This week, Saga Press releases a gorgeous new omnibus edition of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Books of Earthsea, illustrated by Charles Vess, in celebration of A Wizard of Earthsea‘s 50th anniversary. In honor of that anniversary, this week we’re running a different look at Earthsea each day!
One of the most striking aspects of Ursula K. Le Guin as a writer and thinker is how much she encouraged sharp interrogation of everything we believe or hold dear. This is a hard thing for most humans to do, and it is noticeably lacking in much of early speculative fiction.
So many classic fantasy heroes are Chosen Ones, appointed as champions of Good against the forces of Evil; it would be easy for a reader new to Le Guin to pick up A Wizard of Earthsea and assume that Ged would be one of that lot. The first paragraph tells us: “…some say the greatest, and surely the greatest voyager, was the man called Sparrowhawk, who in his day became both dragonlord and Archmage. His life is told of in the Deed of Ged and in many songs…”