Study Guide

A Wizard of Earthsea Chapter 4

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Chapter 4

The Loosing of the Shadow

  • Ged at fifteen is a great student but kind of a loner. (Vetch is off studying in the Immanent Grove.)
  • He's such a good student that (6) the Master Changer teaches Ged some more powerful magic, so Ged can turn himself into a hawk.
  • (The narrator notes that the Master Changer doesn't mean any harm – which is like a huge neon sign saying that harm is totally going to come of this.)
  • (7) The Master Summoner teaches, well, summoning; and he reminds Ged how things can easily be unbalanced. (For instance, if you make rain here, you might cause a drought elsewhere.)
  • During summer festival time, when Vetch and Jasper are back, there's a feast, which ends as feasts usually do, with Jasper and Ged arguing for real about who has more power.
  • Ged turns into a falcon (thanks, Master Changer), but Jasper remains unimpressed. So Ged takes them all out to Roke Knoll where he's going to summon a spirit of the dead.
  • Luckily (well, not really), Ged recalls the spell he cast in Ogion's cottage in Chapter 2. He uses that spell to open up a path to the lands of the dead, which sure sounds like a good time.
  • It works for a moment, but then a shadow monster comes out and claws Ged's face. Archmage Nemmerle shows up and scares the monster off, but it takes all his magic to manage this.
  • Ged lives, but is basically in a coma for a while, while Archmage Nemmerle dies after using up all of his magic. So much for all of that working out.
  • The Nine Masters of Roke elect to make Gensher of Way the next Archmage.
  • Ged heals slowly, but none of his old classmates recognize him because he seems so weak (not to mention the scar he gained).
  • Ged goes back to school on Roke because, well, Gensher tells him that he's only safe on Roke Island – if he goes out, the shadow will possess him and turn him into a horrible monster called a gebbeth. The monster only wants Ged since they're connected.
  • And just in case Ged hasn't figured it out, Archmage Gensher notes that what Ged did was quite dumb.
  • Ged is behind in his studies now, thanks to that coma, and all the boys leave him alone.
  • One night, Vetch shows up to say good-bye now that Vetch is graduating and returning home to Iffish island. But just to cement their friendship, they give each other their true names – Ged and Estarriol – which is even better than writing "BFF" in a yearbook.
  • Since Vetch trusts Ged, Ged starts to feel better about himself.
  • He applies himself to his studies and wins the scholarship. No, wait, we're thinking about some other story. In this story, Ged passes all his magical tests without killing any more of his teachers.
  • He also tries to learn about the shadow monster, but no one knows much about it, and Google hasn't been invented yet.
  • When he is eighteen, Ged also learns from (8) The Master Patterner in the Immanent Grove, but no one knows what that guy teaches.
  • As his graduation task, Ged has to figure out the name of (9) The Master Doorkeeper. Ged realizes he can't figure it out on his own and so asks the Doorkeeper what his name is. So, maybe the final lesson is something like: feel free to ask questions.
  • Ged graduates and sails to Low Torning, which is a town that needs a wizard.

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