83 pages 2 hours read

Ursula K. Le Guin

A Wizard of Earthsea

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 1968

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The Limits and Responsibilities of Power

Throughout A Wizard of Earthsea, Ged is shown to be an extremely powerful wizard. It is precisely this power, however, that puts him in peril time and time again until he manages to learn that there are limits to power in terms of both safety and ethics and that power outside of wizardry is just as valid.

Ged overspends his magical power and wounds himself this way multiple times. After saving the village with the illusion of thick fog, Ged falls insensate and must be revived by Ogion (15). After he unleashes the shadow, he must recover for several months (76). Finally, When Ged turns into a falcon to flee the Court of the Terrenon, he remains in that shape for too long and must be once again called back by Ogion (147). Further, as seen in the shadow Ged inadvertently releases, the misuse of spells can be dangerous in and of itself.

Beyond immediate concerns of safety, the misuse of magical power also has ethical ramifications. Much of this stems from the attempt to control others; Ged’s aunt (5) and Serret (141) both attempt to bind Ged to them so they can use his power as their own.