I had actually never read a novel by Ursula K. LeGuin before picking up this one. I had read one or two of her short stories in high school and absolutely loved it, so her books have been on my TBR list for more than a decade now and I just recently got around to reading one of her novels.
I listened to the audiobook of this one and I’m not sure how I felt about the narration. There were two different narrators and it wasn’t clear to me why they switched from one to the other. The first narrator only read about a chapter (if that much) before the second narrator took over and read the rest of the book. He was really into it, singing when it called for it and breathing heavily during fight scenes and other times when the characters were physically exerting themselves. I appreciated his dedication, but by the time I reached the end of the book, I was starting to feel it was a bit much. Good thing it’s not a very long book.
The book is about a boy named Ged who starts learning to work magic and spells from a neighbor, but he quickly surpasses her in skill. His father doesn’t approve of Ged doing magic because he thinks the boy should grow up to be a strong, brave fighter and he doesn’t see the value in magic – even though Ged uses it to protect their village from invaders. Anyway, a traveling mage offers to take Ged with him and train him, but then Ged gets into trouble by summoning a dark spirit in the course of trying to impress a girl. At that point the mage talks to Ged about sending him to the wizardry school on the Island of Roke. He makes it clear that it’s Ged’s decision, and although Ged has grown to love the mage, he is also impatient with his slow teaching methods and eager to learn more so he decides to go to the school.
Ged is easily one of the best students at the school, and he is determined to be the best of the best, but another student, Jasper, is giving him a run for his money and rubbing his face in it. Things come to a head between them when Ged challenges Jasper to a duel of magical abilities. Jasper accepts and in order to win the duel, Ged thinks back to the spell he saw in that book so many years ago when he summoned a dark spirit. He manages to remember the spell sufficiently to summon the dark spirit again, which is exactly as terrible an idea as it sounds. His teachers manage to save him and the other students from the spirit, but they weren’t able banish the spirit. It’s currently wandering around the realm of the living, but it’s attracted to Ged, since he’s the one who summoned it, and if he ever leaves the protection of the Island of Roke, he’ll be vulnerable to attack from the spirit.
But it’s finally decided that Ged has been on the island long enough and it’s time for him to make his way in the world and face the problem he made. So he does some traveling and earns his living by using magic and his wits to solve various problems for people, but he can never stay in one place for very long, because to do so is to put everyone around him in danger of the spirit.
Finally, Ged decides he can’t live his whole life running in fear, so he goes out in search of the spirit so he can face it once and for all. He does so and manages to defeat it.
This book was a lot of fun and I definitely enjoyed it, but I can’t say I’m dying to read the rest of the series. I’d rather read some of LeGuin’s adult novels and see what I think of those, so more on that at a later date.
What did you read this week? Any author you had been meaning to get around to for a really long time?