Harry Potterites look away now. In this post Reader magazine deputy editor Sarah Coley explains why she thinks Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea series has the best wizard.
I’ve been comfort reading children’s books, and in particular, Ursula LeGuin’s fantastic Earthsea series, full of dragons and world winds and mage winds, strange worlds, seas, and Ged, the harsh central character whom you hardly know, who slips further from you as you read into the books, seen increasingly through other’s eyes. Ged grows old in what seems an extraordinary mythlike acceleration–or perhaps it’s just that the books read so quickly. Before you’ve learned to overcome your dislike of his arrogant younger self, he’s a dark and mournable figure, older than you could have wanted, and glimpsed with longing after many pages with other characters; then, with another afternoon’s reading, he is old and suddenly you can imagine him dead. He’s there on the page with all of his restless energy and power, and it’s the thought of his loss that you’re most aware of.
But this is what kids’ books are like and were like when we were children too. There’s none of that deeper meaning for the adults that the Harry Potterites fool themselves in imagining they find. It’s the same trouble for the adult as for the child. The things that are close to you can die. (Who didn’t check from time to time to see if their parents were still breathing?) The comfort in the Earthsea series comes weirdly from comfortlessness and the distance that Le Guin preserves for her main character. The less you know him, the more in his element he is, and the more he belongs to his world, the better, the more fiercely free it all is.
Who in all of literature would you want to have met?
It’s Ged for me.
By Sarah Coley
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