THE EARTHSEA QUARTET BY URSULA LE GUIN
Farther west than west
Beyond the land
My people are dancing
On the other wind.
This quartet can often be found in the adult fantasy section of bookstores, as well as the children’s. My 1993 edition is published by Puffin. The first two books in the sequence are favourites: A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan, the latter of which features the chilling Nameless Ones, powers of the dark.
Tenar is a priestess serving these ancient gods in their temple, a perilous labyrinth ready to lead astray all but its chosen servants. Her story is entwined with Ged’s, the wizard from the first book, who journeys across the world in search of his shadow. The magic here is that of Naming, where every living thing possesses a true name, as well as a common. Knowing the true name grants control.
It’s difficult to express how I feel about Earthsea. Le Guin’s world is epic, endless, unknowable. There are dragons, powers of light and dark and sweeping landscapes. When I first read the quartet at around age fifteen, I held it sacred. I didn’t talk about it. I wanted to keep it secret. By naming it, I would give its power away. I’ve never felt like this about another book.
Why you should read it:
There is no question that you must. Reading Earthsea is like sitting in the privacy of the Immanent Grove on Roke, isle of the wizards, feeling your way into a spell. There is depth here, depth of storytelling, of prose, of the essence of things. There is so much to learn and only Le Guin can teach you.