A Wizard of Earthsea (2024)

A Wizard of Earthsea is the first book in the Earthsea series. It is a coming of age story about a young mage named Ged in the achipelago of Earthsea. It follows his quest to rid himself of the shadow creature he unleashed while studying at a wizardry school.


  • 1 Synopsis
  • 2 Chapter Summary
    • 2.1 Chapter 1: Warriors in the Mist
    • 2.2 Chapter 2: The Shadow
    • 2.3 Chapter 3: The School for Wizards
    • 2.4 Chapter 4: The Loosing of the Shadow
    • 2.5 Chapter 5: The Dragon of Pendor
    • 2.6 Chapter 6: Hunter
    • 2.7 Chapter 7: The Hawk's Flight
    • 2.8 Chapter 8: Hunting
    • 2.9 Chapter 9: Iffish
    • 2.10 Chapter 10: The Open Sea
  • 3 Characters
  • 4 Gallery
  • 5 References


Chapter Summary[]

Chapter 1: Warriors in the Mist[]

Duny is born on Gont Island and lives in Ten Alders and hates working with his dad, who is a blacksmith. He would much rather wander and explore. One day, Duny’s aunt sees him calling goats to him with magic and decides to teach him because she sees how much power he has. She teaches him all she knows, but keeps the dark magic away from Duny. Duny is soon called Sparrowhawk because he is always seen with birds (he can call animals to him). Sparrowhawk learns extra magic from weathermakers and is able to cast a fog spell over the town and help defeat the Karg raiders. As a result of the magic, Sparrowhawk goes into a trance because he spent all of his power. Ogion the Silent, a powerful magician, comes and heals Sparrowhawk. On Sparrowhawk’s 13th birthday, Ogion gives him his true name: Ged. Ged becomes Ogion’s apprentice.

Chapter 2: The Shadow[]

Ged finds that life with Ogion in Re Albi (meaning “Falcon’s Nest”) is quite dull because he is not being taught magic as quickly as he had expected. Instead, Ged learns the runes of the Hardic language and gathers herbs in the spring as an apprentice. One day, Ged meets the daughter of the lord of Re Albi. She teases him about not knowing real magic and tricks him into summoning the dead. Ogion arrives in time to banish the shadow monster Ged creates, and notes that the girl is actually the daughter of an enchantress and may not be good. Ged learns a lesson: "This sorcery is not a game we play for pleasure or for praise. Think of this: that every word, every act of our Art is said and is done either for good, or for evil." (pg. 48) Before you speak or do you must know the price that is to pay!" Ogion gives Ged the choice to stay on Gont under his tutelage or depart for the School of Wizardry on Roke. Ged chooses Roke. On the way there, he takes the ship named Shadow, gets to see new islands, and experiences his first storm at sea. Ged arrives at Roke Island.

Chapter 3: The School for Wizards[]

Ged arrives in the town of Thwil and heads to the Wizard School where he meets the Archmage Nemmerle, Warder of Roke, whose pet raven from Osskil wanders in and speaks, "Terrenon ussbuk orrek!", which is foreshadowing to the events in Chapter 6. Ged then meets Jasper, who becomes Ged's despised rival. Later Ged meets Vetch, another student, to whom he takes a liking to, and they become good friends. Ged proves to be a natural born mage, excelling at all he does and surpassing other students, which boosts Ged's pride and spites Jasper. Ged learns of the Balance, and how magic should not be taken lightly - as it is either done for good or for evil. Ged then heads to the Isolate Tower, to study for a year under the Master Namer, Kurrenkarmerruk, to learn the true names of things in the Hardic tongue of Earthsea, or the Old Speech. There he meets and befriends Hoeg, a small creature and his pet-to-be. Ged returns to the school, and while he was still an apprentice, he learns that Vetch and Jasper were made sorcerers.

Chapter 4: The Loosing of the Shadow[]

During the festival of Moon's Night and the Long Dance, Ged and Vetch were celebrating with the rest of the Archipelago and the Reaches, when suddenly friction arose between Jasper and Ged. Jasper challenges Ged to bring a spirit from the dead. Ged accepts, having had read about Summoning the Dead before (Chapter 2). Too proud to know when to stop, Ged summons a dark evil shadow that attacks him, trying to possess him. Master Nemmerle savs Ged and deters the shadow from Roke, but using all his power, Master Nemmerle dies soon after. Ged is bedridden for a month. When he returns, his face bears a scar from the shadow's attack, and his shame never leaves him. Ged no longer seeks attention and doubts his own power. Safe in Roke from the Shadow he unleashed upon the world, Ged continues his wizardry training and only leaves once he becomes a Mage and receives his own Wizard staff, to serve the township of Low Torning.

Chapter 5: The Dragon of Pendor[]

Ged was sent to Low Torning to protect its people from the dragons that roam the nearby island of Pendor. He lives in a small shack, spending most of his days alone and in fear of the shadow. As days pass, he makes a new friend, Pechvarry. One day Pechvarry's young son Ioeth falls sick to fever. Ged tries to heal the dying child and sends his own spirit after the child's to call him back from the world of the dead. But, he ventures too far and is trapped. Trying to return to the world of the living, Ged sees his shadow, the same shadow he unleashed upon the world. Ged barely makes it back alive. Realizing that the shadow now knows his whereabouts, Ged cannot stay in one place for fear it will find him and possess him. But, to leave Low Torning, Ged must first rid the town of the dragons. He sails to Pendor, where nine dragons hide. He kills five and fatally wounds one when the Dragon of Pendor appears. Ged offers to let the dragon live if he leave Low Torning alone. Ged had already guessed the true name of the Dragon of Pendor was Yevaud and uses this as leverage. The dragon offers to tell Ged the true name of the shadow that follows him in exchange. Tempted but knowing better than to trust a cunning dragon, Ged refuses the offer. Grudgingly, the Dragon of Pendor, strong and mighty but weak against an enemy who knows its name, swore by his name to not bring harm to the town.

Chapter 6: Hunter[]

Free to leave Low Torning, Ged fled from one port to the next, never stopping, trying desperately to evade his shadow. Yet no matter how far he escaped, he could never out run his shadow, who was always close - watching and waiting. Then one day, when Ged was in Osskil, the Shadow possessed another man, turning into a gebbeth, and through him tried to attack Ged. The Shadow called Ged by his true name, stripping Ged of his magic. Desperate and mortally afraid, Ged ran and ran but the Shadow was always behind him. Out of breath, Ged suddenly saw a door of light in the middle of no where. Not knowing what it is or where it will take him, Ged leaped through the gateway and lost consciousness.

Chapter 7: The Hawk's Flight[]

Ged wakes up in an unfamiliar bed inside a strange tower without his staff or otak. A beautiful young woman with straight black hair enters, informing him that he is in the Court of Terrenon. She is Serret, wife of Lord Benderesk, and assures Ged that the castle is protected by powerful magic, preventing the shadow from entering. Over the course of several days, Serret speaks often with Ged and eventually convinces him to see the jewel of the tower, the Stone of Terrenon. She leads him through twisting halls and behind three locked doors down to the castle's foundation where the stone resides. The place is unnaturally cold and although the stone is rough and unremarkable, Ged immediately senses an ancient and malevolent force imprisoned inside. Serret tempts him to speak to it and gain boundless knowledge and power, even enough to defeat the shadow pursuing him. Lord Benderesk appears behind them, quiet and smiling slightly. But Ged refuses to touch it and realizes their plans to slave him to the Stone so they can use its powers without becoming possessed themselves.

Lord Benderesk reprimands Serret for her failed attempt and tries to kill her. Ged intervenes, seizing Serret, and the two manage to escape. Ged discovers that Serret is Lord Re Albi's daughter, the same girl he had tried to impress when he first summoned the shadow on Gont. He also comes across the lifeless body of his otak, Hoeg. Meanwhile, Lord Benderesk summons the Servants of the Stone to eliminate Ged and Serret before they can escape. Ged transforms a blade of grass into a staff and defends himself against the attacking birds. Serret transforms into a seagull and flies away, but is torn apart by the birds. Ged transforms into a falcon, manages to escape the birds, and flies for several days towards Gont.

An exhausted falcon catches Ogion's attention, who recognizes it as Ged and restores him to his human form by speaking his true name. Due to an extended period spent in falcon form, it takes 3 days for Ged to regain the ability to speak. Ged recounts the events that transpired over the intervening years to Ogion, expressing his fear of the shadow. In response, Ogion reminds Ged of his triumphs over mages, dragons, and the Stone of Terrenon, advising him to turn around, stop running, and start hunting the shadow. Ged kneels and pledges that Ogion is his true master, while Ogion accepts him as his son. That night, Ogion crafts a new staff of yew for Ged. By morning, Ged is gone with a note to Ogion that he has gone hunting.

Chapter 8: Hunting[]

Ged goes to the Port of Gont in search of ships without any luck. In return for some spell work, a fisherman sells him a broken, old boat. Ged repairs it using skills from Pechvarry and spells from Master Windkey. He retraces his falcon path to meet the shadow, hoping that over the sea they will be more evenly matched. He sails for days over choppy seas and through bad weather with no sign of the shadow. Frustrated, he shouts for the shadow which suddenly appears and darts towards him. With fear yet resolve, Ged calls a magewind towards the shadow. It wavers and flees.

Ged chases the shadow through storms until it creates a heavy mist that causes the boat to smash into rocks. Ged nearly drowns, but eventually washes ashore with only his staff. Frozen, exhausted, and miserable, he wavers around death. He pushes onwards to find a crude driftwood hut where an old man and old woman live. They are fearful of him and only speak Kargish. He grabs some food, water, and tries to warm himself before falling into a deep sleep. The old man wants little to do with Ged, but the old woman warms to him over the next few days. The remains of his boat wash ashore and Ged sets to repairing it with scraps of driftwood. The old woman even offers him some mussels to eat. That night, she gifts him with a broken half of a silver ring wrapped in the tattered remains of a silken baby dress. It bears the emblem of the Kargad Empire. Ged suspects they are shipwrecked siblings exiled from a Kargish noble house long ago. He accepts the odd gift out of respect for the old woman, not realizing it is part of the Ring of Erreth-Akbe which will take him to the Tombs of Atuan.

He prepares to leave and offers take the two someplace with more people. They refuse, but out of gratitude he sets a charm so their brackish well becomes an ever-flowing spring of fresh water. Then, he sails off again on his boat of spells and driftwood. He sleeps little, needing to maintain the spells to hold the boat together. A tingle of fear leads to an isolated inlet somewhere around the East Reach. An obvious trap, but Ged must go forward when the shadow appears behind him on his boat. Ged grabs its icy, nebulous form, but it flees again. Ged realizes he is bonded to the shadow and that he cannot undo the past, only finish what he started. He sails on wearily to the next village where he finds hospitality, food, and an inn to sleep.

Chapter 9: Iffish[]

In West Hand, Ged recovers and does many good works for the poor, remote village. He uses his magic to heal the sick and grow the flocks of sheep and goats. He heals an old man's cataracts which is repaid with a sturdy boat named Lookfar. After a few days, he sails to another village, but the village sorcerer abruptly and politely asks him to leave. The day before, a suspicious man with no shadow somehow came and left without a boat and looked like Ged. Ged leaves perplexed and arrives on the island of Iffish.

In the village of Ismay, the townspeople recognize him as a wizard. They boast that they already have a wizard from Roke Island. Ged realizes he is not needed there and plans to stay briefly then continue hunting the shadow. Lonely and reluctant to leave, Ged wanders the streets. He bumps into his old friend Vetch and 14 year old sister Yarrow. Initially, Vetch was defensive because a strange double of Ged walked the hills only a few days ago. Vetch called out Ged's name, but the strange double didn't reply.

Vetch invites Ged back to their home, where they discuss Ged's journey and Vetch's desire to accompany him. Ged confides his fears that his hunt of the shadow may never end. Vetch insists on joining Ged to warn others if the shadow possesses Ged or witness Ged's victory if he defeats it. They discuss various strategies to defeat the shadow, but settle on finding the shadow's true name.

The next day, as Vetch runs errands, Ged stays with Yarrow and Vetch's 19 year old brother Murre. Yarrow is ever cheerful and asks Ged many questions about magic, true names, and their power while she prepares real food for their journey (as opposed to illusions). The next morning, Yarrow bids farewell to Ged and Vetch as they sail out in the Lookfar.

Chapter 10: The Open Sea[]

Ged and Vetch sail through stormy seas, avoiding magic to maintain balance. They head towards the outer reaches where uncharted lands lie. Ged regrets his prideful foolishness in creating the shadow. He reflects on his desire to explore the islands of Earthsea and his admiration of Yarrow. As they sail, Ged feels an urgency to catch up with the shadow, guiding them eastward. The duo faces treacherous weather but replenish supplies on remote islands. They discuss the shadow's true name and Ged's powers. They sail southwards until they stop at Astowell, the final island before the emptiness of the sea. Ged senses the shadow closing in. They ponder how magic changes or fades the further they go from the Archipelago. They set sail eastward beyond the known world and Ged summons winds to speed their journey. Vetch questions their path and potential traps, but Ged believes they're nearing the end.

As Vetch moves them over water, Ged seems to be moving alone in another realm. The water gradually stills until it becomes dray sand and the boat is grounded. Ged walks out across the sand until he sees the shadow approaching him. It takes various forms from Ged's father to Jasper to Pechvarry. Ged raises his yew wood staff forcing the shadow back into a lesser, faceless form. Silently, Ged and shadow met face to face. Ged speaks the shadow's name at the same moment the shadow speaks. They both say "Ged." Ged takes hold of the shadow finally and both light and darkness join into one.

The two realms merge and the sand becomes sea again. Vetch struggles to reach Ged, but eventually rescues him from the waves. Ged laughs knowing it is done, the wound healed, he is whole and free, balance restored. It takes days to return to the islands of Earthsea, but they savor the sights and sounds of the sea. Back on Iffish, Yarrow eagerly awaits their return.

The tale of Ged's encounter with the shadow becomes an enduring legend, although it is not mentioned in the Deed of Ged. The focus shifts to his other remarkable achievements, and his legacy lives on.


  1. Ged
  2. The Shadow
  3. Ogion
  4. Master Doorkeeper
  5. Master Namer
  6. Master Windkey
  7. Master Summoner
  8. Master Patterner
  9. Master Namer
  10. Master Chanter
  11. Nemmerle
  12. Vetch
  13. Jasper
  14. Hoeg
  15. Gensher
  16. Serret
  17. Benderesk
  18. Ensar
  19. Anthil


1968 1st Edition Cover - drawings by Ruth Robbins for Parnassus Press

1975 - cover art by Pauline Ellison for Bantam Books

2004 from Spectra

2012 from Clarion Books



Earthsea books
A Wizard of Earthsea
The Tombs of Atuan
The Farthest Shore
Tales from Earthsea
The Other Wind
A Wizard of Earthsea (2024)
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