Yesterday I set a bit of a stretch goal for myself: read a whole book. There are still plenty on my shelf that I could read in (half) a day, but in the end I went with Wizard of Earthsea, that just arrived yesterday too.
I didn’t know much about the series, only that it was adapted into a Ghibli movie (that I haven’t seen) criticized by the author. But it’s youth fiction, so I supposed it was easy (and quick) to read, and I wasn’t wrong.
Its language feels more old? archaic? compared to a Neil Gaiman novel for example. The imagery is very vivid. It could charm up the scenes in my head all right, though having to check the map for where the various islands were was a bit distracting (and there are a lot).
The way some events are fast-forwarded while others are described in detail reminded me of Harry Potter. Simply because I read that first. I’m aware Earthsea is 30 years ahead of Potter (and is inspired by it in more than one aspect).
It’s proudly and openly a bildungsroman, using the traditional monomyth cycle, which makes the story kind of predictable. I may sound like only pointing out the negative stuff (bad habit), but I actually enjoyed racing through it. Brought back memories of my teens when I was consuming books with a similar pace on a daily basis.
That said, there are a bunch of points that I didn’t get. (Please don’t read on if you haven’t read the novel. Spoilers ahead.)
What was the shadow in the end? Wikipedia interprets is as his own death, or his negative aspects, but people don’t usually get their negative aspects embodied and scarring their face for life. Or possessing other people.
When did Vetch became such a good friend to Ged? It seemed like they just met and were instantly best friends, without any explanation or detail on how or why. Their devotion is ridiculously strong too for such a casual friendship. Every time there was a mention of how good friends they are, my only thought was “when did that happen?”
What was the whole purpose of the Osskil arc? It feels like an otherwise useless side story just to clean the foreshadowing of the enchantress’s daughter in the spring. Was that its only purpose?
The sea journey felt like Poe’s Maelstrom, except without the rising pace (and tension), without the excitement of the inevitable. Was it really necessary? It reminded me also of Life of Pi, except with a helpful Vetch in the boat instead of a tiger. Did Ged really have to sail out into the middle of nothing to face the shadow?