The Sword and Laser discussion

A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)
This topic is about A Wizard of Earthsea
2014 Reads > WoE: The ending (SPOILERS!)

Comments Showing 1-32 of 32 (32 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Joanna Chaplin | 1175 comments I read this book for the first time as a teen, and at the time, the ending felt like a huge letdown to me when I was expecting an epic battle. This time around, I found the ending more fitting, but I was still anxious to get past the days of chasing the shadow across the sea beforehand.

Robert | 33 comments I read it for the first time this month (as an adult obviously) and I felt the ending was rather unsatisfying. As I got closer and saw there were fewer and fewer pages left and less that could actually happen, I kept saying to myself, "Please don't let him catch his shadow and just absorb it into himself or something cause that would be lame." And that's pretty much what happened. This big bad evil...this horrible unnamed force that severely disfigured Ged and nearly killed him...this entity so powerful that the greatest wizard at the time on Earthsea died just banishing it, was rendered innate by Ged doing a little introspection and finally knowing himself. So to sum the book up, if you're really, really powerful, don't be a jerk, greedy, or prideful or the universe will produce something to take you out and teach you humility. Yeah, I'm glad this was only 200 pages because a larger time investment for that would have irritated me.

terpkristin | 4190 comments Yeah, the more I read, the more I was kind of "meh" on the book, and the ending really drive that home. For a world so focused on rules, it was a very blah ending/way of "defeating" the shadow.

message 4: by AndrewP (last edited Feb 08, 2014 04:29PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

AndrewP (andrewca) | 2502 comments terpkristin wrote: "Yeah, the more I read, the more I was kind of "meh" on the book, and the ending really drive that home. For a world so focused on rules, it was a very blah ending/way of "defeating" the shadow."

Yeah me too. I gave it 3 stars which is probably being a bit generous.

Did anyone else think the maps were a distraction? I kept looking at them every time a new place was mentioned. Probably a subconscious effort to try and get more out of the book than was actually there.

EDIT: I just realized the main plot of this book is almost an exact copy/rip off of the movie Forbidden Planet, which came out in 1956, 12 years earlier! For that I guess I will have to knock off another star.

Rochelle | 69 comments I agree with the "meh" ending. It changed from a wizard fighting some unnamed horrible evil to a philosophical treatise on knowing oneself. In a way, that seemed too obvious and the easy way to end the novel.

And yes, I found the maps distracting too! I kept trying to chart his journey accurately, when it didn't really matter since he usually only visited a place once and briefly at that.

message 6: by Louise (last edited Feb 09, 2014 12:40PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Louise (louiseh87) | 352 comments AndrewP wrote: "EDIT: I just realized the main plot of this book is almost an exact copy/rip off of the movie Forbidden Planet, which came out in 1956, 12 years earlier! For that I guess I will have to knock off another star. "

Isn't that just the plot to The Tempest?

Anyway, perhaps its because both are influenced by thinkers of the time, like Carl Jung - that film specifically so, and le Guin through her parents (she hadn't read Jung at the time of writing, but having anthropologist parents probably made her subconscious aware of many theories and discussions).

Consciously, le Guin was more influenced by Taoism and
the idea of balance - hence the ending, in which the balance within Ged himself is restored.

message 7: by Scott (last edited Feb 09, 2014 04:50PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Scott | 312 comments The ending didn't really bother me . Yes, it seemed a bit anticlimactic after this grand " hunt" but if you consider the idea of equilibrium, which played such a heavy role, it kind of seemed perfect- as if Ged's own equilibrium was restored. Before he resurrected Lady Elfarron, he had a darkness in him which manifested itself as pride and ambition. He lost that when the gebbeth was unleashed, and he was no longer whole. But, as the ending said, he became one again by naming the gebbeth as himself

Jason (macshaggy) | 73 comments I found the ending to be more pleasing than some epic battle. The Shadow being Geds' impatience, jealously, envy, etc. was interesting. Take if from the perspective of a 12 or 13 year old reading this book. These negative emotions are the emotions that children experience but can not name in themselves. To see someone like them to have ripped himself apart just to show how great he is can be an interesting story.

Remember, Ged is foretold to be a great mage and the older wizards all see his power in him. They should have realized that they would never be able to defeat the negative aspects of his power. At least the mage who died so have seen that.

It was telling that his original mentor was the one who told him to be patient, and when Ged couldn't, sent him somewhere hoping he would learn. It was foreshadowed wonderfully but in EarthSea Ged couldn't have escaped his fate by not learning patience.

I guess in my mind the ending was Ged finally learning that he to be patient with himself and his emotions if he was to win back his negative side and become a balanced person again.

And the ending was so non-traditional as pretty much the characters are.

Daryl | 92 comments I found the ending a bit of a let down. It started to drag as the pacing slowed down to a conclusion that wasn't very impactful for me. Ultimately, I'd rather she spent more time going into details on the events leading to the end than the end itself.

message 10: by Will (new) - rated it 4 stars

Will (longklaw) | 261 comments Yeah, I thought the ending was anti-climatic

message 11: by Joshua (last edited Feb 10, 2014 09:02PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Joshua Park (joshuapark) | 21 comments I thought the ending was perfect for this book. The shadow was always himself, and what else could destroy a young man so quickly but himself? If I remember my teenage years correctly, I was invincible. So what could damage him up so completely aside form himself? Maybe it was a cliché even in 1968, but I think she captured the "I am my own worst enemy" idea completely.

What the ending wasn't, to me, was a surprise. About 58% through the book (I did Audible + Kindle whispersync), I knew the shadow's name was Ged, so maybe I'd had more time to get used to the idea. I had time to see the dark force grow from something unknown to something vaguely like him, then something in the likeness of him, then him.

Even when the shadow morphed from one person Ged knew to another was great. He could see parts of them in him.

Walter Spence (walterspence) | 707 comments I understand why the story's ending comes across as anti-climatic for many folks. But since the book was written for 'older kids' (as per request by the publisher, Herman Schein of Parnassus Press), that may be why this is so. Overcoming one's inner darkness is, perhaps, a struggle more relatable to the readers within the book's target audience than to older readers, who may feel they came to terms with that conflict long ago.

message 13: by Rob, Roberator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rob (robzak) | 6891 comments Mod

message 14: by Alexander (last edited Feb 11, 2014 06:41AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Alexander (technogoth) | 171 comments I personally found the ending anti-climatic because the final struggle happened off stage. Ged journeys to the land of the dead to confront the shadow and then comes back having accepted his own darkness?

I never got a sense of Ged overcoming anything or accepting his own flaws. I never felt he grew or developed as a character. He was just plagued by darkness and then he wasn't

Jason G Gouger (jason_g) | 50 comments I agree with the sentiment that the ending was anti-climactic. I wasn't really enjoying the book very much to begin with but I figured I would struggle through to the end of it because I wanted to see what would happen. And what should have been the climactic ending confrontation was basically two paragraphs and then Ged telling his friend that "It's cool! We're good now!"

I understand it's a book for young adult readers, but it seemed overly simplistic even for that.

I feel that the ending suffered from the same thing that was being discussed in the other thread: the novel's fast pacing and glossing over of details. I honestly didn't care if Ged managed to defeat his shadow at all because I didn't know enough about Ged and his personality to even care about him and the finale didn't really do much to change that for me.

It should also be noted I didn't enjoy The Name Of The Wind either, and while The Name of The Wind was much more follows the same sort of feel.

Hyena | 41 comments I actually expected more from the witches daughter. There is a nice build-up when he is a younger, then she shows up again as the evil castle queen. They make their escape and... dead bird. What? Ok, she is faking and will show up at the end. Nope. A complete throwaway character only used when he was young to advance the shadow plot.

Kellios I don't think "older kids" would've like this book either. At the age of the intended audience I didn't need the moral of the story to be quite so obvious or fed to me quite so forcefully for me to understand it. The flatness of the world and the lack of character development would've made me stop reading halfway through.

As an adult I find that I have even less patience with those kinds of flaws in books. The climax of the book was boring and skimpy on the details. I mean, for a book about self discovery and self realization, there was no indication of internal dialogue or development. We are told the Big Bad was defeated and it was merely a reflection of Ged himself. Okay. That's nice. You told a story, but didn't allow the reader to connect with it in any meaningful way. What was the point in writing the story?

Jonathon Dez-la-lour (jd2607) | 173 comments I think the ending fell flat for me because despite trying to sell it as self-discovery/self-acceptance it never really felt as though Ged actually learned anything or grew as a character.

And then to me it just felt like it ended halfway through the book. I took in the last lines and was all "Hey, hang on a minute. Where's the rest of this? Is my download broken?"

It felt like there should have been more, but not in the "I can't wait to see what's next" kind of way.

message 19: by Alan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alan | 534 comments Melissa wrote: "I don't think "older kids" would've like this book either. At the age of the intended audience I didn't need the moral of the story to be quite so obvious or fed to me quite so forcefully for me to..."

I loved this book when I read it at 11 or 12 as did my son who read it at the same age. I still like it very much now. I guess every really good book is a YMMV thing. If it doesn't hook you, then it doesn't hook you and no amount of other people's praise can make it work for you.

message 20: by kvon (new) - rated it 5 stars

kvon | 562 comments I would rather have this type of ending rather than another magical battle. The image of Ged embracing himself is one that has stayed with me, helping self-acceptance.

message 21: by Art (new) - rated it 5 stars

Art | 190 comments I loved this book when I first read it at 14 and I still love it now. It is one that has stuck with me and I often re read parts of it. The ending is one of the things which made it stand out to me, as was it's use of language. All the books I was reading at that age ended in an epic battle of some kind. This book's ending just felt so fitting and fresh to me.

In fact, when I was finishing university my final essay was on the fantasy quest and I used this book as on of my main examples alongside Tolkien, as I feel they have very different ideas of quest.

For me the most significant part of this ending is how deeply personal it is.

Jillian (_berryprincess_) Just read it now, not as a teen, but I think if I had read this at 12-13 the ending would have been lost on me.

I agree with others that it was anti-climatic. He basically finds his shadow and "hugs it out" (even the act is described as Ged and the shadow grasping each other...)

Jessica | 22 comments When I read where Ged & the shadow have their final confrontation, I liked it. It seemed not so much like they were "hugging it out," but more like Jekyll & Hyde finally being pieced back together.

Part of me started sensing where this was going thanks to Le Guin's use of foreshadowing. All those passages about Equilibrium, with light comes darkness, & also how the Shadow become more defined after each meeting with Ged.

"It is very hard for evil to take hold of the unconsenting soul." Each person can control his/her own darkside. Kind of makes sense Ged was able to face down a dragon & a magic stone since he was at war with an even bigger enemy: himself.

disastercouch | 28 comments The ending reminded me of Link battling Dark Link at the end of Zelda II.

terpkristin | 4190 comments disastercouch wrote: "The ending reminded me of Link battling Dark Link at the end of Zelda II."

Yeah but I remember that being a LOT harder. ;)

disastercouch | 28 comments Rob wrote: ""

ha I guess rob beat me to that joke by about a week! couldn't see pic before for some reason. anyway, seconded!

message 27: by Rob, Roberator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rob (robzak) | 6891 comments Mod
disastercouch wrote: "Rob wrote: ""

ha I guess rob beat me to that joke by about a week! couldn't see pic before for some reason. anyway, seconded!"


Mohrravvian | 99 comments I felt the ending was perfectly fitting for this book. Of course, I thought the book was boring, slow, shallow, and uneventful, so.... I think you see where I'm going here.

Ultimately, I wanted to like this book, but I just didn't care about any of the characters or what happened to them. Ged was a shallow, insolent whelp that never learns his lessons and is not very likable, and the ending continued that theme. I have no desire to find out any more about Ged or Earthsea, sadly.

message 29: by Todd (new)

Todd Carrozzi | 60 comments I was ok with it, although I think that had a lot to do with the fact that a) the book was so short and b) I completely listened to it on audible. That might not be the best of reasons, but I find that I am much more forgiving of a story if it doesn't take a lot of effort as a reader.
Plus, I went in to it knowing that it was the first of a series so I considered it as an introduction to Ged with a primary story line that I didn't care much about. Of course I have yet to go on to read the other books in the series, so I guess Ged didn't capture my imagination THAT much.

message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

I agree that the ending is abrupt, but I feel that thematically it's appropriate to the rest of the novel, and structurally in line with LeGuin's tendency to tell us things rather than show us. Which, as I mentioned in another thread, I didn't mind here as much as I might normally, because (a) it fits in with the tradition of storytelling (through song) in the world of the novel, and (b) LeGuin's command of language is such that she can do pretty much whatever she wants, as far as I'm concerned.

Had the novel been longer, I might have been disappointed by such an anti-climactic ending, but for the book that preceded it, I found it appropriate and satisfying.

Matthew (matthewdl) | 341 comments I think it would have been out of place for some dramatic showdown. Considering it was Ged's hot temper and quickness to shows of power it makes sense that his final struggle revolved around him patiently waiting in a boat and avoiding open conflict. Maybe it is less exciting but it is fitting and I think quite moving. It also demonstrates character growth!

Andrew Knighton | 158 comments I'm with those who enjoyed this ending as fitting with both the themes of the book and the style in which Le Guin told this story. It added to the mythic quality and fitted with what had come before. It was well foreshadowed - possibly too much so by the standards of modern writing, making it fairly obvious what the shadow's name would be. But then this wasn't about shocking twists and turns, it was about something with the familiarity of myth and legend.

back to top