Pride & Joy: A Wizard of Earthsea

It won’t have escaped your notice that i’m trying to breathe new life into my blog these days. I’m midway through a big clear out and reshuffle; fixing up the old teenage angst and – dare I say it – consigning the drivel to the trash. I’m trying to ensure my posts head in a clearer direction rather than rambling on like they did back in the day.

The Daily Prompt today is the title, with the subline “what’s your most prized possession?”. I don’t hold to many material things. Sure, I love my MacBook Pro, my Converse AllStars, and my Cowboy Bebop boxset.. I even have the wristband they put on me as a newborn because i’m sentimental like that.. but I wouldn’t run into a burning building for them. They’re mostly replaceable.

There is one possession though that immediately comes to mind: my copy of ‘A Wizard of Earthsea’ by Ursula Le Guin. The book itself is replaceable and i’ve actually got two copies – one being the Earthsea Quartet which includes the former, and also the standalone original – but the story lives in my soul and is one that has stayed with me since I first read it in school.

It has wizards, dragons, magic, honest friendships and funny sounding names, but the loosing of The Shadow and the Land of the Dead really struck a chord with me. I was able to find the book years later, having only remembered a few lines. I’ve since read the entire Quintet (there is a book after the Quartet) and Ursula’s science fiction story, The Birthday of the World. There’s many more still to read.

The stars did not move. No wind blew over the dry steep ground. In all the vast kingdom of the darkness only he moved, slowly, climbing. He came to the top of the hill, and saw the low wall of stones there. But across the wall, facing him, there was a shadow.

What draws me to Ursula’s writing beyond the magic and sci-fi I normally go for is the depth of her characters. She allows us to get in their heads and see their struggles and fears up close. Her stories aren’t fairytales. They don’t shy away from a feminist perspective and highlighting racial prejudice. The Earthsea books are set in a World with distinct cultures and peoples. The main character isn’t white.

Earthsea Map

If I only had one book to read, it would be this. This is my desert island book. I love the characters and the story arc. I have other favourite magical and sci-fi series, but none that resonate with me like this book. I’ve just leafed through it for images and now I simply must read it again.

What’s your prized possession? How does it make you feel?

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