Earth sea

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Erdsee is a fictional world that was designed by the American author Ursula K. Le Guin and first appeared in her short story The Word of Unbinding in 1964 . She took up this world again in her 1968 novel A Wizard of Earthsea , which was followed by four other novels and a collection of short stories.

The stories are significantly influenced by the philosophy of Daoism . The balance of things and the principle of inaction play an essential role in the novels.


The world of the Earth Sea consists of a huge archipelago of hundreds of small islands that lie in a large ocean. It is uncertain whether other, larger land masses exist, although there are hints in the novels of lands "beyond the west" where the dragons have their realm.

In the novels, the term “archipelago” is only used for the central group of some islands around the “Inner Sea”. The other islands are roughly divided into four groups - one for each direction - and the Kargad Islands, four large islands in the northeast, on which the warlike people of the Kargs live. Some of the islands that play key roles in the novels are Havnor , Rok as the location of the magic school, Gont , Atuan , Osskil , Weg , Iffish .

Magic in Earth Sea

Magic is an important element in the world of Earth Sea. The practice of magic lies with those who are born with magical powers. Those who want to officially become a magician often study at the magic school on Rok, a kind of university. In addition to magicians, there are also women with magical powers. However, since they are not trained to be magicians due to the patriarchal social structure of the world, they can only become witches with less skill and even less reputation among the population. In addition, there are also wizards who, unlike magicians, did not have a full training and thus could never come close in power to a magician. The main criterion of magic is that every object has a true name in the original language, which is different from the name in everyday language. Whoever knows the real name of an object can influence it. The real name, which each person has received himself, is kept secret, because his knowledge means power over his bearer. Sharing it with someone is considered a great vote of confidence.

A Wizard of Earthsea , 1968

The young Duny, called Sparrowhawk, grew up on the island of Gont as the son of a bronze smith. His aunt, a witch, promotes his great magical talent. After the boy fended off an attack on his village with the help of magic, the magician Ogion gave him his real name: Ged.

Ged decides to go to the wizarding school on the island of Rok. In an argument with a classmate, he accidentally conjures up a shadowy being from the underworld, a prayer that persecutes him from then on and seeks his life.

On his escape, Ged ends up with Ogion again. This convinces him to face the being and to fight it. Together with his friend Vetsch, Ged takes up the chase.

The Tombs of Atuan , 1970

On her fifth birthday, Tenar is brought to Atuan, where she grows up as the priestess Arha. Under the throne hall is a labyrinth that she gradually explores. There is supposed to be treasure in the labyrinth. According to a legend, there is said to be part of a ring that the wizards want to steal. One day she meets a magician in the labyrinth, Ged. She decides not to kill this young man but to torture him. She keeps him alive and locks him in a dungeon in the labyrinth. It is only when her own life is in danger that she decides to flee with Ged.

The Farthest Shore , 1972

A strange phenomenon threatens the Earth Sea. Magic loses its power; Songs have been forgotten, people and animals are disgusting or crazy. Accompanied by Arren, the young prince of Enlad, the archmage Ged leaves the island of Rok to find the cause. After a long journey with many wrong paths, they reach the end of the world and cross the realm of the dead. There they represent the magician Cob, who had opened a rift between the worlds of life and death in order to achieve eternal life. To defeat Cob and close the rift, Ged sacrifices all of his magical powers.

When they reach the world of the living again, Arren realizes that he has fulfilled the centuries-old prediction of the last king of Earth Sea: "He shall inherit my throne who has crossed the dark land alive and has come to the distant shores of day." Since that time the empire had been split up into many small principalities. Now it can be reunited under Arren.

Le Guin describes two possible endings: In one, Ged sails alone into the ocean after Arren's coronation, one never hears from him again. In the other depiction, Ged returns to the forest on his home island Gont. In 1990, seventeen years after The Farthest Shore was released , Le Guin decided on the second ending, which she continues in Tehanu .

Tehanu , 1990

The plot of Tehanu follows on almost immediately from The Farthest Shore . Tenar (from The Tombs of Atuan ) settled in Gont, got married and had two children who have now grown up. After the death of her husband, she feels lonely and unsure of her own identity. She adopts Therru, a girl who was mutilated and abused by her father.

Ged, the former archmage, robbed of his magical powers after The Farthest Shore , returns to Gont, joins the village community and finally marries Tenar. Together they care for Therru and try to protect them and themselves from their father and the misogynist wizard Aspen. At the same time, they have to look for a place and an identity not only for themselves but also for Therru. In the end, it turns out that Therru is much more than it appears to be.

Tales from Earthsea , 2001

This volume comprises six shorter stories from different epochs of the history of the Earth Sea. Myths of history such as the founding of the wizarding school of Rok or the story of Morred and Elfarran are elaborated, of which one only learns from hints in the novels, but which are mentioned again and again. Two of the stories are not written specifically for the collection, but have been published in advance. These are the Levitating Dragon published in Legends magazine in 1997 and the Shadow Rose and Diamond published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1999 .

In The Finder the reader learns how the magic school of Rok was founded about three hundred years before the events of Ged and Tenar. Without the existence of a central government, those gifted with magic are forced to enter the service of the mostly tyrannical and cruel local rulers or to operate in secret. The secret organization Die Hand is founded from an association of secret wizards and witches, which the extremely talented magician Medra joins. On the magically hidden island of Rok they first set up a loose organization and later the school.

The story of Schattenrose und Diamant takes place sometime during the time when the throne of Havnor was vacant, i.e. between the death of the last king Maharion in 452 after Morred's accession to the throne and the coronation of Lebannen in 1058. Diamant, the son of a wealthy industrialist, shows as Child great talent for magic. As a boy he falls in love with Rose, the daughter of a witch. When he realized during his training that he had to be celibate as a magician , he got into a conflict of interests, especially since he saw himself more as a musician than a magician. He leaves his teacher, but finds that Rose has turned away from him in the meantime and has found a new love. Disaffected, he decides to get into his father's business. When he sees Rose again years later, he realizes that he has done everything wrong, runs off with her and becomes very successful as a traveling musician.

The bones of the earth tells of the aged magician Dulse. As he prepares for the approaching death, he reflects on his life. One learns that one of his students was Ogion, who later became the master of Ged. In the end, he sacrificed himself to protect his home island of Gont from a severe earthquake. He lets Ogion help him with this.

The upland moor is set at the time Ged was the archmage of Rok. He is looking for an exiled mad magician and finds him on a remote island, where he has apparently lost his potential for danger.

Levitating Dragon occurs a few years after Tehanu and is intended as a bridge to the following novel, which was already planned or started at the time of writing. Irian, called the Levitating Dragon, is the daughter of a seedy landlord. You yourself as well as others feel a power in her that no one can interpret. She would like to travel to Rok to learn to understand herself, although as a woman she is actually forbidden to go to school there. An exiled student finally enables her to take revenge on his old masters. When she arrives at school, an argument ensues about how to deal with her. The mages' rift continues when Thorion claims the vacant office of archmage, a decision not everyone welcomes.

In the appendix A Description of Earth Sea , Le Guin provides an overview of the history, current cultural and political structure according to the first four novels, languages, scripts and the essence of magic.

The Other Wind (Return to Earth Sea) , 2001

At first, a young village magician named Alder is at the center of the story. He is plagued by nightmares in which the dead in the dark land beyond the wall call him and ask to help them back into the world. In search of an interpretation of these dreams and the redemption of them, Erles path leads through the wizarding school of Rok, the former archmage Ged and to the court of King Lebannens, where he also meets Tenar and Tehanu. In an arc spanning all the stages of history to date, it turns out that the violations of natural balance described in the previous volumes were only the prelude to the uncovering of the greatest of all disturbances. This began with the prehistoric separation of the primitive sex into dragons and humans. At the end a big council takes place in the Immanent Grove of Rok, in which hardish and barren people, dragons, magicians and politicians take part. There the imbalanced world is brought back into equilibrium through fundamental restructuring. At the same time, the main characters Ged, Tenar, Tehanu, Lebannen and Alder arrive at the respective ends of their life paths, partly through the fulfillment of their fate, partly through death.

Works of the Earth Sea saga


  • A Wizard of Earthsea. 1968 ( The Magician of the Earth Sea. 1979)
  • The Tombs of Atuan. 1970 ( The Tombs of Atuan. 1979)
  • The Farthest Shore. 1972 ( The Far Shore. 1979)
  • Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea. 1990 ( Tehanu. 1992)
  • The Other Wind , 2001 ( return to Erdsee. 2003)

Short stories

  • The Word of Unbinding. 1964 ( The word of release. In: The twelve strokes of the wind rose. 1980)
  • The Rule of Names. 1964 ( The rule of names. In: The twelve lines of the wind rose. 1980)
  • Dragonfly. 1997 ( Floating Dragon. In: The Legacy of Earth Sea. 2001)
  • Darkrose and Diamond. 1999 ( Schattenrose und Diamant. In: The legacy of Erdsee. 2001)
  • The Finder. 2001 ( The Finder. In: The Legacy of Earth Sea. 2001)
  • The Bones of the Earth. 2001 ( The bones of the earth. In: The legacy of Erdsee. 2001)
  • On the high marsh. 2001 ( Im Hochmoor. In: The legacy of Erdsee. 2001)
  • The Daughter of Odren. 2014 ( The daughter of the Prince of Odren. In: Erdsee: The illustrated complete edition. 2018) Contents
  • Firelight. 2018 ( Feuerschein. In: Erdsee: The illustrated complete edition. 2018)

Television films

In December 2004 the US broadcaster Sci Fi Channel produced a three-hour loose adaptation of "The Magician of the Earth Sea" and "The Tombs of Atuan". Earthsea - Die Saga von Erdsee (original title " Legends of Earthsea ") was heavily criticized by fans even before it was broadcast because the film is too far removed from the original. Even the author said she didn't know what this film was about.

Animated movie

The Japanese animation studio Ghibli produced the anime movie Die Chroniken von Erdsee (original title: Gedo Senki ) based on the book Das ferne Ufer (with elements from other books ).

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