Study Guide

A Wizard of Earthsea Chapter 8

By Ursula K. Le Guin

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Chapter 8


  • Ged buys a small boat and fixes it up, since he knows all about shipbuilding (thanks to Pechvarry). He sails northwest across the sea, retracing the route he flew as a falcon in Chapter 7. He wants to find the shadow, and especially wants to find it over the water, since he feels that water is associated with life.
  • Unfortunately, Ged first runs into rain and some other weather that's not so great for hunting shadows. Fed up with this hunt, Ged yells out to summon his shadow (8.10) – and, what do you know, his shadow shows up. Why didn't Ged summon money – or at least a snack?
  • Since Ged is the one chasing, the shadow starts to run away, even though the weather is worse for shadow-hunting. They run so far and fast that Ged isn't quite sure where they are anymore.
  • The shadow tries to lose Ged in some fog and Ged crashes his boat. (Sound familiar?)
  • Ged nearly drowns (and somehow avoids another coma), but gets tossed up on a small deserted island that turns out to be not so deserted after all.
  • There are two old castaways here in a small hut, and they're terrified of Ged. But he's a pretty good guest since all he wants is to stay warm and breathe air rather than water.
  • Ged wonders if these two people are some royal children from Karg who have been exiled (since their rival wouldn't want to spill royal blood – which is how people thought before TV was invented).
  • Then we get this: "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" (8.41). This kind of seems like a tease to get you to read the next book in the series.
  • One of these castaways gives Ged a broken ring as a present. In return, Ged turns their well into sweet water.
  • Ged makes himself a new boat out of scraps of driftwood and magic (which is our new band name), and he goes sailing south after the shadow.
  • (And now he realizes that the shadow pulled the same fog trick on him that he pulled on the Kargad warriors when he was a boy in Chapter 1, which explains why that sounded so familiar.)
  • While Ged is exploring an island, the shadow appears in his boat and Ged tries to grab it. The shadow escapes but Ged comes to a realization:  "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" (8.59).
  • We're not sure what that means, but we're excited to find out.
  • Ged sails to a nearby island where he finds a village and can finally rest.

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