I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Ged, the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, was called Sparrowhawk in his reckless youth.
Hungry for power and knowledge, Sparrowhawk tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death's threshold to restore the balance.
***Wanda’s Summer Carnival of Children’s Literature***
Even the greatest sorcerer has to begin somewhere—and Ged gets a harrowing beginning thanks to getting a bit too big for his britches. The little juvenile novel is all about balance. Balance in the world and balance within a human being. I’m truly sorry that I never ran into it many years ago.
I can definitely see why it was compared to both Tolkien’s Middle Earth and Lewis’ Narnia, because the world building is excellent. I have to wonder if J.K. Rowling ever read it, after reading about the school for wizards and all the masters teaching their specialties. Plus those instructors help to set Ged on the course to right the wrong that he created in moment of pride.
Another theme is that power is dangerous if used incorrectly. The balance between wanting power for its own sake and wanting power in order to help others. When Ged deals with dragons, he uses power to help others. When he sets a dark power loose in the world, he was serving his own ego.
It’s a shame that this series isn’t better known. It seems to have been overshadowed by Tolkien, Lewis, and now Rowling. It deserves much more attention and it has valuable things to say to people of all ages.