of the Karg
Karg
The Kargs are a fictional people in Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea canon.-Appearance:Kargs have fair skin and many have blond hair, unlike the majority of the inhabitants of Earthsea, who have dark skin and hair. Tenar, perhaps the best-known Kargish individual, happens to have dark hair...

s. Islands pivotal to the novels include Roke and Havnor in the Inner Sea; Gont in the northeastern Archipelago, and Atuan, one of the Kargad lands.

People and cultures



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
Iron Age
The Iron Age is the archaeological period generally occurring after the Bronze Age, marked by the prevalent use of iron. The early period of the age is characterized by the widespread use of iron or steel. The adoption of such material coincided with other changes in society, including differing...

 society, with bronze used in places where iron is scarce. Ged
Ged (Earthsea)
Ged , is the true name of a fictional character in Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea realm. He is introduced in A Wizard of Earthsea, and plays both main and supporting roles in the subsequent Earthsea novels...

's father is a bronze-smith. 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
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

 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. The areas of earth most closely resembling the world of Earthsea are the Indonesian and Phillippine archipelagos, although Earthsea is nowhere near a large continent. The largest island, Havnor, at approximately 380 miles across is about the size of Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

.

The overall climate of Earthsea is temperate, comparable to the mid-latitudes (over a distance of about 1800 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." The name suggests similarity to the Germanic runes
Runic alphabet
The runic alphabets are a set of related alphabets using letters known as runes to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet and for specialized purposes thereafter...

, but there are supposed to be hundreds of runes in use (in A Wizard of Earthsea, Ged learns to read and write "The Six Hundred Runes of Hardic"), suggesting a logographic
Logogram
A logogram, or logograph, is a grapheme which represents a word or a morpheme . This stands in contrast to phonograms, which represent phonemes or combinations of phonemes, and determinatives, which mark semantic categories.Logograms are often commonly known also as "ideograms"...

 system similar to Chinese.

Ethnic groups


The racial characteristics of the people of Earthsea are for the most part "red-brown" in coloring, like Native Americans
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

; 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
Human skin color
Human skin color is primarily due to the presence of melanin in the skin. Skin color ranges from almost black to white with a pinkish tinge due to blood vessels underneath. Variation in natural skin color is mainly due to genetics, although the evolutionary causes are not completely certain...

, and the Kargs resemble predominantly blond northern Europeans.

Le Guin has criticized what she describes as the general assumption in fantasy that characters should be white
White people
White people is a term which usually refers to human beings characterized, at least in part, by the light pigmentation of their skin...

 and the society should resemble the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

.

History


The Creation of Éa is a 31-stanza poem, the oldest part of Earthsea's oral tradition. 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. The dragons chose the free life of air and fire, while humans chose the life of the material world of earth and water.

Early in the history of humans, the largest and most powerful realm was centered on the northern islands of Enlad and Éa, although this realm did not rule all of Earthsea, and it is unclear whether other realms existed. 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
Dynasty
A dynasty is a sequence of rulers considered members of the same family. Historians traditionally consider many sovereign states' history within a framework of successive dynasties, e.g., China, Ancient Egypt and the Persian Empire...

 of Great Kings ruled all or almost all of Earthsea, but ended soon after the death of Erreth-Akbe
Erreth-Akbe
Erreth-Akbe is a fictional character in Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea realm. He is introduced in A Wizard of Earthsea and is part of the historical back-story of the Earthsea novels.-Character Overview:...

, 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


Magic
Magic (paranormal)
Magic is the claimed art of manipulating aspects of reality either by supernatural means or through knowledge of occult laws unknown to science. It is in contrast to science, in that science does not accept anything not subject to either direct or indirect observation, and subject to logical...

 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 wizard
Magician (fantasy)
A magician, mage, sorcerer, sorceress, wizard, enchanter, enchantress, thaumaturge or a person known under one of many other possible terms is someone who uses or practices magic that derives from supernatural or occult sources...

s.

A strong theme of the stories is the connection between power and responsibility. There is often a Taoist
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

 message: "good" wizardry tries to be in harmony with the world, while "bad" wizardry, such as necromancy
Necromancy
Necromancy is a claimed form of magic that involves communication with the deceased, either by summoning their spirit in the form of an apparition or raising them bodily, for the purpose of divination, imparting the ability to foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge...

, 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. Each person also has a true name, and which is revealed only to those who are trusted implicitly. 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. Only the powerful are able to say such lines in the Old Speech and force these transformations.

The School of Magic


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
Roke Knoll
In Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series of novels, Roke Knoll is a hill near the center of the island of Roke, the headquarters of wizardry. It is a focus of magical power, being described as "a place where all things appear as they truly are" . They say the roots of the hill go all the way down to...

 and the Immanent Grove
Immanent Grove
The Immanent Grove is a fictional small grove of trees in Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series of novels. The grove is located near the center of the island of Roke, the headquarters of wizardry, is a focus of magical power, and is attended by the Master Patterner.-Particulars:First appearing in the...

.

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 warlord
Warlord
A warlord is a person with power who has both military and civil control over a subnational area due to armed forces loyal to the warlord and not to a central authority. The term can also mean one who espouses the ideal that war is necessary, and has the means and authority to engage in war...

s 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
Interregnum
An interregnum is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organization, or social order...

 when the Archipelago was without a king, the Archmage did not try to usurp power, but sought only to maintain the balance. With the advent of the new king, Lebannen, the school's role must change. 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.

Evolution of Magic


Over the span of the novels and stories, there is an evolution of certain themes, echoes of which are repeated throughout Le Guin's entire body of work. These themes include different uses of power, magic and balance, cooperation vs. dominance, the eternal soul of the Archipelago vs. Kargish concepts of reincarnation, and the position and importance of women in magic, are introduced, turned on their heads, and redefined. This revision of the depiction of Earthsea is illustrated in the way the role of women evolves throughout the series.

In the early novels, magic in Earthsea is strongly male-dominated. Women practicing magic are relegated to the role of village witches who are considered inferior to male wizards and mages. Excluded from the school of Roke, where systematic knowledge of magic can be obtained, they know, at most, a few isolated words of the Old Speech which is the basis of magic. A saying quoted in the outset is "weak as a woman's magic", also rendered as "wicked as a woman's magic".

In the three books of the original trilogy, the impression is given that this is inherent in the nature of magic itself. Ged makes his first steps in the world of magic under the tutelage of his witch aunt, but it is taken for granted that she cannot give him very much and that in order to realize his potential he must study with male mages, first with Ogion and later with the masters of Roke.

However, in later books Le Guin delves deeper into the history of Earthsea and reveals some early events that helped shape the dichotomy of male -female magic. As the Ring of Erreth-Akbe is forged whole in "Tombs of Atuan", and the door between the lands of the dead and the living is shut and Arren made king in "the Farthest Shore", so is the dualism between male and female magic weakened. There is a shift in the world. As slavery is made illegal, other forms of inequality are addressed as well. The dynamic of Earthsea is turned on its head. In the following stories, "Tehanu" and "the Other Wind" new information is introduced, and old events are seen in a new light, revealing that that to begin with women had a central role in founding the School of Roke, and that - far from being an inherent characteristic of magic - their exclusion was the act of narrow-minded male chauvinist
Sexism
Sexism, also known as gender discrimination or sex discrimination, is the application of the belief or attitude that there are characteristics implicit to one's gender that indirectly affect one's abilities in unrelated areas...

 mages.

The Dry Land


The Dry Land is where the people of the archipelago and reaches of Earthsea go when they die. It is a realm of shadow and dust, of eternal night where the stars are fixed in the sky, and nothing changes. The souls who live there have an empty, dreary existence, and even "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. In The Farthest Shore, 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 in The Other Wind that the Dry Land was a failed attempt by early mages to gain immortality
Immortality
Immortality is the ability to live forever. It is unknown whether human physical immortality is an achievable condition. Biological forms have inherent limitations which may or may not be able to be overcome through medical interventions or engineering...

. The mages stole half of the land "west of west" from the dragons to create a paradise
Paradise
Paradise is a place in which existence is positive, harmonious and timeless. It is conceptually a counter-image of the miseries of human civilization, and in paradise there is only peace, prosperity, and happiness. Paradise is a place of contentment, but it is not necessarily a land of luxury and...

 in which their souls would dwell. This earned them the enmity of the dragons, who considered it a breach of the agreement between them and humans called the Vedurnan. However, when the mages 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. Tenar
The Tombs of Atuan
The Tombs of Atuan is the second of a series of books written by Ursula K. Le Guin and set in her fantasy archipelago of Earthsea, first published in 1971. Its events take place a few years after those in A Wizard of Earthsea and around two decades before those in The Farthest Shore...

, who was born in the Kargish lands, makes clear that the Kargad, and all other living things, were always part of the cycle of death and rebirth. It was only the people of the archipelago and reaches who entered the Dry Land after death, on account of the actions of what the Kargish traditionally called their 'accursed sorcerors'

Ursula Le Guin has stated that the idea of the Dry Land came from the "Greco-Roman idea of Hades
Hades
Hades , Hadēs, originally , Haidēs or , Aidēs , meaning "the unseen") was the ancient Greek god of the underworld. The genitive , Haidou, was an elision to denote locality: "[the house/dominion] of Hades". Eventually, the nominative came to designate the abode of the dead.In Greek mythology, Hades...

' realm, from certain images in Dante Alighieri
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

's work, and from one of Rainer Maria Rilke
Rainer Maria Rilke
René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke , better known as Rainer Maria Rilke, was a Bohemian–Austrian poet. He is considered one of the most significant poets in the German language...

's Elegies."

Dragons and dragonlords



The dragon
Dragon
A dragon is a legendary creature, typically with serpentine or reptilian traits, that feature in the myths of many cultures. There are two distinct cultural traditions of dragons: the European dragon, derived from European folk traditions and ultimately related to Greek and Middle Eastern...

s usually keep to themselves far to the West of Earthsea, but they sometimes attack inhabited islands in search of food or treasure and must be driven back by wizards. In A Wizard of Earthsea, the young wizard Ged guesses a dragon's true name
True name
A true name is a name of a thing or being that expresses, or is somehow identical with, its true nature. The notion that language, or some specific sacred language, refers to things by their true names has been central to philosophical and grammatical study as well as various traditions of magic,...

 and forces him to promise not to attack people again.

Dragons in Earthsea are neither good nor evil by human standards, but always extremely dangerous. There are several references to the dire consequences of looking a dragon in the eye and Ged avoids doing so on several occasions. Most dragons in the books are of a positive, though not benevolent, nature. In The Other Wind, it is revealed that dragons and men were once of the same race. However, they chose to part ways because of their very different natures.

Dragons consider most men to be uninteresting, short-lived mayflies. The exceptions are the dragonlords. In The Tombs of Atuan, the priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

ess Tenar asks Ged what a dragonlord is; Ged explains that it is not someone with a mastery of dragons, but "one the dragons will speak with" (rather than eat). In the setting of the five Earthsea novels, Ged, his enemy Cob, King Lebannen and Tenar are the only dragonlords. The most famous dragonlord is Erreth-Akbe, who is a legendary hero by Ged's time. He and the dragon Orm killed each other in a duel.

When dragons do speak, they are worth listening to, as they have long lifespans over which to gain great wisdom. Dragons speak only in the Language of the Making, from which the language of human magic is derived. Though they cannot lie, they are able to twist what they say and mislead the unwary because it is their native tongue, while no wizard can live long enough to fully master it. Indeed, much of the true speech remains unknown to humans. Dragons have a strange connection to the true tongue; one wizard described it by saying they live in it as a fish lives in water. In Tehanu, Ged says that perhaps dragons do not learn the old speech. Rather, it seems to be inherent in them and they simply 'are' the language.

Only wizards and other dragons are capable of defeating a dragon. The most famous example is the duel between Erreth-Akbe and the dragon Orm, in which each slew the other. Many centuries later, there was another duel between the dragon Orm Embar and Cob.

Gebbeth


A gebbeth is a person who has been consumed and taken over by a power. In The Wizard of Earthsea, a man possessed by a creature that Ged inadvertently summoned nearly takes the wizard unaware.

In a time prior to the setting of the novels, the Enemy of Morred turns Elfarran's brother into a gebbeth and uses it to trick her into travelling to the Jaws of Enlad.

Otaks


Otaks are small, furry carnivores with an aggressive temperament that prey on mice and insects. Otaks are rare, living only on four islands of the southern Archipelago: Roke, Ensmer, Pody and Wathort. The wizard Ged kept an otak as his pet
Pet
A pet is a household animal kept for companionship and a person's enjoyment, as opposed to wild animals or to livestock, laboratory animals, working animals or sport animals, which are kept for economic or productive reasons. The most popular pets are noted for their loyal or playful...

, which was unusual given wild otaks rarely trust humans.

Trolls


Troll
Troll
A troll is a supernatural being in Norse mythology and Scandinavian folklore. In origin, the term troll was a generally negative synonym for a jötunn , a being in Norse mythology...

s are enormous creatures with rock-like hands and gravelly voices who serve as guards and servants for evil magicians. Trolls went extinct in the realm of Earthsea at some time.

Religion in Earthsea


The people of the Archipelago do not worship any gods, but there are the "Old Powers" of the Earth, which existed since before Segoy raised up the lands. These include "The Nameless Ones" in Atuan and the Terrenon in Osskil. It is revealed in Tales from Earthsea that once, the women of power spoke with and learned from the Old Powers, but in Ged's age, they are considered evil. In The Tombs of Atuan, Ged states that the Old Powers are not evil in themselves, but that it is wrong for humans to interfere with or worship them.

Gods are revered in the Kargad Lands. The oldest are "The Nameless Ones", who are worshipped in Atuan. However, the reverence given them has gradually been usurped by human beings. The God-Kings were the mortal rulers of the Kargad Lands. The dynasty began with "priest-kings", but over the years they promoted themselves, until finally they declared themselves to be gods. The last God-King is overthrown in a civil war by Thol of Hur-at-Hur and flees to Atuan, where he is killed by a priest-eunuch.

Short stories

  • "The Word of Unbinding
    The Word of Unbinding
    "The Word of Unbinding" is a short story by Ursula K. Le Guin, first published in the January 1964 issue of Fantastic, and reprinted in collections such as The Wind's Twelve Quarters. In this story, the Earthsea realm, which was later made famous by A Wizard of Earthsea, was first introduced...

    " (1964) (in The Wind's Twelve Quarters
    The Wind's Twelve Quarters
    The Wind's Twelve Quarters is a collection of short stories by Ursula K. Le Guin first published by Harper & Row in 1975.Le Guin describes the collection as a retrospective. It includes many stories which had been published previously or expanded into novels. Others take place in locations that...

    )
  • "The Rule of Names
    The Rule of Names
    "The Rule of Names" is a short story by Ursula K. Le Guin, first published in the April 1964 issue of Fantastic, and reprinted in collections such as The Wind's Twelve Quarters. This story and "The Word of Unbinding" convey Le Guin's initial concepts for the Earthsea realm, most importantly its...

    " (1964) (in The Wind's Twelve Quarters, and in A Treasury Of Fantasy anthology)
  • "Dragonfly" (1997) (in Legends anthology, later in Tales from Earthsea
    Tales from Earthsea
    Tales from Earthsea is a collection of short stories by American writer Ursula K. Le Guin, first published in 2001. The stories are set in the Earthsea world....

    )
  • "Darkrose and Diamond" (1999) (first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
    The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
    The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction is a digest-size American fantasy and science fiction magazine first published in 1949 by Mystery House and then by Fantasy House. Both were subsidiaries of Lawrence Spivak's Mercury Publications, which took over as publisher in 1958. Spilogale, Inc...

    , later in Tales from Earthsea)
  • "The Finder" (2001) (in Tales from Earthsea)
  • "The Bones of the Earth" (2001) (in Tales from Earthsea)
  • "On The High Marsh" (2001) (in Tales from Earthsea)

Novels

  • A Wizard of Earthsea
    A Wizard of Earthsea
    A Wizard of Earthsea, first published in 1968, is the first of a series of books written by Ursula K. Le Guin and set in the fantasy world archipelago of Earthsea depicting the adventures of a budding young wizard named Ged...

    (1968)
  • The Tombs of Atuan
    The Tombs of Atuan
    The Tombs of Atuan is the second of a series of books written by Ursula K. Le Guin and set in her fantasy archipelago of Earthsea, first published in 1971. Its events take place a few years after those in A Wizard of Earthsea and around two decades before those in The Farthest Shore...

    (1971)
  • The Farthest Shore
    The Farthest Shore
    The Farthest Shore is the third of a series of books written by Ursula K. Le Guin and set in her fantasy archipelago of Earthsea, first published in 1972. It follows on from The Tombs of Atuan, which itself was a sequel to A Wizard of Earthsea. It is the Earthsea series novel which inspired the...

    (1972)
  • Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea
    Tehanu
    Tehanu is the fourth of Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea books. It won the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1990, and the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel in 1991.-Plot summary:...

    (1990)
  • The Other Wind
    The Other Wind
    The Other Wind is the sixth and last of a series of books written by Ursula K. Le Guin and set in her fantasy archipelago of Earthsea...

    (2001)

Chronology


The internal chronology of the stories is different from the publication order. It is, with some uncertainties:
  • "The Word of Unbinding"
  • "The Finder"
  • "Darkrose and Diamond"
  • "The Rule of Names" (uncertain)
  • "The Bones of the Earth"
  • A Wizard of Earthsea
  • The Tombs of Atuan
  • "On the High Marsh"
  • The Farthest Shore
  • Tehanu
  • "Dragonfly"
  • The Other Wind


The stories "The Word of Unbinding" and "The Rule of Names" have no clear place in the chronology, and are not entirely consistent with the other stories. Nothing absolutely prevents "The Word of Unbinding" from taking place at any time before The Other Wind, but the differences in magical terminology, the presence of the otherwise unknown "trolls" (whom Le Guin notes "became extinct in Earthsea at some point"), and the character of the evil wizard Voll the Fell suggest that it might be appropriately placed either before the time of Morred, or later, in the Dark Times after the death of Maharion and before the founding of the school on Roke; in either case before "The Finder".

"The Rule of Names" apparently takes place some time in (about) the century before A Wizard of Earthsea; Le Guin writes that the main character "must have been on Sattins Island some decades or centuries before Ged found him.... on the Isle of Pendor". But that could place the story before or after "Darkrose and Diamond," which is "at any time during the last couple of hundred years in Earthsea". "The Rule of Names" has some plot links to A Wizard of Earthsea, while "Darkrose and Diamond" is an entirely independent story.

"The Bones of the Earth" takes place early in Ged's lifetime, ten years before his apprenticeship to Ogion
Aihal
Aihal is the true name of a fictional character in Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea fantasy series. In most of the Earthsea books he goes by the Hardic name Ogion or Ogion the Silent.-Biography:...

, and is closely linked to A Wizard of Earthsea.

The events in Tehanu partially overlap those in The Farthest Shore; some parts of Tehanu assume, or are illuminated by information from The Farthest Shore.

Awards


Each novel in the series has received a literary award, including the 1979 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award
Lewis Carroll Shelf Award
The Lewis Carroll Shelf Award was started in 1958 by Dr. David C. Davis with the assistance of Prof. Lola Pierstorff, Director Instructional Materials Center, Univ. of Wisconsin and Madeline Allen Davis, WHA Wisconsin Public Radio. Awards were presented annually at the Wisconsin Book Conference...

 for A Wizard of Earthsea, the 1972 Newbery Honor
Newbery Medal
The John Newbery Medal is a literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association . The award is given to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. The award has been given since 1922. ...

 for The Tombs of Atuan, the 1973 National Book Award for Children's Books for The Farthest Shore, the 1990 Nebula Award for Best Novel
Nebula Award for Best Novel
Winners of the Nebula Award for Best Novel, awarded by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. The stated year is that of publication; awards are given in the following year.- Winners and other nominees :...

 for Tehanu, and the 2002 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel for The Other Wind.

Radio


A BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

-produced two-hour radio dramatisation of A Wizard of Earthsea was originally broadcast on Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

 on December 26, 1996. This adaptation was narrated by Dame Judi Dench
Judi Dench
Dame Judith Olivia "Judi" Dench, CH, DBE, FRSA is an English film, stage and television actress.Dench made her professional debut in 1957 with the Old Vic Company. Over the following few years she played in several of William Shakespeare's plays in such roles as Ophelia in Hamlet, Juliet in Romeo...

, with Michael Maloney
Michael Maloney
Michael Maloney is an English actor.Born in Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, Maloney's first television appearance was as Peter Barkworth's teenage son in the 1979 drama series, Telford's Change....

 as Ged, and used a wide range of actors with different regional and social accents to emphasize the origins of the Earthsea characters (for instance, Estarriol and others from the East Reach were played by actors with Southern Welsh
Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 accents). The adaptation was subsequently released on audio cassette.

Television



The U.S.-based Sci Fi Channel
Syfy
Syfy , formerly known as the Sci-Fi Channel and SCI FI, is an American cable television channel featuring science fiction, supernatural, fantasy, reality, paranormal, wrestling, and horror programming. Launched on September 24, 1992, it is part of the entertainment conglomerate NBCUniversal, a...

 broadcast a three-hour loose adaptation for television of A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan in December 2004, and was broadcast on Channel 4
Channel 4
Channel 4 is a British public-service television broadcaster which began working on 2 November 1982. Although largely commercially self-funded, it is ultimately publicly owned; originally a subsidiary of the Independent Broadcasting Authority , the station is now owned and operated by the Channel...

 in the UK in Easter 2005 in two parts. Titled Legend of Earthsea, it angered fans of the Earthsea novels (and Le Guin herself) with the announcement that Ged and the vast majority of the other characters would be played by Caucasians
White people
White people is a term which usually refers to human beings characterized, at least in part, by the light pigmentation of their skin...

 and with the Dramatis personæ
Dramatis personæ
Dramatis personæ is a phrase used to refer collectively, in the form of a list, to the main characters in a dramatic work —- commonly employed in various forms of theater, and also on screen. Typically, off-stage characters are not considered part of the dramatis personæ...

 posted on the official website (see below), which featured several original characters such as "The Archmagus" and "King Tygath", "Diana", "Penelope", and "Marion", and several references to "Kargide" (not Kargad, Karg, or Kargish) characters. The religious practices of Atuan were portrayed differently, and the celibacy of Earthsea wizards overlooked as Ged and Tenar become sexually involved.

Le Guin was not involved in the production in any way. She did publish the following remarks on her website:

Anime




Studio Ghibli
Studio Ghibli
is a Japanese animation and film studio founded in June 1985. The company's logo features the character Totoro from Hayao Miyazaki's film My Neighbor Totoro...

's 2006 film, Gedo Senki — Tales from Earthsea
Tales from Earthsea (film)
is a 2006 Japanese animated fantasy film directed by Gorō Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli.The film is based on a combination of plots and characters from the first four books of Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea series: A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore and Tehanu. The...

, is loosely based in the Earthsea mythology. It was directed by Gorō Miyazaki
Goro Miyazaki
is a Japanese film director of anime feature films, like his internationally-known father Hayao Miyazaki. Described as "reluctant" to follow his father's career, for decades Gorō chose to work in landscaping rather than animation....

, the son of Hayao Miyazaki
Hayao Miyazaki
is a Japanese manga artist and prominent film director and animator of many popular anime feature films. Through a career that has spanned nearly fifty years, Miyazaki has attained international acclaim as a maker of animated feature films and, along with Isao Takahata, co-founded Studio Ghibli,...

. In the past, Le Guin had rejected Hayao Miyazaki's offer to create a film based on the series, but due to her love of his films, Le Guin granted Studio Ghibli the rights. The story is based mainly on elements of the third and fourth novels of Earthsea; however, Le Guin has stated that she found this rendition of her work "disappointing" and "entirely different" from her creation.

External links