A Wizard of Earthsea
by Ursula K. Le Guin
A Wizard of Earthsea Chapter 3 Summary
How It All Goes Down
The School for Wizards
- Ged eventually finds the school for wizards. But he can't enter the school until he gives the doorkeeper his true name, so he complies. Also, a shadow seems to follow him.
- Ged meets Archmage Nemmerle, and has a moment of enlightenment where it seems like the birds and the water in the fountain are talking to him. Which is better than anything we ever experienced meeting a new principal or teacher.
- Ged reads Nemmerle the letter Ogion sent, which says that Ged will be the greatest wizard from Gont. (You know, no pressure.)
- Nemmerle mumbles to himself and Ged suddenly feels as if he's alone among shadows in a desert. Let's just say it: the School for Wizards is a weird place.
- At least one thing is normal for a school: not all the students there get along. Ged gets a tour from an older student named Jasper and they're both a little rude to each other. (Ged thinks Jasper's mocking him, so he acts rudely back.)
- Ged and Jasper run into a nice student named Vetch who joins them for the rest of the tour.
- The tour includes the usual places for a boarding school – you eat here, sleep over there, read books there.
- But there are also magical places. For instances, there's the Immanent Grove, which is a forest that you can't come close to. (It almost seems like Le Guin is making a joke about the words "immanent" and "imminent.")
- Also, there's Roke Knoll, which is a grassy hill where magic is particularly strong.
- Jasper and Vetch demonstrate their illusions, and Jasper asks Ged to do some Gontish magic. Now, Ged doesn't really know magic that's quite as cool as their stuff, so he pretends to be above such silly illusions.
- And since Ged now feels like a fool, he really hates Jasper now. Luckily, Vetch is a nice guy, and they hang out.
- Ged studies hard, partly in order to beat Jasper, which is the best reason for wanting to be a master magician.
- He studies with the Nine Masters of Roke (though you may notice that this list doesn't actually add up to nine in this chapter):
- (1) The Master Chanter teaches history (which is in song form, of course).
- (2) The Master Windkey teaches weatherworking.
- (3) The Master Herbal teaches, well, herbs. And healing.
- (4) The Master Hand teaches tricks and illusions.
- Ged is good at illusions, but he wants to really change one thing into another.
- The Master Hand gives Ged a long speech that Ged doesn't pay attention to, but that you should (3.57). The gist of that speech is basically this: to really change a thing, you have to change its true name; but such a change may upset balance, so you really have to know what you're doing.
- (5) The Master Namer lives in a far tower and teaches the students the true names of things.
- See, in this world, everything has its own name – so, there's a name for water, but there's also a name for each sea and each harbor, etc. And you have to know something's true name to exert some power over it. Which is why people don't like giving up their true names.
- Also, dragons speak this language, so you know it's awesome.
- Like everyone else, the Master Namer reminds Ged that balance is important, but we're not sure he's really learned that lesson just yet.
- Which is strange, since he's so smart at all his other lessons. He's so good with names that he gets to leave early. Sweet.
- On his walk back to school, he sleeps in the rain, as Ogion taught him to.
- In the morning, he discovers an otak curled up in his cloak to stay warm. An otak is something like a flying squirrel (at least it sounds like that to us), and Ged keeps it as a pet.
- He names it Hoeg, which is Old Speech for "otak" – so it's a bit like naming a dog "Dog." Maybe he'll get better at naming pets when he's a master magician …
- Back at school, it's a holiday and Ged is happy. At least, he is until Jasper shows off some illusion for the Archmage's guests. That super annoys Ged. And you wouldn't like him when he's annoyed.
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