Monday, May 20, 2013

Story - A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin

                                        Story - A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin

A Wizard of Earthsea
Ursula K. LeGuin

Only in silence the word,
only in dark the light,
only in dying life:
bright the hawk's flight on the empty sky.
-The Creation of Ea

1 Warriors in the Mist

The Island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts its peak a mile 
above the storm-racked Northeast Sea, is a land famous for wizards. From the 
towns in its high valleys and the ports on its dark narrow bays many a 
Gontishman has gone forth to serve the Lords of the Archipelago in their cities 
as wizard or mage, or, looking for adventure, to wander working magic from isle 
to isle of all Earthsea. Of these some say the greatest, and surely the greatest 
voyager, was the man called Sparrowhawk, who in his day became both dragonlord 
and Archmage. His life is told of in the Deed of Ged and in many songs, but this 
is a tale of the time before his fame, before the songs were made.
He was born in a lonely village called Ten Alders, high on the 
mountain at the head of the Northward Vale. Below the village the pastures and 
plowlands of the Vale slope downward level below level towards the sea, and 
other towns lie on the bends of the River Ar; above the village only forest 
rises ridge behind ridge to the stone and snow of the heights.
The name he bore as a child, Duny, was given him by his mother, and 
that and his life were all she could give him, for she died before he was a year 
old. His father, the bronze-smith of the village, was a grim unspeaking man, and 
since Duny's six brothers were older than he by many years and went one by one 
from home to farm the land or sail the sea or work as smith in other towns of 
the Northward Vale, there was no one to bring the child up in tenderness. He 
grew wild, a thriving weed, a tall, quick boy, loud and proud and full of 
temper. With the few other children of the village he herded goats on the steep 
meadows above the riversprings; and when he was strong enough to push and pull 
the long bellows-sleeves, his father made him work as smith's boy, at a high 
cost in blows and whippings. There was not much work to be got out of Duny. He 
was always off and away; roaming deep in the forest, swimming in the pools of 
the River Ar that like all Gontish rivers runs very quick and cold, or climbing 
by cliff and scarp to the heights above the forest, from which he could see the 
sea, that broad northern ocean where, past Perregal, no islands are.
A sister of his dead mother lived in the village. She had done what 
was needful for him as a baby, but she had business of her own and once he could 
look after himself at all she paid no more heed to him. But one day when the boy 
was seven years old, untaught and knowing nothing of the arts and powers that 
are in the world, he heard his aunt crying out words to a goat which had jumped 
up onto the thatch of a hut and would not come down: but it came jumping when 
she cried a certain rhyme to it. Next day herding the longhaired goats on the 
meadows of High Fall, Duny shouted to them the words he had heard, not knowing 
their use or meaning or what kind of words they were:

Noth hierth malk man
hiolk han merth han!

He yelled the rhyme aloud, and the goats came to him. They came very quickly, 
all of them together, mot making any sound. They looked at him out of the dark 
slot in their yellow eyes.
Duny laughed and shouted it out again, the rhyme that gave him power 
over the goats. They came closer, crowing and pushing round him. All at once he 
felt afraid of their thick, ridged horns and their strange eyes and their 
strange silence. He tried to get free of them and to run away. The goats ran 
with him keeping in a knot around him, and so they came charging down into the 
village at last, all the goats going huddled together as if a rope were pulled 
tight round them, and the boy in the midst of them weeping and bellowing. 
Villagers ran from their houses to swear at the goats and laugh at the boy. 
Among them came the boy's aunt, who did not laugh. She said a word to the goats, 
and the beasts began to bleat and browse and wander, freed from the spell.
ÒCome with me,Ó she said to Deny.
She took him into her hut where she lived alone. She let no child 
enter there usually, and the children feared the place. It was low and dusky, 
windowless, fragrant with herbs that hung drying from the cross-pole of the 
roof, mint and moly and thyme, yarrow and rushwash and paramal, kingsfoil, 
clovenfoot, tansy and bay. There his aunt sat crosslegged by the firepit, and 
looking sidelong at the boy through the tangles of her black hair she asked him 
what he had said to the goats, and if he knew what the rhyme was. When she found 
that he knew nothing, and yet had spellbound the goats to come to him and follow 
him, then she saw that he must have in him the makings of power.
As her sister's son he had been nothing to her, but now she looked at 
him with a new eye. She praised him, and told him she might teach him rhymes he 
would like better, such as the word that makes a snail look out of its shell, or 
the name that calls a falcon down from the sky.
ÒAye, teach me that name!Ó he said, being clear over the fright the 
goats had given him, and puffed up with her praise of his cleverness.
The witch said to him, ÒYou will not ever tell that word to the other 
children, if I teach it to you.Ó
ÒI promise.Ó
She smiled at his ready ignorance. ÒWell and good. But I will bind 
your promise. Your tongue will be stilled until I choose to unbind it, and even 
then, though you can speak, you will not be able to speak the word I teach you 
where another person can hear it. We must keep the secrets of our craft.Ó
ÒGood,Ó said the boy, for he had no wish to tell the secret to his 
playmates, liking to know and do what they knew not and could not.
He sat still while his aunt bound back her un-combed hair, and 
knotted the belt of her dress, and sat crosslegged throwing handfuls of leaves 
into the firepit so that a smoke spread and filled the darkness of the hut. She 
began to sing, Her voice changed sometimes to low or high as if another voice 
sang through her, and the singing went on and on until the boy did not know if 
he waked or slept, and all the while the witch's old black dog that never barked 
sat by him with eyes red from the smoke. Then the witch spoke to Duny in a 
tongue he did not understand, and made him say with her certain rhymes and words 
until the enchantment came on him and held him still.
ÒSpeak!Ó she said to test the spell.
The boy Could not speak, but he laughed.
Then his aunt was a little afraid of his strength, for this was as 
strong a spell as she knew how to weave: she had tried not only to gain control 
of his speech and silence, but to bind him at the same time to her service in 
the craft of sorcery. Yet even as the spell bound him, he had laughed. She said 
nothing. She threw clear water on the fire till the smoke cleared away, and gave 
the boy water to drink, and when the air was clear and he could speak again she 
taught him the true name of the falcon, to which the falcon must come.
This was Duny's first step on the way he was to follow all his life, 
the way of magery, the way that led him at last to hunt a shadow over land and 
sea to the lightless coasts of death's kingdom. But in those first steps along 
the way, it seemed a broad, bright road.
When he found that the wild falcons stooped down to him from the wind 
when he summoned them by name, lighting with a thunder of wings on his wrist 
like the hunting-birds of a prince, then he hungered to know more such names and 
came to his aunt begging to learn the name of the sparrowhawk and the osprey and 
the eagle. To earn the words of power he did all the witch asked of him and 
learned of her all she taught, though not all of it was pleasant to do or know. 
There is a saying on Gont, Weak as woman's magic, and there is another saying, 
Wicked as woman's magic. Now the witch of Ten Alders was no black sorceress, nor 
did she ever meddle with the high arts or traffic with Old Powers; but being an 
ignorant woman among ignorant folk, she often used her crafts to foolish and 
dubious ends. She knew nothing of the Balance and the Pattern which the true 
wizard knows and serves, and which keep him from using his spells unless real 
need demands. She had a spell for every circumstance, and was forever wearing 
charms. Much of her lore was mere rubbish and humbug, nor did she know the true 
spells from the false. She knew many curses, and was better at causing sickness, 
perhaps, than at curing it. Like any village witch she could brew up a love-
potion, but there were other, uglier brews she made to serve men's jealousy and 
hate. Such practices, however, she kept from her young prentice, and as far as 
she was able she taught him honest craft.
At first all his pleasure in the art-magic was, childlike, the power 
it gave him over bird and beast, and the knowledge of these. And indeed that 
pleasure stayed with him all his life. Seeing him in the high pastures often 
with a bird of prey about him, the other children called him Sparrowhawk, and so 
he came by the name that he kept in later life as his use-name, when his true-
name was not known.
As the witch kept talking of the glory and the riches and the great 
power over men that a sorcerer could gain, he set himself to learn more useful 
lore. He was very quick at it. The witch praised him and the children of the 
village began to fear him, and he himself was sure that very soon he would 
become great among men. So he went on from word to word and from spell to spell 
with the witch till he was twelve years old and had learned from her a 
great part of what she knew: not much, but enough for the witchwife of a small 
village, and more than enough for a boy of twelve. She had taught him all her 
lore in herbals and healing, and all she knew of the crafts of finding, binding, 
mending, unsealing and revealing. What she knew of chanters' tales and the great 
Deeds she had sung him, and all the words of the True Speech that she had 
learned from the sorcerer that taught her, she taught again to Deny. And from 
weatherworkers and wandering jugglers who went from town to town of the 
Northward Vale and the East Forest he had learned various ticks and 
pleasantries, spells of Illusion. It was with one of these light spells that he 
first proved the great power that was in him.
In those days the Kargad Empire was strong. Those are four great 
lands that lie between the Northern and the Eastern Reaches: Karego-At, Atuan, 
Hur-at-Hur, Atnini. The tongue they speak there is not like any spoken in the 
Archipelago or the other Reaches, and they are a savage people, white-skinned, 
yellowhaired, and fierce, liking the sight of blood and the smell of burning 
towns. Last year they had attacked the Torikles and the strong island Torheven, 
raiding in great force in fleets of redsailed ships. News of this came north to 
Gont, but the Lords of Gont were busy with their piracy and paid small heed to 
the woes of other lands. Then Spevy fell to the Kargs and was looted and laid 
waste, its people taken as slaves, so that even now it is an isle of ruins. In 
lust of conquest the Kargs sailed next to Gont, coming in a host, thirty great 
longships, to East Port. They fought through that town, took it, burned it; 
leaving their ships under guard at the mouth of the River Ar they went up the 
Vale wrecking and looting, slaughtering cattle and men. As they went they split 
into bands, and each of these bands plundered where it chose. Fugitives brought 
warning to the villages of the heights. Soon the people of Ten Alders saw smoke 
darken the eastern sky, and that night those who climbed the High Fall looked 
down on the Vale all hazed and red-streaked with fires where fields ready for 
harvest had been set ablaze, and orchards burned, the fruit roasting on the 
blazing boughs, and urns and farmhouses smouldered in ruin.
Some of the villagers fled up the ravines and hid in the forest, and 
some made ready to fight for their lives, and some did neither but stood about 
lamenting. The witch was one who fled; hiding alone in a cave up on the 
Kapperding Scarp and sealing the cave-mouth with spells. Duny's father the 
bronze-smith was one who stayed, for he would not leave his smelting-pit and 
forge where he had worked for fifty years. All that night he labored beating up 
what ready metal he had there into spearpoints, and others worked with him 
binding these to the handles of hoes and rakes; there being no time to make 
sockets and shaft them properly. There had been no weapons in the village but 
hunting bows and short knives, for the mountain folk of Cont are not warlike; it 
is not warriors they are famous for, but goat-thieves, sea pirates, and wizards.
With sunrise came a thick white fog, as on many autumn mornings in 
the heights of the island. Among their huts and houses down the straggling 
street of Ten'Alders the villagers stood waiting with their hunting bows and 
new-forged spears, not knowing whether the Kargs might be far-off or very near, 
all silent, all peering into the fog that hid shapes and distances and dangers 
from their eyes.
With them was Duny. He had worked all night at the forgebellows, 
pushing and pulling the two long sleeves of goathide that fed the fire with a 
blast of sir. Now his arms so ached and trembled from that work that he could 
not hold out the spear he had chosen. He did not see how he could fight or be of 
any good to himself or the villagers. It rankled at his heart that he should 
die, spitted on a Kargish lance, while still a boy: that he should go into the 
dark land without ever having known his own name, his true name as a man. He 
looked down at his thin arms, wet with cold fogdew, and raged at his weakness, 
for he knew his strength. There was power in him, if he knew how to use it, and 
he sought among all the spells he knew for some device that might give him and 
his  companions an advantage, or at least a chance. But need alone is not enough 
to set power free: there must be knowledge.
The fog was thinning now under the heat of the sun that shone bare 
above on the peak - in a bright sky. As the mists moved and parted in great 
drifts and smoky wisps, the villagers saw a band of warriors coming up the 
mountain. They were armored with bronze helmets and greaves and breastplates of 
heavy leather and shields of wood and bronze, and armed with swords and the long 
Kargish lance. Winding up along the steep bank of the Ar they came in a plumed, 
clanking, straggling line, near enough already that their white faces could be 
seen, and the words of their jargon heard as they shouted to one another. In 
this band of the invading horde there were about a hundred men, which is not 
many; but in the village were only eighteen men and boys.
Now need called knowledge out: Duny, seeing the fog blow and thin 
across the path before the Kargs, saw a spell that might avail him. An old 
weatherworker of the Vale, seeking to win the boy as prentice, had taught him 
several charms. One of these tricks was called fogweaving, a binding-spell that 
gathers the mists together for a while in one place; with it one skilled in 
illusion can shape the mist into fair ghostly seemings, which last a little and 
fade away. The boy had no such skill, but his intent was different, and he had 
the strength to turn the spell to his own ends. Rapidly and aloud he named the 
places and the boundaries of the village, and then spoke the fogweaving charm, 
but in among its words he enlaced the words of a spell of concealment, and last 
he cried the word that set the magic going.
Even as he did so his father coming up behind him struck him hard on 
the side of the head, knocking him right down. ÒBe still, fool! keep your 
blattering mouth shut, and hide if you can't fight!Ó
Duny got to his feet. He could hear the Kargs now at the end of the 
village, as near as the great yew-tree by the tanner's yard. Their voices were 
clear, and the clink and creak of their harness and arms, but they could not be 
seen. The fog had closed and thickened all over the village, greying the light, 
blurring the world till a man could hardly see his own hands before him.
ÒI've hidden us all,Ó Duny said, sullenly, for his head hurt from his 
father's blow, and the working of the doubled incantation had drained his 
strength. ÒI'll keep up this fog as long as I can. Get the others to lead them 
up to High Fall.Ó
The smith stared at his son who stood wraithlike in that weird, dank 
mist. It took him a minute to see Duny's meaning, but when he did he ran at 
once, noiselessly, knowing every fence and corner of the village, to find the 
others and tell them what to do. Now through the grey fog bloomed a blur of red, 
as the Kargs set fire to the thatch of a house. Still they did not come up into 
the village, but waited at the lower end till the mist should lift and lay bare 
their loot and prey.
The tanner, whose house it was that burned, sent a couple of boys 
skipping right under the Kargs' noses, taunting and yelling and vanishing again 
like smoke into smoke. Meantime the older men, creeping behind fences and 
running from house to house, came close on the other side and sent a volley of 
arrows and spears at the warriors, who stood all in a bunch. One Karg fell 
writhing with a spear, still warm from its forging, right through his body. 
Others were arrow-bitten, and all enraged. They charged forward then to hew down 
their puny attackers, but they found only the fog about them, full of voices. 
They followed the voices, stabbing ahead into the mist with their great, plumed, 
bloodstained lances. Up the length of the street they came shouting, and never 
knew they had run right through the village, as the empty huts and houses loomed 
and disappeared again in the writhing grey fog. The villagers ran scattering, 
most of them keeping well ahead since they knew the ground; but some, boys or 
old men, were slow. The Kargs stumbling on them drove their lances or hacked 
with their swords, yelling their war-cry, the names of the White Godbrothers of 
ÒWuluah! Atwah!Ó
Some of the band stopped when they felt the land grow rough 
underfoot, but others pressed right on, seeking the phantom village, following 
dim wavering shapes that fled just out of reach before them. All the mist had 
come alive with these fleeting forms, dodging, flickering, fading on every side. 
One group of the Kargs chased the wraiths straight to the High Fall, the cliff's 
edge above the springs of Ar, and the shapes they pursued ran out onto the air 
and there vanished in a thinning of the mist, while the pursuers fell screaming 
through fog and sudden sunlight a hundred feet sheer to the shallow pools among 
the rocks. And those that came behind and did not fall stood at the cliff's 
edge, listening.
Now dread came into the Kargs' hearts and they began to seek one 
another, not the villagers, in the uncanny mist. They gathered on the hillside, 
and yet always there were wraiths and ghost-shapes among them; and other shapes 
that ran and stabbed from behind with spear or knife and vanished again. The 
Kargs began to run, all of them, downhill, stumbling, silent, until all at once 
they ran out from the grey blind mist and saw the river and the ravines below 
the village all bare and bright in morning sunlight. Then they stopped, 
gathering together, and looked back. A wall of wavering, writhing grey lay blank 
across the path, hiding all that lay behind it. Out from it burst two or three 
stragglers, lunging and stumbling along, their long lances rocking on their 
shoulders. Not one Karg looked back more than that once. All went down, in 
haste, away from the enchanted place.
Farther down the Northward Vale those warriors got their fill of 
fighting. The towns of the East Forest, from Ovark to the coast, had gathered 
their men and sent them against the invaders of Gont. Band after band they came 
down from the hills, and that day and the next the Kargs were harried back down 
to the beaches above East Port, where they found their ships burnt; so they 
fought with their backs to the sea till every man of them was killed, and the 
sands of Armouth were brown with blood until the tide came in.
But on that morning in Ten Alders village and up on the High Fall, 
the dank grey fog had clung a while, and then suddenly it blew and drifted and 
melted away. This man and that stood up in the windy brightness of the morning, 
and looked about him wondering. Here lay a dead Karg with yellow hair long, 
loose; and bloody; there lay the village tanner, killed in battle like a king.
Down in the village the house that bad been set afire still blazed. 
They ran to put the fire out, since their battle had been won. In the street, 
near the great yew, they found Duny the bronze-smith's son standing by himself, 
bearing no hurt, but speechless and stupid like one stunned. They were well 
aware of what he had done, and they led him into his father's house and went 
calling for the witch to come down out of her cave and heal the lad who had 
saved their lives and their property, all but four who were killed by the Kargs, 
and the one house that was burnt.
No weapon-hurt had come to the boy, but he would not speak nor eat 
nor sleep; he seemed not to hear what was said to him, not to see those who came 
to see him. There was none in those parts wizard enough to cure what ailed him. 
His aunt said, ÒHe has overspent his power,Ó but she had no art to help him.
While he lay thus dark and dumb, the story of the lad who wove the 
fog and scared off Kargish swordsmen with a mess of shadows was told all down 
the Northward Vale, and in the East Forest, and high on the mountain and over 
the mountain even in the Great Port of Gont. So it happened that on the fifth 
day after the slaughter at Armouth a stranger came into Ten Alders village, a 
man neither young nor old, who came cloaked and bareheaded, lightly carrying a 
great staff of oak that was as tall as himself. He did not come up the course of 
the Ar like most people, but down, out of the forests of the higher 
mountainside. The village goodwives saw well that he was a wizard, and when he 
told them that he was a healall, they brought him straight to the smith's house. 
Sending away all but the boy's father and aunt the stranger stooped above the 
cot where Duny lay staring into the dark, and did no more than lay his hand on 
the boy's forehead and touch his lips once.
Duny sat up slowly looking about him. In a little while he spoke, and 
strength and hunger began to come back into him. They gave him a little to drink 
and eat, and he lay back again, always watching the stranger with dark wondering 
The bronze-smith said to that stranger, ÒYou are no common man.Ó
ÒNor will this boy be a common man,Ó the other answered. ÒThe tale of 
his deed with the fog has come to Re Albi, which is my home. I have come here to 
give him his name, if as they say he has not yet made his passage into manhood.Ó
The witch whispered to the smith, ÒBrother, this must surely be the 
Mage of Re Albi, Ogion the Silent, that one who tamed the earthquake-Ó
ÒSir,Ó said the bronze-smith who would not let a great name daunt 
him, Òmy son will be thirteen this month coming, but we thought to hold his 
Passage at the feast of Sunreturn this winter.Ó
ÒLet him be named as soon as may be,Ó said the mage, Òfor he needs 
his name. I have other business now, but I will come back here for the day you 
choose. If you see fit I will take him with me when I go thereafter. And if he 
prove apt I will keep him as prentice, or see to it that he is schooled as fits 
his gifts. For to keep dark the mind of the mageborn, that is a dangerous 
Very gently Ogion spoke, but with certainty, and even the hardheaded 
smith assented to all he said.
On the day the boy was thirteen years old, a day in the early 
splendor of autumn while still the bright leaves are on the trees, Ogion 
returned to the village from his rovings over Gont Mountain, and the ceremony of 
Passage was held. The witch took from the boy his name Duny, the name his mother 
had given him as a baby. Nameless and naked he walked into the cold springs of 
the Ar where it rises among rocks under the high cliffs. As he entered the water 
clouds crossed the sun's face and great shadows slid and mingled over the water 
of the pool about him. He crossed to the far bank, shuddering with cold but 
walking slow and erect as be should through that icy, living water. As he came 
to the bank Ogion, waiting, reached out his hand and clasping the boy's arm 
whispered to him his true name: Ged.
Thus was he given his name by one very wise in the uses of power.
The feasting was far from over, and all the villagers were making 
merry with plenty to eat and beer to drink and a chanter from down the Vale 
singing the Deed of the Dragonlords, when the mage spoke in his quiet voice to 
Ged: ÒCome, lad. Bid your people farewell and leave them feasting.Ó
Ged fetched what he had to carry, which was the good bronze knife his 
father had forged him, and a leather coat the tanner's widow had cut down to his 
size, and an alderstick his aunt had becharmed for him: that was all he owned 
besides his shirt and breeches. He said farewell to them, all the people he knew 
in all the world, and looked about once at the village that straggled and 
huddled there under the cliffs, over the river-springs. Then he set off with his 
new master through the steep slanting forests of the mountain isle, through the 
leaves and shadows of bright autumn.

2 The Shadow

Ged had thought that as the prentice of a great mage he would enter 
at once into the mystery and mastery of power. He would understand the language 
of the beasts and the speech of the leaves of the forest, he thought, and sway 
the winds with his word, and learn to change himself into any shape he wished. 
Maybe he and his master would run together as stags, or fly to Re Albi over the 
mountain on the wings of eagles.
But it was not so at all. They wandered, first down into the Vale and 
then gradually south and westward around the mountain, given lodging in little 
villages or spending the night out in the wilderness, like poor journeyman-
sorcerers, or tinkers, or beggars. They entered no mysterious domain. Nothing 
happened. The mage's oaken staff that Ged had watched at first with eager dread 
was nothing but a stout staff to walk with. Three days went by and four days 
went by and still Ogion had not spoken a single charm in Ged's hearing, and had 
not taught him a single name or rune or spell.
Though a very silent man he was so mild and calm that Ged soon lost 
his awe of him, and in a day or two more he was bold enough to ask his master, 
ÒWhen will my apprenticeship begin, Sir?Ó
ÒIt has begun,Ó said Ogion.
There was a silence, as if Ged was keeping back something he had to 
say. Then he said it: ÒBut I haven't learned anything yet!Ó
ÒBecause you haven't found out what I am teaching,Ó replied the mage, 
going on at his steady, long-legged pace along their road, which was the high 
pass between Ovark and Wiss. He was a dark man, like most Gontishmen, dark 
copper-brown; grey-haired, lean and tough as a hound, tireless. He spoke seldom, 
ate little, slept less. His eyes and ears were very keen, and often there was a 
listening look on his face.
Ged did not answer him. It is not always easy to answer a mage.
ÒYou want to work spells,Ó Ogion said presently, striding along. 
ÒYou've drawn too much water from that well. Wait. Manhood is patience. Mastery 
is nine times patience. What is that herb by the path?Ó
ÒAnd that?Ó
ÒI don't know.Ó
ÒFourfoil, they call it.Ó Ogion had halted, the coppershod foot of 
his staff near the little weed, so Ged looked closely at the plant, and plucked 
a dry seedpod from it, and finally asked, since Ogion said nothing more, ÒWhat 
is its use, Master?Ó
ÒNone I know of.Ó
Ged kept the seedpod a while as they went on, then tossed it away.
ÒWhen you know the fourfoil in all its seasons root and leaf and 
flower, by sight and scent and seed, then you may learn its true name, knowing 
its being: which is more than its use. What, after all, is the use of you? or of 
myself? Is Gont Mountain useful, or the Open Sea?Ó Ogion went on a halfmile or 
so, and said at last, ÒTo hear, one must be silent.Ó The boy frowned. He did 
not like to be made to feel a fool. He kept back his resentment and impatience, 
and tried to be obedient, so that Ogion would consent at last to teach him 
something. For he hungered to learn, to gain power. It began to seem to him, 
though, that he could have learned more walking with any herb-gatherer or 
village sorcerer, and as they went round the mountain westward into the lonely 
forests past Wiss he wondered more and more what was the greatness and the magic 
of this great Mage Ogion. For when it rained Ogion would not even say the spell 
that every weatherworker knows, to send the storm aside. In a land where 
sorcerers come thick, like Gont or the Enlades, you may see a raincloud 
blundering slowly from side to side and place to place as one spell shunts it on 
to the next, till at last it is buffeted out over the sea where it can rain in 
peace. But Ogion let the rain fall where it would. He found a thick fir-tree and 
lay down beneath it. Ged crouched among the dripping bushes wet and sullen, and 
wondered what was the good of having power if you were too wise to use it, and 
wished he had gone as prentice to that old weatherworker of the Vale, where at 
least he would have slept dry. He did not speak any of his thoughts aloud. He 
said not a word. His master smiled, and fell asleep in the rain.
Along towards Sunreturn when the first heavy snows began to fall in 
the heights of Gont they came to Re Albi, Ogion's home. It is a town on the edge 
of the high rocks of Overfell, and its name means Falcon's Nest. From it one can 
see far below the deep harbor and the towers of the Port of Gont, and the ships 
that go in and out the gate of the bay between the Armed Cliffs, and far to the 
west across the sea one may make out the blue hills of Oranea, easternmost of 
the Inward Isles.
The mage's house, though large and soundly built of timber, with 
hearth and chimney rather than a firepit, was like the huts of Ten Alders 
village: all one room, with a goatshed built onto one side. There was a kind of 
alcove in the west wall of the room, where Ged slept. Over his pallet was a 
window that looked out on the sea, but most often the shutters must be closed 
against the great winds that blew all winter from the west and north. In the 
dark warmth of that house Ged spent the winter, hearing the rush of rain and 
wind outside or the silence of snowfall, learning to write and read the Six 
Hundred Runes of Hardic. Very glad he was to learn this lore, for without it no 
mere rote-learning of charms and spells will give a man true mastery. The Hardic 
tongue of the Archipelago, though it has no more magic power in it than any 
other tongue of men, has its roots in the Old Speech, that language in which 
things are named with their true names: and the way to the understanding of this 
speech starts with the Runes that were written when the islands of the world 
first were raised up from the sea.
Still no marvels and enchantments occurred. All winter there was 
nothing but the heavy pages of the Runebook turning, and the rain and the snow 
falling; and Ogion would come in from roaming the icy forests or from looking 
after his goats, and stamp the snow off his boots, and sit down in silence by 
the fire. And the mage's long, listening silence would fill the room, and fill 
Ged's mind, until sometimes it seemed he had forgotten what words sounded like: 
and when Ogion spoke at last it was as if he had, just then and for the first 
time, invented speech. Yet the words he spoke were no great matters but had to 
do only with simple things, bread and water and weather and sleep.
As the spring came on, quick and bright, Ogion often sent Ged forth 
to gather herbs on the meadows above Re Albi, and told him to take as long as he 
liked about it, giving him freedom to spend all day wandering by rainfilled 
streams and through the woods and over wet green fields in the sun. Ged went 
with delight each time, and stayed out till night; but he did not entirely 
forget the herbs. He kept an eye out for them, while he climbed and roamed and 
waded and explored, and always brought some home. He came on a meadow between 
two streams where the flower called white hallows grew thick, and as these 
blossoms are rare and prized by healers, he came back again next day. Someone 
else was there before him, a girl, whom he knew by sight as the daughter of the 
old Lord of Re Albi. He would not have spoken to her, but she came to him and 
greeted him pleasantly: ÒI know you, you are the Sparrowhawk, our mage's adept. 
I wish you would tell me about sorcery!Ó
He looked down at the white flowers that brushed against her white 
skirt, and at first he was shy and glum and hardly answered. But she went on 
talking, in an open, careless, wilful way that little by little set him at ease. 
She was a tall girl of about his own age, very sallow, almost white-skinned; her 
mother, they said in the village, was from Osskil or some such foreign land. Her 
hair fell long and straight like a fall of black water. Ged thought her very 
ugly, but he had a desire to please her, to win her admiration, that grew on him 
as they talked. She made him tell all the story of his tricks with the mist that 
had defeated the Kargish warriors, and she listened as if she wondered and 
admired, but she spoke no praise. And soon she was off on another tack: ÒCan you 
call the birds and beasts to you?Ó she asked.
ÒI can,Ó said Ged.
He knew there was a falcon's nest in the cliffs above the meadow, and 
he summoned the bird by its name. It came, but it would not light on his wrist, 
being put off no doubt by the girl's presence. It screamed and struck the air 
with broad barred wings, and rose up on the wind.
ÒWhat do you call that kind of charm, that made the falcon come?Ó
ÒA spell of Summoning.Ó
ÒCan you call the spirits of the dead to come to you, too?Ó
He thought she was mocking him with this question, because the falcon 
had not fully obeyed his summons. He would not let her mock him. ÒI might if I 
chose,Ó he said in a calm voice.
ÒIs it not very difficult, very dangerous, to summon a spirit?Ó
ÒDifficult, yes. Dangerous?Ó He shrugged.
This time be was almost certain there was admiration in her eyes.
ÒCan you make a love-charm?Ó
ÒThat is no mastery.Ó
ÒTrue,Ó says she, Òany village witch can do it. Can you do Changing 
spells? Can you change your own shape, as wizards do, they say?Ó
Again he was not quite sure that she did not ask the question 
mockingly, and so again he replied, ÒI might if I chose.Ó
She began to beg him to transform himself into anything he wished - a 
hawk, a bull, a fire, a tree. He put her off with sort secretive words such as 
his master used, but he did not know how to refuse flatly when she coaxed him; 
and besides he did not know whether he himself believed his boast, or not. He 
left her, saying that his master the mage expected him at home, and he did not 
come back to the meadow the next day. But the day after he came again, saying to 
himself that he should gather more of the flowers while they bloomed. She was 
there, and together they waded barefoot in the boggy grass, pulling the heavy 
white hallow-blooms. The sun of spring shone, and she talked with him as merrily 
as any goatherd lass of his own village. She asked him again about sorcery, and 
listened wide-eyed to all he told her, so that he fell to boasting again. Then 
she asked him if he would not work a Changing spell, and when he put her off, 
she looked at him, putting back the black hair from her face, and said, ÒAre you 
afraid to do it?Ó
ÒNo, I am not afraid.Ó
She smiled a little disdainfully and said, ÒMaybe you are too young.Ó
That he would not endure. He did not say much, but he resolved that 
he would prove himself to her. He told her to come again to the meadow tomorrow, 
if she liked, and so took leave of her, and came back to the house while his 
master was still out. He went straight to the shelf and took down the two Lore-
Books, which Ogion had never yet opened in his presence.
He looked for a spell of self-transformation, but being slow to read 
the runes yet and understanding little of what he read, he could not find what 
he sought. These books were very ancient, Ogion having them from his own master 
Heleth Farseer, and Heleth from his master the Mage of Perregal, and so back 
into the times of myth. Small and strange was the writing, overwritten and 
interlined by many hands, and all those hands were dust now. Yet here and there 
Ged understood something of what he tried to read, and with the girl's questions 
and her mockery always in his mind, he stopped on a page that bore a spell of 
summoning up the spirits of the dead.
As he read it, puzzling out the runes and symbols one by one, a 
horror came over him. His eyes were fixed, and he could not lift them till he 
had finished reading all the spell.
Then raising his head he saw it was dark in the house. He had been 
reading without any light, in the darkness. He could not now make out the runes 
when he looked down at the book. Yet the horror grew in him, seeming to hold him 
bound in his chair. He was cold. Looking over his shoulder he saw that something 
was crouching beside the closed door, a shapeless clot of shadow darker than the 
darkness. It seemed to reach out towards him, and to whisper, and to call to him 
in a whisper: but he could not understand the words.
The door was flung wide. A man entered with a white light flaming 
about him, a great bright figure who spoke aloud, fiercely and suddenly. The 
darkness and the whispering ceased and were dispelled.
The horror went out of Ged, but still he was mortally afraid, for it 
was Ogion the Mage who stood there in the doorway with a brightness all about 
him, and the oaken staff in his hand burned with a white radiance.
Saying no word the mage came past Ged, and lighted the lamp, and put 
the books away on their shelf. Then be turned to the boy and said, ÒYou will 
never work that spell but in peril of your power and your life. Was it for that 
spell you opened the books?Ó
ÒNo, Master,Ó the boy murmured, and shamefully he told Ogion what he 
had sought, and why.
ÒYou do not remember what I told you, that that girl's mother, the 
Lord's wife, is an enchantress?Ó
Indeed Ogion had once said this, but Ged had not paid much attention, 
though he knew by now that Ogion never told him anything that he had not good 
reason to tell him.
ÒThe girl herself is half a witch already. It may be the mother who 
sent the girl to talk to you. It may be she who opened the book to the page you 
read. The powers she serves are not the powers I serve: I do not know her will, 
but I know she does not will me well. Ged, listen to me now. Have you never 
thought how danger must surround power as shadow does light? This sorcery is not 
a game we play for pleasure or for praise. Think of this: that every word, every 
act of our Art is said and is done either for good, or for evil. Before you 
speak or do you must know the price that is to pay!Ó
Driven by his shame Ged cried, ÒHow am I to know these things, when 
you teach me nothing? Since I lived with you I have done nothing, seen nothing-Ó
ÒNow you have seen something,Ó said the mage. ÒBy the door, in the 
darkness, when I came in.Ó
Ged was silent.
Ogion knelt down and built the fire on the hearth and lit it, for the 
house was cold. Then still kneeling he said in his quiet voice, ÒGed, my young 
falcon, you are not bound to me or to my service. You did not come to me, but I 
to you. You are very young to make this choice, but I cannot make it for you. If 
you wish, I will send you to Roke Island, where all high arts are taught. Any 
craft you undertake to learn you will learn, for your power is great. Greater 
even than your pride, I hope. I would keep you here with me, for what I have is 
what you lack, but I will not keep you against your will. Now choose between Re 
Albi and Roke.Ó
Ged stood dumb, his heart bewildered. He had come to love this man 
Ogion who had healed him with a touch, and who had no anger: he loved him, and 
had not known it until now. He looked at the oaken staff leaning in the 
chimneycorner, remembering the radiance of it that had burned out evil from the 
dark, and he yearned to stay with Ogion, to go wandering through the forests 
with him, long and far, learning how to be silent. Yet other cravings were in 
him that would not be stilled, the wish for glory, the will to act. Ogion's 
seemed a long road towards mastery, a slow bypath to follow, when he might go 
sailing before the seawinds straight to the Inmost Sea, to the Isle of the Wise, 
where the air was bright with enchantments and the Archmage walked amidst 
ÒMaster,Ó he said, ÒI will go to Roke.Ó
So a few days later on a sunny morning of spring Ogion strode beside 
him down the steep road from the Overfell, fifteen miles to the Great Port of 
Gont. There at the landgate between carven dragons the guards of the City of 
Gont, seeing the mage, knelt with bared swords and welcomed him. They knew him 
and did him honor by the Prince's order and their own will, for ten years ago 
Ogion had saved the city from earthquake that would have shaken the towers of 
the rich down to the ground and closed the channel of the Armed Cliffs with 
avalanche. He had spoken to the Mountain of Gont, calming it, and had stilled 
the trembling precipices of the Overfell as one soothes a frightened beast. Ged 
had heard some talk of this, and now, wondering to see the armed guardsmen kneel 
to his quiet master, he remembered it. He glanced up almost in fear at this man 
who had stopped an earthquake; but Ogion's face was quiet as always.
They went down to the quays, where the Harbormaster came hastening to 
welcome Ogion and ask what service he might do. The mage told him, and at once 
he named a ship bound for the Inmost Sea aboard which Ged might go as passenger. 
ÒOr they will take him as windbringer,Ó he said, Òif he has the craft. They have 
no weatherworker aboard.Ó
ÒHe has some skill with mist and fog, but none with seawinds,Ó the 
mage said, putting his hand lightly on Ged's shoulder. ÒDo not try any tricks 
with the sea and the winds of the sea, Sparrowhawk; you are a landsman still. 
Harbormaster, what is the ship's name?Ó
ÒShadow, from the Andrades, bound to Hort Town with furs and ivories. 
A good ship, Master Ogion.Ó
The mage's face darkened at the name of the ship, but he said, ÒSo be 
it. Give this writing to the Warden of the School on Roke, Sparrowhawk. Go with 
a fair wind. FarewelllÓ
That was all his parting. He turned away, and went striding up the 
street away from the quays. Ged stood forlorn and watched his master go.
ÒCome along, lad,Ó said the Harbormaster, and took him down the 
waterfront to the pier where Shadow was making ready to sail.
It might seem strange that on an island fifty miles wide, in a 
village under cliffs that stare out forever on the sea, a child may grow to 
manhood never having stepped in a boat or dipped his finger in salt water, but 
so it is. Farmer, goatherd, cattleherd, hunter or artisan, the landsman looks at 
the ocean as at a salt unsteady realm that has nothing to do with him at all. 
The village two days' walk from his village is a foreign land, and the island a 
day's sail from his island is a mere rumor, misty hills seen across the water, 
not solid ground like that he walks on.
So to Ged who had never been down from the heights of the mountain, 
the Port of Gont was an awesome and marvellous place, the great houses and 
towers of cut stone and waterfront of piers and docks and basins and moorages, 
the seaport where half a hundred boats and galleys rocked at quayside or lay 
hauled up and overturned for repairs or stood out at anchor in the roadstead 
with furled sails and closed oarports, the sailors shouting in strange dialects 
and the longshoremen running heavyladen amongst barrels and boxes and coils of 
rope and stacks of oars, the bearded merchants in furred robes conversing 
quietly as they picked their way along the slimy stones above the water, the 
fishermen unloading their catch, coopers pounding and shipmakers hammering and 
clamsellers singing and shipmasters bellowing, and beyond all the silent, 
shining bay. With eyes and ears and mind bewildered he followed the Harbormaster 
to the broad dock where Shadow was tied up, and the harbormaster brought him to 
the master of the ship.
With few words spoken the ship's master agreed to take Ged as 
passenger to Roke, since it was a mage that asked it; and the Harbormaster left 
the boy with him. The master of the Shadow was a big man, and fat, in a red 
cloak trimmed with pellawi-fur such as Andradean merchants wear. He never looked 
at Ged but asked him in a mighty voice, ÒCan you work weather, boy?Ó
ÒI can. Ó
ÒCan you bring the wind?'
He had to say he could not, and with that the master told him to find 
a place out of the way and stay in it.
The oarsmen were coming aboard now, for the ship was to go out into 
the roadstead before night fell, and sail with the ebb-tide near dawn. There was 
no place out of the way, but Ged climbed up as well as he could onto the 
bundled, lashed, and hide-covered cargo in the stern of the ship, and clinging 
there watched all that passed. The oarsmen came leaping aboard, sturdy men with 
great arms, while longshoremen rolled water barrels thundering out the dock and 
stowed them under the rowers' benches. The wellbuilt ship rode low with her 
burden, yet danced a little on the lapping shore-waves, ready to be gone. Then 
the steersman took his place at the right of the sternpost, looking forward to 
the ship's master, who stood on a plank let in at the jointure of the keel with 
the stem, which was carved as the Old Serpent of Andrad. The master roared his 
orders hugely, and Shadow was untied and towed clear of the docks by two 
laboring rowboats. Then the master's roar was ÒOpen ports!Ó and the great oars 
shot rattling out, fifteen to a side. The rowers bent their strong backs while a 
lad up beside the master beat the stroke on a drum. Easy as a gull oared by her 
wings the ship went now, and the noise and hurly-burly of the City fell away 
suddenly behind. They came out in the silence of the waters of the bay, and over 
them rose the white peak of the Mountain, seeming to hang above the sea. In a 
shallow creek in the lee of the southern Armed Cliff the anchor was thrown over, 
and there they rode the night.
Of the seventy crewmen of the ship some were like Ged very young in 
years, though all had made their passage into manhood. These lads called him 
over to share food and drink with them, and were friendly though rough and full 
of jokes and jibes. They called him Goatherd, of course, because he was Gontish, 
but they did not go further than that. He was as tall and strong as the fifteen-
year-olds, and quick to return either a good word or a jeer; so he made his way 
among them and even that first night began to live as one of them and learn 
their work. This suited the ship's officers, for there was no room aboard for 
idle passengers.
There was little enough room for the crew, and no comfort at all, in 
an undecked galley crowded with men and gear and cargo; but what was comfort to 
Ged? He lay that night among corded rolls of pelts from the northern isles and 
watched the stars of spring above the harbor waters and the little yellow lights 
of the City astern, and he slept and waked again full of delight. Before dawn 
the tide turned. They raised anchor and rowed softly out between the Armed 
Cliffs. As sunrise reddened the Mountain of Gont behind them they raised the 
high sail and ran southwestward over the Gontish Sea.
Between Barnisk and Torheven they sailed with a light wind, and on 
the second day came in sight of Havnor, the Great Island, heart and hearth of 
the Archipelago. For three days they were in sight of the green hills of Havnor 
as they worked along its eastern coast, but they did not come to shore. Not for 
many years did Ged set foot on that land or see the white towers of Havnor Great 
Port at the center of the world.
They lay over one night at Kembermouth, the northern port of Way 
Island, and the next at a little town on the entrance of Felkway Bay, and the 
next day passed the northern cape of O and entered the Ebavnor Straits. There 
they dropped sail and rowed, always with land on either side and always within 
hail of other ships, great and small, merchants and traders, some bound in from 
the Outer Reaches with strange cargo after a voyage of years and others that 
hopped like sparrows from isle to isle of the Inmost Sea. Turning southward out 
of the crowded Straits they left Havnor astern and sailed between the two fair 
islands Ark and Ilien, towered and terraced with cities, and then through rain 
and rising wind began to beat their way across the Inmost Sea to Roke Island.
In the night as the wind freshened to a gale they took down both sail 
and mast, and the next day, all day, they rowed. The long ship lay steady on the 
waves and went gallantly, but the steersman at the long steering-sweep in the 
stern looked into the rain that beat the sea and saw nothing but the rain. They 
went southwest by the pointing of the magnet, knowing how they went, but not 
through what waters. Ged heard men speak of the shoal waters north of Roke, and 
of the Borilous Rocks to the east; others argued that they might be far out of 
course by now, in the empty waters south of Kamery. Still the wind grew 
stronger, tearing the edges of the great waves into flying tatters of foam, and 
still they rowed southwest with the wind behind them. The stints at the oars 
were shortened, for the labor was very hard; the younger lads were set two to an 
oar, and Ged took his turn with the others as he had since they left Gont. When 
they did not row they bailed, for the seas broke heavy on the ship. So they 
labored among the waves that ran like smoking mountains under the wind, while 
the rain beat hard and cold on their backs, and the drum thumped through the 
noise of the storm like a heart thumping.
A man came to take Ged's place at the oar, sending him to the ship's 
master in the bow. Rainwater dripped from the hem of the master's cloak, but he 
stood stout as a winebarrel on his bit of decking and looking down at Ged he 
asked, ÒCan you abate this wind, lad?Ó
ÒNo, sir.Ó
ÒHave you craft with iron?Ó
He meant, could Ged make the compass-needle point their way to Roke, 
making the magnet follow not its north but their need. That skill is a secret of 
the Seamasters, and again Ged must say no.
ÒWell then,Ó the master bellowed through the wind and rain, Òyou must 
find some ship to take you back to Roke from Hort Town. Roke must be west of us 
now, and only wizardry could bring us there through this sea. We must keep 
Ged did not like this, for he had heard the sailors talk of Hort 
Town, how it was a lawless place, full of evil traffic, where men were often 
taken and sold into slavery in the South Reach. Returning to his labor at the 
oar he pulled away with his companion, a sturdy Andradean lad, and heard the 
drum beat the stroke and saw the lantern hung on the stern bob and flicker as 
the wind plucked it about, a tormented fleck of light in the rain-lashed dusk. 
He kept looking to westward, as often as he could in the heavy rhythm of pulling 
the oar. And as the ship rose on a high swell he saw for a moment over the dark 
smoking water a light between clouds, as it might be the last gleam of sunset: 
but this was a clear light, not red.
His oar-mate had not seen it, but he called it out. The steersman 
watched for it on each rise of the great waves, and saw it as Ged saw it again, 
but shouted back that it was only the setting sun. Then Ged called to one of the 
lads that was bailing to take his place on the bench a minute, and made his way 
forward again along the encumbered aisle between the benches, and catching hold 
of the carved prow to keep from being pitched overboard he shouted up to the 
master, ÒSir! that light to the west is Roke Island!Ó
ÒI saw no light,Ó the master roared, but even as he spoke Ged flung 
out his arm pointing, and all saw the light gleam clear in the west over the 
heaving scud and tumult of the sea.
Not for his passenger's sake, but to save his ship from the peril of 
the storm, the master shouted at once to the steersman to head westward toward 
the light. But he said to Ged, ÒBoy, you speak like a Seamaster, but I tell you 
if you lead us wrong in this weather I will throw you over to swim to Roke!Ó
Now instead of running before the storm they must row across the 
wind's way, and it was hard: waves striking the ship abeam pushed her always 
south of their new course, and rolled her, and filled her with water so that 
bailing must be ceaseless, and the oarsmen must watch lest the ship rolling 
should lift their oars out of water as they pulled and so pitch them down among 
the benches. It was nearly dark under the stormclouds, but now and again they 
made out the light to the west, enough to set course by, and so struggled on. At 
last the wind dropped a little, and the light grew broad before them. They rowed 
on, and they came as it were through a curtain, between one oarstroke and the 
next running out of the storm into a clear air, where the light of after-sunset 
glowed in the sky and on the sea. Over the foam-crested waves they saw not far 
off a high, round, green hill, and beneath it a town built on a small bay where 
boats lay at anchor, all in peace.
The steersman leaning on his long sweep turned his bead and called, 
ÒSir! is this true land or a witchery?Ó
ÒKeep her as she goes, you witless woodenhead! Row, you spineless 
slave-sons! That's Thwil Bay and the Knoll of Roke, as any fool could see! Row!Ó
So to the beat of the drum they rowed wearily into the bay. There it 
was still, so that they could hear the voices of people up in the town, and a 
bell ringing, and only far off the hiss and roaring of the storm. Clouds hung 
dark to north and east and south a mile off all about the island. But over Roke 
stars were coming out one by one in a clear and quiet sky.

3 The School for Wizards

Ged slept that night aboard Shadow, and early in the morning parted 
with those first sea-comrades of his, they shouting good wishes cheerily after 
him as he went up the docks. The town of Thwil is not large, its high houses 
huddling close over a few steep narrow streets. To Ged, however, it seemed a 
city, and not knowing where to go he asked the first townsman of Thwil he met 
where he would find the Warder of the School on Roke. The man looked at him 
sidelong a while and said, ÒThe wise don't need to ask, the fool asks in vain,Ó 
and so went on along the street. Ged went uphill till he came out into a square, 
rimmed on three sides by the houses with their sharp slate roofs and on the 
fourth side by the wall of a great building whose few small windows were higher 
than the chimneytops of the houses: a fort or castle it seemed, built of mighty 
grey blocks of stone. In the square beneath it market-booths were set up and 
there was some coming and going of people. Ged asked his question of an old 
woman with a basket of mussels, and she replied, ÒYou cannot always find the 
Warder where he is, but sometimes you find him where he is not,Ó and went on 
crying her mussels to sell.
In the great building, near one corner, there was a mean little door 
of wood. Ged went to this and knocked loud. To the old man who opened the door 
he said, ÒI bear a letter from the Mage Ogion of Gont to the Warder of the 
School on this island. I want to find the Warder, but I will not hear more 
riddles and scoffing!Ó
ÒThis is the School,Ó the old man said mildly. ÒI am the doorkeeper. 
Enter if you can.Ó
Ged stepped forward. It seemed to him that he had passed through the 
doorway: yet he stood outside on the pavement where he had stood before.
Once more he stepped forward, and once more he remained standing 
outside the door. The doorkeeper, inside, watched him with mild eyes.
Ged was not so much baffled as angry, for this seemed like a further 
mockery to him. With voice and hand he made the Opening spell which his aunt had 
taught him long ago; it was the prize among all her stock of spells, and he wove 
it well now. But it was only a witch's charm, and the power that held this 
doorway was not moved at all.
When that failed Ged stood a long while there on the pavement. At 
last he looked at the old man who waited inside. ÒI cannot enter,Ó he said 
unwillingly, Òunless you help me.Ó
The doorkeeper answered, ÒSay your name.Ó
Then again Ged stood still a while; for a man never speaks his own 
name aloud, until more than his life's safety is at stake.
ÒI am Ged,Ó he said aloud. Stepping forward then he entered the open 
doorway. Yet it seemed to him that though the light was behind him, a shadow 
followed him in at his heels.
He saw also as he turned that the doorway through which he had come 
was not plain wood as he had thought, but ivory without joint or seam: it was 
cut, as he knew later, from a tooth of the Great Dragon. The door that the old 
man closed behind him was of polished horn, through which the daylight shone 
dimly, and on its inner face was carved the Thousand-Leaved Tree.
ÒWelcome to this house, lad,Ó the doorkeeper said, and without saying 
more led him through halls and corridors to an open court far inside the walls 
of the building. The court was partly paved with stone, but was roofless, and on 
a grassplot a fountain played under young trees in the sunlight. There Ged 
waited alone some while. He stood still, and his heart beat hard, for it seemed 
to him that he felt presences and powers at work unseen about him here, and he 
knew that this place was built not only of stone but of magic stronger than 
stone. He stood in the innermost room of the House of the Wise, and it was open 
to the sky. Then suddenly he was aware of a man clothed in white who watched him 
through the falling water of the fountain.
As their eyes met, a bird sang aloud in the branches of the tree. In 
that moment Ged understood the singing of the bird, and the language of the 
water falling in the basin of the fountain, and the shape of the clouds, and the 
beginning and end of the wind that stirred the leaves: it seemed to him that he 
himself was a word spoken by the sunlight.
Then that moment passed, and he and the world were as before, or 
almost as before. He went forward to kneel before the Archmage, holding out to 
him the letter written by Ogion.
The Archmage Nemmerle, Warder of Roke, was an old man, older it was 
said than any man then living. His voice quavered like the bird's voice when he 
spoke, welcoming Ged kindly. His hair and beard and robe were white, and he 
seemed as if all darkness and heaviness had been leached out of him by the slow 
usage of the years, leaving him white and worn as driftwood that has been a 
century adrift. ÒMy eyes are old, I cannot read what your master writes,Ó he 
said in his quavering voice. ÒRead me the letter, lad.Ó
So Ged made out and read aloud the writing, which was in Hardic 
runes, and said no more than this: Lord Nemmerle! I send you one who will be 
greatest of the wizards of Gont, if the wind blow true. This was signed, not 
with Ogion's true name which Ged had never yet learned, but with Ogion's rune, 
the Closed Mouth.
ÒHe who holds the earthquake on a leash has sent you, for which be 
doubly welcome. Young Ogion was dear to me, when he came here from Gont. Now 
tell me of the seas and portents of your voyage, lad.Ó
ÒA fair passage, Lord, but for the storm yesterday.Ó
ÒWhat ship brought you here?Ó
ÒShadow, trading from the Andrades.Ó
ÒWhose will sent you here?Ó
ÒMy own.Ó
The Archmage looked at Ged and looked away, and began to speak in a 
tongue that Ged did not understand, mumbling as will an old old man whose wits 
go wandering among the years and islands. Yet in among his mumbling there were 
words of what the bird had sung and what the water had said falling. He was not 
laying a spell and yet there was a power in his voice that moved Ged's mind so 
that the boy was bewildered, and for an instant seemed to behold himself 
standing in a strange vast desert place alone among shadows. Yet all along he 
was in the sunlit court, hearing the fountain fall.
A great black bird, a raven of Osskil, came walking over the stone 
terrace and the grass. It came to the hem of the Archmage's robe and stood there 
all black with its dagger beak and eyes like pebbles, staring sidelong at Ged. 
It pecked three times on the white staff Nemmerle leaned on, and the old wizard 
ceased his muttering, and smiled. ÒRun and play, lad,Ó he said at last as to a 
little child. Ged knelt again on one knee to him. When he rose, the Archmage was 
gone. Only the raven stood eyeing him, its beak outstretched as if to peck the 
vanished staff.
It spoke, in what Ged guessed might be the speech of Osskil. 
ÒTerrenon ussbuk!Ó it said croaking. ÒTerrenon ussbuk orrek!Ó And it strutted 
off as it had come.
Ged turned to leave the courtyard, wondering where he should go. 
Under the archway he was met by a tall youth who greeted him very courteously, 
bowing his bead. ÒI am called Jasper, Enwit's son of the Domain of Eolg on 
Havnor Isle. I am at your service today, to show you about the Great House and 
answer your questions as I can. How shall I call you, Sir?Ó
Now it seemed to Ged, a mountain villager who had never been among 
the sons of rich merchants and noblemen, that this fellow was scoffing at him 
with his ÒserviceÓ and his ÒSirÓ and his bowing and scraping. He answered 
shortly, ÒSparrowhawk, they call me.Ó
The other waited a moment as if expecting some more mannerly 
response, and getting none straightened up and turned a little aside. He was two 
or three years older than Ged, very tall, and he moved and carried himself with 
stiff grace, posing (Ged thought) like a dancer. He wore a grey cloak with hood 
thrown back. The first place he took Ged was the wardrobe room, where as a 
student of the school Ged might find himself another such cloak that fitted him, 
and any other clothing he might need. He put on the darkgrey cloak he had 
chosen, and Jasper said, ÒNow you are one of us.Ó
Jasper had a way of smiling faintly as he spoke which made Ged look 
for a jeer hidden in his polite words. ÒDo clothes make the mage?Ó he answered, 
ÒNo,Ó said the older boy. ÒThough I have heard that manners make the 
man. -Where now?Ó
ÒWhere you will. I do not know the house.Ó
Jasper took him down the corridors of the Great House showing him the 
open courts and the roofed halls, the Room of Shelves where the books of lore 
and rune-tomes were kept, the great Hearth Hall where all the school gathered on 
festival days, and upstairs, in the towers and under the roofs, the small cells 
where the students and Masters slept. Ged's was in the South Tower, with a 
window looking down over the steep roofs of Thwil town to the sea. Like the 
other sleeping-cells it had no furnishing but a strawfilled mattress in the 
corner. ÒWe live very plain here,Ó said Jasper. ÒBut I expect you won't mind 
ÒI'm used to it.Ó Presently, trying to show himself an equal of this 
polite disdainful youth, he added, ÒI suppose you weren't, when you first came.Ó
Jasper looked at him, and his look said without words, ÒWhat could 
you possibly know about what I, son of the Lord of the Domain of Eolg on the 
Isle of Havnor, am or am not used to?Ó What Jasper said aloud was simply, ÒCome 
on this way.Ó
A gong had been rung while they were upstairs, and they came down to 
eat the noon meal at the Long Table of the refectory, along with a hundred or 
more boys and young men. Each waited on himself, joking with the cooks through 
the window-hatches of the kitchen that opened into the refectory, loading his 
plate from great bowls of food that steamed on the sills, sitting where be 
pleased at the Long Table. ÒThey say,Ó Jasper told Ged, Òthat no matter how many 
sit at this table, there is always room.Ó Certainly there was room both for many 
noisy groups of boys talking and eating mightily, and for older fellows, their 
grey cloaks clasped with silver at the neck, who sat more quietly by pairs or 
alone, with grave, pondering faces, as if they had much to think about. Jasper 
took Ged to sit with a heavyset fellow called Vetch, who said nothing much but 
shovelled in his food with a will. He had the accent of the East Reach, and was 
very dark of skin, not red-brown like Ged and Jasper and most folk of the 
Archipelago, but black-brown. He was plain, and his manners were not polished. 
He grumbled about the dinner when he had finished it, but then turning to Ged 
said, ÒAt least it's not illusion, like so much around here; it sticks to your 
ribs.Ó Ged did not know what he meant, but he felt a certain liking for him, and 
was glad when after the meal he stayed with them.
They went down into the town, that Ged might learn his way about it. 
Few and short as were the streets of Thwil, they turned and twisted curiously 
among the high-roofed houses, and the way was easy to lose. It was a strange 
town, and strange also its people, fishermen and workmen and artisans like any 
others, but so used to the sorcery that is ever at play on the Isle of the Wise 
that they seemed half sorcerers themselves. They talked (as Ged had learned) in 
riddles, and not one of them would blink to see a boy turn into a fish or a 
house fly up into the air, but knowing it for a schoolboy prank would go on 
cobbling shoes or cutting up mutton, unconcerned.
Coming up past the Back Door and around through the gardens of the 
Great House, the three boys crossed the clear-running Thwilburn on a wooden 
bridge and went on northward among woods and pastures. The path climbed and 
wound. They passed oakgroves where shadows lay thick for all the brightness of 
the sun. There was one grove not far away to the left that Ged could never quite 
see plainly. The path never reached it, though it always seemed to be about to. 
He could not even make out what kind of trees they were. Vetch, seeing him 
gazing, said softly, ÒThat is the Immanent Grove. We can't come there, yet... Ó
In the hot sunlit pastures yellow flowers bloomed. ÒSparkweed,Ó .said 
Jasper. ÒThey grow where the wind dropped the ashes of burning Ilien, when 
Erreth-Akbe defended the Inward Isles from the Firelord.Ó He blew on a withered 
flowerhead, and the seeds shaken loose went up on the wind like sparks of fire 
in the sun.
The path led them up and around the base of a great green hill, round 
and treeless, the hill that Ged had seen from the ship as they entered the 
charmed waters of Roke Island. On the hillside Jasper halted. ÒAt home in Havnor 
I heard much about Gontish wizardry, and always in praise, so that I've wanted 
for a long time to see the manner of it. Here now we have a Gontishman; and we 
stand on the slopes of Roke Knoll, whose roots go down to the center of the 
earth. All spells are strong here. Play us a trick, Sparrowhawk. Show us your 
Ged, confused and taken aback, said nothing.
ÒLater on, Jasper,Ó Vetch said in his plain way. ÒLet him be a 
ÒHe has either skill or power, or the doorkeeper wouldn't have let 
him in. Why shouldn't he show it, now as well as later? Right, Sparrowhawk?Ó
ÒI have both skill and power,Ó Ged said. ÒShow me what kind of thing 
you're talking about.Ó
ÒIllusions, of course - tricks, games of seeming. Like this!Ó
Pointing his finger Jasper spoke a few strange words, and where he 
pointed on the hillside among the green grasses a little thread of water 
trickled, and grew, and now a spring gushed out and the water went running down 
the hill. Ged put his hand in the stream and it felt wet, drank of it and it was 
cool. Yet for all that it would quench no thirst, being but illusion. Jasper 
with another word stopped the water, and the grasses waved dry in the sunlight. 
ÒNow you, Vetch,Ó he said with his cool smile.
Vetch scratched his head and looked glum, but he took up a bit of 
earth in his hand and began to sing tunelessly over it, molding it with his dark 
fingers and shaping it, pressing it, stroking it: and suddenly it was a small 
creature like a bumblebee or furry fly, that flew humming off over Roke Knoll, 
and vanished.
Ged stood staring, crestfallen. What did he know but mere village 
witchery, spells to call goats, cure warts, move loads or mend pots?
ÒI do no such tricks as these,Ó he said. That was enough for Vetch, 
who was for going on; but Jasper said, ÒWhy don't you?Ó
ÒSorcery is not a game. We Gontishmen do not play it for pleasure or 
praise,Ó Ged answered haughtily.
ÒWhat do you play it for,Ó Jasper inquired, Ó-money?Ó
ÒNo!-Ó But he could not think of anything more to say that would hide 
his ignorance and save his pride. Jasper laughed, not ill-humoredly, and went 
on, leading them on around Roke Knoll. And Ged followed, sullen and sorehearted, 
knowing he had behaved like a fool, and blaming Jasper for it.
That night as he lay wrapped in his cloak on the mattress in his cold 
unlit cell of stone, in the utter silence of the Great House of Roke, the 
strangeness of the place and the thought of all the spells and sorceries that 
had been worked there began to come over him heavily. Darkness surrounded him, 
dread filled him. He wished he were anywhere else but Roke. But Vetch came to 
the door, a little bluish ball of werelight nodding over his head to light the 
way, and asked if be could come in and talk a while. He asked Ged about Gont, 
and then spoke fondly of his own home isles of the East Reach, telling how the 
smoke of village hearthfires is blown across that quiet sea at evening between 
the small islands with funny names: Korp, Kopp, and Holp, Venway and Vemish, 
Ifiish, Koppish, and Sneg. When he sketched the shapes of those lands on the 
stones of the floor with his finger to show Ged how they lay, the lines he drew 
shone dim as if drawn with a stick of silver for a while before they faded. 
Vetch had been three years at the School, and soon would be made Sorcerer; he 
thought no more of performing the lesser arts of magic than a bird thinks of 
flying. Yet a greater, unlearned skill he possessed, which was the art of 
kindness. That night, and always from then on, he offered and gave Ged 
friendship, a sure and open friendship which Ged could not help but return.
Yet Vetch was also friendly to Jasper, who had made Ged into a fool 
that first day on Roke Knoll. Ged would not forget this, nor, it seemed, would 
Jasper, who always spoke to him with a polite voice and a mocking smile. Ged's 
pride would not be slighted or condescended to. He swore to prove to Jasper, and 
to all the rest of them among whom Jasper was something of a leader, how great 
his power really was - some day. For none of them, for all their clever tricks, 
had saved a village by wizardry. Of none of them had Ogion written that he would 
be the greatest wizard of Gont.
So bolstering up his pride, he set all his strong will on the work 
they gave him, the lessons and crafts and histories and skills taught by the 
grey-cloaked Masters of Roke, who were called the Nine.
Part of each day he studied with the Master Chanter, learning the 
Deeds of heroes and the Lays of wisdom, beginning with the oldest of all songs, 
the Creation of Ea. Then with a dozen other lads he would practice with the 
Master Windkey at arts of wind and weather. Whole bright days of spring and 
early summer they spent out in Roke Bay in light catboats, practising steering 
by word, and stilling waves, and speaking to the world's wind, and raising up 
the magewind. These are very intricate skills, and frequently Ged's head got 
whacked by the swinging boom as the boat jibed under a wind suddenly blowing 
backwards, or his boat and another collided though they had the whole bay to 
navigate in, or all three boys in his boat went swimming unexpectedly as the 
boat was swamped by a huge, unintended wave. There were quieter expeditions 
ashore, other days, with the Master Herbal who taught the ways and properties of 
things that grow; and the Master Hand taught sleight and jugglery and the lesser 
arts of Changing.
At all these studies Ged was apt, and within a month was bettering 
lads who had been a year at Roke before him. Especially the tricks of illusion 
came to him so easily that it seemed he had been born knowing them and needed 
only to be reminded. The Master Hand was a gentle and lighthearted old man, who 
had endless delight in the wit and beauty of the crafts he taught; Ged soon felt 
no awe of him, but asked him for this spell and that spell, and always the 
Master smiled and showed him what he wanted. But one day, having it in mind to 
put Jasper to shame at last, Ged said to the Master Hand in the Court of 
Seeming, ÒSir, all these charms are much the same; knowing one, you know them 
all. And as soon as the spell-weaving ceases, the illusion vanishes. Now if I 
make a pebble into a diamond-Ó and he did so with a word and a flick of his 
wrist Òwhat must I do to make that diamond remain diamond? How is the changing-
spell locked, and made to last?Ó
The Master Hand looked at the jewel that glittered on Ged's palm, 
bright as the prize of a dragon's hoard. The old Master murmured one word, 
ÒTolk,Ó and there lay the pebble, no jewel but a rough grey bit of rock. The 
Master took it and held it out on his own hand. ÒThis is a rock; tolk in the 
True Speech,Ó he said, looking mildly up at Ged now. ÒA bit of the stone of 
which Roke Isle is made, a little bit of the dry land on which men live. It is 
itself. It is part of the world. By the Illusion-Change you can make it look 
like a diamond -or a flower or a fly or an eye or a flame-Ó The rock flickered 
from shape to shape as he named them, and returned to rock. ÒBut that is mere 
seeming. Illusion fools the beholder's senses; it makes him see and hear and 
feel that the thing is changed. But it does not change the thing. To change this 
rock into a jewel, you must change its true name. And to do that, my son, even 
to so small a scrap of the world, is to change the world. It can be done. Indeed 
it can be done. It is the art of the Master Changer, and you will learn it, when 
you are ready to learn it. But you must not change one thing, one pebble, one 
grain of sand, until you know what good and evil will follow on that act. The 
world is in balance, in Equilibrium. A wizard's power of Changing and of 
Summoning can shake the balance of the world. It is dangerous, that power. It is 
most perilous. It must follow knowledge, and serve need. To light a candle is to 
cast a shadow...Ó
He looked down at the pebble again. ÒA rock is a good thing, too, you 
know,Ó he said, speaking less gravely. ÒIf the Isles of Eartbsea were all made 
of diamond, we'd lead a hard life here. Enjoy illusions, lad, and let the rocks 
be rocks.Ó He smiled, but Ged left dissatisfied. Press a mage for his secrets 
and he would always talk, like Ogion, about balance, and danger, and the dark. 
But surely a wizard, one who had gone past these childish tricks of illusion to 
the true arts of Summoning and Change, was powerful enough to do what he 
pleased, and balance the world as seemed best to him, and drive back darkness 
with his own light.
In the corridor he met Jasper, who, since Ged's accomplishments began 
to be praised about the School, spoke to him in a way that seemed more friendly, 
but was more scoffing. ÒYou look gloomy, Sparrowhawk,Ó he said now, Òdid your 
juggling-charms go wrong?Ó
Seeking as always to put himself on equal footing with Jasper, Ged 
answered the question ignoring its ironic tone. ÒI'm sick of juggling,Ó he said, 
Òsick of these illusion-tricks, fit only to amuse idle lords in their castles 
and Domains. The only true magic they've taught me yet on Roke is making 
werelight, and some weatherworking. The rest is mere foolery.Ó
ÒEven foolery is dangerous,Ó said Jasper, Òin the hands of a fool.Ó
At that Ged turned as if he had been slapped, and took a step towards 
Jasper; but the older boy smiled as if he had not intended any insult, nodded 
his head in his stiff, graceful way, and went on.
Standing there with rage in his heart, looking after Jasper, Ged 
swore to himself to outdo his rival, and not in some mere illusion-match but in 
a test of power. He would prove himself, and humiliate Jasper. He would not let 
the fellow stand there looking down at him, graceful, disdainful, hateful.
Ged did not stop to think why Jasper might hate him. He only knew why 
he hated Jasper. The other prentices had soon learned they could seldom match 
themselves against Ged either in sport or in earnest, and they said of him, some 
in praise and some in spite, ÒHe's a wizard born, he'll never let you beat him.Ó 
Jasper alone neither praised him nor avoided him, but simply looked down at him, 
smiling slightly. And therefore Jasper stood alone as his rival, who must be put 
to shame.
He did not see, or would not see, that in this rivalry, which he 
clung to and fostered as part of his own pride, there was anything of the 
danger, the darkness, of which the Master Hand had mildly warned him.
When he was not moved by pure rage, he knew very well that he was as 
yet no match for Jasper, or any of the older boys, and so he kept at his work 
and went on as usual. At the end of summer the work was slackened somewhat, so 
there was more time for sport: spell-boat races down in the harbor, feats of 
illusion in the courts of the Great House, and in the long evenings, in the 
groves, wild games of hide-and-seek where hiders and seeker were both invisible 
and only voices moved laughing and calling among the trees, following and 
dodging the quick, faint werelights. Then as autumn came they set to their tasks 
afresh, practising new magic. So Ged's first months at Roke went by fast, full 
of passions and wonders.
In winter it was different. He was sent with seven other boys across 
Roke Island to the farthest northmost cape, where stands the Isolate Tower. 
There by himself lived the Master Namer, who was called by a name that had no 
meaning in any language, Kurremkarmerruk. No farm or dwelling lay within miles 
of the Tower. Grim it stood above the northern cliffs, grey were the clouds over 
the seas of winter, endless the lists and ranks and rounds of names that the 
Namer's eight pupils must learn. Amongst them in the Tower's high room 
Kurremkarmerruk sat on a high seat, writing down lists of names that must be 
learned before the ink faded at midnight leaving the parchment blank again. It 
was cold and half-dark and always silent there except for the scratching of the 
Master's pen and the sighing, maybe, of a student who must learn before midnight 
the name of every cape, point, bay, sound, inlet, channel, harbor, shallows, 
reef and rock of the shores of Lossow, a little islet of the Pelnish Sea. If the 
student complained the Master might say nothing, but lengthen the list; or he 
might say, ÒHe who would be Seamaster must know the true name of every drop of 
water in the sea.Ó
Ged sighed sometimes, but he did not complain. He saw that in this 
dusty and fathomless matter of learning the true name of every place, thing, and 
being, the power he wanted lay like a jewel at the bottom of a dry well. For 
magic consists in this, the true naming of a thing. So Kurremkarmerruk had said 
to them, once, their first night in the Tower; he never repeated it, but Ged did 
not forget his words. ÒMany a mage of great power,Ó he had said, Òhas spent his 
whole life to find out the name of one single thing - one single lost or hidden 
name. And still the lists are not finished. Nor will they be, till world's end. 
Listen, and you will see why. In the world under the sun, and in the other world 
that has no sun, there is much that has nothing to do with men and men's speech, 
and there are powers beyond our power. But magic, true magic, is worked only by 
those beings who speak the Hardic tongue of Earthsea, or the Old Speech from 
which it grew.
ÒThat is the language dragons speak, and the language Segoy spoke who 
made the islands of the world, and the language of our lays and songs, spells, 
enchantments, and invocations. Its words lie hidden and changed among our Hardic 
words. We call the foam on waves sukien: that word is made from two words of the 
Old Speech, suk, feather, and inien, the sea. Feather of the sea, is foam. But 
you cannot charm the foam calling it sukien; you must use its own true name in 
the Old Speech, which is essa. Any witch knows a few of these words in the Old 
Speech, and a mage knows many. But there are many more, and some have been lost 
over the ages, and some have been hidden, and some are known only to dragons and 
to the Old Powers of Earth, and some are known to no living creature; and no man 
could learn them all. For there is no end to that language.
ÒHere is the reason. The sea's name is inien, well and good. But what 
we call the Inmost Sea has its own name also in the Old Speech. Since no thing 
can have two true names, inien can mean only `all the sea except the Inmost 
Sea.' And of course it does not mean even that, for there are seas and bays and 
straits beyond counting that bear names of their own. So if some Mage-Seamaster 
were mad enough to try to lay a spell of storm or calm over all the ocean, his 
spell must say not only that word inien, but the name of every stretch and bit 
and part of the sea through all the Archipelago and all the Outer Reaches and 
beyond to where names cease. Thus, that which gives us the power to work magic, 
sets the limits of that power. A mage can control only what is near him, what he 
can name exactly and wholly. And this is well. If it were not so, the wickedness 
of the powerful or the folly of the wise would long ago have sought to change 
what cannot be changed, and Equilibrium would fail. The unbalanced sea would 
overwhelm the islands where we perilously dwell, and in the old silence all 
voices and all names would be lost.Ó
Ged thought long on these words, and they went deep in his 
understanding. Yet the majesty of the task could not make the work of that long 
year in the Tower less hard and dry; and at the end of the year Kurremkarmerruk 
said to him, ÒYou have made a good beginning.Ó But no more. Wizards speak truth, 
and it was true that all the mastery of Names that Ged had toiled to win that 
year was the mere start of what he must go on learning all his life. He was let 
go from the Isolate Tower sooner than those who had come with him, for he had 
learned quicker; but that was all the praise he got.
He walked south across the island alone in the early winter, along 
townless empty roads. As night came on it rained. He said no charm to keep the 
rain off him, for the weather of Roke was in the hands of the Master Windkey and 
might not be tampered with. He took shelter under a great pendick-tree, and 
lying there wrapped in his cloak he thought of his old master Ogion, who might 
still be on his autumn wanderings over the heights of Gont, sleeping out with 
leafless branches for a roof and falling rain for housewalls. That made Ged 
smile, for he found the thought of Ogion always a comfort to him. He fell asleep 
with a peaceful heart, there in the cold darkness full of the whisper of water. 
At dawn waking he lifted his head; the rain had ceased; he saw, sheltered in the 
folds of his cloak, a little animal curled up asleep which had crept there for 
warmth. He wondered, seeing it, for it was a rare strange beast, an otak.
These creatures are found only on four southern isles of the 
Archipelago, Roke, Ensmer, Pody and Wathort. They are small and sleek, with 
broad faces, and fur dark brown or brindle, and great bright eyes. Their teeth 
are cruel and their temper fierce, so they are not made pets of. They have no 
call or cry or any voice. Ged stroked this one, and it woke and yawned, showing 
a small brown tongue and white teeth, but it was not afraid. ÒOtak,Ó he said, 
and then remembering the thousand names of beasts he had learned in the Tower he 
called it by its true name in the Old Speech, ÒHoeg! Do you want to come with 
The otak sat itself down on his open hand, and began to wash its fur.
He put it up on his shoulder in the folds of his hood, and there it 
rode. Sometimes during the day it jumped down and darted off into the woods, but 
it always came back to him, once with a woodmouse it had caught. He laughed and 
told it to eat the mouse, for he was fasting, this night being the Festival of 
Sunreturn. So he came in the wet dusk past Roke Knoll, and saw bright werelights 
playing in the rain over the roofs of the Great House, and he entered there and 
was welcomed by his Masters and companions in the firelit hall.
It was like a homecoming to Ged, who had no home to which he could 
ever return. He was happy to see so many faces he knew, and happiest to see 
Vetch come forward to greet him with a wide smile on his dark face. He had 
missed his friend this year more than he knew. Vetch had been made sorcerer this 
fall and was a prentice no more, but that set no barrier between them. They fell 
to talking at once, and it seemed to Ged that he said more to Vetch in that 
first hour than he had said during the whole long year at the Isolate Tower.
The otak still rode his shoulder, nestling in the fold of his hood as 
they sat at dinner at long tables set up for the festival in the Hearth Hall. 
Vetch marvelled at the little creature, and once put up his hand to stroke it, 
but the otak snapped its sharp teeth at him. He laughed. ÒThey say, Sparrowhawk, 
that a man favored by a wild beast is a man to whom the Old Powers of stone and 
spring will speak in human voice.Ó
ÒThey say Gontish wizards often keep familiars,Ó said Jasper, who sat 
on the other side of Vetch. ÒOur Lord Nemmerle has his raven, and songs say the 
Red Mage of Ark led a wild boar on a gold chain. But I never heard of any 
sorcerer keeping a rat in his hood!Ó
At that they all laughed, and Ged laughed with them. It was a merry 
night and he was joyful to be there in the warmth and merriment, keeping 
festival with his companions. But, like all Jasper ever said to him, the jest 
set his teeth on edge.
That night the Lord of O was a guest of the school, himself a 
sorcerer of renown. He had been a pupil of the Archmage, and returned sometimes 
to Roke for the Winter Festival or the Long Dance in summer. With him was his 
lady, slender and young, bright as new copper, her black hair crowned with 
opals. It was seldom that any woman sat in the halls of the Great House, and 
some of the old Masters looked at her sidelong, disapproving. But the young men 
looked at her with all their eyes.
ÒFor such a one,Ó said Vetch to Ged, ÒI could work vast 
enchantments...Ó He sighed, and laughed.
ÒShe's only a woman,Ó Ged replied.
ÒThe Princess Elfarran was only a woman,Ó said Vetch, Òand for her 
sake all Enlad was laid waste, and the Hero-Mage of Havnor died, and the island 
Solea sank beneath the sea.Ó
ÒOld tales,Ó says Ged. But then he too began to look at the Lady of 
O, wondering if indeed this was such mortal beauty as the old tales told of.
The Master Chanter had sung the Deed of the Young King, and all 
together had sung the Winter Carol. Now when there was a little pause before 
they all rose from the tables, Jasper got up and went to the table nearest the 
hearth, where the Archmage and the guests and Masters sat, and he spoke, to the 
Lady of O. Jasper was no longer a boy but a young man, tall and comely, with his 
cloak clasped at the neck with silver; for he also had been made sorcerer this 
year, and the silver clasp was the token of it. The lady smiled at what he said 
and the opals shone in her black hair, radiant. Then, the Masters nodding benign 
consent, Jasper worked an illusion-charm for her. A white tree he made spring up 
from the stone floor. Its branches touched the high roofbeams of the hall, and 
on every twig of every branch a golden apple shone, each a sun, for it was the 
Year-Tree. A bird flew among the branches suddenly, all white with a tail like a 
fall of snow, and the golden apples dimming turned to seeds, each one a drop of 
crystal. These falling from the tree with a sound like rain, all at once there 
came a sweet fragrance, while the tree, swaying, put forth leaves of rosy fire 
and white flowers like stars. So the illusion faded. The Lady of O cried out 
with pleasure, and bent her shining head to the young sorcerer in praise of his 
mastery. ÒCome with us, live with us in O-tokne - can he not come, my lord?Ó she 
asked, childlike, of her stern husband. But Jasper said only, ÒWhen I have 
learned skills worthy of my Masters here and worthy of your praise, my lady, 
then I will gladly come, and serve you ever gladly.Ó
So. he pleased all there, except Ged. Ged joined his voice to the 
praises, but not his heart. ÒI could have done better,Ó he said to himself, in 
bitter envy; and all the joy of the evening was darkened for him, after that.

4 The Loosing of the Shadow

That spring Ged saw little of either Vetch or Jasper, for they being 
sorcerers studied now with the Master Patterner in the secrecy of the Immanent 
Grove, where no prentice might set foot. Ged stayed in the Great House, working 
with the Masters at all the skills practised by sorcerers, those who work magic 
but carry no staff: windbringing, weatherworking, finding and binding, and the 
arts of spellsmiths and spellwrights, tellers, chanters, healalls and 
herbalists. At night alone in his sleeping-cell, a little ball of werelight 
burning above the book in place of lamp or candle, he studied the Further Runes 
and the Runes of Ea, which are used in the Great Spells. All these crafts came 
easy to him, and it was rumored among the students that this Master or that had 
said that the Gontish lad was the quickest student that had ever been at Roke, 
and tales grew up concerning the otak, which was said to be a disguised spirit 
who whispered wisdom in Ged's ear, and it was even said that the Archmage's 
raven had hailed Ged at his arrival as ÒArchmage to be.Ó Whether or not they 
believed such stories, and whether or not they liked Ged, most of his companions 
admired him, and were eager to follow him when the rare wild mood came over him 
and he joined them to lead their games on the lengthening evenings of spring. 
But for the most part he was all work and pride and temper, and held himself 
apart. Among them all, Vetch being absent, he had no friend, and never knew he 
wanted one.
He was fifteen, very young to learn any of the High Arts of wizard or 
mage, those who carry the staff; but he was so quick to learn all the arts of 
illusion that the Master Changer, himself a young man, soon began to teach him 
apart from the others, and to tell him about the true Spells of Shaping. He 
explained how, if a thing is really to be changed into another thing, it must be 
renamed for as long as the spell lasts, and he told how this affects the names 
and natures of things surrounding the transformed thing. He spoke of the perils 
of changing, above all when the wizard transforms his own shape and thus is 
liable to be caught in his own spell. Little by little, drawn on by the boy's 
sureness of understanding, the young Master began to do more than merely tell 
him of these mysteries. He taught him first one and then another of the Great 
Spells of Change, and he gave him the Book of Shaping to study. This he did 
without knowledge of the Archmage, and unwisely, yet he meant no harm.
Ged worked also with the Master Summoner now, but that Master was a 
stern man, aged and hardened by the deep and somber wizardry he taught. He dealt 
with no illusion, only true magic, the summoning of such energies as light, and 
heat, and the force that draws the magnet, and those forces men perceive as 
weight, form, color, sound: real powers, drawn from the immense fathomless 
energies of the universe, which no man's spells or uses could exhaust or 
unbalance. The weatherworker's and seamaster's calling upon wind and water were 
crafts already known to his pupils, but it was he who showed them why the true 
wizard uses such spells only at need, since to summon up such earthly forces is 
to change the earth of which they are a part. ÒRain on Roke may be drouth in 
Osskil,Ó he said, Òand a calm in the East Reach may be storm and ruin in the 
West, unless you know what you are about.Ó
As for the calling of real things and living people, and the raising 
up of spirits of the dead, and the invocations of the Unseen, those spells which 
are the height of the Summoner's art and the mage's power, those he scarcely 
spoke of to them. Once or twice Ged tried to lead him to talk a little of such 
mysteries, but the Master was silent, looking at him long and grimly, till Ged 
grew uneasy and said no more.
Sometimes indeed he was uneasy working even such lesser spells as the 
Summoner taught him. There were certain runes on certain pages of the Lore-Book 
that seemed familiar to him, though he did not remember in what book he had ever 
seen them before. There were certain phrases that must be said in spells of 
Summoning that he did not like to say. They made him think, for an instant, of 
shadows in a dark room, of a shut door and shadows reaching out to him from the 
corner by the door. Hastily he put such thoughts or memories aside and went on. 
These moments of fear and darkness, he said to himself, were the shadows merely 
of his ignorance. The more he learned, the less he would have to fear, until 
finally in his full power as Wizard he needed fear nothing in the world, nothing 
at all.
In the second month of that summer all the school gathered again at 
the Great House to celebrate the Moon's Night and the Long Dance, which that 
year fell together as one festival of two nights, which happens but once in 
fifty-two years. All the first night, the shortest night of full moon of the 
year, flutes played out in the fields, and the narrow streets of Thwil were full 
of drums and torches, and the sound of singing went out over the moonlit waters 
of Roke Bay. As the sun rose next morning the Chanters of Roke began to sing the 
long Deed of Erreth-Akbe,which tells how the white towers of Havnor were built, 
and of Erreth-Akbe's journeys from the Old Island, Ea, through all the 
Archipelago and the Reaches, until at last in the uttermost West Reach on the 
edge of the Open Sea he met the dragon Orm; and his bones in shattered armor lie 
among the dragon's bones on the shore of lonely Selidor, but his sword set atop 
the highest tower of Havnor still burns red in the sunset above the Inmost Sea. 
When the chant was finished the Long Dance began. Townsfolk and Masters and 
students and farmers all together, men and women, danced in the warm dust and 
dusk down all the roads of Roke to the sea-beaches, to the beat of drums and 
drone of pipes and flutes. Straight out into the sea they danced, under the moon 
one night past full, and the music was lost in the breakers' sound. As the east 
grew light they came back up the beaches and the roads, the drums silent and 
only the flutes playing soft and shrill. So it was done on every island of the 
Archipelago that night: one dance, one music binding together the sea-divided 
When the Long Dance was over most people slept the day away, and 
gathered again at evening to eat and drink. There was a group of young fellows, 
prentices and sorcerers, who had brought their supper out from the refectory to 
hold private feast in a courtyard of the Great House: Vetch, Jasper, and Ged 
were there, and six or seven others, and some young lads released briefly from 
the Isolate Tower, for this festival had brought even Kurremkarmerruk out. They 
were all eating and laughing and playing such tricks out of pure frolic as might 
be the marvel of a king's court. One boy had lighted the court with a hundred 
stars of werelight, colored like jewels, that swung in a slow netted procession 
between them and the real stars; and a pair of boys were playing bowls with 
balls of green flame and bowling-pins that leaped and hopped away as the ball 
came near; and all the while Vetch sat crosslegged, eating roast chicken; up in 
mid-air. One of the younger boys tried to pull him down to earth, but Vetch 
merely drifted up a little higher, out of reach, and sat calmly smiling on the 
air. Now and then he tossed away a chicken bone, which turned to an owl and flew 
hooting among the netted star-lights. Ged shot breadcrumb arrows after the owls 
and brought them down, and when they touched the ground there they lay, bone and 
crumb, all illusion gone. Ged also tried to join Vetch up in the middle of the 
air, but lacking the key of the spell he had to flap his arms to keep aloft, and 
they were all laughing at his flights and flaps and bumps. He kept up his 
foolishness for the laughter's sake, laughing with them, for after those two 
long nights of dance and moonlight and music and magery he was in a fey and wild 
mood, ready for whatever might come.
He came lightly down on his feet just beside Jasper at last, and 
Jasper, who never laughed aloud, moved away saying, ÒThe Sparrowhawk that can't 
ÒIs Jasper a precious stone?Ó Ged returned, grinning. ÒO jewel among 
sorcerers, O Gem of Havnor, sparkle for us!Ó
The lad that had set the lights dancing sent one down to dance and 
glitter about Jasper's head. Not quite as cool as usual, frowning, Jasper 
brushed the light away and snuffed it out with one gesture. ÒI am sick of boys 
and noise and foolishness,Ó he said.
ÒYou're getting middle-aged, lad,Ó Vetch remarked from above.
ÒIf silence and gloom is what you want,Ó put in one of the younger 
boys, Òyou could always try the Tower.Ó
Ged said to him, ÒWhat is it you want, then, Jasper?Ó
ÒI want the company of my equals,Ó Jasper said. ÒCome on, Vetch. 
Leave the prentices to their toys.Ó
Ged turned to face Jasper. ÒWhat do sorcerers have that prentices 
lack?Ó he inquired. His voice was quiet, but all the other boys suddenly fell 
still, for in his tone as in Jasper's the spite between them now sounded plain 
and clear as steel coming out of a sheath.
ÒPower,Ó Jasper said.
ÒI'll match your power act for act.Ó
ÒYou challenge me?Ó
ÒI challenge you.Ó
Vetch had dropped down to the ground, and now he came between them, 
grim of face. ÒDuels in sorcery are forbidden to us, and well you know it. Let 
this cease!Ó
Both Ged and Jasper stood silent, for it was true they knew the law 
of Roke, and they also knew that Vetch was moved by love, and themselves by 
hate. Yet their anger was balked, not cooled. Presently, moving a little aside 
as if to be heard by Vetch alone, Jasper spoke, with his cool smile: ÒI think 
you'd better remind your goatherd friend again of the law that protects him. He 
looks sulky. I wonder, did he really think I'd accept a challenge from him? a 
fellow who smells of goats, a prentice who doesn't know the First Change?Ó
ÒJasper,Ó said Ged, ÒWhat do you know of what I know?Ó
For an instant, with no word spoken that any heard, Ged vanished from 
their sight, and where he had stood a great falcon hovered, opening its hooked 
beak to scream: for one instant, and then Ged stood again in the flickering 
torchlight, his dark gaze on Jasper.
Jasper had taken a step backward, in astonishment; but now he 
shrugged and said one word: ÒIllusion.Ó
The others muttered. Vetch said, ÒThat was not illusion. It was true 
change. And enough. Jasper, listen-Ó
ÒEnough to prove that he sneaked a look in the Book of Shaping behind 
the Master's back: what then? Go on, Goatherd. I like this trap you're building 
for yourself. The more you try to prove yourself my equal, the more you show 
yourself for what you are.Ó
At that, Vetch turned from Jasper, and said very softly to Ged, 
ÒSparrowhawk, will you be a man and drop this now - come with me-Ó
Ged looked at his friend and smiled, but all he said was, ÒKeep Hoeg 
for me a little while, will you?Ó He put into Vetch's hands the little otak, 
which as usual had been riding on his shoulder. It had never let any but Ged 
touch it, but it came to Vetch now, and climbing up his arm cowered on his 
shoulder, its great bright eyes always on its master.
ÒNow,Ó Ged said to Jasper, quietly as before, what are you going to 
do to prove yourself my superior, Jasper?Ó
I don't have to do anything, Goatherd. Yet I will. I will give you a 
chance - an opportunity. Envy eats you like a worm in an apple. Let's let out 
the worm. Once by Roke Knoll you boasted that Gontish wizards don't play games. 
Come to Roke Knoll now and show us what it is they do instead. And afterward, 
maybe I will show you a little sorcery.Ó
ÒYes, I should like to see that,Ó Ged answered. The younger boys, 
used to seeing his black temper break out at the least hint of slight or insult, 
watched him in wonder at his coolness now. Vetch watched him not in wonder, but 
with growing fear. He tried to intervene again, but Jasper said, ÒCome, keep out 
of this, Vetch. What will you do with the chance I give you, Goatherd? Will you 
show us an illusion, a fireball, a charm to cure goats with the mange?Ó
ÒWhat would you like me to do, Jasper?Ó
The older lad shrugged, ÒSummon up a spirit from the dead, for all I 
ÒI will.Ó
ÒYou will notÓ Jasper looked straight at him, rage suddenly flaming 
out over his disdain. ÒYou will not. You cannot. You brag and brag-Ó
ÒBy my name, I will do it!Ó
They all stood utterly motionless for a moment.
Breaking away from Vetch who would have held him back by main force, 
Ged strode out of the courtyard, not looking back. The dancing werelights 
overhead died out, sinking down. Jasper hesitated a second, then followed after 
Ged. An the rest came straggling behind, in silence, curious and afraid.

The slopes of Roke Knoll went up dark into the darkness of summer 
night before moonrise. The presence of that hill where many wonders had been 
worked was heavy, like a weight in the air about them. As they came onto the 
hillside they thought of how the roots of it were deep, deeper than the sea, 
reaching down even to the old, blind, secret fires at the world's core. They 
stopped on the east slope. Stars hung over the black grass above them on the 
hill's crest. No wind blew.
Ged went a few paces up the slope away from the others and turning 
said in a clear voice, ÒJasper! Whose spirit shall I call?Ó
ÒCall whom you like. None will listen to you.Ó Jasper's voice shook a 
little, with anger perhaps. Ged answered him softly, mockingly, ÒAre you 
He did not even listen for Jasper's reply, if he made one. He no 
longer cared about Jasper. Now that they stood on Roke Knoll, hate and rage were 
gone, replaced by utter certainty. He need envy no one. He knew that his power, 
this night, on this dark enchanted ground, was greater than it had ever been, 
filling him till be trembled with the sense of strength barely kept in check. He 
knew now that Jasper was far beneath him, had been sent perhaps only to bring 
him here tonight, no rival but a mere servant of Ged's destiny. Under his feet 
he felt the hillroots going down and down into the dark, and over his head he 
saw the dry, far fires of the stars. Between, all things were his to order, to 
command. He stood at the center of the world.
ÒDon't be afraid,Ó he said, smiling. ÒI'll call a woman's spirit. You 
need not fear a woman. Elfarran I will call, the fair lady of the Deed of 
ÒShe died a thousand years ago, her bones lie afar under the Sea of 
Ea, and maybe there never was such a woman.Ó
ÒDo years and distances matter to the dead? Do the Songs lie?Ó Ged 
said with the same gentle mockery, and then saying, ÒWatch the air between my 
hands,Ó he turned away from the others and stood still.
In a great slow gesture he stretched out his arms, the gesture of 
welcome that opens an invocation. He began to speak.
He had read the runes of this Spell of Summoning in Ogion's book, two 
years and more ago, and never since had seen them. In darkness he had read them 
then. Now in this darkness it was as if he read them again on the page open 
before him in the night. But now he understood what he read, speaking it aloud 
word after word, and he saw the markings of how the spell must be woven with the 
sound of the voice and the motion of body and hand.
The other boys stood watching, not speaking, not moving unless they 
shivered a little: for the great spell was beginning to work. Ged's voice was 
soft still, but changed, with a deep singing in it, and the words he spoke were 
not known to them. He fell silent. Suddenly the wind rose roaring in the grass. 
Ged dropped to his knees and called out aloud. Then he fell forward as if to 
embrace earth with his outstretched arms, and when he rose he held something 
dark in his straining hands and arms, something so heavy that he shook with 
effort getting to his feet. The hot wind whined in the black tossing grasses on 
the hill. If the stars shone now none saw them.
The words of the enchantment hissed and mumbled on Ged's lips, and 
then he cried out aloud and clearly, ÒElfarran!Ó
Again he cried the name, ÒElfarran!Ó
The shapeless mass of darkness he had lifted split apart. It 
sundered, and a pale spindle of light gleamed between his opened arms, a faint 
oval reaching from the ground up to the height of his raised hands. In the oval 
of light for a moment there moved a form, a human shape: a tall woman looking 
back over her shoulder. Her face was beautiful, and sorrowful, and full of fear.
Only for a moment did the spirit glimmer there. Then the sallow oval 
between Ged's arms grew bright. It widened and spread, a rent in the darkness of 
the earth and night, a ripping open of the fabric of the world. Through it 
blazed a terrible brightness. And through that bright misshapen breach clambered 
something like a clot of black shadow, quick and hideous, and it leaped straight 
out at Ged's face.
Staggering back under the weight of the thing, Ged gave a short, 
hoarse scream. The little otak watching from Vetch's shoulder, the animal that 
had no voice, screamed aloud also and leaped as if to attack.
Ged fell, struggling and writhing, while the bright rip in the 
world's darkness above him widened and stretched. The boys that watched fled, 
and Jasper bent down to the ground hiding his eyes from the terrible light. 
Vetch alone ran forward to his friend. So only he saw the lump of shadow that 
clung to Ged, tearing at his flesh. It was like a black beast, the size of a 
young child, though it seemed to swell and shrink; and it had no head or face, 
only the four taloned paws with which it gripped and tore. Vetch sobbed with 
horror, yet he put out his hands to try to pull the thing away from Ged. Before 
he touched it, he was bound still, unable to move.
The intolerable brightness faded, and slowly the torn edges of the 
world closed together. Nearby a voice was speaking as softly as a tree whispers 
or a fountain plays.
Starlight began to shine again, and the grasses of the hillside were 
whitened with the light of the moon just rising. The night was healed. Restored 
and steady lay the balance of light and dark. The shadow-beast was gone. Ged lay 
sprawled on his back, his arms flung out as if they yet kept the wide gesture of 
welcome and invocation. His face was blackened with blood and there were great 
black stains on his shirt. The little otak cowered by his shoulder, quivering. 
And above him stood an old man whose cloak glimmered pale in the moonrise: the 
Archmage Nemmerle.
The end of Nemmerle's staff hovered silvery above Ged's breast. Once 
gently it touched him over the heart, once on the lips, while Nemmerle 
whispered. Ged stirred, and his lips parted gasping for breath. Then the old 
Archmage lifted the staff, and set it to earth, and leaned heavily on it with 
bowed head, as if he had scarcely strength to stand.
Vetch found himself free to move. Looking around, he saw that already 
others were there, the Masters Summoner and Changer. An act of great wizardry is 
not worked without arousing such men, and they had ways of coming very swiftly 
when need called, though none had been so swift as the Archmage. They now sent 
for help, and some who came went with the Archmage, while others, Vetch among 
them, carried Ged to the chambers of the Master Herbal.
All night long the Summoner stayed on Roke Knoll, keeping watch. 
Nothing stirred there on the hillside where the stuff of the world had been torn 
open. No shadow came crawling through moonlight seeking the rent through which 
it might clamber back into its own domain. It had fled from Nemmerle, and from 
the mighty spell-walls that surround and protect Roke Island, but it was in the 
world now. In the world, somewhere, it hid. If Ged had died that night it might 
have tried to find the doorway he had opened, and follow him into death's realm, 
or slip back into whatever place it had come from; for this the Summoner waited 
on Roke Knoll. But Ged lived.
They had laid him abed in the healing-chamber, and the Master Herbal 
tended the wounds he had on his face and throat and shoulder. They were deep, 
ragged, and evil wounds. The black blood in them would not stanch, welling out 
even under the charms and the cobweb-wrapped perriot leaves laid upon them. Ged 
lay blind and dumb in fever like a stick in a slow fire, and there was no spell 
to cool what burned him.
Not far away, in the unroofed court where the fountain played, the 
Archmage lay also unmoving, but cold, very cold: only his eyes lived, watching 
the fall of moonlit water and the stir of moonlit leaves. Those with him said no 
spells and worked no healing. Quietly they spoke among themselves from time to 
time, and then turned again to watch their Lord. He lay still, hawk nose and 
high forehead and white hair bleached by moonlight all to the color of bone. To 
check the ungoverned spell and drive off the shadow from Ged, Nemmerle had spent 
all his power, and with it his bodily strength was gone. He lay dying. But the 
death of a great mage, who has many times in his life walked on the dry steep 
hillsides of death's kingdom, is a strange matter: for the dying man goes not 
blindly, but surely, knowing the way. When Nemmerle looked up through the leaves 
of the tree, those with him did not know if he watched the stars of summer 
fading in daybreak, or those other stars, which never set above the hills that 
see no dawn.
The raven of Osskil that had been his pet for thirty years was gone. 
No one had seen where it went. ÒIt flies before him,Ó the Master Patterner said, 
as they kept vigil.
The day came warm and clear. The Great House and the streets of Thwil 
were hushed. No voice was raised, until along towards noon iron bells spoke out 
aloud in the Chanter's Tower, harshly tolling.
On the next day the Nine Masters of Roke gathered in a place 
somewhere under the dark trees of the Immanent Grove. Even there they set nine 
walls of silence about them, that no person or power might speak to them or hear 
them as they chose from amongst the mages of all Earthsea him who would be the 
new Archmage. Gensher of Way was chosen. A ship was sent forth at once across 
the Inmost Sea to Way Island to bring the Archmage back to Roke. The Master 
Windkey stood in the stern and raised up the magewind into the sail, and quickly 
the ship departed, and was gone.
Of these events Ged knew nothing. For four weeks of that hot summer 
he lay blind, and deaf, and mute, though at times he moaned and cried out like 
an animal. At last, as the patient crafts of the Master Herbal worked their 
healing, his wounds began to close and the fever left him. Little by little he 
seemed to hear again, though he never spoke. On a clear day of autumn the Master 
Herbal opened the shutters of the room where Ged lay. Since the darkness of that 
night on Roke Knoll he had known only darkness. Now he saw daylight, and the sun 
shining. He hid his scarred face in his hands and wept.
Still when winter came he could speak only with a stammering tongue, 
and the Master Herbal kept him there in the healing-chambers, trying to lead his 
body and mind gradually back to strength. It was early spring when at last the 
Master released him, sending him first to offer his fealty to the Archmage 
Gensher. For he had not been able to join all the others of the School in this 
duty when Gensher came to Roke.
None of his companions had been allowed to visit him in the months of 
his sickness, and now as he passed some of them asked one another, ÒWho is 
that?Ó He had been light and lithe and strong. Now, lamed by pain, he went 
hesitantly, and did not raise his face, the left side of which was white with 
scars. He avoided those who knew him and those who did not, and made his way 
straight to the court of the Fountain. There where once he had awaited Nemmerle, 
Gensher awaited him.
Like the old Archmage the new one was cloaked in white; but like most 
men of Way and the East Reach Gensher was black-skinned, and his look was black, 
under thick brows.
Ged knelt and offered him fealty and obedience. Gensher was silent a 
ÒI know what you did,Ó he said at last, Òbut not what you are. I 
cannot accept your fealty.Ó
Ged stood up, and set his hand on the trunk of the young tree beside 
the fountain to steady himself. He was still very slow to find words. ÒAm I to 
leave Roke, my lord?Ó
ÒDo you want to leave Roke?Ó
ÒWhat do you want?Ó
ÒTo stay. To learn. To undo... the evil...Ó
ÒNemmerle himself could not do that. -No, I would not let you go from 
Roke. Nothing protects you but the power of the Masters here and the defenses 
laid upon this island that keep the creatures of evil away. If you left now, the 
thing you loosed would find you at once, and enter into you, and possess you. 
You would be no man but a gebbeth, a puppet doing the will of that evil shadow 
which you raised up into the sunlight. You must stay here, until you gain 
strength and wisdom enough to defend yourself from it - if ever you do. Even now 
it waits for you. Assuredly it waits for you. Have you seen it since that 
ÒIn dreams, lord.Ó After a while Ged went on, speaking with pain and 
shame, ÒLord Gensher, I do not know what it was - the thing that came out of the 
spell and cleaved to me-Ó
ÒNor do I know. It has no name. You have great power inborn in you, 
and you used that power wrongly, to work a spell over which you had no control, 
not knowing how that spell affects the balance of light and dark, life and 
death, good and evil. And you were moved to do this by pride and by hate. Is it 
any wonder the result was ruin? You summoned a spirit from the dead, but with it 
came one of the Powers of unlife. Uncalled it came from a place where there are 
no names. Evil, it wills to work evil through you. The power you had to call it 
gives it power over you: you are connected. It is the shadow of your arrogance, 
the shadow of your ignorance, the shadow you cast. Has a shadow a name?Ó
Ged stood sick and haggard. He said at last, ÒBetter I had died.Ó
ÒWho are you to judge that, you for whom Nemmerle gave his life? -You 
are safe here. You will live here, and go on with your training. They tell me 
you were clever. Go on and do your work. Do it well. It is all you can do.Ó
So Gensher ended, and was suddenly gone, as is the way of mages. The 
fountain leaped in the sunlight, and Ged watched it a while and listened to its 
voice, thinking of Nemmerle. Once in that court he had felt himself to be a word 
spoken by the sunlight. Now the darkness also had spoken: a word that could not 
be unsaid.
He left the court, going to his old room in the South Tower, which 
they had kept empty for him. He stayed there alone. When the gong called to 
supper he went, but he would hardly speak to the other lads at the Long Table, 
or raise his face to them, even those who greeted him most gently. So after a 
day or two they all left him alone. To be alone was his desire, for he feared 
the evil he might do or say unwittingly.
Neither Vetch nor Jasper was there, and he did not ask about them. 
The boys be had led and lorded over were all ahead of him now, because of the 
months he had lost, and that spring and summer he studied with lads younger than 
himself. Nor did he shine among them, for the words of any spell, even the 
simplest illusion-charm, came halting from his tongue, and his hands faltered at 
their craft.
In autumn he was to go once again to the Isolate Tower to study with 
the Master Namer. This task which he had once dreaded now pleased him, for 
silence was what he sought, and long learning where no spells were wrought, and 
where that power which he knew was still in him would never be called upon to 
The night before he left for the Tower a visitor came to his room, 
one wearing a brown travelling-cloak and carrying a staff of oak shod with iron. 
Ged stood up, at sight of the wizard's staff.
At the sound of the voice, Ged raised his eyes: it was Vetch standing 
there, solid and foursquare as ever, his black blunt face older but his smile 
unchanged. On his shoulder crouched a little beast, brindle-furred and 
ÒHe stayed with me while you were sick, and now I'm sorry to part 
with him. And sorrier to part with you, Sparrowhawk. But I'm going home. Here, 
hoeg! go to your true master!Ó Vetch patted the otak and set it down on the 
floor. It went and sat on Ged's pallet, and began to wash its fur with a dry 
brown tongue like a little leaf. Vetch laughed, but Ged could not smile. He bent 
down to hide his face, stroking the otak.
ÒI thought you wouldn't come to me, Vetch,Ó he said.
He did not mean any reproach, but Vetch answered, ÒI couldn't come to 
you. The Master Herbal forbade me; and since winter I've been with the Master in 
the Grove, locked up myself. I was not free, until I earned my staff. Listen: 
when you too are free, come to the East Reach. I will be waiting for you. 
There's good cheer in the little towns there, and wizards are well received.Ó
ÒFree...Ó Ged muttered, and shrugged a little, trying to smile.
Vetch looked at him, not quite as he had used to look, with no less 
love but more wizardry, perhaps. He said gently, ÒYou won't stay bound on Roke 
ÒWell... I have thought, perhaps I may come to work with the Master 
in the Tower, to be one of those who seek among the books and the stars for lost 
names, and so... so do no more harm, if not much good... Ó
ÒMaybe,Ó said Vetch. ÒI am no seer, but I see before you, not rooms 
and books, but far seas, and the fire of dragons, and the towers of cities, and 
all such things a hawk sees when he flies far and high.Ó
ÒAnd behind me - what do you see behind me?Ó Ged asked, and stood up 
as he spoke, so that the werelight that burned overhead between them sent his 
shadow back against the wall and floor. Then he turned his face aside and said, 
stammering, ÒBut tell me where you will go, what you will do.Ó
ÒI will go home, to see my brothers and the sister you have heard me 
speak of. I left her a little child and soon she'll be having her Naming - it's 
strange to think of! And so I'll find me a job of wizardry somewhere among the 
little isles. Oh, I would stay and talk with you, but I can't, my ship goes out 
tonight and the tide is turned already. Sparrowhawk, if ever your way lies East, 
come to me. And if ever you need me, send for me, call on me by my name: 
At that Ged lifted his scarred face, meeting his friend's eyes.
ÒEstarriol,Ó he said, Òmy name is Ged.Ó
Then quietly they bade each other farewell, and Vetch turned and went 
down the stone hallway, and left Roke.
Ged stood still a while, like one who has received great news, and 
must enlarge his spirit to receive it. It was a great gift that Vetch had given 
him, the knowledge of his true name.
No one knows a man's true name but himself and his namer. He may 
choose at length to tell it to his brother, or his wife, or his friend, yet even 
those few will never use it where any third person may hear it. In front of 
other people they will, like other people, call him by his use-name, his 
nickname - such a name as Sparrowhawk, and Vetch, and Ogion which means Òfir-
coneÓ. If plain men hide their true name from all but a few they love and trust 
utterly, so much more must wizardly men, being more dangerous, and more 
endangered. Who knows a man's name, holds that man's life in his keeping. Thus 
to Ged who had lost faith in himself, Vetch had given that gift only a friend 
can give, the proof of unshaken, unshakable trust.
Ged sat down on his pallet and let the globe of werelight die, giving 
off as it faded a faint whiff of marsh-gas. He petted the otak, which stretched 
comfortably and went to sleep on his knee as if it had never slept anywhere 
else. The Great House was silent. It came to Ged's mind that this was the eve of 
his own Passage, the day on which Ogion had given him his name. Four years were 
gone since then. He remembered the coldness of the mountain spring through which 
he had walked naked and unnamed. He fell to thinking of other bright pools in 
the River Ar, where he had used to swim; and of Ten Alders village under the 
great slanting forests of the mountain; of the shadows of morning across the 
dusty village street, the fire leaping under bellows-blast in the smith's 
smelting-pit on a winter afternoon, the witch's dark fragrant but where the air 
was heavy with smoke and wreathing spells. He had not thought of these things 
for a long time. Now they came back to him, on this night he was seventeen years 
old. All the years and places of his brief broken life came within mind's reach 
and made a whole again. He knew once more, at last, after this long, bitter, 
wasted time, who he was and where he was.
But where he must go in the years to come, that he could not see; and 
he feared to see it.
Next morning he set out across the island, the otak riding on his 
shoulder as it had used to. This time it took him three days, not two, to walk 
to the Isolate Tower, and he was bone-weary when he came in sight of the Tower 
above the spitting, hissing seas of the northern cape. Inside, it was dark as he 
remembered, and cold as he remembered, and Kurremkarmerruk sat on his high seat 
writing down lists of names. He glanced at Ged and said without welcome, as if 
Ged had never been away, ÒGo to bed; tired is stupid. Tomorrow you may open the 
Book of the Undertakings of the Makers, learning the names therein.Ó
At winter's end he returned to the Great House. He was made sorcerer 
then, and the Archmage Gensher accepted at that time his fealty. Thenceforth he 
studied the high arts and enchantments, passing beyond arts of illusion to the 
works of real magery, learning what he must know to earn his wizard's staff. The 
trouble he had had in speaking spells wore off over the months, and skill 
returned into his hands: yet he was never so quick to learn as he had been, 
having learned a long hard lesson from fear. Yet no ill portents or encounters 
followed on his working even of the Great Spells of Making and Shaping, which 
are most perilous. He came to wonder at times if the shadow he had loosed might 
have grown weak, or fled somehow out of the world, for it came no more into his 
dreams. But in his heart he knew such hope was folly.
From the Masters and from ancient lore-books Ged learned what he 
could about such beings as this shadow he had loosed; little was there to learn. 
No such creature was described or spoken of directly.
There were at best hints here and there in the old books of things 
that might be like the shadow-beast. It was not a ghost of human man, nor was it 
a creature of the Old Powers of Earth, and yet it seemed it might have some link 
with these. In the Matter of the Dragons, which Ged read very closely, there was 
a tale of an ancient Dragonlord who had come under the sway of one of the Old 
Powers, a speaking stone that lay in a far northern land. ÒAt the Stone's 
command,Ó said the book, Òhe did speak to raise up a dead spirit out of the 
realm of the dead, but his wizardry being bent awry by the Stone's will there 
came with the dead spirit also a thing not summoned, which did devour him out 
from within and in his shape walked, destroying men.Ó But the book did not say 
what the thing was, nor did it tell the end of the tale. And the Masters did not 
know where such a shadow might come from: from unlife, the Archmage had said; 
from the wrong side of the world, said the Master Changer; and the Master 
Summoner said, ÒI do not know.Ó The Summoner had come often to sit with Ged in 
his illness. He was grim and grave as ever, but Ged knew now his compassion, and 
loved him well. ÒI do not know. I know of the thing only this: that only a great 
power could have summoned up such a thing, and perhaps only one power - only one 
voice - your voice. But what in turn that means, I do not know. You will find 
out. You must find out, or die, and worse than die...Ó He spoke softly and his 
eyes were somber as he looked at Ged. ÒYou thought, as a boy, that a mage is one 
who can do anything. So I thought, once. So did we all. And the truth is that as 
a man's real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow 
grows narrower: until at last he chooses nothing, but does only and wholly what 
he must do...'
The Archmage sent Ged, after his eighteenth birthday, to work with 
the Master Patterner. What is learned in the Immanent Grove is not much talked 
about elsewhere. It is said that no spells are worked there, and yet the place 
itself is an enchantment. Sometimes the trees of that Grove, are seen, and 
sometimes they are not seen, and they are not always in the same place and part 
of Roke Island. It is said that the trees of the Grove themselves are wise. It 
is said that the Master Patterner learns his supreme magery there within the 
Grove, and if ever the trees should die so shall his wisdom die, and in those 
days the waters will rise and drown the islands of Earthsea which Segoy raised 
from the deeps in the time before myth, all the lands where men and dragons 
But all this is hearsay; wizards will not speak of it.
The months went by, and at last on a day of spring Ged returned to 
the Great House, and he had no idea what would be asked of him next. At the door 
that gives on the path across the fields to Roke Knoll an old man met him, 
waiting for him in the doorway. At first Ged did not know him, and then putting 
his mind to it recalled him as the one who had let him into the School on the 
day of his coming, five years ago.
The old man smiled, greeting him by name, and asked, ÒDo you know who 
I am?Ó
Now Ged had thought before of how it was always said, the Nine 
Masters of Roke, although he knew only eight: Windkey, Hand, Herbal, Chanter, 
Changer, Summoner, Namer, Patterner. It seemed that people spoke of the Archmage 
as the ninth. Yet when a new Archmage was chosen, nine Masters met to choose 
ÒI think you are the Master Doorkeeper,Ó said Ged.
ÒI am. Ged, you won entrance to Roke by saying your name. Now you may 
win your freedom of it by saying mine.Ó So said the old man smiling, and waited. 
Ged stood dumb.
He knew a thousand ways and crafts and means for finding out names of 
things and of men, of course; such craft was a part of everything he had learned 
at Roke, for without it there could be little useful magic done. But to find out 
the name of a Mage and Master was another matter. A mage's name is better hidden 
than a herring in the sea, better guarded than a dragon's den. A prying charm 
will be met with a stronger charm, subtle devices will fail, devious inquiries 
will be deviously thwarted, and force will be turned ruinously back upon itself.
ÒYou keep a narrow door, Master,Ó said Ged at last. ÒI must sit out 
in the fields here, I think, and fast till I grow thin enough to slip throughÓ
ÒAs long as you like,Ó said the Doorkeeper, smiling.
So Ged went off a little way and sat down under an alder on the banks 
of the Thwilburn, letting his otak run down to play in the stream and hunt the 
muddy banks for creekcrabs. The sun went down, late and bright, for spring was 
well along. Lights of lantern and werelight gleamed in the windows of the Great 
House, and down the hill the streets of Thwil town filled with darkness. Owls 
hooted over the roofs and bats flitted in the dusk air above the stream, and 
still Ged sat thinking how he might, by force, ruse, or sorcery, learn the 
Doorkeeper's name. The more he pondered the less he saw, among all the arts of 
witchcraft he had learned in these five years on Roke, any one that would serve 
to wrest such a secret from such a mage.
He lay down in the field and slept under the stars, with the otak 
nestling in his pocket. After the sun was up he went, still fasting, to the door 
of the House and knocked. The Doorkeeper opened.
ÒMaster,Ó said Ged, ÒI cannot take your name from you, not being 
strong enough, and I cannot trick your name from you, not being wise enough. So 
I am content to stay here, and learn or serve, whatever you will: unless by 
chance you will answer a question I have.Ó
ÒAsk it.Ó
ÒWhat is your name?Ó
The Doorkeeper smiled, and said his name: and Ged, repeating it, 
entered for the last time into that House.
When he left it again he wore a heavy dark-blue cloak, the gift of 
the township of Low Torning, whereto be was bound, for they wanted a wizard 
there. He carried also a staff of his own height, carved of yew-wood, bronze-
shod. The Doorkeeper bade him farewell opening the back door of the Great House 
for him, the door of horn and ivory, and he went down the streets of Thwil to a 
ship that waited for him on the bright water in the morning.

5 The Dragon of Pendor

West of Roke in a crowd between the two great lands Hosk and Ensmer 
lie the Ninety Isles. The nearest to Roke is Serd, and the farthest is Seppish, 
which lies almost in the Pelnish Sea; and whether the sum of them is ninety is a 
question never settled, for if you count only isles with freshwater springs you 
might have seventy, while if you count every rock you might have a hundred and 
still not be done; and then the tide would change. Narrow run the channels 
between the islets, and there the mild tides of the Inmost Sea, chafed and 
baffled, run high and fall low, so that where at high tide there might be three 
islands in one place, at low there might be one. Yet for all that danger of the 
tide, every child who can walk can paddle, and has his little rowboat; 
housewives row across the channel to take a cup of rushwash tea with the 
neighbor; peddlers call their wares in rhythm with the stroke of their oars. All 
roads there are salt water, blocked only by nets strung from house to house 
across the straits to catch the small fish called turbies, the oil of which is 
the wealth of the Ninety Isles. There are few bridges, and no great towns. Every 
islet is thick with farms and fishermen's houses, and these are gathered into 
townships each of ten or twenty islets. One such was Low Torning, the 
westernmost, looking not on the Inmost Sea but outward to empty ocean, that 
lonely corner of the Archipelago where only Pendor lies, the dragon-spoiled 
isle, and beyond it the waters of the West Reach, desolate.
A house was ready there for the township's new wizard. It stood on a 
hill among green fields of barley, sheltered from the west wind by a grove of 
pendick-trees that now were red with flowers. From the door one looked out on 
other thatched roofs and groves and gardens, and other islands with their roofs 
and fields and hills, and amongst them all the many bright winding channels of 
the sea. It was a poor house, windowless, with earthen floor, yet a better house 
than the one Ged was born in. The Isle-Men of Low Torning, standing in awe of 
the wizard from Roke, asked pardon for its humbleness. ÒWe have no stone to 
build with,Ó said one, ÒWe are none of us rich, though none starve,Ó said 
another, and a third, ÒIt will be dry at least, for I saw to the thatching 
myself, Sir.Ó To Ged it was as good as any palace. He thanked the leaders of the 
township frankly, so that the eighteen of them went home, each in his own 
rowboat to his home isle, to tell the fishermen and housewives that the new 
wizard was a strange young grim fellow who spoke little, but he spoke fairly, 
and without pride.
There was little cause, perhaps, for pride in this first magistry of 
Ged's. Wizards trained on Roke went commonly to cities or castles, to serve high 
lords who held them in high honor. These fisherman of Low Torning in the usual 
way of things would have had among them no more than a witch or a plain 
sorcerer, to charm the fishing-nets and sing over new boats and cure beasts and 
men of their ailments. But in late years the old Dragon of Pendor had spawned: 
nine dragons, it was said, now laired in the ruined towers of the Sealords of 
Pendor, dragging their scaled bellies up and down the marble stairs and through 
the broken doorways there. Wanting food on that dead isle, they would be flying 
forth some year when they were grown and hunger came upon them. Already a flight 
of four had been seen over the southwest shores of Hosk, not alighting but 
spying out the sheepfolds, barns, and villages. The hunger of a dragon is slow 
to wake, but hard to sate. So the Isle-Men of Low Torning had sent to Roke 
begging for a wizard to protect their folk from what boded over the western 
horizon, and the Archmage had judged their fear well founded.
ÒThere is no comfort in this place,Ó the Archmage had said to Ged on, 
the day he made him wizard, Òno fame, no wealth, mybe no risk. Will you go?Ó
ÒI will go,Ó Ged had replied, not from obedience only. Since the 
night on Roke Knoll his desire had turned as much against fame and display as 
once it had been set on them. Always now he doubted his strength and dreaded the 
trial of his power. Yet also the talk of dragons drew him with a great 
curiosity. In Gont there have been no dragons for many hundred years; and no 
dragon would ever fly within scent or sight or spell of Roke, so that there also 
they are a matter of tales and songs only, things sung of but not seen. Ged had 
learned all he could of dragons at the School, but it is one thing to read about 
dragons and another to meet them. The chance lay bright before him, and heartily 
he answered, ÒI will go Ó
The Archmage Gensher had nodded his head, but his look was somber. 
ÒTell me,Ó he said at last, Òdo you fear to leave Roke? or are you eager to be 
ÒBoth, my lord.Ó
Again Gensher nodded. ÒI do not know if I do right to send you from 
your safety here,Ó he said very low. ÒI cannot see your way. It is all in 
darkness. And there is a power in the North, something that would destroy you, 
but what it is and where, whether in your past or on your forward way, I cannot 
tell: it is all shadowed. When the men from Low Torning came here, I thought at 
once of you, for it seemed a safe place and out of the way, where you might have 
time to gather your strength. But I do not know if any place is safe for you, or 
where your way goes. I do not want to send you out into the dark...Ó
It seemed a bright enough place to Ged at first, the house under the 
flowering trees. There he lived, and watched the western sky often, and kept his 
wizard's ear tuned for the sound of scaly wings. But no dragon came. Ged fished 
from his jetty, and tended his garden-patch. He spent whole days pondering a 
page or a line or a word in the Lore-Books he had brought from Roke, sitting out 
in the summer air under the pendick-trees, while the otak slept beside him or 
went hunting mice in the forests of grass and daisies. And he served the people 
of Low Torning as healall and weatherworker whenever they asked him. It did not 
enter his head that a wizard might be ashamed to perform such simple crafts, for 
he had been a witchchild among poorer folk than these. They, however, asked 
little of him, holding him in awe, partly because he was a wizard from the Isle 
of the Wise, and partly on account of his silence and his scarred face. There 
was that about him, young as he was, that made men uneasy with him.
Yet he found a friend, a boatmaker who dwelt on the next islet 
eastward. His name was Pechvarry. They had met first on his jetty, where Ged 
stopped to watch him stepping the mast of a little catboat. He had looked up at 
the wizard with a grin and said, ÒHere's a month's work nearly finished. I guess 
you might have done it in a minute with a word, eh, Sir?Ó
ÒI might,Ó said Ged, Òbut it would likely sink the next minute, 
unless I kept the spells up. But if you like...Ó He stopped.
ÒWell, Sir?Ó
ÒWell, that is a lovely little craft. She needs nothing. But if you 
like, I could set a binding-spell on her, to help keep her sound; or a finding-
spell, to help bring her home from the sea.Ó
He spoke hesitantly, not wanting to offend the craftsman, but 
Pechvarry's face shone. ÒThe little boat's for my son, Sir, and if you would lay 
such charms on her, it would be a mighty kindness and a friendly act.Ó And he 
climbed up onto the jetty to take Ged's hand then and there and thank him.
After that they came to work together often, Ged interweaving his 
spellcrafts with Pechvarry's handwork on the boats he built or repaired, and in 
return learning from Pechvarry how a boat was built, and also how a boat was 
handled without aid of magic: for this skill of plain sailing had been somewhat 
scanted on Roke. Often Ged and Pechvarry and his little son Ioeth went out into 
the channels and lagoons, sailing or rowing one boat or another, till Ged was a 
fair sailor, and the friendship between him and Pechvarry was a settled thing.
Along in late autumn the boatmaker's son fell sick. The mother sent 
for, the witchwoman of Tesk Isle, who was a good hand at healing, and all seemed 
well for a day or two. Then in the middle of a stormy night came Pechvarry 
hammering at Ged's door, begging him to come save the child. Ged ran down to the 
boat with him and they rowed in all haste through dark and rain to the 
boatmaker's house. There Ged saw the child on his pallet-bed, and the mother 
crouching silent beside him, and the witchwoman making a smoke of corly-root and 
singing the Nagian Chant, which was the best healing she had. But she whispered 
to Ged, ÒLord Wizard, I think this fever is the redfever, and the child will die 
of it tonightÓ
When Ged knelt and put his hands on the child, he thought the same, 
and he drew back a moment. In the latter months of his own long sickness the 
Master Herbal had taught him much of the healer's lore, and the first lesson and 
the last of all that lore was this: Heal the wound and cure the illness, but let 
the dying spirit go.
The mother saw his movement and the meaning of it, and cried out 
aloud in despair. Pechvarry stooped down by her saying, ÒThe Lord Sparrowhawk 
will save him, wife. No need to cry! He's here now. He can do it.Ó
Hearing the mother's wail, and seeing the trust Pechvarry had in him, 
Ged did not know how he could disappoint them. He mistrusted his own judgment, 
and thought perhaps the child might be saved, if the fever could be brought 
down. He said, ÒI'll do my best, Pechvarry.Ó
He set to bathing the little boy with cold rainwater that they 
brought new-fallen from out of doors, and he began to say one of the spells of 
feverstay. The spell took no hold and made no whole, and suddenly he thought the 
child was dying in his arms.
Summoning his power all at once and with no thought for himself, he 
sent his spirit out after the child's spirit, to bring it back home. He called 
the child's name, ÒIoeth!Ó Thinking some faint answer came in his inward hearing 
he pursued, calling once more. Then he saw the little boy running fast and far 
ahead of him down a dark slope, the side of some vast hill. There was no sound. 
The stars above the hill were no stars his eyes had ever seen. Yet he knew the 
constellations by name: the Sheaf, the Door, the One Who Turns, the Tree. They 
were those stars that do not set, that are not paled by the coming of any day. 
He had followed the dying child too far.
Knowing this he found himself alone on the dark hillside. It was hard 
to turn back, very hard.
He turned slowly. Slowly he set one foot forward to climb back up the 
hill, and then the other. Step by step he went, each step willed. And each step 
was harder than the last.
The stars did not move. No wind blew over the dry steep ground. In 
all the vast kingdom of the darkness only he moved, slowly, climbing. He came to 
the top of the hill, and saw the low wall of stones there. But across the wall, 
facing him, there was a shadow.
The shadow did not have the shape of man or beast. It was shapeless, 
scarcely to be seen, but it whispered at him, though there were no words in its 
whispering, and it reached out towards him. And it stood on the side of the 
living, and he on the side of the dead.
Either he must go down the hill into the desert lands and lightless 
cities of the dead, or he must step across the wall back into life, where the 
formless evil thing waited for him.
His spirit-staff was in his hand, and he raised it high. With that 
motion, strength came into him. As be made to leap the low wall of stones 
straight at the shadow, the staff burned suddenly white, a blinding light in 
that dim place. He leaped, felt himself fall, and saw no more.
Now what Pechvarry and his wife and the witch saw was this: the young 
wizard had stopped midway in his spell, and held the child a while motionless. 
Then he had laid little Ioeth gently down on the pallet, and had risen, and 
stood silent, staff in hand. All at once he raised the staff high and it blazed 
with white fire as if he held the lightning-bolt in his grip, and all the 
household things in the hut leaped out strange and vivid in that momentary fire. 
When their eyes were clear from the dazzlement they saw the young man lying 
huddled forward on the earthen floor, beside the pallet where the child lay 
To Pechvarry it seemed that the wizard also was dead. His wife wept, 
but he was utterly bewildered. But the witch had some hearsay knowledge 
concerning magery and the ways a true wizard may go, and she saw to it that Ged, 
cold and lifeless as he lay, was not treated as a dead man but as one sick or 
tranced. He was carried home, and an old woman was left to watch and see whether 
he slept to wake or slept for ever.
The little otak was hiding in the rafters of the house, as it did 
when strangers entered. There it stayed while the rain beat on the walls and the 
fire sank down and the night wearing slowly along left the old woman nodding 
beside the hearthpit. Then the otak crept down and came to Ged where he lay 
stretched stiff and still upon the bed. It began to lick his hands and wrists, 
long and patiently, with its dry leafbrown tongue. Crouching beside his head it 
licked his temple, his scarred cheek, and softly his closed eyes. And very 
slowly under that soft touch Ged roused. He woke, not knowing where he had been 
or where he was or what was the faint grey light in the air about him, which was 
the light of dawn coming to the world. Then the otak curled up near his shoulder 
as usual, and went to sleep.
Later, when Ged thought back upon that night, he knew that had none 
touched him when he lay thus spirit-lost, had none called him back in some way, 
he might have been lost for good. It was only the dumb instinctive wisdom of the 
beast who licks his hurt companion to comfort him, and yet in that wisdom Ged 
saw something akin to his own power, something that went as deep as wizardry. 
From that time forth he believed that the wise man is one who never sets himself 
apart from other living things, whether they have speech or not, and in later 
years he strove long to learn what can be learned, in silence, from the eyes of 
animals, the flight of birds, the great slow gestures of trees.
He had now made unscathed, for the first time, that crossing-over and 
return which only a wizard can make with open eyes, and which not the greatest 
mage can make without risk. But he had returned to a grief and a fear. The grief 
was for his friend Pechvarry, the fear was for himself. He knew now why the 
Archmage had feared to send him forth, and what had darkened and clouded even 
the mage's forseeing of his future. For it was darkness itself that had awaited 
him, the unnamed thing, the being that did not belong in the world, the shadow 
he had loosed or made. In spirit, at the boundary wall between death and life, 
it had waited for him these long years. It had found him there at last. It would 
be on his track now, seeking to draw near to him, to take his strength into 
itself, and suck up his' life, and clothe itself in his flesh.
Soon after, he dreamed of the thing like a bear with no head or face. 
He thought it went fumbling about the walls of the house, searching for the 
door. Such a dream he had not dreamed since the healing of the wounds the thing 
had given him. When he woke he was weak and cold, and the scars on his face and 
shoulder drew and ached.
Now began a bad time. When he dreamed of the shadow or so much as 
thought of it, he felt always that same cold dread: sense and power drained out 
of him, leaving him stupid and astray. He raged at his cowardice, but that did 
no good. He sought for some protection, but there was none: the thing was not 
flesh, not alive, not spirit, unnamed, having no being but what he himself had 
given it - a terrible power outside the laws of the sunlit world. All he knew of 
it was that it was drawn to him and would try to work its will through him, 
being his creature. But in what form it could come, having no real form of its 
own as yet, and how it would come, and when it would come, this he did not know.
He set up what barriers of sorcery he could about his house and about 
the isle where he lived. Such spell-walls must be ever renewed, and soon he saw 
that if he spent all his strength on these defenses, he would be of no use to 
the islanders. What could he do, between two enemies, if a dragon came from 
Again he dreamed, but this time in the dream the shadow was inside 
his house, beside the door, reaching out to him through the darkness and 
whispering words he did not understand. He woke in terror, and sent the 
werelight flaming through the air, lighting every corner of the little house 
till he saw no shadow anywhere. Then he put wood on the coals of his firepit, 
and sat in the firelight hearing the autumn wind fingering at the thatch roof 
and whining in the great bare trees above; and he pondered long. An old anger 
had awakened in his heart. He would not suffer this helpless waiting, this 
sitting trapped on a little island muttering useless spells of lock and ward. 
Yet he could not simply flee the trap: to do so would be to break his trust with 
the islanders and to leave them to the imminent dragon, undefended. There was 
but one way to take.
The next morning he went down among the fishermen in the principal 
moorage of Low Toming, and finding the Head Isle-Man there said to him, ÒI must 
leave this place. I am in danger, and I put you in danger. I must go. Therefore 
I ask your leave to go out and do away with the dragons on Pendor, so that my 
task for you will be finished and I may leave freely. Or if I fail, I should 
fail also when they come here, and that is better known now than later.Ó
The Isle-Man stared at him all dropjawed. ÒLord Sparrowhawk,Ó he 
said, Òthere are nine dragons out there!Ó
ÒEight are still young, they say.Ó
ÒBut the old one-Ó
ÒI tell you, I must go from here. I ask your leave to rid you of the 
dragon-peril first, if I can do so.Ó
ÒAs you will, Sir,Ó the Isle-Man said gloomily. All that listened 
there thought this a folly or a crazy courage in their young wizard, and with 
sullen faces they saw him go, expecting no news of him again. Some hinted that 
he meant merely to sail back by Hosk to the Inmost Sea, leaving them in the 
lurch; others, among them Pechvarry, held that he had gone mad, and sought 
For four generations of men all ships had set their course to keep 
far from the shores of Pendor Island. No mage had ever come to do combat with 
the dragon there, for the island was on no travelled sea road, and its lords had 
been pirates, slave-takers, war-makers, hated by all that dwelt in the southwest 
parts of Earthsea. For this reason none had sought to revenge the Lord of 
Pendor, after the dragon came suddenly out of the west upon him and his men 
where they sat feasting in the tower, and smothered them with the flames of his 
mouth, and drove all the townsfolk screaming into the sea. Unavenged, Pendor had 
been left to the dragon, with all its bones, and towers, and jewels stolen from 
long-dead princes of the coasts of Paln and Hosk.
All this Ged knew well, and more, for ever since he came to Low 
Torning he had held in mind and pondered over all he had ever learned, of 
dragons. As he guided his small boat westward - not rowing now nor using the 
seaman's skill Pechvarry had taught him, but sailing wizardly with the magewind 
in his sail and a spell set on prow and keel to keep them true - he watched to 
see the dead isle rise on the rim of the sea. Speed he wanted, and therefore 
used the magewind, for he feared what was behind him more than what was before 
him. But as the day passed, his impatience turned from fear to a kind of glad 
fierceness. At least he sought this danger of his own will; and the nearer he 
came to it the more sure he was that, for this time at least, for this hour 
perhaps before his death, he was free. The shadow dared not follow him into a 
dragon's jaws. The waves ran white-tipped on the grey sea, and grey clouds 
streamed overhead on the north wind. He went west with the quick magewind in his 
sail, and came in sight of the rocks of Pendor, the still streets of the town, 
and the gutted, falling towers.
At the entrance of the harbor, a shallow crescent bay, he let the 
windspell drop and stilled his little boat so it lay rocking on the waves. Then 
he summoned the dragon: ÒUsurper of Pendor, come defend your hoard!Ó
His voice fell short in the sound of breakers beating on the ashen 
shores; but dragons have keen ears. Presently one flitted up from some roofless 
ruin of the town like a vast black bat, thin-winged and spinybacked, and 
circling into the north wind came flying towards Ged. His heart swelled at the 
sight of the creature that was a myth to his people, and he laughed and shouted, 
ÒGo tell the Old One to come, you wind-worm!Ó
For this was one of the young dragons, spawned there years ago by a 
she-dragon from the West Reach, who had set her clutch of great leathern eggs, 
as they say she-dragons will, in some sunny broken room of the tower and had 
flown away again, leaving the Old Dragon of Pendor to watch the young when they 
crawled like baneful lizards from the shell.
The young dragon made no answer. He was not large of his kind, maybe 
the length of a forty-oared ship, and was worm-thin for all the reach of his 
black membranous wings. He had not got his growth yet, nor his voice, nor any 
dragon-cunning. Straight at Ged in the small rocking boat he came, opening his 
long, toothed jaws as he slid down arrowy from the air: so that all Ged had to 
do was bind his wings and limbs stiff with one sharp spell and send him thus 
hurtling aside into the sea like a stone falling. And the grey sea closed over 
Two dragons like the first rose up from the base of the highest 
tower. Even as the first one they came driving straight at Ged, and even so he 
caught both, hurled both down, and drowned them; and he had not yet lifted up 
his wizard's staff.
Now after a little time there came three against him from the island. 
One of these was much greater, and fire spewed curling from its jaws. Two came 
flying at him rattling their wings, but the big one came circling from behind, 
very swift, to burn him and his boat with its breath of fire. No binding spell 
would catch all three, because two came from north and one from south. In the 
instant that he saw this, Ged worked a spell of Changing, and between one breath 
and the next flew up from his boat in dragonform.
Spreading broad wings and reaching talons out, he met the two head 
on, withering them with fire, and then turned to the third, who was larger than 
he and armed also with fire. On the wind over the grey waves they doubled, 
snapped, swooped, lunged, till smoke roiled about them red-lit by the glare of 
their fiery mouths. Ged flew suddenly upward and the other pursued, below him. 
In midflight the dragon Ged raised wings, stopped, and stooped as the hawk 
stoops, talons outstretched downward, striking and bearing the other down by 
neck and flank. The black wings flurried and black dragon-blood dropped in thick 
drops into the sea. The Pendor dragon tore free and flew low and lamely to the 
island, where it hid, crawling into some well or cavern in the ruined town.
At once Ged took his form and place again on the boat, for it was 
most perilous to keep that dragon-shape longer than need demanded. His hands 
were black with the scalding wormblood, and he was scorched about the head with 
fire, but this was no matter now. He waited only till he had his breath back and 
then called, ÒSix I have seen, five slain, nine are told of: come out, worms!Ó
No creature moved nor voice spoke for a long while on the island, but 
only the waves beat loudly on the shore. Then Ged was aware that the highest 
tower slowly changed its shape, bulging out on one side as if it grew an arm. He 
feared dragon-magic, for old dragons are very powerful and guileful in a sorcery 
like and unlike the sorcery of men: but a moment more and he saw this was no 
trick of the dragon, but of his own eyes. What he had taken for a part of the 
tower was the shoulder of the Dragon of Pendor as he uncurled his bulk and 
lifted himself slowly up.
When he was all afoot his scaled head, spikecrowned and triple-
tongued, rose higher than the broken tower's height, and his taloned forefeet 
rested on the rubble of the town below. His scales were grey-black, catching the 
daylight like broken stone. Lean as a hound he was and huge as a hill. Ged 
stared in awe. There was no song or tale could prepare the mind for this sight. 
Almost he stared into the dragon's eyes and was caught, for one cannot look into 
a dragon's eyes. He glanced away from the oily green gaze that watched him, and 
held up before him his staff, that looked now like a splinter, like a twig.
ÒEight sons I had, little wizard,Ó said the great dry voice of the 
dragon. ÒFive died, one dies: enough. You will not win my hoard by killing 
ÒI do not want your hoard.Ó
The yellow smoke hissed from the dragon's nostrils: that was his 
ÒWould you not like to come ashore and look at it, little wizard? It 
is worth looking at.Ó
ÒNo, dragon.Ó The kinship of dragons is with wind and fire, and they 
do not fight willingly over the sea. That had been Ged's advantage so far and he 
kept it; but the strip of seawater between him and the great grey talons did not 
seem much of an advantage, any more.
It was hard not to look into the green, watching eyes.
ÒYou are a very young wizard,Ó the dragon said, ÒI did not know men 
came so young into their power.Ó He spoke, as did Ged, in the Old Speech, for 
that is the tongue of dragons still. Although the use of the Old Speech binds a 
man to truth, this is not so with dragons. It is their own language, and they 
can lie in it, twisting the true words to false ends, catching the unwary hearer 
in a maze of mirrorwords each of which reflects the truth and none of which 
leads anywhere. So Ged had been warned often, and when the dragon spoke he 
listened with an untrustful ear, all his doubts ready. But the words seemed 
plain and clear: ÒIs it to ask my help that you have come here, little wizard?Ó
ÒNo, dragon.Ó
ÒYet I could help you. You will need help soon, against that which 
hunts you in the dark.Ó
Ged stood dumb.
ÒWhat is it that hunts you? Name it to me.Ó
ÒIf I could name it-Ó Ged stopped himself.
Yellow smoke curled above the dragon's long head, from the nostrils 
that were two round pits of fire.
ÒIf you could name it you could master it, maybe, little wizard. 
Maybe I could tell you its name, when I see it close by. And it will come close, 
if you wait about my isle. It will come wherever you come. If you do not want it 
to come close you must run, and run, and keep running from it. And yet it will 
follow you. Would you like to know its name?Ó
Ged stood silent again. How the dragon knew of the shadow he bad 
loosed, he could not guess, nor how it might know the shadow's name. The 
Archmage bad said that the shadow had no name. Yet dragons have their own 
wisdom; and they are an older race than man. Few men can guess what a dragon 
knows and how he knows it, and those few are the Dragonlords. To Ged, only one 
thing was sure: that, though the dragon might well be speaking truth, though he 
might indeed be able to tell Ged the nature and name of the shadow-thing and so 
give him power over it - even so, even if he spoke truth, he did so wholly for 
his own ends.
ÒIt is very seldom,Ó the young man said at last, Òthat dragons ask to 
do men favors.Ó
ÒBut it is very common,Ó said the dragon, Òfor cats to play with mice 
before they kill them.
ÒBut I did not come here to play, or to be played with. I came to 
strike a bargain with you.Ó
Like a sword in sharpness but five times the length of any sword, the 
point of the dragon's tail arched up scorpionwise over his mailed back, above 
the tower. Dryly he spoke: ÒI strike no bargains. I take. What have you to offer 
that I cannot take from you when I like?Ó
ÒSafety. Your safety. Swear that you will never fly eastward of 
Pendor, and I will swear to leave you unharmed.Ó
A grating sound came from the dragon's throat like the noise of an 
avalanche far off, stones falling among mountains. Fire danced along his three-
forked tongue. He raised himself up higher, looming over the ruins. ÒYou offer 
me safety! You threaten me! With what?Ó
ÒWith your name, Yevaud.Ó
Ged's voice shook as he spoke the name, yet he spoke it clear and 
loud. At the sound of it, the old dragon held still, utterly still. A minute 
went by, and another; and then Ged, standing there in his rocking chip of a 
boat, smiled. He had staked this venture and his life on a guess drawn from old 
histories of dragon-lore learned on Roke, a guess that this Dragon of Pendor was 
the same that had spoiled the west of Osskil in the days of Elfarran and Morred, 
and had been driven from Osskill by a wizard, Elt, wise in names. The guess had 
ÒWe are matched, Yevaud. You have the strength: I have your name. 
Will you bargain?Ó
Still the dragon made no reply.
Many years bad the dragon sprawled on the island where golden 
breastplates and emeralds lay scattered among dust and bricks and bones; he had 
watched his black lizard-brood play among crumbling houses and try their wings 
from the cliffs; he had slept long in the sun, unwaked by voice or sail. He had 
grown old. It was hard now to stir, to face this mage-lad, this frail enemy, at 
the sight of whose staff Yevaud, the old dragon, winced.
ÒYou may choose nine stones from my hoard,Ó he said at last, his 
voice hissing and whining in his long jaws. ÒThe best: take your choice. Then 
ÒI do not want your stones, Yevaud.Ó
ÒWhere is men's greed gone? Men loved bright stones in the old days 
in the North... I know what it is you want, wizard. I, too, can offer you 
safety, for I know what can save you. I know what alone can save you. There is a 
horror follows you. I will tell you its name.Ó
Ged's heart leaped in him, and he clutched his staff, standing as 
still as the dragon stood. He fought a moment with sudden, startling hope.
It was not his own life that he bargained for. One mastery, and only 
one, could he hold over the dragon. He set hope aside and did what he must do.
ÒThat is not what I ask for, Yevaud.Ó
When he spoke the dragon's name it was as if he held the huge being 
on a fine, thin leash, tightening it on his throat. He could feel the ancient 
malice and experience of men in the dragon's gaze that rested on him, he could 
see the steel talons each as long as a man's forearm, and the stone-hard hide, 
and the withering fire that lurked in the dragon's throat: and yet always the 
leash tightened, tightened.
He spoke again: ÒYevaud! Swear by your name that you and your sons 
will never come to the Archipelago.Ó
Flames broke suddenly bright and loud from the dragon's jaws, and he 
said, ÒI swear it by my name!Ó
Silence lay over the isle then, and Yevaud lowered his great head.
When he raised it again and looked, the wizard was gone, and the sail 
of the boat was a white fleck on the waves eastward, heading towards the fat 
bejewelled islands of the inner seas. Then in rage the old Dragon of Pendor rose 
up breaking the tower with the writhing of his body, and beating his wings that 
spanned the whole width of the ruined town. But his oath held him, and he did 
not fly, then or ever, to the Archipelago.

6 Hunted

As soon as Pendor had sunk under the sea-rim behind him, Ged looking 
eastward felt the fear of the shadow come into his heart again; and it was hard 
to turn from the bright danger of the dragons to that formless, hopeless horror. 
He let the magewind drop, and sailed on with the world's wind, for there was no 
desire for speed in him now. He bad no clear plan even of what he should do. He 
must run, as the dragon had said; but where? To Roke, he thought, since there at 
least he was protected, and might find counsel among the wise.
First, however, he must come to Low Torning once more and tell his 
tale to the Isle-Men. When word went out that he had returned, five days from 
his setting forth, they and half the people of the township came rowing and 
running to gather round him, and stare at him, and listen. He told his tale, and 
one man said, ÒBut who saw this wonder of dragons slain and dragons baffled? 
What if he-Ó
ÒBe still!Ó the Head Isle-Man said roughly, for he knew, as did most 
of them, that a wizard may have subtle ways of telling the truth, and may keep 
the truth to himself, but that if he says a thing the thing is as he says. For 
that is his mastery. So they wondered, and began to feel that their fear was 
lifted from them, and then they began to rejoice. They pressed round their young 
wizard and asked for the tale again. More islanders came, and asked for it 
again. By nightfall he no longer had to tell it. They could do it for him, 
better. Already the village chanters had fitted it to an old tune, and were 
singing the Song of the Sparrowhawk. Bonfires were burning not only on the isles 
of Low Torning but in townships to the south and east. Fishermen shouted the 
news from boat to boat, from isle to isle it went: Evil is averted, the dragons 
will never come from Pendor!
That night, that one night, was joyous for Ged. No shadow could come 
near him through the brightness of those fires of thanksgiving that burned on 
every hill and beach, through the circles of laughing dancers that ringed him 
about, singing his praise, swinging their torches in the gusty autumn night so 
that sparks rose thick and bright and brief upon the wind.
The next day he met with Pechvarry, who said, ÒI did not know you 
were so mighty, my lord.Ó There was fear in that because he had dared make Ged 
his friend, but there was reproach in it also. Ged had not saved a little child, 
though he had slain dragons. After that, Ged felt afresh the unease and 
impatience that had driven him to Pendor, and drove him now from Low Torning. 
The next day, though they would have kept him gladly the rest of his life to 
praise and boast of, he left the house on the hill, with no baggage but his 
books, his staff, and the otak riding on his shoulder.
He went in a rowboat with a couple of young fishermen of Low Torning, 
who wanted the honor of being his boatmen. Always as they rowed on among the 
craft that crowd the eastern channels of the Ninety Isles, under the windows and 
balconies of houses that lean out over the water, past the wharves of Nesh, the 
rainy pastures of Dromgan, the malodorous oil-sheds of Geath, word of his deed 
had gone ahead of him. They whistled the Song of the Sparrowhawk as he went by, 
they vied to have him spend the night and tell his dragon-tale. When at last he 
came to Serd, the ship's master of whom he asked passage out to Roke bowed as he 
answered, ÒA privilege to me, Lord Wizard, and an honor to my ship!Ó
So Ged turned his back on the Ninety Isles; but even as the ship 
turned from Serd Inner Port and raised sail, a wind came up hard from the east 
against her. It was strange, for the wintry sky was clear and the weather had 
seemed settled mild that morning. It was only thirty miles from Serd to Roke, 
and they sailed on; and when the wind still rose, they still sailed on: The 
little ship, like most traders of the Inmost Sea, bore the high fore-and-aft 
sail that can be turned to catch a headwind, and her master was a handy seaman, 
proud of his skill. So tacking now north now south they worked eastward. Clouds 
and rain came up on the wind, which veered and gusted so wildly that there was 
considerable danger of the ship jibing. ÒLord Sparrowhawk,Ó said the ship's 
master to the young man, whom he had beside him in the place of honor in the 
stern, though small dignity could be kept up under that wind and rain that wet 
them all to a miserable sleekness in their sodden cloaks- ÒLord Sparrowhawk, 
might you say a word to this wind, maybe?Ó
ÒHow near are we to Roke?Ó
ÒBetter than half way. But we've made no headway at all this past 
hour, Sir.Ó
Ged spoke to the wind. It blew less hard, and for a while they went 
on fairly enough. Then sudden great gusts came whistling out of the south, and 
meeting these they were driven back westward again. The clouds broke and boiled 
in the sky, and the ship's master roared out ragefully, ÒThis fool's gale blows 
all ways at once! Only a magewind will get us through this weather, Lord.Ó
Ged looked glum at that, but the ship and her men were in danger for 
him, so he raised up the magewind into her sail. At once the ship began to 
cleave straight to the east, and the ship's master began to look cheerful again. 
But little by little, though Ged kept up the spell, the magewind slackened, 
growing feebler, until the ship seemed to hang still on the waves for a minute, 
her sail drooping, amid all the tumult of the rain and gale. Then with a 
thundercrack the boom came swinging round and she jibed and jumped northward 
like a scared cat.
Ged grabbed hold of a stanchion, for she lay almost over on her side, 
and shouted out, ÒTurn back to Serd, master!Ó
The master cursed and shouted that he would not: ÒA wizard aboard, 
and I the best seaman of the Trade, and this the handiest ship I ever sailed - 
turn back?Ó
Then, the ship turning again almost as if a whirlpool had caught her 
keel, he too grabbed hold of the sternpost to keep aboard, and Ged said to him, 
ÒLeave me at Serd and sail where you like. It's not against your ship this wind 
blows, but against me.Ó
ÒAgainst you, a wizard of Roke?Ó
ÒHave you never heard of the Roke-wind, master?Ó
ÒAye, that keeps off evil powers from the Isle of the Wise, but what 
has that to do with you, a Dragon-tamer?Ó
ÒThat is between me and my shadow,Ó Ged answered shortly, as a wizard 
will; and he said no more as they went swiftly, with a steady wind and under 
clearing skies, back over the sea to Serd.
There was a heaviness and a dread in his heart as he went up from the 
wharves of Serd. The days were shortening into winter, and dusk came soon. With 
dusk Ged's uneasiness always grew, and now the turning of each street seemed a 
threat to him, and he had to steel himself not to keep looking back over his 
shoulder at what might be coming behind him. He went to the Sea-House of Serd, 
where travellers and merchants ate together of good fare provided by the 
township, and might sleep in the long raftered hall: such is the hospitality of 
the thriving islands of the Inmost Sea.
He saved a bit of meat from his dinner, and by the firepit afterward 
he coaxed the otak out of the fold of his hood where it had cowered all that 
day, and tried to get it to eat, petting it and whispering to it, ÒHoeg, hoeg, 
little one, silent one...Ó But it would not eat, and crept into his pocket to 
hide. By that, by his own dull uncertainty, by the very look of the darkness in 
the corners of the great room, he knew that the shadow was not far from him.
No one in this place knew him: they were travellers, from other 
isles, who had not heard the Song of the Sparrowhawk. None spoke to him. He 
chose a pallet at last and lay down, but all night long he lay with open eyes 
there in the raftered hall among the sleep of strangers. All night he tried to 
choose his way, to plan where he should go, what he should do: but each choice, 
each plan was blocked by a foreboding of doom. Across each way he might go lay 
the shadow. Only Roke was clear of it: and to Roke he could not go, forbidden by 
the high, enwoven, ancient spells that kept the perilous island safe. That the 
Roke-wind had risen against him was proof the thing that hunted him must be very 
close upon him now.
That thing was bodiless, blind to sunlight, a creature of a 
lightless, placeless, timeless realm. It must grope after him through the days 
and across the seas of the sunlit world, and could take visible shape only in 
dream and darkness. It had as yet no substance or being that the light of the 
sun would shine on; and so it is sung in the Deed of Hode, ÒDaybreak makes all 
earth and sea, from shadow brings forth form, driving dream to the dark 
kingdom.Ó But if once the shadow caught up with Ged it could draw his power out 
of him, and take from him the very weight and warmth and life of his body and 
the will that moved him.
That was the doom he saw lying ahead on every road. And he knew that 
he might be tricked toward that doom; for the shadow, growing stronger always as 
it was nearer him, might even now have strength enough to put evil powers or 
evil men to its own use - showing him false portents, or speaking with a 
stranger's voice. For all he knew, in one of these men who slept in this corner 
or that of the raftered hall of the Sea-House tonight, the dark thing lurked, 
finding a foothold in a dark soul and there waiting and watching Ged and 
feeding, even now, on his weakness, on his uncertainty, on his fear.
It was past bearing. He must trust to chance, and run wherever chance 
took him. At the first cold hint of dawn he got up and went in haste under the 
dimming stars down to the wharves of Serd, resolved only to take the first ship 
outward bound that would have him. A galley was loading turbie-oil; she was to 
sail at sunrise, bound for Havnor Great Port. Ged asked passage of her master. A 
wizard's staff is passport and payment on most ships. They took him aboard 
willingly, and within that hour the ship set forth. Ged's spirits lifted with 
the first lifting of the forty long oars, and the drumbeat that kept the stroke 
made a brave music to him.
And yet he did not know what he would do in Havnor, or where he would 
run from there. Northward was as good as any direction. He was a Northerner 
himself; maybe he would find some ship to take him on to Gont from Havnor, and 
he might see Ogion again. Or he might find some ship going far out into the 
Reaches, so far the shadow would lose him and give up the hunt. Beyond such 
vague ideas as these, there was no plan in his head, and he saw no one course 
that he must follow. Only he must run...
Those forty oars carried the ship over a hundred and fifty miles of 
wintry sea before sunset of the second day out from Serd. They came in to port 
at Orrimy on the east shore of the great land Hosk, for these trade-galleys of 
the Inmost Sea keep to the coasts and lie overnight in harbor whenever they can. 
Ged went ashore, for it was still daylight, and he roamed the steep streets of 
the port-town, aimless and brooding.
Orrimy is an old town, built heavily of stone and brick, walled 
against the lawless lords of the interior of Hosk Island; the warehouses on the 
docks are like forts, and the merchants' houses are towered and fortified. Yet 
to Ged wandering through the streets those ponderous mansions seemed like veils, 
behind which lay an empty dark; and people who passed him, intent on their 
business, seemed not real men but voiceless shadows of men. As the sun set he 
came down to the wharves again, and even there in the broad red light and wind 
of the day's end, sea and land alike to him seemed dim and silent.
ÒWhere are you bound, Lord Wizard?Ó
So one hailed him suddenly from behind. Turning he saw a man dressed 
in grey, who carried a staff of heavy wood that was not a wizard's staff. The 
stranger's face was hidden by his hood from the red light, but Ged felt the 
unseen eyes meet his. Starting back he raised his own yewstaff between him and 
the stranger.
Mildly the man asked, ÒWhat do you fear?Ó
ÒWhat follows behind me.Ó
ÒSo? But I'm not your shadow.Ó
Ged stood silent. He knew that indeed this man, whatever he was, was 
not what he feared: he was no shadow or ghost or gebbeth-creature. Amidst the 
dry silence and shadowiness that had come over the world, he even kept a voice 
and some solidity. He put back his hood now. He had a strange, seamed, bald 
head, a lined face. Though age had not sounded in his voice, he looked to be an 
old man.
ÒI do not know you,Ó said the man in grey, Òyet I think perhaps we do 
not meet by chance. I heard a tale once of a young man, a scarred man, who won 
through darkness to great dominion, even to kingship. I do not know if that is 
your tale. But I will tell you this: go to the Court of the Terrenon, if you 
need a sword to fight shadows with. A staff of yew-wood will not serve your 
Hope and mistrust struggled in Ged's mind as he listened. A wizardly 
man soon learns that few indeed of his meetings are chance ones, be they for 
good or for ill.
ÒIn what land is the Court of the Terrenon?Ó
ÒIn Osskill.Ó
At the sound of that name Ged saw for a moment, by a trick of memory, 
a black raven on green grass who looked up at him sidelong with an eye like 
polished stone, and spoke; but the words were forgotten.
That land has something of a dark name,Ó Ged said, looking ever at 
the man in grey, trying to judge what kind of man he was. There was a manner 
about him that hinted of the sorcerer, even of the wizard; and yet boldly as he 
spoke to Ged, there was a queer beaten look about him, the look almost of a sick 
man, or a prisoner, or a slave.
ÒYou are from Roke,Ó he answered. ÒThe wizards of Roke give a dark 
name to wizardries other than their own.Ó
ÒWhat man are you?Ó
ÒA traveller; a trader's agent from Osskil; I am here on business,Ó 
said the man in grey. When Ged asked him no more he quietly bade the young man 
good night, and went off up the narrow stepped street above the quays.
Ged turned, irresolute whether to heed this sign or not, and looked 
to the north. The red light was dying out fast from the hills and from the windy 
sea. Grey dusk came, and on its heels the night.
Ged went in sudden decision and haste along the quays to a fisherman 
who was folding his nets down in his dory, and hailed him: ÒDo you know any ship 
in this port bound north -to Semel, or the Enlades?Ó
ÒThe longship yonder's from Osskil, she might be stopping at the 
In the same haste Ged went on to the great ship the fisherman had 
pointed to, a longship of sixty oars, gaunt as a snake, her high bent prow 
carven and inlaid with disks of loto-shell, her oarport-covers painted red, with 
the rune Sifl sketched on each in black. A grim, swift ship she looked, and all 
in sea-trim, with all her crew aboard. Ged sought out the ship's master and 
asked passage to Osskil of him.
ÒCan you pay?Ó
ÒI have some skill with winds.Ó
ÒI am a weatberworker myself. You have nothing to give? no money?Ó
In Low Torning the Isle-Men had paid Ged as best they could with the 
ivory pieces used by traders in the Archipelago; he would take only ten pieces, 
though they wanted to give him more. He offered these now to the Osskilian, but 
he shook his head. ÒWe do not use those counters. If you have nothing to pay, I 
have no place aboard for you.Ó
ÒDo you need arms? I have rowed in a galley.Ó
ÒAye, we're short two men. Find your bench then,Ó said the ship's 
master, and paid him no more heed.
So, laying his staff and his bag of books under the rowers' bench, 
Ged became for ten bitter days of winter an oarsman of that Northern ship. They 
left Orrimy at daybreak, and that day Ged thought he could never keep up his 
work. His left arm was somewhat lamed by the old wounds in his shoulder, and all 
his rowing in the channels about Low Torning had not trained him for the 
relentless pull and pull and pull at the long galley-oar to the beat of the 
drum. Each stint at the oars was of two or three hours, and then a second shift 
of oarsmen took the benches, but the time of rest seemed only long enough for 
all Ged's muscles to stiffen, and then it was back to the oars. And the second 
day of it was worse; but after that he hardened to the labor, and got on well 
There was no such comradeship among this crew as he had found aboard 
Shadow when he first went to Roke. The crewmen of Andradean and Gontish ships 
are partners in the trade, working together for a common profit, whereas traders 
of Osskil use slaves and bondsmen or hire men to row, paying them with small 
coins of gold. Gold is a great thing in Osskil. But it is not a source of good 
fellowship there, or amongst the dragons, who also prize it highly. Since half 
this crew were bondsmen, forced to work, the ship's officers were slavemasters, 
and harsh ones. They never laid their whips on the back of an oarsman who worked 
for pay or passage; but there will not be much friendliness in a crew of whom 
some are whipped and others are not. Ged's fellows said little to one another, 
and less to him. They were mostly men from Osskil, speaking not the Hardic 
tongue of the Archipelago but a dialect of their own, and they were dour men, 
pale-skinned with black drooping mustaches and lank hair. Kelub, the red one, 
was Ged's name among them. Though they knew he was a wizard they showed him no 
regard, but rather a kind of cautious spitefulness. And he himself was in no 
mood for making friends. Even on his bench, caught up in the mighty rhythm of 
the rowing, one oarsman among sixty in a ship racing over void grey seas, he 
felt himself exposed, defenseless. When they came into strange ports at 
nightfall and he rolled himself in his cloak to sleep, weary as he was he would 
dream, wake, dream again: evil dreams, that he could not recall waking, though 
they seemed to hang about the ship and the men of the ship, so that he 
mistrusted each one of them.
All the Osskilian freemen wore a long knife at the hip, and one day 
as his oar-shift shared their noon meal one of these men asked Ged, ÒAre you 
slave or oathbreaker, Kelub?Ó
ÒWhy no knife, then? Afraid to fight?Ó said the man, Skiorb, jeering.
ÒYour little dog fight for you?Ó
ÒOtak,Ó said another who listened. ÒNo dog, that is otak,Ó and he 
said something in Osskilian that made Skiorh scowl and turn away. just as he 
turned Ged saw a change in his face, a slurring and shifting of the features, as 
if for a moment something had changed him, used him, looking out through his 
eyes sidelong at Ged. Yet the next minute Ged saw him fullface, and he looked as 
usual, so that Ged told himself that what he had seen was his own fear, his own 
dread reflected in the other's eyes. But that night as they lay in port in Esen 
he dreamed, and Skiorh walked in his dream. Afterwards he avoided the man as 
best he could, and it seemed also that Skiorh kept away from him, and no more 
words passed between them.
The snow-crowned mountains of Havnor sank away behind them southward, 
blurred by the mists of early winter. They rowed on past the mouth of the Sea of 
Ea where long ago Elfarran was drowned, and past the Enlades. They lay two days 
in port at Berila, the City of Ivory, white above its bay in the west of myth-
haunted Enlad. At all ports they came to, the crewmen were kept aboard the ship, 
and set no foot on land. Then as a red sun rose they rowed out on the Osskil 
Sea, into the northeast winds that blow unhindered from the islandless vastness 
of the North Reach. Through that bitter sea they brought their cargo safe, 
coming the second day out of Berila into port at Neshum, the trade-city of 
Eastern Osskil.
Ged saw a low coast lashed by rainy wind, a grey town crouching 
behind the long stone breakwaters that made its harbor, and behind the town 
treeless hills under a snowdarkened sky. They had come far from the sunlight of 
the Inmost Sea.
Longshoremen of the Sea-Guild of Neshum came aboard to unload the 
cargo - gold, silver, jewelry, fine silks and Southern tapestries, such precious 
stuff as the lords of Osskil hoard-and the freemen of the crew were dismissed. 
Ged stopped one of them to ask his way; up until now the distrust he felt of all 
of them had kept him from saying where he was bound, but now, afoot and alone in 
a strange land, he must ask for guidance. The man went on impatiently saying he 
did not know, but Skiorh, overhearing, said, ÒThe Court of the Terrenon? On the 
Keksemt Moors. I go that road.Ó
Skiorh's was no company Ged would have chosen, but knowing neither 
the language nor the way he had small choice. Nor did it much matter, he 
thought; he had not chosen to come here. He had been driven, and now was driven 
on. He pulled his hood up over his head, took up his staff and bag, and followed 
the Osskilian through the streets of the town and upward into the snowy hills. 
The little otak would not ride on his shoulder, but hid in the pocket of his 
sheepskin tunic, under his cloak, as was its wont in cold weather. The hills 
stretched out into bleak rolling moorlands as far as the eye could see. They 
walked in silence and the silence of winter lay on all the land.
ÒHow far?Ó Ged asked after they had gone some miles, seeing no sight 
of village or farm in any direction, and thinking that they had no food with 
them. Skiorh turned his head a moment, pulling up his own hood, and said, ÒNot 
It was an ugly face, pale, coarse, and cruel, but Ged feared no man, 
though he might fear where such a man would guide him. He nodded, and they went 
on. Their road was only a scar through the waste of thin snow and leafless 
bushes. From time to time other tracks crossed it or branched from it. Now that 
the chimney-smoke of Neshum was hidden behind the hills in the darkening 
afternoon there was no sign at all of what way they should go, or had gone. Only 
the wind blew always from the east. And when they had walked for several hours 
Ged thought he saw, away off on the hills in the northwest where their way 
tended, a tiny scratch against the sky, like a tooth, white. But the light of 
the short day was fading, and on the next rise of the road he could make out the 
thing, tower or tree or whatever, no more clearly than before.
ÒDo we go there?Ó be asked, pointing.
Skiorh made no answer but plodded on, muffled in his coarse cloak 
with its peaked, furred Osskilian hood. Ged strode on beside him. They had come 
far, and he was drowsy with the steady pace of their walking and with the long 
weariness of hard days and nights in the ship. It began to seem to him that he 
had walked forever and would walk forever beside this silent being through a 
silent darkening land. Caution and intention were dulled in him. He walked as in 
a long, long dream, going no place.
The otak stirred in his pocket, and a little vague fear also woke and 
stirred in his mind. He forced himself to speak. ÒDarkness comes, and snow. How 
far, Skiorh?Ó
After a pause the other answered, without turning, ÒNot far.Ó
But his voice sounded not like a man's voice, but like a beast, 
hoarse and lipless, that tries to speak.
Ged stopped. All around stretched empty hills in the late, dusk 
light. Sparse snow whirled a little falling. ÒSkiorh!Ó he said, and the other 
halted, and turned. There was no face under the peaked hood.
Before Ged could speak spell or summon power, the gebbeth spoke, 
saying in its hoarse voice, ÒGed!Ó
Then the young man could work no transformation, but was locked in 
his true being, and must face the gebbeth thus defenseless. Nor could he summon 
any help in this alien land, where nothing and no one was known to him and would 
come at his call. He stood alone, with nothing between him and his enemy but the 
staff of yew-wood in his right hand.
The thing that had devoured Skiorh's mind and possessed his flesh 
made the body take a step towards Ged, and the arms came groping out towards 
him. A rage of horror filled Ged and he swung up and brought down his staff 
whistling on the hood that hid the shadow-face. Hood and cloak collapsed down 
nearly to the ground under that fierce blow as if there was nothing in them but 
wind, and then writhing and flapping stood up again. The body of a gebbeth has 
been drained of true substance and is something like a shell or a vapor in the 
form of a man, an unreal flesh clothing the shadow which is real. So jerking and 
billowing as if blown on the wind the shadow spread its arms and came at Ged, 
trying to get hold of him as it had held him on Roke Knoll: and if it did it 
would cast aside the husk of Skiorh and enter into Ged, devouring him out from 
within, owning him, which was its whole desire. Ged struck at it again with his 
heavy, smoking staff, beating it off, but it came again and he struck again, and 
then dropped the staff that blazed and smouldered, burning his hand. He backed 
away, then all at once turned and ran.
He ran, and the gebbeth followed a pace behind him, unable to outrun 
him yet never dropping behind. Ged never looked back. He ran, he ran, through 
that vast dusk land where there was no hiding place. Once the gebbetb in its 
hoarse whistling voice called him again by name, but though it had taken his 
wizard's power thus, it had no power over his body's strength, and could not 
make him stop. He ran.
Night thickened about the hunter and the hunted, and snow blew flne 
across the path that Ged could no longer see. The pulse hammered in his eyes, 
the breath burned in his throat, he was no longer really running but stumbling 
and staggering ahead: and yet the tireless pursuer seemed unable to catch up, 
coming always just behind him. It had begun to whisper and mumble at him, 
calling to him, and he knew that all his life that whispering had been in his 
ears, just under the threshold of hearing, but now he could hear it, and he must 
yield, he must give in, he must stop. Yet he labored on, struggling up a long, 
dim slope. He thought there was a light somewhere before him, and he thought he 
heard a voice in front of him, above him somewhere, calling, ÒCome! Come!Ó
He tried to answer but be had no voice. The pale light grew certain, 
shining through a gateway straight before him: he could not see the walls, but 
he saw the gate. At the sight of it he halted, and the gebbeth snatched at his 
cloak, fumbled at his sides trying to catch hold of him from behind. With the 
last strength in him Ged plunged through that faint-shining door. He tried to 
turn to shut it behind him against the gebbeth, but his legs would not hold him 
up. He staggered, reaching for support. Lights swam and flashed in his eyes. He 
felt himself falling, and he felt himself caught even as he fell; but his mind, 
utterly spent, slid away into the dark.

7 The Hawk's Flight

Ged woke, and for a long time he lay aware only that it was pleasant 
to wake, for he had not expected to wake again, and very pleasant to see light, 
the large plain light of day all about him. He felt as if he were floating on 
that light, or drifting in a boat on very quiet waters. At last he made out that 
he was in bed, but no such bed as he had ever slept in. It was set up on a frame 
held by four tall carven legs, and the mattresses were great silk sacks of down, 
which was why he thought he was floating, and over it all a crimson canopy hung 
to keep out drafts. On two sides the curtain was tied back, and Ged looked out 
at a room with walls of stone and floor of stone. Through three high windows he 
saw the moorland, bare and ` brown, snow-patched here and there, in the mild 
sunlight of winter. The room must be high above the ground, for it looked a 
great way over the land.
A coverlet of downfllled satin slid aside as Ged sat up, and he saw 
himself clothed in a tunic of silk and cloth-of-silver like a lord. On a chair 
beside the bed, boots of glove-leather and a cloak lined with pellawi-fur were 
laid ready for him. He sat a while, calm and dull as one under an enchantment, 
and then stood up, reaching for his staff. But he had no staff.
His right hand, though it had been salved and bound, was burned on 
palm and fingers. Now he felt the pain of it, and the soreness of all his body.
He stood without moving a while again. Then he whispered, not aloud 
and not hopefully, ÒHoeg... hoeg...Ó For the little fierce loyal creature too 
was gone, the little silent soul that once had led him back from death's 
dominion. Had it still been with him last night when he ran? Was that last 
night, was it many nights ago? He did not know. It was all dim and obscure in 
his mind, the gebbeth, the burning staff, the running, the whispering, the gate. 
None of it came back clearly to him. Nothing even now was clear. He whispered 
his pet's name once more, but without hope of answer, and tears rose in his 
A little bell rang somewhere far away. A second bell rang in a sweet 
jangle just outside the room. A door opened behind him, across the room, and a 
woman came in. ÓÒWelcome, Sparrowhawk,Ó she said smiling.
She was young and tall, dressed in white and silver, with a net of 
silver crowning her hair that fell straight down like a fall of black water.
Stiffly Ged bowed.
ÒYou, don't remember me, I think.Ó
ÒRemember you, Lady?Ó
He had never seen a beautiful woman dressed to match her beauty but 
once in his life: that Lady of O who had come with her Lord to the Sunretum 
festival at Roke. She had been like a slight, bright candle-flame, but this 
woman was like the white new moon.
ÒI thought you would not,Ó she said smiling. ÒBut forgetful as you 
may be, you're welcome here as an old friend.Ó
ÒWhat place is this?Ó Ged asked, still stiff and slow-tongued. He 
found it hard to speak to her and hard to look away from her. The princely 
clothes he wore were strange to him, the stones he stood on were unfamiliar, the 
very air he breathed was alien; he was not himself, not the self he had been.
ÒThis keep is called the Court of the Terrenon. My lord, who is 
called Benderesk, is sovereign of this land from the edge of the Keksemt Moors 
north to the Mountains of Os, and keeper of the precious stone called Terrenon. 
As for myself, here in Osskil they call me Serret, Silver in their language. And 
you, I know, are sometimes called Sparrowhawk, and were made wizard in the Isle 
of the Wise.Ó
Ged looked down at his burned hand and said presently, ÒI do not know 
what I am. I had power, once. I have lost it, I think.Ó
ÒNo! you have not lost it, or only to regain it ten fold. You are 
safe here from what drove you here, my friend. There are mighty walls about this 
tower and not all of them are built of stone. Here you can rest, finding your 
strength again. Here you may also find a different strength, and a staff that 
will not burn to ashes in your hand. An evil way may lead to a good end, after 
all. Come with me now, let me show you our domain.Ó
She spoke so sweetly that Ged hardly heard her words, moved by the 
promise of her voice alone. He followed her.
His room was high up indeed in the tower that rose like a sharp tooth 
from its hilltop. Down winding stairs of marble he followed Serret, through rich 
rooms and halls, past high windows that looked north, west, south, east over the 
low brown hills that went on, houseless and treeless and changeless, clear to 
the sunwashed winter sky. Only far to the north small white peaks stood sharp 
against the blue, and southward one could guess the shining of the sea.
Servants opened doors and stood aside for Ged and the lady; pale, 
dour Osskilians they were all. She was light of skin, but unlike them she spoke 
Hardic well, even, it seemed to Ged, with the accent of Gont. Later that day she 
brought him before her husband Benderesk, Lord of the Terrenon. Thrice her age, 
bonewhite, bone-thin, with clouded eyes, Lord Benderesk greeted Ged with grim 
cold courtesy, bidding him stay as guest however long he would. Then he had 
little more to say, asking Ged nothing of his voyages or of the enemy that had 
hunted him here; nor had the Lady Serret asked anything of these matters.
If this was strange, it was only part of the strangeness of this 
place and of his presence in it. Geds mind never seemed quite to clear. He could 
not see things plainly. He had come to this tower-keep by chance, and yet the 
chance was all design; or he had come by design and yet all the design had 
merely chanced to come about. He had set out northward; a stranger in Orrimy had 
told him to seek help here; an Osskilian ship had been waiting for him; Skiorh 
had guided him. How much of this was the work of the shadow that hunted him? Or 
was none of it; had he and his hunter both been drawn here by some other power, 
he following that lure and the shadow following him, and seizing on Skiorh for 
its weapon when the moment came? That must be it, for certainly the shadow was, 
as Serret had said, barred from the Court of the Terrenon. He had felt no sign 
or threat of its lurking presence since he wakened in the tower. But what then 
had brought him here? For this was no place one came to by chance; even in the 
dullness of his thoughts he began to see that. No other stranger came to these 
gates. The tower stood aloof and remote, its back turned on the way to Neshum 
that was the nearest town. No man came to the keep, none left it. Its windows 
looked down on desolation.
From these windows Ged looked out, as he kept by himself in his high 
tower-room, day after day, dull and heartsick and cold. It was always cold in 
the tower, for all the carpets and the tapestried hangings and the rich furred 
clothing and the broad marble fireplaces they had. It was a cold that got into 
the bone, into the marrow, and would not be dislodged. And in Ged's heart a cold 
shame settled also and would not be dislodged, as he thought always how he had 
faced his enemy and been defeated and had run. In his mind all the Masters of 
Roke gathered, Gensher the Archmage frowning in their midst, and Nemmerle was 
with them, and Ogion, and even the witch who had taught him his first spell: all 
of them gazed at him and he knew he had failed their trust in him. He would 
plead saying, ÒIf I had not run away the shadow would have possessed me: it had 
already all Skiorh's strength, and part of mine, and I could not fight it: it 
knew my name. I had to run away. A wizard-gebbeth would be a terrible power for 
evil and ruin. I had to run away.Ó But none of those who listened in his mind 
would answer him. And he would watch the snow falling, thin and ceaseless, on 
the empty lands below the window, and feel the dull cold grow within him, till 
it seemed no feeling was left to him except a kind of weariness.
So he kept to himself for many days out of sheer misery. When he did 
come down out of his room, he was silent and stiff. The beauty of the Lady of 
the Keep confused his mind, and in this rich, seemly, orderly, strange Court, he 
felt himself to be a goatherd born and bred.
They let him alone when he wanted to be alone, and when he could not 
stand to think his thoughts and watch the falling snow any longer, often Serret 
met with him in one of the curving halls, tapestried and firelit, lower in the 
tower, and there they would talk. There was no merriment in the Lady of the 
Keep, she never laughed though she often smiled; yet she could put Ged at ease 
almost with one smile. With her he began to forget his stiffness and his shame. 
Before long they met every day to talk, long, quietly, idly, a little apart from 
the serving-women who always accompanied Serret, by the fireplace or at the 
window of the high rooms of the tower.
The old lord kept mostly in his own apartments, coming forth mornings 
to pace up and down the snowy inner courtyards of the castle-keep like an old 
sorcerer who has been brewing spells all night. When he joined Ged and Serret 
for supper he sat silent, looking up at his young wife sometimes with a hard, 
covetous glance. Then Ged pitied her. She was like a white deer caged, like a 
white bird wingclipped, like a silver ring on an old man's finger. She was an 
item of Benderesk's hoard. When the lord of the keep left them Ged stayed with 
her, trying to cheer her solitude as she had cheered his.
ÒWhat is this jewel that gives your keep its name?Ó he asked her as 
they sat talking over their emptied gold plates and gold goblets in the 
carvernous, candlelit dining-hall.
ÒYou have not beard of it? It is a famous thing.Ó
ÒNo. I know only that the lords of Osskil have famous treasuries.Ó
ÒAh, this jewel outshines them all. Come, would you like to see it?Ó
She smiled, with a look of mockery and daring, as if a little afraid 
of what she did, and led the young man from the hall, out through the narrow 
corridors of the base of the tower, and down stairs underground to a locked door 
he had not seen before. This she unlocked with a silver key, looking up at Ged 
with that same smile as she did so, as if she dared him to come on with her. 
Beyond the door was a short passage and a second door, which she unlocked with a 
gold key, and beyond that again a third door, which she unlocked with one of the 
Great Words of unbinding. Within that last door her candle showed them a small 
room like a dungeon-cell: floor, walls, ceiling all rough stone, unfurnished, 
ÒDo you see it?Ó Serret asked.
As Ged looked round the room his wizard's eye caught one stone of 
those that made the floor. It was rough and dank as the rest, a heavy unshapen 
paving-stone: yet he felt the power of it as if it spoke to him aloud. And his 
breath caught in his throat, and a sickness came over him for a moment. This was 
the foundingstone of the tower. This was the central place, and it was cold, 
bitter cold; nothing could ever warm the little room. This was a very ancient 
thing: an old and terrible spirit was prisoned in that block of stone. He did 
not answer Serret yes or no, but stood still, and presently, with a quick 
curious glance at him, she pointed out the stone. ÒThat is the Terrenon. Do you 
wonder that we keep so precious a jewel locked away in our deepest boardroom?Ó
Still Ged did not answer, but stood dumb and wary. She might almost 
have been testing him; but he thought she had no notion of the stone's nature, 
to speak of it so lightly. She did not know enough of it to fear it. ÒTell me of 
its powers,Ó he said at last.
ÒIt was made before Segoy raised the islands of the world from the 
Open Sea. It was made when the world itself was made, and will endure until the 
end of the world. Time is nothing to it. If you lay your hand upon it and ask a 
question of it, it will answer, according to the power that is in you. It has a 
voice, if you know how to listen. It will speak of things that were, and are, 
and will be. It told of your coming, long before you came to this land. Will you 
ask a question of it now?Ó
ÒIt will answer you.Ó
ÒThere is no question I would ask itÓ
ÒIt might tell you,Ó Serret said in her soft voice, Òhow you will 
defeat your enemy.Ó
Ged stood mute.
ÒDo you fear the stone?Ó she asked as if unbelieving; and he 
answered, ÒYes.Ó
In the deadly cold and silence of the room encircled by wall after 
wall of spellwork and of stone, in the light of the one candle she held, Serret 
glanced at him again with gleaming eyes. ÒSparrowhawk,Ó she said, Òyou are not 
ÒBut I will not speak with that spirit,Ó Ged replied, and looking 
full at her spoke with a grave boldness: ÒMy lady, that spirit is sealed in a 
stone, and the stone is locked by binding-spell and blinding-spell and charm of 
lock and ward and triple fortress-walls in a barren land, not because it is 
precious, but because it can work great evil. I do not know what they told you 
of it when you came here. But you who are young and gentle-hearted should never 
touch the thing, or even look on it. It will not work you well.Ó
ÒI have touched it. I have spoken to it, and heard it speak. It does 
me no harm.Ó
She turned away and they went out through the doors and passages till 
in the torchlight of the broad stairs of the tower she blew out her candle. They 
parted with few words.
That night Ged slept little. It was not the thought of the shadow 
that kept him awake; rather that thought was almost driven from his mind by the 
image, ever returning, of the Stone on which this tower was founded, and by the 
vision of Serret's face bright and shadowy in the candlelight, turned to him. 
Again and again he felt her eyes on him, and tried to decide what look had come 
into those eyes when he refused to touch the Stone, whether it had been disdain 
or hurt. When he lay down to sleep at last the silken sheets of the bed were 
cold as ice, and ever he wakened in the dark thinking of the Stone and of 
Serret's eyes.
Next day he found her in the curving hall of grey marble, lit now by 
the westering sun, where often she spent the afternoon at games or at the 
weaving-loom with her maids. He said to her, ÒLady Serret, I affronted you. I am 
sorry for it.Ó
ÒNo,Ó she said musingly, and again, ÒNo ....Ó She sent away the 
serving-women who were with her, and when they were alone she turned to Ged. ÒMy 
guest, my friend,Ó she said, Òyou are very clear-sighted, but perhaps you do not 
see all that is to be seen. In Gont, in Roke they teach high wizardries. But 
they do not teach all wizardries. This is Osskil, Ravenland: it is not a Hardic 
land: mages do not rule it, nor do they know much of it. There are happenings 
here not dealt with by the loremasters of the South, and things here not named 
in the Namers' lists. What one does not know, one fears. But you have nothing to 
fear here in the Court of the Terrenon. A weaker man would, indeed. Not you. You 
are one born with the power to control that which is in the sealed room. This I 
know. It is why you are here now.Ó
ÒI do not understand.Ó
ÒThat is because my lord Benderesk has not been wholly frank with 
you. I will be frank. Come, sit by me here.Ó
He sat down beside her on the deep, cushioned window-ledge. The dying 
sunlight came level through the window, flooding them with a radiance in which 
there was no warmth; on the moorlands below, already sinking into shadow, last 
night's snow lay unmelted, a dull white pall over the earth.
She spoke now very softly. ÒBenderesk is Lord and Inheritor of the 
Terrenon, but he cannot use the thing, he cannot make it wholly serve his will. 
Nor can I, alone or with him. Neither he nor I has the skill and power. You have 
ÒHow do you know that?Ó
ÒFrom the Stone itself! I told you that it spoke of your coming. It 
knows its master. It has waited for you to come. Before ever you were born it 
waited for you, for the one who could master it. And he who can make the 
Terrenon answer what he asks and do what he wills, has power over his own 
destiny: strength to crush any enemy, mortal or of the other world: foresight, 
knowledge, wealth, dominion, and a wizardry at his command that could humble the 
Archmage himself! As much of that, as little of that as you choose, is yours for 
the asking.Ó
Once more she lifted her strange bright eyes to him, and her gaze 
pierced him so that he trembled as if with cold. Yet there was fear in her face, 
as if she sought his help but was too proud to ask it. Ged was bewildered. She 
had put her hand on his as she spoke; its touch was light, it looked narrow and 
fair on his dark, strong hand. He said, pleading, ÒSerret! I have no such power 
as you think - what I had once, I threw away. I cannot help you, I am no use to 
you. But I know this, the Old Powers of earth are not for men to use. They were 
never given into our hands, and in our hands they work only ruin. Ill means, ill 
end: I was not drawn here, but driven here, and the force that drove me works to 
my undoing. I cannot help you.Ó
ÒHe who throws away his power is filled sometimes with a far greater 
power,Ó she said, smiling, as if his fears and scruples were childish ones. ÒI 
may know more than you of what brought you here. Did not a man speak to you in 
the streets of Orrimy? He was a messenger, a servant of the Terrenon. He was a 
wizard once himself, but he threw away his staff to serve a power greater than 
any mage's. And you came to Osskil, and on the moors you tried to fight a shadow 
with your wooden staff; and almost we could not save you, for that thing that 
follows you is more cunning than we deemed, and had taken much strength from you 
already... Only shadow can fight shadow. Only darkness can defeat the dark. 
Listen, Sparrowhawk! what do you need, then, to defeat that shadow, which waits 
for you outside these walls?Ó
ÒI need what I cannot know. Its name.Ó
ÒThe Terrenon, that knows all births and deaths and beings before and 
after death, the unborn and the undying, the bright world and the dark one, will 
tell you that name.Ó
ÒAnd the price?Ó
ÒThere is no price. I tell you it will obey you, serve you as your 
Shaken and tormented, he did not answer. She held his hand now in 
both of hers, looking into his face. The sun had fallen into the mists that 
dulled the horizon, and the air too had grown dull, but her face grew bright 
with praise and triumph as she watched him and saw his will shaken within him. 
Softly she whispered, ÒYou will be mightier than all men, a king among men. You 
will rule, and I will rule with you-Ó
Suddenly Ged stood up, and one step forward took him where he could 
see, just around the curve of the long room's wall, beside the door, the Lord of 
the Terrenon who stood listening and smiling a little.
Ged's eyes cleared, and his mind. He looked down at Serret. ÒIt is 
light that defeats the dark,Ó he said stammering,- Òlight.Ó
As he spoke be saw, as plainly as if his own words were the light 
that showed him, how indeed he had been drawn here, lured here, how they had 
used his fear to lead him on, and how they would, once they had him, have kept 
him. They had saved him from the shadow, indeed, for they did not want him to be 
possessed by the shadow until he had become a slave of the Stone. Once his will 
was captured by the power of the Stone, then they would let the shadow into the 
walls, for a gebbeth was a better slave even than a man. If he had once touched 
the Stone, or spoken to it, he would have been utterly lost. Yet, even as the 
shadow had not quite been able to catch up with him and seize him, so the Stone 
had not been able to use him - not quite. He had almost yielded, but not quite. 
He had not consented. It is very hard for evil to take hold of the unconsenting 
He stood between the two who had yielded, who had consented, looking 
from one to the other as Benderesk came forward.
ÒI told you,Ó the Lord of the Terrenon said dry-voiced to his lady, 
Òthat he would slip from your hands, Serret. They are clever fools, your Gontish 
sorcerers. And you are a fool too, woman of Gont, thinking to trick both him and 
me, and rule us both by your beauty, and use the Terrenon to your own ends. But 
I am the Lord of the Stone, I, and this I do to the disloyal wife: Ekavroe ai 
oelwantar-Ó It was a spell of Changing, and Benderesk's long hands were raised 
to shape the cowering woman into some hideous thing, swine or dog or drivelling 
hag. Ged stepped forward and struck the lord's hands down with his own, saying 
as he did so only one short word. And though he had no staff, and stood on alien 
ground and evil ground, the domain of a dark-power, yet his will prevailed. 
Benderesk stood still, his clouded eyes fixed hateful and unseeing upon Serret.
ÒCome,Ó she said in a shaking voice, ÒSparrowhawk, come, quick, 
before he can summon the Servants of the Stone-Ó
As if in echo a whispering ran through the tower, through the stones 
of the floor and walls, a dry trembling murmur, as if the earth itself should 
Seizing Ged's hand Serret ran with him through the passages and 
halls, down the long twisted stairs. They came out into the courtyard where a 
last silvery daylight still hung above the soiled, trodden snow. Three of the 
castle-servants barred their way, sullen and questioning, as if they had been 
suspecting some plot of these two against their master. ÒIt grows dark, Lady,Ó 
one said, and another, ÒYou cannot ride out now.Ó
ÒOut of my way, filth!Ó Serret cried, and spoke in the sibilant 
Osskilian speech. The men fell back from her and crouched down to the ground, 
writhing, and one of them screamed aloud.
ÒWe must go out by the gate, there is no other way out. Can you see 
it? can you find it, Sparrowhawk?Ó
She tugged at his hand, yet he hesitated. ÒWhat spell did you set on 
ÒI ran hot lead in the marrow of their bones, they will die of it. 
Quick, I tell you, he will loose the Servants of the Stone, and I cannot find 
the gate - there is a great charm on it. Quick!Ó
Ged did not know what she meant, for to him the enchanted gate was as 
plain to see as the stone archway of the court through which he saw it. He led 
Serret through the one, across the untrodden snow of the forecourt, and then, 
speaking a word of Opening, he led her through the gate of the wall of spells.
She changed as they passed through that doorway out of the silvery 
twilight of the Court of the Terrenon. She was not less beautiful in the drear 
light of the moors, but there was a fierce witch-look to her beauty; and Ged 
knew her at last - the daughter of the Lord of the Re Albi, daughter of a 
sorceress of Osskil, who had mocked him in the green meadows above Ogion's 
house, long ago, and had sent him to read that spell which loosed the shadow. 
But he spent small thought on this, for he was looking about him now with every 
sense alert, looking for that enemy, the shadow, which would be waiting for him 
somewhere outside the magic walls. It might be gebbeth still, clothed in 
Skiorh's death, or it might be hidden in the gathering darkness, waiting to 
seize him and merge its shapelessness with his living flesh. He sensed its 
nearness, yet did not see it. But as he looked he saw some small dark thing half 
buried in snow, a few paces from the gate. He stooped, and then softly picked it 
up in his two hands. It was the otak, its fine short fur all clogged with blood 
and its small body light and stiff and cold in his hands.
ÒChange yourself! Change yourself, they are coming!Ó Serret shrieked, 
seizing his arm and pointing to the tower that stood behind them like a tall 
white tooth in the dusk. From slit windows near its base dark creatures were 
creeping forth, flapping long wings, slowly beating and circling up over the 
walls towards Ged and Serret where they stood on the hill-side, unprotected. The 
rattling whisper they had heard inside the keep had grown louder, a tremor and 
moaning in the earth under their feet.
Anger welled up in Ged's heart, a hot rage of hate against all the 
cruel deathly things that tricked him, trapped him, hunted him down. ÒChange 
yourself!Ó Serret screamed at him, and she with a quick-gasped spell shrank into 
a grey gull, and flew. But Ged stooped and plucked a blade of wild grass that 
poked up dry and frail out of the snow where the otak had lain dead. This blade 
he held up, and as he spoke aloud to it in the True Speech it lengthened, and 
thickened, and when he was done he held a great staff, a wizard's staff, in his 
hand. No banefire burned red along it when the black, flapping creatures from 
the Court of the Terrenon swooped over him and he struck their wings with it: it 
blazed only with the white magefire that does not burn but drives away the dark.
The creatures returned to the attack: botched beasts, belonging to 
ages before bird or dragon or man, long since forgotten by the daylight but 
recalled by the ancient, malign, unforgetful power of the Stone. They harried 
Ged, swooping at him. He felt the scythe-sweep of their talons about him and 
sickened in their dead stench. Fiercely he parried and struck, fighting them off 
with the fiery staff that was made of his anger and a blade of wild grass. And 
suddenly they all rose up like ravens frightened from carrion and wheeled away, 
flapping, silent, in the direction that Serret in her gull-shape had flown. 
Their vast wings seemed slow, but they flew fast, each downbeat driving them 
mightily through the air. No gull could long outmatch that heavy speed.
Quick as he had once done at Roke, Ged took the shape of a great 
hawk: not the sparrowhawk they called him but the Pilgrim Falcon that flies like 
arrow, like thought. On barred, sharp, strong wings he flew, pursuing his 
pursuers. The air darkened and among the clouds stars shone brightening. Ahead 
he saw the black ragged flock all driving down and in upon one point in mid-air. 
Beyond that black clot the sea lay, pale with last ashy gleam of day. Swift and 
straight the hawk-Ged shot towards the creatures of the Stone, and they 
scattered as he came amongst them as waterdrops scatter from a cast pebble. But 
they had caught their prey. Blood was on the beak of this one and white feathers 
stuck to the claws of another, and no gull skimmed beyond them over the pallid 
Already they were turning on Ged again, coming quick and ungainly 
with iron beaks stretched out agape. He, wheeling once above them, screamed the 
hawk's scream of defiant rage, and then shot on across the low beaches of 
Osskil, out over the breakers of the sea.
The creatures of the Stone circled a while croaking, and one by one 
beat back ponderously inland over the moors. The Old Powers will not cross over 
the sea, being bound each to an isle, a certain place, cave or stone or welling 
spring. Back went the black emanations to the tower-keep, where maybe the Lord 
of the Terrenon, Benderesk, wept at their return, and maybe laughed. But Ged 
went on, falcon-winged, falcon-mad, like an unfalling arrow, like an unforgotten 
thought, over the Osskil Sea and eastward into the wind of winter and the night.

Ogion the Silent had come home late to Re Albi from his autumn 
wanderings. More silent, more solitary than ever he had become as the years went 
on. The new Lord of Gont down in the city below had never got a word out of him, 
though he had climbed clear up to the Falcon's Nest to seek the help of the mage 
in a certain piratic venture towards the Andrades. Ogion who spoke to spiders on 
their webs and had been seen to greet trees courteously never said a word to the 
Lord of the Isle, who went away discontented. There was perhaps some discontent 
or unease also in Ogion's mind, for he had spent all summer and autumn alone up 
on the mountain, and only now near Sunretum was come back to his hearthside.
The morning after his return he rose late, and wanting a cup of 
rushwash tea he went out to fetch water from the spring that ran a little way 
down the hillside from his house. The margins of the spring's small lively pool 
were frozen, and the sere moss among the rocks was traced with flowers of frost. 
It was broad daylight, but the sun would not clear the mighty shoulder of the 
mountain for an hour yet: all western Gont, from sea-beaches to the peak, was 
sunless, silent, and clear in the winter morning. As the mage stood by the 
spring looking out over the falling lands and the harbor and the grey distances 
of the sea, wings beat above him. He looked up, raising one arm a little. A 
great hawk came down with loudbeating wings and lighted on his wrist. Like a 
trained hunting-bird it clung there, but it wore no broken leash, no band or 
bell. The claws dug hard in Ogion's wrist; the barred wings trembled; the round, 
gold eye was dull and wild.
ÒAre you messenger or message?Ó Ogion said gently to the hawk. ÒCome 
on with me-Ó As he spoke the hawk looked at him. Ogion was silent a minute. ÒI 
named you once, I think,Ó he said, and then strode to his house and entered, 
bearing the bird still on his wrist. He made the hawk stand on the hearth in the 
fire's heat, and offered it water. It would not drink. Then Ogion began to lay a 
spell, very quietly, weaving the web of magic with his hands more than with 
words. When the spell was whole and woven he said softly,- ÒGed,Ó -not looking 
at the falcon on the hearth. He waited some while, then turned, and got up, and 
went to the young man who stood trembling and dull-eyed before the fire.
Ged was richly and outlandishly dressed in fur and silk and silver, 
but the clothes were torn and stiff with seasalt, and he stood gaunt and 
stooped, his hair lank about his scarred face.
Ogion took the soiled, princely cloak off his shoulders, led him to 
the alcove-room where his prentice once had slept and made him lie down on the 
pallet there, and so with a murmured sleep-charm left him. He had said no word 
to him, knowing that Ged had no human speech in him now.
As a boy, Ogion like all boys had thought it would be a very pleasant 
game to take by art-magic whatever shape one liked, man or beast, tree or cloud, 
and so to play at a thousand beings. But as a wizard he had learned the price of 
the game, which is the peril of losing one's self, playing away the truth. The 
longer a man stays in a form not his own, the greater this peril. Every 
prentice-sorcerer learns the tale of the wizard Bordger of Way, who delighted in 
taking bear's shape, and did so more and more often until the bear grew in him 
and the man died away, and he became a bear, and killed his own little son in 
the forests, and was hunted down and slain. And no one knows how many of the 
dolphins that leap in the waters of the Inmost Sea were men once, wise men, who 
forgot their wisdom and their name in the joy of the restless sea.
Ged had taken hawk-shape in fierce distress and rage, and when he 
flew from Osskil there had been but one thought in his mind: to outfly both 
Stone and shadow, to escape the cold treacherous lands, to go home. The falcon's 
anger and wildness were like his own, and had become his own, and his will to 
fly had become the falcon's will. Thus he had passed over Enlad, stooping down 
to drink at a lonely forest pool, but on the wing again at once, driven by fear 
of the shadow that came behind him. So he had crossed the great sea-lane called 
the jaws of Enlad, and gone on and on, east by south, the hills of Oranea faint 
to his right and the hills of Andrad fainter to his left, and before him only 
the sea; until at last, ahead, there rose up out of the waves one unchanging 
wave, towering always higher, the white peak of Gont. In all the sunlight and 
the dark of that great fight he had worn the falcon's wings, and looked through 
the falcon's eyes, and forgetting his own thoughts he had known at last only 
what the falcon knows: hunger, the wind, the way he flies.
He flew to the right haven. There were few on Roke and only one on 
Gont who could have made him back into a man.
He was savage and silent when he woke. Ogion never spoke to him, but 
gave him meat and water and let him sit hunched by the fire, grim as a great, 
weary, sulking hawk. When night came he slept. On the third morning he came in 
to the fireside where the mage sat gazing at the flames, and said, ÒMaster...Ó
ÒWelcome, lad,Ó said Ogion.
ÒI have come back to you as I left: a fool,Ó the young man said, his 
voice harsh and thickened. The mage smiled a little and motioned Ged to sit 
across the hearth from him, and set to brewing them some tea.
Snow was falling, the flrst of the winter here on the lower slopes of 
Gont. Ogion's windows were shuttered fast, but they could hear the wet snow as 
it fell soft on the roof, and the deep stillness of snow all about the house. A 
long time they sat there by the fire, and Ged told his old master the tale of 
the years since he had sailed from Gont aboard the ship called Shadow. Ogion 
asked no questions, and when Ged was done he kept silent for a long time, calm, 
pondering. Then he rose, and set out bread and cheese and wine on the table, and 
they ate together. When they had done and had set the room straight, Ogion 
ÒThose are bitter scars you bear, lad,Ó he said.
ÒI, have no strength against the thing,Ó Ged answered.
Ogion shook his head but said no more for a time. At length, 
ÒStrange,Ó he said: ÒYou had strength enough to outspell a sorcerer in his own 
domain, there in Osskil. You had strength enough to withstand the lures and fend 
off the attack of the servants of an Old Power of Earth. And at Pendor you had 
strength enough to stand up to a dragon.Ó
ÒIt was luck I had in Osskil, not strength,Ó Ged replied, and he 
shivered again as he thought of the dreamlike deathly cold of the Court of the 
Terrenon. ÒAs for the dragon, I knew his name. The evil thing, the shadow that 
hunts me, has no name.Ó
ÒAll things have a name,Ó said Ogion, so certainly that Ged dared not 
repeat what the Archmage Gensher had told him, that such evil forces as he had 
loosed were nameless. The Dragon of Pendor, indeed, had offered to tell him the 
shadow's name, but he put little trust in the truth of that offer, nor did he 
believe Serret's promise that the Stone would tell him what he needed to know.
ÒIf the shadow has a name,Ó he said at last, ÒI do not think it will 
stop and tell it to me...Ó
ÒNo,Ó said Ogion. ÒNor have you stopped and told it your name. And 
yet it knew it. On the moors in Osskil it called you by your name, the name I 
gave you. It is strange, strange...Ó
He fell to brooding again. At last Ged said, ÒI came here for 
counsel, not for refuge, Master. I will not bring this shadow upon you, and it 
will soon be here if I stay. Once you drove it from this very room-Ó
ÒNo; that was but the foreboding of it, the shadow of a shadow. I 
could not drive it forth, now. Only you could do that.Ó
ÒBut I am powerless before it. Is there any place...Ó His voice died 
away before he had asked the question.
ÒThere is no safe place,Ó Ogion said gently. ÒDo not transform 
yourself again, Ged. The shadow seeks to destroy your true being. It nearly did 
so, driving you into hawk's being. No, where you should go, I do not know. Yet I 
have an idea of what you should do. It is a hard thing to say to you.Ó
Ged's silence demanded truth, and Ogion said at last, ÒYou must turn 
ÒTurn around?Ó
ÒIf you go ahead, if you keep running, wherever you run you will meet 
danger and evil, for it drives you, it chooses the way you go. You must choose. 
You must seek what seeks you. You must hunt the hunter.Ó
Ged said nothing.
ÒAt the spring of the River Ar I named you,Ó the mage said, Òa stream 
that falls from the mountain to the sea. A man would know the end he goes to, 
but he cannot know it if he does not turn, and return to his beginning, and hold 
that beginning in his being. If he would not be a stick whirled and whelmed in 
the stream, he must be the stream itself, all of it, from its spring to its 
sinking in the sea. You returned to Gont, you returned to me, Ged. Now turn 
clear round, and seek the very source, and that which lies before the source. 
There lies your hope of strength.Ó
ÒThere, Master?Ó Ged said with terror in his voiceÒWhere?Ó
Ogion did not answer.
ÒIf I turn,Ó Ged said after some time had gone by, Òif as you say I 
hunt the hunter, I think the hunt will not be long. All its desire is to meet me 
face to face. And twice it has done so, and twice defeated me.Ó
ÒThird time is the charm,Ó said Ogion.
Ged paced the room up and down, from fireside to door, from door to 
fireside. ÒAnd if it defeats me wholly,Ó he said, arguing perhaps with Ogion 
perhaps with himself, Òit will take my knowledge and my power, and use them. It 
threatens only me, now. But if it enters into me and possesses me, it will work 
great evil through me.Ó
ÒThat is true. If it defeats you.Ó
ÒYet if I run again, it will as surely find me again... And all my 
strength is spent in the running.Ó Ged paced on a while, and then suddenly 
turned, and kneeling down before the mage he said, ÒI have walked with great 
wizards and have lived on the Isle of the Wise, but you are my true master, 
Ogion.Ó He spoke with love, and with a somber joy.
ÒGood,Ó said Ogion. ÒNow you know it. Better now than never. But you 
will be my master, in the end.Ó He got up, and built up the fire to a good 
blaze, and hung the kettle over it to boil, and then pulling on his sheepskin 
coat said, ÒI must go look after my goats. Watch the kettle for me, lad.Ó
When he came back in, all snow-powdered and stamping snow from his 
goatskin boots, he carried a long, rough shaft of yew-wood. All the end of the 
short afternoon, and again after their supper, he sat working by lampfire on the 
shaft with knife and rubbing-stone and spell-craft. Many times he passed his 
hands along the wood as if seeking any flaw. Often as he worked he sang softly. 
Ged, still weary, listened, and as he grew sleepy he thought himself a child in 
the witch's but in Ten Alders village, on a snowy night in the firelit dark, the 
air heavy with herb-scent and smoke, and his mind all adrift on dreams as he 
listened to the long soft singing of spells and deeds of heroes who fought 
against dark powers and won, or lost, on distant islands long ago.
ÒThere,Ó said Ogion, and handed the finished staff to him. ÒThe 
Archmage gave you yew-wood, a good choice and I kept to it. I meant the shaft 
for a longbow, but it's better this way. Good night, my son.Ó
As Ged, who found no words to thank him, turned away to his alcove-
room, Ogion watched him and said, too soft for Ged to hear, ÒO my young falcon, 
fly well!Ó
In the cold dawn when Ogion woke, Ged was gone. Only he had left in 
wizardly fashion a message of silver-scrawled runes on the hearthstone, that 
faded even as Ogion read them: ÒMaster, I go hunting.Ó

8 Hunting

Ged had set off down the road from Re Albi in the winter dark before 
sunrise, and before noon he came to the Port of Gont. Ogion had given him decent 
Gontish leggings and shirt and vest of leather and linen to replace his 
Osskilian finery, but Ged had kept for his winter journey the lordly cloak lined 
with pellawi-fur. So cloaked, empty-handed but for the dark staff that matched 
his height, he came to the Land Gate, and the soldiers lounging against the 
carven dragons there did not have to look twice at him to see the wizard. They 
drew aside their lances and let him enter without question, and watched him as 
he went on down the street.
On the quays and in the House of the Sea-Guild he asked of ships that 
might be going out north or west to Enlad, Andrad, Oranea. All answered him that 
no ship would be leaving Gont Port now, so near Sunreturn, and at the Sea-Guild 
they told him that even fishingboats were not going out through the Armed Cliffs 
in the untrusty weather.
They offered him dinner at the buttery there in the Sea-Guild; a 
wizard seldom has to ask for his dinner. He sat a while with those longshoremen, 
shipwrights, and weatherworkers, taking pleasure in their slow, sparse 
conversation, their grumbling Gontish speech. There was a great wish in him to 
stay here on Gont, and foregoing all wizardry and venture, forgetting all power 
and horror, to live in peace like any man on the known, dear ground of his home 
land. That was his wish; but his will was other. He did not stay long in the 
Sea-Guild, nor in the city, after he found there would be no ships out of port. 
He set out walking along the bay shore till he came to the first of the small 
villages that lie north of the City of Gont, and there he asked among the 
fishermen till he found one that had a boat to sell.
The fisherman was a dour old man. His boat, twelve foot long and 
clinker-built, was so warped and sprung as to be scarce seaworthy, yet he asked 
a high price for her: the spell of sea-safety for a year laid on his own boat, 
himself, and his son. For Gontish fishermen fear nothing, not even wizards, only 
the sea.
That spell of sea-safety which they set much store by in the Northern 
Archipelago never saved a man from stormwind or storm-wave, but, cast by one who 
knows the local seas and the ways of a boat and the skills of the sailor, it 
weaves some daily safety about the fisherman. Ged made the charm well and 
honestly, working on it all that night and the next day, omitting nothing, sure 
and patient, though all the while his mind was strained with fear and his 
thoughts went on dark paths seeking to imagine how the shadow would appear to 
him next, and how soon, and where. When the spell was made whole and cast, he 
was very weary. He slept that night in the fisherman's but in a whale-gut 
hammock, and got up at dawn smelling like a dried herring, and went down to the 
cove under Cutnorth Cliff where his new boat lay.
He pushed it into the quiet water by the landing, and water began to 
well softly into it at once. Stepping into the boat light as a cat Ged set 
straight the warped boards and rotten pegs, working both with tools and 
incantations, as he had used to do with Pechvarry in Low Torning. The people of 
the village gathered in silence, not too close, to watch his quick hands and 
listen to his soft voice. This job too he did well and patiently until it was 
done and the boat was sealed and sound. Then he set up his staff that Ogion had 
made him for a mast, stayed it with spells, and fixed across it a yard of sound 
wood. Downward from this yard he wove on the wind's loom a sail of spells, a 
square sail white as the snows on Gont peak above. At this the women watching 
sighed with envy. Then standing by the mast Ged raised up the magewind lightly. 
The boat moved out upon the water, turning towards the Armed Cliffs across the 
great bay. When the silent watching fishermen saw that leaky rowboat slip out 
under sail as quick and neat as a sandpiper taking wing, then they raised a 
cheer, grinning and stamping in the cold wind on the beach; and Ged looking back 
a moment saw them there cheering him on, under the dark jagged bulk of Cutnorth 
Cliff, above which the snowy fields of the Mountain rose up into cloud.
He sailed across the bay and out between the Armed Cliffs onto the 
Gontish Sea, there setting his course northwestwards to pass north of Oranea, 
returning as he had come. He had no plan or strategy in this but the retracing 
of his course. Following his falcon-flight across the days and winds from 
Osskil, the shadow might wander or might come straight, there was no telling. 
But unless it had withdrawn again wholly into the dream-realm, it should not 
miss Ged coming openly, over open sea, to meet it.
On the sea he wished to meet it, if meet it he must. He was not sure 
why this was, yet he had a terror of meeting the thing again on dry land. Out of 
the sea there rise storms and monsters, but no evil powers: evil is of earth. 
And there is no sea, no running of river or spring, in the dark land where once 
Ged had gone. Death is the dry place. Though the sea itself was a danger to him 
in the hard weather of the season, that danger and change and instability seemed 
to him a defense and chance. And when he met the shadow in this final end of his 
folly, he thought, maybe at least he could grip the thing even as it gripped 
him, and drag it with the weight of his body and the weight of his own death 
down into the darkness of the deep sea, from which, so held, it might not rise 
again. So at least his death would put an end to the evil he had loosed by 
He sailed a rough chopping sea above which clouds drooped and drifted 
in vast mournful veils. He raised no magewind now but used the world's wind, 
which blew keen from the northwest; and so long as he maintained the substance 
of his spell-woven sail often with a whispered word, the sail itself set and 
turned itself to catch the wind. Had he not used that magic he would have been 
hard put to keep the crank little boat on such a course, on that rough sea. On 
he went, and kept keen look-out on all sides. The fisherman's wife had given him 
two loaves of bread and a jar of water, and after some hours, when he was first 
in sight of Kameber Rock, the only isle between Gont and Oranea, he ate and 
drank, and thought gratefully of the silent Gontishwoman who had given him the 
food. On past the dim glimpse of land he sailed, tacking more westerly now, in a 
faint dank drizzle that over land might be a light snow. There was no sound at 
all but the small creaking of the boat and light slap of waves on her bow. No 
boat or bird went by. Nothing moved but the ever-moving water and the drifting 
clouds, the clouds that he remembered dimly as flowing all about him as he, a 
falcon, flew east on this same course he now followed to the west; and he had 
looked down on the grey sea then as now he looked up at the grey air.
Nothing was ahead when he looked around. He stood up, chilled, weary 
of this gazing and peering into empty murk. ÒCome then,Ó he muttered, Òcome on, 
what do you wait for, Shadow?Ó There was no answer,  no darker motion among the 
dark mists and waves. Yet he knew more and more surely now that the thing was 
not far off, seeking blindly down his cold trail. And all at once he shouted out 
aloud, ÒI am here, I Ged the Sparrowhawk, and I summon my shadow!Ó
The boat creaked, the waves lisped, the wind hissed a little on the 
white sail. The moments went by. Still Ged waited, one hand on the yew-wood mast 
of his boat, staring into the icy drizzle that slowly drove in ragged lines 
across the sea from the north. The moments went by. Then, far off in the rain 
over the water, he saw the shadow coming.
It had done with the body of the Osskilian oarsman Skiorh, and not as 
gebbeth did it follow him through he winds and over sea. Nor did it wear that 
beast-shape in which he had seen it on Roke Knoll, and in its dreams. Yet it had 
a shape now, even in the daylight. In its pursuit of Ged and in its struggle 
with him on the moors it had drawn power from him, sucking it into itself: and 
it may be that his summoning of it, aloud in the light of day, had given to it 
or forced upon it some form and semblance. Certainly it had now some likeness to 
a man, though being shadow it cast no shadow. So it came over the sea, out of 
the jaws of Enlad towards Gont, a dim ill-made thing pacing uneasy on the waves, 
peering down the wind as it came; and the cold rain blew through it.
Because it was half blinded by the day, and because he had called it, 
Ged saw it before it saw him. he knew it, as it knew him, among all beings, all 
In the terrible solitude of the winter sea Ged stood and saw the 
thing he feared. The wind seemed to blow it farther from the boat, and the waves 
ran under it bewildering his eye, and ever and again it seemed closer to him. He 
could not tell if it moved or not. It had seen him, now. Though there was 
nothing a his mind but horror and fear of its touch, the cold black pain that 
drained his life away, yet he waited, unmoving. Then all at once speaking aloud 
he called the magewind strong and sudden into his white sail, and his boat leapt 
across the grey waves straight at the lowering thing that hung upon the wind.
In utter silence the shadow, wavering, turned and fled.
Upwind it went, northward. Upwind Ged's boat followed, shadow-speed 
against mage-craft, the rainy gale against them both. And the young man yelled 
to his boat, to the sail and the wind and the waves ahead, as a hunter yells to 
his bounds when the wolf runs in plain sight before them, and he brought into 
that spell-woven sail a wind that would have split any sail of cloth and that 
drove his boat over the sea like a scud of blown foam, closer always to the 
thing that fled.
Now the shadow turned, making a half-circle, and appearing all at 
once more loose and dim, less like a man more like mere smoke blowing on the 
wind, it doubled back and ran downwind with the gale, as if it made for Gont.
With hand and spell Ged turned his boat, and it leaped like a dolphin 
from the water, rolling, in that quick turn. Faster than before he followed, but 
the shadow grew ever fainter to his eyes. Rain, mixed with sleet and snow, came 
stinging across his back and his left cheek, and he could not see more than a 
hundred yards ahead. Before long, as the storm grew heavier, the shadow was lost 
to sight. Yet Ged was sure of its track as if he followed a beast's track over 
snow, instead of a wraith fleeing over water. Though the wind blew his way now 
he held the singing magewind in the sail, and flake-foam shot from the boat's 
blunt prow, and she slapped the water as she went.
For a long time hunted and hunter held their weird, fleet course, and 
the day was darkening fast. Ged knew that at the great pace he had gone these 
past hours he must be south of Gont, heading past it towards Spevy or Torheven, 
or even past these islands out into the open Reach. He could not tell. He did 
not care. He hunted, he followed, and fear ran before him.
All at once he saw the shadow for a moment not far from him. The 
world's wind had been sinking, and the driving sleet of the storm had given way 
to a chill, ragged, thickening mist. Through this mist he glimpsed the shadow, 
fleeing somewhat to the right of his course. He spoke to wind and sail and 
turned the tiller and pursued, though again it was a blind pursuit: the fog 
thickened fast, boiling and tattering where it met with the spellwind, closing 
down all round the boat, a featureless pallor that deadened light and sight. 
Even as Ged spoke the first word of a clearing-charm, he saw the shadow again, 
still to the right of his course but very near, and going slowly. The fog blew 
through the faceless vagueness of its head, yet it was shaped like a man, only 
deformed and changing, like a man's shadow. Ged veered the boat once more, 
thinking be had run his enemy to ground: in that instant it vanished, and it was 
his boat that ran aground, smashing up on shoal rocks that the blowing mist had 
hidden from his sight. He was pitched nearly out, but grabbed hold on the mast-
staff before the next breaker struck. This was a great wave, which threw the 
little boat up out of water and brought her down on a rock, as a man might lift 
up and crush a snail's shell.
Stout and wizardly was the staff Ogion had shaped. It did not break, 
and buoyant as a dry log it rode the water. Still grasping it Ged was pulled 
back as the breakers streamed back from the shoal, so that he was in deep water 
and saved, till the next wave, from battering on the rocks. Salt-blinded and 
choked, he tried to keep his head up and to fight the enormous pull of the sea. 
There was sand beach a little aside of the rocks, be glimpsed this a couple of 
times as he tried to swim free of the rising of the next breaker. With all his 
strength and with the staff's power aiding him he struggled to make for that 
beach. He got no nearer. The surge and recoil of the swells tossed him back and 
forth like a rag, and the cold of the deep sea drew warmth fast from his body, 
weakening him till he could not move his arms. He had lost sight of rocks and 
beach alike, and did not know what way he faced. There was only a tumult of 
water around him, under him, over him, blinding him, strangling him, drowning 
A wave swelling in under the ragged fog took him and rolled him over 
and over and flung him up like a stick of driftwood on the sand.
There he lay. He still clutched the yew-wood staff with both hands. 
Lesser waves dragged at him, trying to tug him back down the sand in their 
outgoing rush, and the mist parted and closed above him, and later a sleety rain 
beat on him.
After a long time he moved. He got up on hands and knees, and began 
slowly crawling up the beach, away from the water's edge. It was black night 
now, but he whispered to the staff, and a little werelight clung about it. With 
this to guide him he struggled forward, little by little, up toward the dunes. 
He was so beaten and broken and cold that this crawling through the wet sand in 
the whistling, sea-thundering dark was the hardest thing he had ever had to do. 
And once or twice it seemed to him that the great noise of the sea and the wind 
all died away and the wet sand turned to dust under his hands, and he felt the 
unmoving gaze of strange stars on his back: but he did not lift his head, and he 
crawled on, and after a while he heard his own gasping breath, and felt the 
bitter wind beat the rain against his face.
The moving brought a little warmth back into him at last, and after 
he had crept up into the dunes, where the gusts of rainy wind came less hard, he 
managed to get up on his feet. He spoke a stronger light out of the staff, for 
the world was utterly black, and then leaning on the staff he went on, stumbling 
and halting, half a mile or so inland. Then on the rise of a dune he heard the 
sea, louder again, not behind him but in front: the dunes sloped down again to 
another shore. This was no island he was on but a mere reef, a bit of sand in 
the midst of the ocean.
He was too worn out to despair, but he gave a kind of sob and stood 
there, bewildered, leaning on his staff, for a long time. Then doggedly he 
turned to the left, so the wind would be at his back at least, and shuffled down 
the high dune, seeking some hollow among the ice-rimed, bowing sea-grass where 
he could have a little shelter. As he held up the staff to see what lay before 
him, he caught a dull gleam at the farthest edge of the circle of werelight: a 
wall of rain-wet wood.
It was a hut or shed, small and rickety as if a child had built it. 
Ged knocked on the low door with his staff. It remained shut. Ged pushed it open 
and entered, stooping nearly double to do so. He could not stand up straight 
inside the hut. Coals lay red in the firepit, and by their dim glow Ged saw a 
man with white, long hair, who crouched in terror against the far wall, and 
another, man or woman he could not tell, peering from a heap of rags or hides on 
the floor.
ÒI won't hurt you,Ó Ged whispered.
They said nothing. He looked from one to the other. Their eyes were 
blank with terror. When he laid down his staff, the one under the pile of rags 
hid whimpering. Ged took off his cloak that was heavy with water and ice, 
stripped naked and huddled over the firepit. ÒGive me something to wrap myself 
in,Ó he said. He was hoarse, and could hardly speak for the chattering of his 
teeth and the long shudders that shook him. If they heard him, neither of the 
old ones answered. He reached out and took a rag from the bed-heap - a goat-
hide, it might have been years ago, but it was now all tatters and black grease. 
The one under the bed-heap moaned with fear, but Ged paid no heed. He rubbed 
himself dry and then whispered, ÒHave you wood? Build up the fire a little, old 
man. I come to you in need, I mean you no harm.Ó
The old man did not move, watching him in a stupor of fear.
ÒDo you understand me? Do you speak no Hardic?Ó Ged paused, and then 
asked, ÒKargad?Ó
At that word, the old man nodded all at once, one nod, like a sad old 
puppet on strings. But as it was the only word Ged knew of the Kargish language, 
it was the end of their conversation. He found wood piled by one wall, built up 
the fire himself, and then with gestures asked for water, for swallowing 
seawater had sickened him and now he was parched with thirst. Cringing, the old 
man pointed to a great shell that held water, and pushed towards the fire 
another shell in which were strips of smoke-dried fish. So, crosslegged close by 
the fire, Ged drank, and ate a little, and as some strength and sense began to 
come back into him, he wondered where he was. Even with the magewind he could 
not have sailed clear to the Kargad Lands. This islet must be out in the Reach, 
east of Gont but still west of Karego-At. It seemed strange that people dwelt on 
so small and forlorn a place, a mere sand-bar; maybe they were castaways; but he 
was too weary to puzzle his head about them then.
He kept turning his cloak to the heat. The silvery pellawifur dried 
fast, and as soon as the wool of the facing was at least warm, if not dry, he 
wrapped himself in it and stretched out by the firepit. ÒGo to sleep, poor 
folk,Ó he said to his silent hosts, and laid his head down on the floor of sand, 
and slept.
Three nights he spent on the nameless isle, for the first morning 
when he woke he was sore in every muscle and feverish and sick. He lay like a 
log of driftwood in the but by the firepit all that day and night. The next 
morning he woke still stiff and sore, but recovered. He put back on his salt-
crusted clothes, for there was not enough water to wash them, and going out into 
the grey windy morning looked over this place whereto the shadow had tricked 

It was a rocky sand-bar a mile wide at its widest and a little longer 
than that, fringed all about with shoals and rocks. No tree or bush grew on it, 
no plant but the bowing sea-grass. The but stood in a hollow of the dunes, and 
the old man and woman lived there alone in the utter desolation of the empty 
sea. The hut was built, or piled up rather, of driftwood planks and branches. 
Their water came from a little brackish well beside the but; their food was fish 
and shellfish, fresh or dried, and rockweed. The tattered hides in the but, and 
a little store of bone needles and fishhooks, and the sinew for fishlines and 
firedrill, came not from goats as Ged had thought at first, but from spotted 
seal; and indeed this was the kind of place where the seal will go to raise 
their pups in summer. But no one else comes to such a place. The old ones feared 
Ged not because they thought him a spirit, and not because he was a wizard, but 
only because he was a man. They had forgotten that there were other people in 
the world.
The old man's sullen dread never lessened. When he thought Ged was 
coming close enough to touch him, he would hobble away, peering back with a 
scowl around his bush of dirty white hair. At first the old woman had whimpered 
and hidden under her rag-pile whenever Ged moved, but as he had lain dozing 
feverishly in the dark hut, he saw her squatting to stare at him with a strange, 
dull, yearning look; and after a while she had brought him water to drink. When 
he sat up to take the shell from her she was scared and dropped it, spilling all 
the water, and then she wept, and wiped her eyes with her long whitish-grey 
Now she watched him as he worked down on the beach, shaping driftwood 
and planks from his boat that had washed ashore into a new boat, using the old 
man's crude stone adze and a binding-spell. This was neither a repair nor a 
boat-building, for he had not enough proper wood, and must supply all his wants 
with pure wizardry. Yet the old woman did not watch his marvellous work so much 
as she watched him, with that same craving look in her eyes. After a while she 
went off, and came back presently with a gift: a handful of mussels she had 
gathered on the rocks. Ged ate them as she gave them to him, sea-wet and raw, 
and thanked her. Seeming to gain courage, she went to the but and came back with 
something again in her hands, a bundle wrapped up in a rag. Timidly, watching 
his face all the while, she unwrapped the thing and held it up for him to see.
It was a little child's dress of silk brocade stiff with seedpearls, 
stained with salt, yellow with years. On the small bodice the pearls were worked 
in a shape Ged knew: the double arrow of the God-Brothers of the Kargad Empire, 
surmounted by a king's crown.
The old woman, wrinkled, dirty, clothed in an illsewn sack of 
sealskin, pointed at the little silken dress and at herself, and smiled: a 
sweet, unmeaning smile, like a baby's. From some hidingplace sewn in the skirt 
of the dress she took a small object, and this was held out to Ged. It was a bit 
of dark metal, a piece of broken jewelry perhaps, the half-circle of a broken 
ring. Ged looked at it, but she gestured that he take it, and was not satisfied 
until he took it; then she nodded and smiled again; she had made him a present. 
But the dress she wrapped up carefully in its greasy rag-coverings, and she 
shuffled back to the hut to hide the lovely thing away.
Ged put the broken ring into his tunic-pocket with almost the same 
care, for his heart was full of pity. He guessed now that these two might be 
children of some royal house of the Kargad Empire; a tyrant or usurper who 
feared to shed kingly blood had sent them to be cast away, to live or die, on an 
uncharted islet far from Karego-At. One had been a boy of eight or ten, maybe, 
and the other a stout baby princess in a dress of silk and pearls; and they had 
lived, and lived on alone, forty years, fifty years, on a rock in the ocean, 
prince and princess of Desolation.
But the truth of this guess he did not learn until, years later, the 
quest of the Ring of Erreth-Akbe led him to the Kargad Lands, and to the Tombs 
of Atuan.
His third night on the isle lightened to a calm, pale sunrise. It was 
the day of Sunreturn, the shortest day of the year. His little boat of wood and 
magic, scraps and spells, was ready. He had tried to tell the old ones that he 
would take them to any land, Gont or Spevy or the Torikles; he would have left 
them even on some lonely shore of Karego-At, had they asked it of him, though 
Kargish waters were no safe place for an Archipelagan to venture. But they would 
not leave their barren isle. The old woman seemed not to understand what he 
meant with his gestures and quiet words; the old man did understand, and 
refused. All his memory of other lands and other men was a child's nightmare of 
blood and giants and screaming: Ged could see that in his face, as he shook his 
head and shook his head.
So Ged that morning filled up a sealskin pouch with water at the 
well, and since he could not thank the old ones for their fire and food, and had 
no present for the old woman as he would have liked, he did what he could, and 
set a charm on that salty unreliable spring. The water rose up through the sand 
as sweet and clear as any mountain spring in the heights of Gont, nor did it 
ever fail. Because of it, that place of dunes and rocks is charted now and bears 
a name; sailors call it Springwater Isle. But the hut is gone, and the storms of 
many winters have left no sign of the two who lived out their lives there and 
died alone.
They kept hidden in the hut, as if they feared to watch, when Ged ran 
his boat out from the sandy south end of the isle. He let the world's wind, 
steady from the north, fill his sail of spellcloth, and went speedily forth over 
the sea.
Now this sea-quest of Ged's was a` strange matter, for as he well 
knew, he was a hunter who knew neither what the thing was that he hunted, nor 
where in all Earthsea it might be. He must hunt it by guess, by hunch, by luck, 
even as it bad hunted him. Each was blind to the other's being, Ged as baffled 
by impalpable shadows as the shadow was baffled by daylight and by solid things. 
One certainty only Ged had: that he was indeed the hunter now and not the 
hunted. For the shadow, having tricked him onto the rocks, might have had him at 
its mercy all the while he lay half-dead on the shore and blundered in darkness 
in the stormy dunes; but it had not waited for that chance. It had tricked him 
and fled away at once, not daring now to face him. In this he saw that Ogion had 
been right: the shadow could not draw on his power, so long as he was turned 
against it. So he must keep against it, keep after it, though its track was cold 
across these wide seas, and he had nothing at all to guide him but the luck of 
the world's wind blowing southward, and a dim guess or notion in his mind that 
south or east was the right way to follow.
Before nightfall he saw away off on his left hand the long, faint 
shoreline of a great land, which must be Karego-At. He was in the very sea-roads 
of those white barbaric folk. He kept a sharp watch out for any Kargish longship 
or galley; and he remembered, as he sailed through red evening, that morning of 
his boyhood in Ten Alders village, the plumed warriors; the fire, the mist. And 
thinking of that day he saw all at once, with a qualm at his heart, how the 
shadow had tricked him with his own trick, bringing that mist about him on the 
sea as if bringing it out of his own past, blinding him to danger and fooling 
him to his death.
He kept his course to the southeast, and the land sank out of sight 
as night came over the eastern edge of the world. The hollows of the waves all 
were full of darkness while the crests shone yet with a clear ruddy reflection 
of the west. Ged sang aloud the Winter Carol, and such cantos of the Deed of the 
Young King as he remembered, for those songs are sung at the Festival of 
Sunreturn. His voice was clear, but it fell to nothing in the vast silence of 
the sea. Darkness came quickly, and the winter stars.
All that longest night of the year he waked, watching the stars rise 
upon his left hand and wheel overhead and sink into far black waters on the 
right, while always the long wind of winter bore him southward over an unseen 
sea. He could sleep for only a moment now and then, with a sharp awakening. This 
boat he sailed was in truth no boat but a thing more than half charm and 
sorcery, and the rest of it mere planks and driftwood which, if he let slack the 
shapingspells and the binding-spell upon them, would soon enough lapse and 
scatter and go drifting off as a little flotsam on the waves. The sail too, 
woven of magic and the air, would not long stay against the wind if he slept, 
but would turn to a puff of wind itself. Ged's spells were cogent and potent, 
but when the matter on which such spells works is small, the power that keeps 
them working must be renewed from moment to moment: so he slept not that night. 
He would have gone easier and swifter as falcon or dolphin, but Ogion had 
advised him not to change his shape, and he knew the value of Ogion's advice. So 
he sailed southward under the west-going stars, and the long night passed 
slowly, until the first day of the new year brightened all the sea.
Soon after the sun rose he saw land ahead, but he was making little 
way towards it. The world's wind had dropped with daybreak. He raised a light 
magewind into his sail, to drive him towards that land. At the sight of it, fear 
had come into him again, the sinking dread that urged him to turn away, to run 
away. And he followed that fear as a hunter follows the signs, the broad, blunt, 
clawed tracks of the bear, that may at any moment turn on him from the thickets. 
For he was close now: he knew it.
It was a queer-looking land that loomed up over the sea as he drew 
nearer and nearer. What had from afar seemed to be one sheer mountainwall, was 
split into several long steep ridges, separate isles perhaps, between which the 
sea ran in narrow sounds or channels. Ged had pored over many charts and maps in 
the Tower of the Master Namer on Roke, but those had been mostly of the 
Archipelago and the inner seas. He was out in the East Reach now, and did not 
know what this island might be. Nor had he much thought for that. It was fear 
that lay ahead of him, that lurked hiding from him or waiting for him among the 
slopes and forests of the island, and straight for it he steered.
Now the dark forest-crowned cliffs gloomed and towered high over his 
boat, and spray from the waves that broke against the rocky headlands blew 
spattering against his sail, as the magewind bore him between two great capes 
into a sound, a sea-lane that ran on before him deep into the island, no wider 
than the length of two galleys. The sea, confined, was restless and fretted at 
the steep shores. There were no beaches, for the cliffs dropped straight down 
into the water that lay darkened by the cold reflection of their heights. It was 
windless, and very silent.
The shadow had tricked him out onto the moors in Osskil, and tricked 
him in the mist onto the rocks, and now would there be a third trick? Had he 
driven the thing here, or had it drawn him here, into a trap? He did not know. 
He knew only the torment of dread, and the certainty that he must go ahead and 
do what be had set out to do: hunt down the evil, follow his terror to its 
source. Very cautiously he steered, watching before him and behind him and up 
and down the cliffs on either hand. He had left the sunlight of the new day 
behind him on the open sea. All was dark here. The opening between the headlands 
seemed a remote, bright gateway when he glanced back. The cliffs loomed higher 
and ever higher overhead as he approached the mountain-root from which they 
sprang, and the lane of water grew narrower. He peered ahead into the dark 
cleft, and left and right up the great, cavern-pocked, boulder-tumbled slopes 
where trees crouched with their roots half in air. Nothing moved. Now he was 
coming to the end of the inlet, a high blank wrinkled mass of rock against 
which, narrowed to the width of a little creek, the last sea-waves lapped 
feebly. Fallen boulders and rotten trunks and the roots of gnarled trees left 
only a tight way to steer. A trap: a dark trap under the roots of the silent 
mountain, and he was in the trap. Nothing moved before him or above him. All was 
deathly still. He could go no further.
He turned the boat around, working her carefully round with spell and 
with makeshift oar lest she knock up against the underwater rocks or be 
entangled in the outreaching roots and branches, till she faced outward again; 
and he was about to raise up a wind to take him back as he had come, when 
suddenly the words of the spell froze on his lips, and his heart went cold 
within him. He looked back over his shoulder. The shadow stood behind him in the 
Had he lost one instant, he had been lost; but he was ready, and 
lunged to seize and hold the thing which wavered and trembled there within arm's 
reach. No wizardry would serve him now, but only his own flesh, his life itself, 
against the unliving. He spoke no word, but attacked, and the boat plunged and 
pitched from his sudden turn and lunge. And a pain ran up his arms into his 
breast, taking away his breath, and an icy cold filled him, and he was blinded: 
yet in his hands that seized the shadow there was nothing - darkness, air.
He stumbled forward, catching the mast to stay his fall, and light 
came shooting back into his eyes. He saw the shadow shudder away from him and 
shrink together, then stretch hugely up over him, over the sail, for an instant. 
Then like black smoke on the wind it recoiled and fled, formless, down the water 
towards the bright gate between the cliffs.
Ged sank to his knees. The little spell-patched boat pitched again, 
rocked itself to stillness, drifting on the uneasy waves. He crouched in it, 
numb, unthinking, struggling to draw breath, until at last cold water welling 
under his hands warned him that he must see to his boat, for the spells binding 
it were growing weak. He stood up, holding onto the staff that made the mast, 
and rewove the binding-spell as best he could. He was chilled and weary; his 
hands and arms ached sorely, and there was no power in him. He wished he might 
lie down there in that dark place where sea and mountain met and sleep, sleep on 
the restless rocking water.
He could not tell if this weariness were a sorcery laid on him by the 
shadow as it fled, or came of the bitter coldness of its touch, or was from mere 
hunger and want of sleep and expense of strength; but he struggled against it, 
forcing himself to raise up a light magewind into the sail and follow down the 
dark sea-way where the shadow had fled.
All terror was gone. All joy was gone. It was a chase no longer. He 
was neither hunted nor hunter, now. For the third time they had met and touched: 
he had of his own will turned to the shadow, seeking to hold it with living 
bands. He had not held it, but he had forged between them a bond, a link that 
had no breaking-point. There was no need to hunt the thing down, to track it, 
nor would its flight avail it. Neither could escape. When they had come to the 
time and place for their last meeting, they would meet.
But until that time, and elsewhere than that place, there would never 
be any rest or peace for Ged, day or night, on earth or sea. He knew now, and 
the knowledge was hard, that his task had never been to undo what he had done, 
but to finish what he had begun.
He sailed out from between the dark cliffs, and on the sea was broad, 
bright morning, with a fair wind blowing from the north.
He drank what water he had left in the sealskin pouch, and steered 
around the westernmost headland until he came into a wide strait between it and 
a second island lying to the west. Then he knew the place, calling to mind sea-
charts of the East Reach. These were the Hands, a pair of lonely isles that 
reach their mountain-fingers northward toward, the Kargad Lands. He sailed on 
between the two, and as the afternoon darkened with storm-clouds coming up from 
the north he came to shore, on the southern coast of the west isle. He had seen 
there was a little village there, above the beach where a stream came tumbling 
down to the sea, and he cared little what welcome he got if he could have water, 
fire's warmth, and sleep.
The villagers were rough shy people, awed by a wizard's staff, wary 
of a strange face, but hospitable to one who came alone, over sea, before a 
storm. They gave him meat and drink in plenty, and the comfort of firelight and 
the comfort of human voices speaking his own Hardic tongue, and last and best 
they gave him hot water to wash the cold and saltness of the sea from him, and a 
bed where he could sleep.

9 Iffish

Ged spent three days in that village of the West Hand, recovering 
himself, and making ready a boat built not of spells and sea-wrack but of sound 
wood well pegged and caulked, with a stout mast and sail of her own, that he 
might sail easily and sleep when he needed. Like most boats of the North and the 
Reaches she was clinker-built, with planks overlapped and clenched one upon the 
other for strength in the high seas; every part of her was sturdy and well-made. 
Ged reinforced her wood with deep-inwoven charms, for he thought he might go far 
in that boat. She was built to carry two or three men, and the old man who owned 
her said that he and his brothers had been through high seas and foul weather 
with her and she had ridden all gallantly.
Unlike the shrewd fisherman of Gont, this old man, for fear and 
wonder of his wizardry, would have given the boat to Ged. But Ged paid him for 
it in sorcerers' kind, healing his eyes of the cataracts that were in the way of 
blinding him. Then the old man, rejoicing, said to him, ÒWe called the boat 
Sanderling, but do you call her Lookfar, and paint eyes aside her prow, and my 
thanks will look out of that blind wood for you and keep you from rock and reef. 
For I had forgotten how much light there is in the world, till you gave it back 
to me.Ó
Other works Ged also did in his days in that village under the steep 
forests of the Hand, as his power came back into him. These were such people as 
he had known as a boy in the Northward Vale of Gont, though poorer even than 
those. With them he was at home, as he would never be in the courts of the 
wealthy, and he knew their bitter wants without having to ask. So he laid charms 
of heal and ward on children who were lame or sickly, and spells of increase on 
the villagers' scrawny flocks of goats and sheep; he set the rune Simn on the 
spindles and looms, the boat's oars and tools of bronze and stone they brought 
him, that these might do their work well; and the rune Pirr he wrote on the 
rooftrees of the huts, which protects the house and its folk from fire, wind, 
and madness.
When his boat Lookfar was ready and well stocked with water and dried 
fish, he stayed yet one more day in the village, to teach to their young chanter 
the Deed of Morred and the Havnorian Lay. Very seldom did any Archipelagan ship 
touch at the Hands: songs made a hundred years ago were news to those villagers, 
and they craved to hear of heroes. Had Ged been free of what was laid on him he 
would gladly have stayed there a week or a month to sing them what he knew, that 
the great songs might be known on a new isle. But he was not free, and the next 
morning he set sail, going straight south over the wide seas of the Reach. For 
southward the shadow bad gone. He need cast no finding-charm to know this: he 
knew it, as certainly as if a fine unreeling cord bound him and it together, no 
matter what miles and seas and lands might lie between. So he went certain, 
unhurried, and unhopeful on the way he must go, and the wind of winter bore him 
to the south.
He sailed a day and a night over the lonesome sea, and on the second 
day he came to a small isle, which they told him was called Vemish. The people 
in the little port looked at him askance, and soon their sorcerer came hurrying. 
He looked hard at Ged, and then he bowed, and said in a voice that was both 
pompous and wheedling, ÒLord Wizard! forgive my temerity, and honor us by 
accepting of us anything you may need for your voyage - food, drink, sailcloth, 
rope, my daughter is fetching to your boat at this moment a brace of fresh-
roasted hens- I think it prudent, however, that you continue on your way from 
here as soon as it meets your convenience to do so. The people are in some 
dismay. For not long ago, the day before yesterday, a person was seen crossing 
our humble isle afoot from north to south, and no boat was seen to come with him 
aboard it nor no boat was seen to leave with him aboard it, and it did not seem 
that he cast any shadow. Those who saw this person tell me that he bore some 
likeness to yourself.Ó
At that, Ged bowed his own head, and turned and went back to the 
docks of Vemish and sailed out, not looking back. There was no profit in 
frightening the islanders or making an enemy of their sorcerer. He would rather 
sleep at sea again, and think over this news the sorcerer had told him, for he 
was sorely puzzled by it.
The day ended, and the night passed with cold rain whispering over 
the sea all through the dark hours, and a grey dawn. Still the mild north wind 
carried Lookfar on. After noon the rain and mist blew off, and the sun shone 
from time to time; and late in the day Ged saw right athwart his course the low 
blue hills of a great island, brightened by that drifting winter sunlight. The 
smoke of hearthfires lingered blue over the slate roofs of little towns among 
those hills, a pleasant sight in the vast sameness of the sea.
Ged followed a fishing-fleet in to their port, and going up the 
streets of the town in the golden winter evening he found an inn called The 
Harrekki, where firelight and ale and roast ribs of mutton warmed him body and 
soul. At the tables of the inn there were a couple of other voyagers, traders of 
the East Reach, but most of the men were townsfolk come there for good ale, 
news, and conversation. They were not rough timid people like the fisher-folk of 
the Hands, but true townsmen, alert and sedate. Surely they knew Ged for a 
wizard, but nothing at all was said of it, except that the innkeeper in talking 
(and he was a talkative man) mentioned that this town, Ismay, was fortunate in 
sharing with other towns of the island the inestimable treasure of an 
accomplished wizard trained at the School on Roke, who had been given his staff 
by the Archmage himself, and who, though out of town at the moment, dwelt in his 
ancestral home right in Ismay itself, which, therefore, stood in no need of any 
other practitioner of the High Arts. ÒAs they say, two staffs in one town must 
come to blows, isn't it so, Sir?Ó said the innkeeper, smiling and full of cheer. 
So Ged was informed that as journey-man-wizard, one seeking a livelihood from 
sorcery, he was not wanted here. Thus he had got a blunt dismissal from Vemish 
and a bland one from Ismay, and he wondered at what he had been told about the 
kindly ways of the East Reach. This isle was Iffish, where his friend Vetch had 
been born. It did not seem so hospitable a place as Vetch had said.
And yet he saw that they were, indeed, kindly faces enough. It was 
only that they sensed what he knew to be true: that he was set apart from them, 
cut off from them, that he bore a doom upon him and followed after a dark thing. 
He was like a cold wind blowing through the firelit room, like a black bird 
carried by on a storm from foreign lands. The sooner he went on, taking his evil 
destiny with him, the better for these folk.
ÒI am on quest,Ó he said to the innkeeper. ÒI will be here only a 
night or two.Ó His tone was bleak. The Innkeeper, with a glance at the great 
yew-staff in the corner, said nothing at all for once, but filled up Ged's cup 
with brown ale till the foam ran over the top.
Ged knew that he should spend only the one night in Ismay. There was 
no welcome for him there, or anywhere. He must go where he was bound. But he was 
sick of the cold empty sea and the silence where no voice spoke to him. He told 
himself he would spend one day in Ismay, and on the morrow go. So he slept late; 
when he woke a light snow was falling, and he idled about the lanes and byways 
of the town to watch the people busy at their doings. He watched children 
bundled in fur capes playing at snow-castle and building snowmen; he heard 
gossips chatting across the street from open doors, and watched the bronze-smith 
at work with a little lad red-faced and sweating to pump the long bellows-
sleeves at the smelting pit; through windows lit with a dim ruddy gold from 
within as the short day darkened he saw women at their looms, turning a moment 
to speak or smile to child or husband there in the warmth within the house. Ged 
saw all these things from outside and apart, alone, and his heart was very heavy 
in him, though he would not admit to himself that he was sad. As night fell he 
still lingered in the streets, reluctant to go back to the inn. He heard a man 
and a girl talking together merrily as they came down the street past him 
towards the town square, and all at once he turned, for he knew the man's voice.
He followed and caught up with the pair, coming up beside them in the 
late twilight lit only by distant lantern-gleams. The girl stepped back, but the 
man stared at him and then flung up the staff he carried, holding it between 
them as a barrier to ward off the threat or act of evil. And that was somewhat 
more than Ged could bear. His voice shook a little as he said, ÒI thought you 
would know me, Vetch.Ó
Even then Vetch hesitated for a moment.
ÒI do know you,Ó he said, and lowered the staff and took Ged's hand 
and hugged him round the shoulders-Ó I do know you! Welcome, my friend, welcome! 
What a sorry greeting I gave you, as if you were a ghost coming up from behind- 
and I have waited for you to come, and looked for you-Ó
ÒSo you are the wizard they boast of in Ismay? I wondered-Ó
ÒOh, yes, I'm their wizard; but listen, let me tell you why I didn't 
know you, lad. Maybe I've looked too hard for you. Three days ago- were you here 
three days ago, on Iffish?Ó
ÒI came yesterday.Ó
ÒThree days ago, in the street in Quor, the village up there in the 
hills, I saw you. That is, I saw a presentment of you, or an imitation of you, 
or maybe simply a man who looks like you. He was ahead of me, going out of town, 
and he turned a bend in the road even as I saw him. I called and got no answer, 
I followed and found no one; nor any tracks; but the ground was frozen. It was a 
queer thing, and now seeing you come up out of the shadows like that I thought I 
was tricked again. I am sorry, Ged.Ó He spoke Ged's true name softly, so that 
the girl who stood waiting a little way behind him would not hear it.
Ged also spoke low, to use his friend's true name: ÒNo matter, 
Estarriol. But this is myself, and I am glad to see you ....Ó
Vetch heard, perhaps, something more than simple gladness in his 
voice. He had not yet let go of Ged's shoulder, and he said now, in the True 
Speech, ÒIn trouble and from darkness you come, Ged, yet your coming is joy to 
me.Ó Then he went on in his Reach-accented Hardic, ÒCome on, come home with us, 
we're going home, it's time to get in out of the dark! -This is my sister, the 
youngest of us, prettier than I am as you see, but much less clever: Yarrow 
she's called. Yarrow, this is the Sparrowhawk, the best of us and my friend.Ó
ÒLord Wizard,Ó the girl greeted him, and decorously she bobbed her 
head and hid her eyes with her hands to show respect, as women did in the East 
Reach; her eyes when not hidden were clear, shy, and curious. She was perhaps 
fourteen years old, dark like her brother, but very slight and slender. On her 
sleeve there clung, winged and taloned, a dragon no longer than her hand.
They set off down the dusky street together, and Ged remarked as they 
went along, ÒIn Gont they say Gontish women are brave, but I never saw a maiden 
there wear a dragon for a braceletÓ
This made Yarrow laugh, and she answered him straight, ÒThis is only 
a harrekki, have you no harrekki on Gont?Ó Then she got shy for a moment and hid 
her eyes.
ÒNo, nor no dragons. Is not the creature a dragon?Ó
ÒA little one, that lives in oak trees, and eats wasps and worms and 
sparrows' eggs -it grows no greater than this. Oh, Sir, my brother has told me 
often of the pet you had, the wild thing, the otak- do you have it still?Ó
ÒNo. No longer.Ó
Vetch turned to him as if with a question, but he held his tongue and 
asked nothing till much later, when the two of them sat alone over the stone 
firepit of Vetch's house.
Though he was the chief wizard in the whole island of Iffish, Vetch 
made his home in Ismay, this small town where he had been born, living with his 
youngest brother and sister. His father had been a sea-trader of some means, and 
the house was spacious and strong-beamed, with much homely wealth of pottery and 
fine weaving and vessels of bronze and brass on carven shelves and chests. A 
great Taonian harp stood in one corner of the main room, and Yarrow's tapestry-
loom in another, its tall frame inlaid with ivory. There Vetch for all his plain 
quiet ways was both a powerful wizard and a lord in his own house. There were a 
couple of old servants, prospering along with the house, and the brother, a 
cheerful lad, and Yarrow, quick and silent as a little fish, who served the two 
friends their supper and ate with them, listening to their talk, and afterwards 
slipped off to her own room. All things here were well-founded, peaceful, and 
assured; and Ged looking about him at the firelit room said, ÒThis is how a man 
should live,Ó and sighed.
ÒWell, it's one good way,Ó said Vetch. ÒThere are others. Now, lad, 
tell me if you can what things have come to you and gone from you since we last 
spoke, two years ago. And tell me what journey you are on, since I see well that 
you won't stay long with us this time.Ó
Ged told him, and when he was done Vetch sat pondering for a long 
while. Then he said, ÒI'll go with you, Ged.Ó
ÒI think I will.Ó
ÒNo, Estarriol. This is no task or bane of yours. I began this evil 
course alone, I will finish it alone, I do not want any other to suffer from it 
- you least of all, you who tried to keep my hand from the evil act in the very 
beginning, Estarriol-Ó
ÒPride was ever your mind's master,Ó his friend said smiling, as if 
they talked of a matter of small concern to either. ÒNow think: it is your 
quest, assuredly, but if the quest fail, should there not be another there who 
might bear warning to the Archipelago? For the shadow would be a fearful power 
then. And if you defeat the thing, should there not be another there who will 
tell of it in the Archipelago, that the Deed may be known and sung? I know I can 
be of no use to you; yet I think I should go with you.Ó
So entreated Ged could not deny his friend, but he said, ÒI should 
not have stayed this day here. I knew it, but I stayed.Ó
ÒWizards do not meet by chance, lad,Ó said Vetch. ÒAnd after all, as 
you said yourself, I was with you at the beginning of your journey. It is right 
that I should follow you to its end.Ó He put new wood on the fire, and they sat 
gazing into the flames a while.
ÒThere is one I have not heard of since that night on Roke Knoll, and 
I had no heart to ask any at the School of him: Jasper I mean.Ó
ÒHe never won his staff. He left Roke that same summer, and went to 
the Island of O to be sorcerer in the Lord's household at O-tokne. I know no 
more of him than that.Ó
Again they were silent, watching the fire and enjoying (since it was 
a bitter night) the warmth on their legs and faces as they sat on the broad 
coping of the firepit, their feet almost among the coals.
Ged said at last, speaking low, ÒThere is a thing that I fear, 
Estarriol. I fear it more if you are with me when I go. There in the Hands in 
the dead end of the inlet I turned upon the shadow, it was within my hands' 
reach, and I seized it - I tried to seize it. And there was nothing I could 
hold. I could not defeat it. It fled, I followed. But that may happen again, and 
yet again. I have no power over the thing. There may be neither death nor 
triumph to end this quest; nothing to sing of; no end. It may be I must spend my 
life running from sea to sea and land to land on an endless vain venture, a 
ÒAvert!Ó said Vetch, turning his left hand in the gesture that turns 
aside the ill chance spoken of. For all his somber thoughts this made Ged grin a 
little, for it is rather a child's charm than a wizard's; there was always such 
village innocence in Vetch. Yet also he was keen, shrewd, direct to the center 
of a thing. He said now, ÒThat is a grim thought and I trust a false one. I 
guess rather that what I saw begin, I may see end. Somehow you will learn its 
nature, its being, what it is, and so hold and bind and vanquish it. Though that 
is a hard question: what is it... There is a thing that worries me, I do not 
understand it. It seems the shadow now goes in your shape, or a kind of likeness 
of you at least, as they saw it on Vemish and as I saw it here in Iffish. How 
may that be, and why, and why did it never do so in the Archipelago?Ó
ÒThey say, Rules change in the Reaches.Ó
ÒAye, a true saying, I can tell you. There are good spells I learned 
on Roke that have no power here, or go all awry; and also there are spells 
worked here I never learned on Roke. Every land has its own powers, and the 
farther one goes from the Inner Lands, the less one can guess about those powers 
and their governance. But I do not think it is only that which works this change 
in the shadow.Ó
ÒNor do I. I think that, when I ceased to flee from it and turned 
against it, that turning of my will upon it gave it shape and form, even though 
the same act prevented it from taking my strength from me. All my acts have 
their echo in it; it is my creature.Ó
ÒIn Osskil it named you, and so stopped any wizardry you might have 
used against it. Why did it not do so again, there in the Hands?Ó
ÒI do not know. Perhaps it is only from my weakness that it draws the 
strength to speak. Almost with my own tongue it speaks: for how did it know my 
name? How did it know my name? I have racked my brains on that over all the seas 
since I left Gont, and I cannot see the answer. Maybe it cannot speak at all in 
its own form or formlessness, but only with borrowed tongue, as a gebbeth. I do 
not know.Ó
ÒThen you must beware meeting it in gebbeth-form a second time.Ó
ÒI think,Ó Ged replied, stretching out his hands to the red coals as 
if he felt an inward chill, ÒI think I will not. It is bound to me now as I am 
to it. It cannot get so far free of me as to seize any other man and empty him 
of will and being, as it did Skiorh. It can possess me. If ever I weaken again, 
and try to escape from it, to break the bond, it will possess me. And yet, when 
I held it with all the strength I had, it became mere vapor, and escaped from 
me... And so it will again, and yet it cannot really escape, for I can always 
find it. I am bound to the foul cruel thing, and will be forever, unless I can 
learn the word that masters it: its name.Ó
Brooding his friend asked, ÒAre there names in the dark realms?Ó
ÒGensher the Archmage said there are not. My master Ogion said 
ÒInfinite are the arguments of mages,Ó Vetch quoted, with a smile 
that was somewhat grim.
ÒShe who served the Old Power on Osskil swore that the Stone would 
tell me the shadow's name, but that I count for little. However there was also a 
dragon, who offered to trade that name for his own, to be rid of me; and I have 
thought that, where mages argue, dragons may be wise.Ó
ÒWise, but unkind. But what dragon is this? You did not tell me you 
had been talking with dragons since I saw you lastÓ
They talked together late that night, and though always they came 
back to the bitter matter of what lay before Ged, yet their pleasure in being 
together overrode all; for the love between them was strong and steadfast, 
unshaken by time or chance. In the morning Ged woke beneath his friend's roof, 
and while he was still drowsy he felt such well-being as if he were in some 
place wholly defended from evil and harm. All day long a little of this dream-
peace clung to his thoughts, and he took it, not as a good omen, but as a gift. 
It seemed likely to him that leaving this house he would leave the last haven he 
was to know, and so while the short dream lasted he would be happy in it.
Having affairs he must see to before he left Iffish, Vetch went off 
to other villages of the island with the lad who served him as prentice-
sorcerer. Ged stayed with Yarrow and her brother, called Murre, who was between 
her and Vetch in age. He seemed not much more than a boy, for there was no gift 
or scourge of mage-power in him, and he had never been anywhere but Iffish, Tok, 
and Holp, and his life was easy and untroubled. Ged watched him with wonder and 
some envy, and exactly so he watched Ged: to each it seemed very queer that the 
other, so different, yet was his own age, nineteen years. Ged marvelled how one 
who had lived nineteen years could be so carefree. Admiring Murre's comely, 
cheerful face he felt himself to be all lank and harsh, never guessing that 
Murre envied him even the scars that scored his face, and thought them the track 
of a dragon's claws and the very rune and sign of a hero.
The two young men were thus somewhat shy with each other, but as for 
Yarrow she soon lost her awe of Ged, being in her own house and mistress of it. 
He was very gentle with her, and many were the questions she asked of him, for 
Vetch, she said, would never tell her anything. She kept busy those two days 
making dry wheatcakes for the voyagers to carry, and wrapping up dried fish and 
meat and other such provender to stock their boat, until Ged told her to stop, 
for he did not plan to sail clear to Selidor without a halt.
ÒWhere is Selidor?Ó
ÒVery far out in the Western Reach, where dragons are as common as 
ÒBest stay in the East then, our dragons are as small as mice. 
There's your meat, then; you're sure that's enough? Listen, I don't understand: 
you and my brother both are mighty wizards, you wave your hand and mutter and 
the thing is done. Why do you get hungry, then? When it comes suppertime at sea, 
why not say, Meat-pie! and the meat-pie appears, and you eat it?Ó
ÒWell, we could do so. But we don't much wish to eat our words, as 
they say. Meat-pie! is only a word, after all... We can make it odorous, and 
savorous, and even filling, but it remains a word. It fools the stomach and 
gives no strength to the hungry man.Ó
ÒWizards, then, are not cooks,Ó said Murre, who was sitting across 
the kitchen hearth from Ged, carving a box-lid of fine wood; he was a woodworker 
by trade, though not a very zealous one.
ÒNor are cooks wizards, alas,Ó said Yarrow on her knees to see if the 
last batch of cakes baking on the hearthbricks was getting brown. ÒBut I still 
don't understand, Sparrowhawk. I have seen my brother, and even his prentice, 
make light in a dark place only by saying one word: and the light shines, it is 
bright, not a word but a light you can see your way by!Ó
ÒAye,Ó Ged answered. ÒLight is a power. A great power, by which we 
exist, but which exists beyond our needs, in itself. Sunlight and starlight are 
time, and time is light. In the sunlight, in the days and years, life is. In a 
dark place life may call upon the light, naming it. But usually when you see a 
wizard name or call upon some thing, some object to appear, that is not the 
same, he calls upon no power greater than himself, and what appears is an 
illusion only. To summon a thing that is not there at all, to call it by 
speaking its true name, that is a great mastery, not lightly used. Not for mere 
hunger's sake. Yarrow, your little dragon has stolen a cake.Ó
Yarrow had listened so hard, gazing at Ged as he spoke, that she had 
not seen the harrekki scuttle down from its warm perch on the kettle-hook over 
the hearth and seize a wheatcake bigger than itself. She took the small scaly 
creature on her knee and fed it bits and crumbs, while she pondered what Ged had 
told her.
ÒSo then you would not summon up a real meat-pie lest you disturb 
what my brother is always talking about- I forget its name-Ó
ÒEquilibrium,Ó Ged replied soberly, for she was very serious.
ÒYes. But, when you were shipwrecked, you sailed from the place in a 
boat woven mostly of spells, and it didn't leak water. Was it illusion?Ó
ÒWell, partly it was illusion, because I am uneasy seeing the sea 
through great holes in my boat, so I patched them for the looks of the thing. 
But the strength of the boat was not illusion, nor summoning, but made with 
another kind of art, a binding-spell. The wood was bound as one whole, one 
entire thing, a boat. What is a boat but a thing that doesn't leak water?Ó
ÒI've bailed some that do,Ó said Murre.
ÒWell, mine leaked, too, unless I was constantly seeing to the 
spell.Ó He bent down from his corner seat and took a cake from the bricks, and 
juggled it in his hands. ÒI too have stolen a cake.Ó
ÒYou have burned fingers, then. And when you're starving on the waste 
water between the far isles you'll think of that cake and say, Ah! had I not 
stolen that cake I might eat it now, alas!- I shall eat my brother's, so he can 
starve with you
ÒThus is Equilibrium maintained,Ó Ged remarked, while she took and 
munched a hot, half-toasted cake; and this made her giggle and choke. But 
presently looking serious again she said, ÒI wish I could truly understand what 
you tell me. I am too stupid.Ó
ÒLittle sister,Ó Ged said, Òit is I that have no skill explaining. If 
we had more time-Ó
ÒWe will have more time,Ó Yarrow said. ÒWhen my brother comes back 
home, you will come with him, for a while at least, won't you?Ó
ÒIf I can,Ó he answered gently.
There was a little pause; and Yarrow asked, watching the harrekki 
climb back to its perch, ÒTell me just this, if it is not a secret: what other 
great powers are there beside the light?Ó
ÒIt is no secret. All power is one in source and end, I think. Years 
and distances, stars and candles, water and wind and wizardry, the craft in a 
man's hand and the wisdom in a tree's root: they all arise together. My name, 
and yours, and the true name of the sun, or a spring of water, or an unborn 
child, all are syllables of the great word that is very slowly spoken by the 
shining of the stars. There is no other power. No other name.Ó
Staying his knife on the carved wood, Murre asked, ÒWhat of death?Ó
The girl listened, her shining black head bent down.

ÒFor a word to be spoken,Ó Ged answered slowly, Òthere must be 
silence. Before, and after.Ó Then all at once he got up, saying, ÒI have no 
right to speak of these things. The word that was mine to say I said wrong. It 
is better that I keep still; I will not speak again. Maybe there is no true 
power but the dark.Ó And he left the fireside and the warm kitchen, taking up 
his cloak and going out alone into the drizzling cold rain of winter in the 
ÒHe is under a curse,Ó Murre said, gazing somewhat fearfully after 
ÒI think this voyage he is on leads him to his death,Ó the girl said, 
Òand he fears that, yet he goes on.Ó She lifted her head as if she watched, 
through the red flame of the fire, the course of a boat that came through the 
seas of winter alone, and went on out into empty seas. Then her eyes filled with 
tears a moment, but she said nothing.
Vetch came home the next day, and took his leave of the notables of 
Ismay, who were most unwilling to let him go off to sea in midwinter on a mortal 
quest not even his own; but though they might reproach him, there was nothing at 
all they could do to stop him. Growing weary of old men who nagged him, he said, 
ÒI am yours, by parentage and custom and by duty undertaken towards you. I am 
your wizard. But it, is time you recalled that, though I am a servant, I am not 
your servant. When I am free to come back I will come back: till then farewell.Ó
At daybreak, as grey light welled up in the east from the sea, the 
two young men set forth in Lookfar from the harbor of Ismay, raising a brown, 
strong-woven sail to the north wind. On the dock Yarrow stood and watched them 
go, as sailor's wives and sisters stand on all the shores of all Earthsea 
watching their men go out on the sea, and they do not wave or call aloud, but 
stand still in hooded cloak of grey or brown, there on the shore that dwindles 
smaller and smaller from the boat while the water grows wide between.

10 The Open Sea

The haven now was sunk from sight and Lookfar's painted eyes, wave-
drenched, looked ahead on seas ever wider and more desolate. In two days and 
nights the companions made the crossing from Iffish to Soders Island, a hundred 
miles of foul weather and contrary winds. They stayed in port there only 
briefly, long enough to refill a waterskin, and to buy a tarsmeared sailcloth to 
protect some of their gear in the undecked boat from seawater and rain. They had 
not provided this earlier, because ordinarily a wizard looks after such small 
conveniences by way of spells, the very least and commonest kind of spells, and 
indeed it takes little more magic to freshen seawater and so save the bother of 
carrying fresh water. But Ged seemed most unwilling to use his craft, or to let 
Vetch use his. He said only, ÒIt's better not,Ó and his friend did not ask or 
argue. For as the wind first filled their sail, both had felt a heavy 
foreboding, cold as that winter wind. Haven, harbor, peace, safety, all that was 
behind. They had turned away. They went now a way in which all events were 
perilous, and no acts were meaningless. On the course on which they were 
embarked, the saying of the least spell might change chance and move the balance 
of power and of doom: for they went now toward the very center of that balance, 
toward the place where light and darkness meet. Those who travel thus say no 
word carelessly.
Sailing out again and coasting round the shores of Soders, where 
white snowfields faded up into foggy hills, Ged took the boat southward again, 
and now they entered waters where the great traders of the Archipelago never 
come, the outmost fringes of the Reach.
Vetch asked no question about their course, knowing that Ged did not 
choose it but went as he must go. As Soders Island grew small and pale behind 
them, and the waves hissed and smacked under the prow, and the great grey plain 
of water circled them all round clear to the edge of the sky, Ged asked, ÒWhat 
lands lie ahead this course?Ó
ÒDue south of Soders there are no lands at all. Southeast you go a 
long way and find little: Pelimer, Kornay, Gosk, and Astowell which is also 
called Lastland. Beyond it, the Open Sea.Ó
ÒWhat to the southwest?Ó
ÒRolameny, which is one of our East Reach isles, and some small 
islets round about it; then nothing till you enter the South Reach: Rood, and 
Toom, and the Isle of the Ear where men do not go.Ó
ÒWe may,Ó Ged said wryly.
ÒI'd rather not,Ó said Vetch- Òthat is a disagreeable part of the 
world, they say, full of bones and portents. Sailors say that there are stars to 
be seen from the waters by the Isle of the Ear and Far Sorr that cannot be seen 
anywhere else, and that have never been named.Ó
ÒAye, there was a sailor on the ship that brought me first to Roke 
who spoke of that. And he told tales of the RaftFolk in the far South Reach, who 
never come to land but once a year, to cut the great logs for their rafts, and 
the rest of the year, all the days and months, they drift on the currents of 
ocean, out of sight of any land. I'd like to see those raft-villages Ó
ÒI would not,Ó said Vetch grinning. ÒGive me land, and land-folk; the 
sea in its bed and I in mine...Ó
ÒI wish I could have seen all the cities of the Archipelago,Ó Ged 
said as he held the sail-rope, watching the wide grey wastes before them. 
ÒHavnor at the world's heart, and Ea where the myths were born, and Shelleth of 
the Fountains on Way; all the cities and the great lands. And the small lands, 
the strange lands of the Outer Reaches, them too. To sail right down the 
Dragons' Run, away in the west. Or to sail north into the ice-floes, clear to 
Hogen Land. Some say that is a land greater than all the Archipelago, and others 
say it is mere reefs and rocks with ice between. No one knows. I should like to 
see the whales in the northern seas.... But I cannot. I must go where I am bound 
to go, and turn my back on the bright shores. I was in too much haste, and now 
have no time left. I traded all the sunlight and the cities and the distant 
lands for a handful of power, for a shadow, for the dark.Ó So, as the mageborn 
will, Ged made his fear and regret into a song, a brief lament, halfsung, that 
was not for himself alone; and his friend replying spoke the hero's words from 
the Deed of Erreth-Akbe, ÒO may I see the earth's bright hearth once more, the 
white towers of Havnor...Ó
So they sailed on their narrow course over the wide forsaken waters. 
The most they saw that day was a school of silver pannies swimming south, but 
never a dolphin leapt nor did the flight of gull or murre or tern break the grey 
air. As the east darkened and the west grew red, Vetch brought out food and 
divided it between them and said, ÒHere's the last of the ale. I drink to the 
one who thought to put the keg aboard for thirsty men in cold weather: my sister 
At that Ged left off his bleak thoughts and his gazing ahead over the 
sea, and he saluted Yarrow more earnestly, perhaps, than Vetch. The thought of 
her brought to his mind the sense of her wise and childish sweetness. She was 
not like any person he had known. (What young girl had he ever known at all? but 
he never thought of that.) ÒShe is like a little fish, a minnow, that swims in a 
clear creek,Ó he said, Ó-defenseless, yet you cannot catch her.Ó
At this Vetch looked straight at him, smiling. ÒYou are a mage born,Ó 
he said. ÒHer true name is KestÓ In the Old Speech, kest is minnow, as Ged well 
knew; and this pleased him to the heart. But after a while he said in a low 
voice, ÒYou should not have told me her name, maybe.Ó
But Vetch, who bad not done so lightly, said, ÒHer name is safe with 
you as mine is. And, besides, you knew it without my telling you...Ó
Red sank to ashes in the west, and ash-grey sank to black. All the 
sea and sky were wholly dark. Ged stretched out in the bottom of the boat to 
sleep, wrapped in his cloak of wool and fur. Vetch, holding the sail-rope, sang 
softly from the Deed of Enlad, where the song tells how the mage Morred the 
White left Havnor in his oarless longship, and coming to the island Solea saw 
Elfarran in the orchards in the spring. Ged slept before the song came to the 
sorry end of their love, Morred's death, the ruin of Enlad, the seawaves, vast 
and bitter, whelming the orchards of Solea. Towards midnight he woke, and 
watched again while Vetch slept. The little boat ran sharp over choppy seas, 
fleeing the strong wind that leaned on her sail, running blind through the 
night. But the overcast had broken, and before dawn the thin moon shining 
between brown-edged clouds shed a weak light on the sea.
ÒThe moon wanes to her dark,Ó Vetch murmured, awake in the dawn, when 
for a while the cold wind dropped. Ged looked up at the white half-ring above 
the paling eastern waters, but said nothing. The dark of the moon that follows 
first after Sunreturn is called the Fallows, and is the contrary pole of the 
days of the Moon and the Long Dance in summer. It is an unlucky time for 
travellers and for the sick; children are not given their true name during the 
Fallows, and no Deeds are sung, nor swords nor edge-tools sharpened, nor oaths 
sworn. It is the dark axis of the year, when things done are ill done.
Three days out from Soders they came, following seabirds and shore-
wrack, to Pelimer, a small isle humped high above the high grey seas. Its people 
spoke Hardic, but in their own fashion, strange even to Vetch's ears. The young 
men came ashore there for fresh water and a respite from the sea, and at first 
were well received, with wonder and commotion. There was a sorcerer in the main 
town of the island, but he was mad. He would talk only of the great serpent that 
was eating at the foundations of Pelimer so that soon the island must go adrift 
like a boat cut from her moorings, and slide out over the edge of the world. At 
first he greeted the young wizards courteously, but as he talked about the 
serpent he began to look askance at Ged: and then he fell to railing at them 
there in the street, calling them spies and servants of the Sea-Snake. The 
Pelimerians looked dourly at them after that, since though mad he was their 
sorcerer. So Ged and Vetch made no long stay, but set forth again before 
nightfall, going always south and east.
In these days and nights of sailing Ged never spoke of the shadow, 
nor directly of his quest; and the nearest Vetch came to asking any question was 
(as they followed the same course farther and farther out and away from the 
known lands of Earthsea ) -Are you sure?-Ó To this Ged answered only, ÒIs the 
iron sure where the magnet lies?Ó Vetch nodded and they went on, no more being 
said by either. But from time to time they talked of the crafts and devices that 
mages of old days had used to find out the hidden name of baneful powers and 
beings: how Nereger of Paln had learned the Black Mage's name from overhearing 
the conversation of dragons, and how Morred had seen his enemy's name written by 
falling raindrops in the dust of the battlefield of the Plains of Enlad. They 
spoke of finding-spells, and invocations, and those Answerable Questions which 
only the Master Patterner of Roke can ask. But often Ged would end by murmuring 
words which Ogion had said to him on the shoulder of Gont Mountain in an autumn 
long ago: ÒTo hear, one must be silent...Ó And he would fall silent, and ponder, 
hour by hour, always watching the sea ahead of the boat's way. Sometimes it 
seemed to Vetch that his friend saw, across the waves and miles and grey days 
yet to, come, the thing they followed and the dark end of their voyage.
They passed between Komay and Gosk in foul weather, seeing neither 
isle in the fog and rain, and knowing they had passed them only on the next day 
when they saw ahead of them an isle of pinnacled cliffs above which sea-gulls 
wheeled in huge flocks whose mewing clamor could be heard from far over the sea. 
Vetch said, 'That will be Astowell, from the look of it. Lastland. East and 
south of it the charts are empty.Ó
ÒYet they who live there may know of farther lands,Ó Ged answered.
ÒWhy do you say so?Ó Vetch asked, for Ged had spoken uneasily; and 
his answer to this again was halting and strange. ÒNot there,Ó he said, gazing 
at Astowell ahead, and past it, or through it ÒNot there. Not on the sea. Not on 
the sea but on dry land: what land? Before the springs of the open sea, beyond 
the sources, behind the gates of daylight-Ó
Then he fell silent, and when he spoke again it was in an ordinary 
voice, as if he had been freed from a spell or a vision, and had no clear memory 
of it.
The port of Astowell, a creek-mouth between rocky heights, was on the 
northern shore of the isle, and all the huts of the town faced north and west; 
it was as if the island turned its face, though from so far away, always towards 
Earthsea, towards mankind.
Excitement and dismay attended the arrival of strangers, in a season 
when no boat had ever braved the seas round Astowell. The women all stayed in 
the wattle huts, peering out the door, hiding their children behind their 
skirts, drawing back fearfully into the darkness of the huts as the strangers 
came up from the beach. The men, lean fellows ill-clothed against the cold, 
gathered in a solemn circle about Vetch and Ged, and each one held a stone 
handaxe or a knife of shell. But once their fear was past they made the 
strangers very welcome, and there was no end to their questions. Seldom did any 
ship come to them even from Soders or Rolameny, they having nothing to trade for 
bronze or fine wares; they had not even any wood. Their boats were coracles 
woven of reed, and it was a brave sailor who would go as far as Gosk or Kornay 
in such a craft. They dwelt all alone here at the edge of all the maps. They had 
no witch or sorcerer, and seemed not to recognise the young wizards' staffs for 
what they were, admiring them only for the precious stuff they were made of, 
wood. Their chief or Isle-Man was very old, and he alone of his people had ever 
before seen a man born in the Archipelago. Ged, therefore, was a marvel to them; 
the men brought their little sons to look at the Archipelagan, so they might 
remember him when they were old. They had never heard of Gont, only of Havnor 
and Ea, and took him for a Lord of Havnor. He did his best to answer their 
questions about the white city he had never seen. But he was restless as the 
evening wore on, and at last he asked the men of the village, as they sat 
crowded round the firepit in the lodgehouse in the reeking warmth of the 
goatdung and broom-faggots that were all their fuel, ÒWhat lies eastward of your 
They were silent, some grinning others grim.
The old Isle-Man answered, ÒThe sea.Ó
ÒThere is no land beyond?Ó
ÒThis is Lastland. There is no land beyond. There is nothing but 
water till world's edge.Ó
ÒThese are wise men, father,Ó said a younger man, Òseafarers, 
voyagers. Maybe they know of a land we do not know of.Ó
ÒThere is no land east of this land,Ó said the old man, and he looked 
long at Ged, and spoke no more to him.
The companions slept that night in the smoky warmth of the lodge. 
Before daylight Ged roused his friend, whispering, ÒEstarriol, wake. We cannot 
stay, we must go.Ó
ÒWhy so soon?Ó Vetch asked, full of sleep.
ÒNot soon- late. I have followed too slow. It has found the way to 
escape me, and so doom me. It must not escape me, for I must follow it however 
far it goes. If I lose it I am lostÓ
ÒWhere do we follow it?Ó
ÒEastward. Come. I filled the waterskins.Ó
So they left the lodge before any in the village was awake, except a 
baby that cried a little in the darkness of some but, and fell still again. By 
the vague starlight they found the way down to the creekmouth, and untied 
Lookfar from the rock cairn where she had been made fast, and pushed her out 
into the black water. So they set out eastward from Astowell into the Open Sea, 
on the first day of the Fallows, before sunrise.
That day they had clear skies. The world's wind was cold and gusty 
from the northeast, but Ged had raised the magewind: the first act of magery he 
had done since he left the Isle of the Hands. They sailed very fast due 
eastward. The boat shuddered with the great, smoking, sunlit waves that hit her 
as she ran, but she went gallantly as her builder had promised, answering the 
magewind as true as any spellenwoven ship of Roke.
Ged spoke not at all that morning, except to renew the power of the 
wind-spell or to keep a charmed strength in the sail, and Vetch finished his 
sleep, though uneasily, in the stern of the boat. At noon they ate. Ged doled 
their food out sparingly, and the portent of this was plain, but both of them 
chewed their bit of salt fish and wheaten cake, and neither said anything.
All afternoon they cleaved eastward never turning nor slackening 
pace. Once Ged broke his silence, saying, ÒDo you hold with those who think the 
world is all landless sea beyond the Outer Reaches, or with those who imagine 
other Archipelagoes or vast undiscovered lands on the other face of the world?Ó
ÒAt this time,Ó said Vetch, ÒI hold with those who think the world 
has but one face, and he who sails too far will fall off the edge of itÓ
Ged did not smile; there was no mirth left in him. ÒWho knows what a 
man might meet, out there? Not we, who keep always to our coasts and shores.Ó
ÒSome have sought to know, and have not returned. And no ship has 
ever come to us from lands we do not know.Ó
Ged made no reply.
All that day, all that night they went driven by the powerful wind of 
magery over the great swells of ocean, eastward. Ged kept watch from dusk till 
dawn, for in darkness the force that drew or drove him grew stronger yet. Always 
he watched ahead, though his eyes in the moonless night could see no more than 
the painted eyes aside the boat's blind prow. By daybreak his dark face was grey 
with weariness, and he was so cramped with cold that he could hardly stretch out 
to rest. He said whispering, ÒHold the magewind from the west, Estarriol,Ó and 
then he slept.
There was no sunrise, and presently rain came beating across the bow 
from the northeast. It was no storm, only the long, cold winds and rains of 
winter. Soon all things in the open boat were wet through, despite the sailcloth 
cover they had bought; and Vetch felt as if he too were soaked clear to the 
bone; and Ged shivered in his sleep. In pity for his friend, and perhaps for 
himself, Vetch tried to turn aside for a little that rude ceaseless wind that 
bore the rain. But though, following Ged's will, he could keep the magewind 
strong and steady, his weatherworking had small power here so far from land, and 
the wind of the Open Sea did not listen to his voice.
And at this a certain fear came into Vetch, as he began to wonder how 
much wizardly power would be left to him and Ged, if they went on and on away 
from the lands where men were meant to live.
Ged watched again that night, and all night held the boat eastward. 
When day came the world's wind slackened somewhat, and the sun shone fitfully; 
but the great swells ran so high that Lookfar must tilt and climb up them as if 
they were hills, and hang at the hillcrest and plunge suddenly, and climb up the 
next again, and the next, and the next, unending.
In the evening of that day Vetch spoke out of long silence. ÒMy 
friend,Ó he said, Òyou spoke once as if sure we would come to land at last. I 
would not question your vision but for this, that it might be a trick, a 
deception made by that which you follow, to lure you on farther than a man can 
go over ocean. For our power may change and weaken on strange seas. And a shadow 
does not tire, or starve, or drown.Ó
They sat side by side on the thwart, yet Ged looked at him now as if 
from a distance, across a wide abyss. His eyes were troubled, and he was slow to 
At last he said, ÒEstarriol, we are coming near.Ó
Hearing his words, his friend knew them to be true. He was afraid, 
then. But he put his hand on Ged's shoulder and said only, ÒWell, then, good; 
that is good.Ó
Again that night Ged watched, for he could not sleep in the dark. Nor 
would he sleep when the third day came. Still they ran with that ceaseless, 
light, terrible swiftness over the sea, and Vetch wondered at Ged's power that 
could hold so strong a magewind hour after hour, here on the Open Sea where 
Vetch felt his own power all weakened and astray. And they went on, until it 
seemed to Vetch that what Ged had spoken would come true, and they were going 
beyond the sources of the sea and eastward behind the gates of daylight. Ged 
stayed forward in the boat, looking ahead as always. But he was not watching the 
ocean now, or not the ocean that Vetch saw, a waste of heaving water to the rim 
of the sky. In Ged's eyes there was a dark vision that overlapped and veiled the 
grey sea and the grey sky, and the darkness grew, and the veil thickened. None 
of this was visible to Vetch, except when he looked at his friend's face; then 
he too saw the darkness for a moment. They went on, and on. And it was as if, 
though one wind drove them in one boat, Vetch went east over the world's sea, 
while Ged went alone into a realm where there was no east or west, no rising or 
setting of the sun, or of the stars.
Ged stood up suddenly in the prow, and spoke aloud. The magewind 
dropped. Lookfar lost headway, and rose and fell on the vast surges like a chip 
of wood. Though the world's wind blew strong as ever straight from the north 
now, the brown sail hung slack, unstirred. And so the boat hung on the waves, 
swung by their great slow swinging, but going no direction.
Ged said, ÒTake down the sail,Ó and Vetch did so quickly, while Ged 
unlashed the oars and set them in the locks and bent his back to rowing.
Vetch, seeing only the waves heaving up and down clear to the end of 
sight could not understand why they went now by oars; but he waited, and 
presently he was aware that the world's wind was growing faint and the swells 
diminishing. The climb and plunge of the boat grew less and less, till at last 
she seemed to go forward under Ged's strong oarstrokes over water that lay 
almost still, as in a land-locked bay. And though Vetch could not see what Ged 
saw, when between his strokes he looked ever and again over his shoulder at what 
lay before the boat's way - though Vetch could not see the dark slopes beneath 
unmoving stars, yet he began to see with his wizard's eye a darkness that welled 
up in the hollows of the waves all around the boat, and he saw the billows grow 
low and sluggish as they were choked with sand.
If this were an enchantment of illusion, it was powerful beyond 
belief; to make the Open Sea seem land. Trying to collect his wits and courage, 
Vetch spoke the Revelation-spell, watching between each slow-syllabled word for 
change or tremor of illusion in this strange drying and shallowing of the abyss 
of ocean. But there was none. Perhaps the spell, though it should affect only 
his own vision and not the magic at work about them, had no power here. Or 
perhaps there was no illusion, and they had come to world's end.
Unheeding, Ged rowed always slower, looking over his shoulder, 
choosing a way among channels or shoals and shallows that he alone could see. 
The boat shuddered as her keel dragged. Under that keel lay the vast deeps of 
the sea, yet they were aground. Ged drew the oars up rattling in their locks, 
and that noise was terrible, for there was no other sound. All sounds of water, 
wind, wood, sail, were gone, lost in a huge profound silence that might have 
been unbroken forever. The boat lay motionless. No breath of wind moved. The sea 
had turned to sand, shadowy, unstirred. Nothing moved in the dark sky or on that 
dry unreal ground that went on and on into gathering darkness all around the 
boat as far as eye could see.
Ged stood up, and took his staff, and lightly stepped over the side 
of the boat. Vetch thought to see him fall and sink down in the sea, the sea 
that surely was there behind this dry, dim veil that hid away water, sky, and 
light. But there was no sea any more. Ged walked away from the boat. The dark 
sand showed his footprints where he went, and whispered a little under his step.
His staff began to shine, not with the werelight but with a clear 
white glow, that soon grew so bright that it reddened his fingers where they 
held the radiant wood.
He strode forward, away from the boat, but in no direction. There 
were no directions here, no north or south or east or west, only towards and 
To Vetch, watching, the light he bore seemed like a great slow star 
that moved through the darkness. And the darkness about it thickened, blackened, 
drew together. This also Ged saw, watching always ahead through the light. And 
after a while he saw at the faint outermost edge of the light a shadow that came 
towards him over the sand.
At first it was shapeless, but as it drew nearer it took on the look 
of a man. An old man it seemed, grey and grim, coming towards Ged; but even as 
Ged saw his father the smith in that figure, he saw that it was not an old man 
but a young one. It was Jasper: Jasper's insolent handsome young face, and 
silver-clasped grey cloak, and stiff stride. Hateful was the look he fixed on 
Ged across the dark intervening air. Ged did not stop, but slowed his pace, and 
as he went forward he raised his staff up a little higher. It brightened, and in 
its light the look of Jasper fell from the figure that approached, and it became 
Pechvarry. But Pechvarry's face was all bloated and pallid like the face of a 
drowned man, and he reached out his hand strangely as if beckoning. Still Ged 
did not stop, but went forward, though there were only a few yards left between 
them now. Then the thing that faced him changed utterly, spreading out to either 
side as if it opened enormous thin wings, and it writhed, and swelled, and 
shrank again. Ged saw in it for an instant Skiorh's white face, and then a pair 
of clouded, staring eyes, and then suddenly a fearful face he did not know, man 
or monster, with writhing lips and eyes that were like pits going back into 
black emptiness.
At that Ged lifted up the staff high, and the radiance of it 
brightened intolerably, burning with so white and great a light that it 
compelled and harrowed even that ancient darkness. In that light all form of man 
sloughed off the thing that came towards Ged. It drew together and shrank and 
blackened, crawling on four short taloned legs upon the sand. But still it came 
forward, lifting up to him a blind unformed snout without lips or ears or eyes. 
As they came right together it became utterly black in the white mage-radiance 
that burned about it, and it heaved itself upright. In silence, man and shadow 
met face to face, and stopped.
Aloud and clearly, breaking that old silence, Ged spoke the shadow's 
name and in the same moment the shadow spoke without lips or tongue, saying the 
same word: ÒGed.Ó And the two voices were one voice.
Ged reached out his hands, dropping his staff, and took hold of his 
shadow, of the black self that reached out to him. Light and darkness met, and 
joined, and were one.
But to Vetch, watching in terror through the dark twilight from far 
off over the sand, it seemed that Ged was overcome, for he saw the clear 
radiance fail and grow dim. Rage and despair filled him, and he sprang out on 
the sand to help his friend or die with him, and ran towards that small fading 
glimmer of light in the empty dusk of the dry land. But as he ran the sand sank 
under his feet, and he struggled in it as in quicksand, as through a heavy flow 
of water: until with a roar of noise and a glory of daylight, and the bitter 
cold of winter, and the bitter taste of salt, the world was restored to him and 
he floundered in the sudden, true, and living sea.
Nearby the boat rocked on the grey waves, empty. Vetch could see 
nothing else on the water; the battering wavetops filled his eyes and blinded 
him. No strong swimmer, he struggled as best he could to the boat, and pulled 
himself up into her. Coughing and trying to wipe away the water that streamed 
from his hair, he looked about desperately, not knowing now which way to look. 
And at last he made out something dark among the waves, a long way off across 
what had been sand and now was wild water. Then he leapt to the oars and rowed 
mightily to his friend, and catching Ged's arms helped and hauled him up over 
the side.
Ged was dazed and his eyes stared as if they saw nothing, but there 
was no hurt to be seen on him. His staff, black yew wood, all radiance quenched, 
was grasped in his right hand, and he would not let go of it. He said no word. 
Spent and soaked and shaking he lay huddled up against the mast, never looking 
at Vetch who raised the sail and turned the boat to catch the north-east wind. 
He saw nothing of the world until, straight ahead of their course, in the sky 
that darkened where the sun had set, between long clouds in a bay of clear blue 
light, the new moon shone: a ring of ivory, a rim of horn, reflected sunlight 
shining across the ocean of the dark.
Ged lifted his face and gazed at that remote bright crescent in the 
He gazed for a long time, and then he stood up erect, holding his 
staff in his two hands as a warrior holds his long sword. He looked about at the 
sky, the sea, the brown swelling sail above him, his friend's face.
ÒEstarriol,Ó he said, Òlook, it is done. It is over.Ó He laughed. 
ÒThe wound is healed,Ó he said, ÒI am whole, I am free.Ó Then he bent over and 
hid his face in his arms, weeping like a boy.
Until that moment Vetch had watched him with an anxious dread, for he 
was not sure what had happened there in the dark land. He did not know if this 
was Ged in the boat with him, and his hand had been for hours ready to the 
anchor, to stave in the boat's planking and sink her there in midsea, rather 
than carry back to the harbors of Earthsea the evil thing that he feared might 
have taken Ged's look and form. Now when he saw his friend and heard him speak, 
his doubt vanished. And he began to see the truth, that Ged had neither lost nor 
won but, naming the shadow of his death with his own name, had made himself 
whole: a man: who, knowing his whole true self, cannot be used or possessed by 
any power other than himself, and whose life therefore is lived for life's sake 
and never in the service of ruin, or pain, or hatred, or the dark. In the 
Creation of Ea, which is the oldest song, it is said, ÒOnly in silence the word, 
only in dark the light, only in dying life: bright the hawk's flight on the 
empty sky.Ó That song Vetch sang aloud now as he held the boat westward, going 
before the cold wind of the winter night that blew at their backs from the 
vastness of the Open Sea.
Eight days they sailed and eight again, before they came in sight of 
land. Many times they had to refill their waterskin with spell-sweetened water 
of the sea; and they fished, but even when they called out fisherman's charms 
they caught very little, for the fish of the Open Sea do not know their own 
names and pay no heed to magic. When they had nothing left to eat but a few 
scraps of smoked meat Ged remembered what Yarrow had said when he stole the cake 
from the hearth, that he would regret his theft when he came to hunger on the 
sea; but hungry as he was the remembrance pleased him. For she had also said 
that he, with her brother, would come home again.
The magewind had borne them for only three days eastward, yet sixteen 
days they sailed westward to return. No men have ever returned from so far out 
on the Open Sea as did the young wizards Estarriol and Ged in the Fallows of 
winter in their open fishingboat. They met no great Storms, and steered steadily 
enough by the compass and by the star Tolbegren, taking a course somewhat 
northward of their outbound way. Thus they did not come back to Astowell, but 
passing by Far Toly and Sneg without sighting them, first raised land off the 
southernmost cape of Koppish. Over the waves they saw cliffs of stone rise like 
a great fortress. Seabirds cried wheeling over the breakers, and smoke of the 
hearthfires of small villages drifted blue on the wind.
From there the voyage to Iffish was not long. They came in to Ismay 
harbor on a still, dark evening before snow. They tied up the boat Lookfar that 
had borne them to the coasts of death's kingdom and back, and went up through 
the narrow streets to the wizard's house. Their hearts were very light as they 
entered into the firelight and warmth under that roof; and Yarrow ran to meet 
them, crying with joy.