Study Guide

A Wizard of Earthsea Chapter 9

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Chapter 9


  • Ged gets another boat, because apparently a boat made of scraps and magic isn't good enough for him.
  • Since Ged fixes the old man's eyes in payment, the man asks Ged to name the boat Lookfar.
  • This poor village reminds Ged of home, and he would stay, but Ged's got a quest. (This is the line we always use to get us out of uncomfortable discussions.)
  • Ged sails to Vemish island, but the people there are afraid of him because their sorcerer says he's cursed and people on the island saw someone the other day who looked just like Ged.
  • So Ged sails on to Iffish island, where everything is delightfully normal. Ged enjoys seeing children play and families do whatever families do. (Eat together?)
  • But the innkeeper there subtly lets Ged know that they already have their own magician, so he should get a move on.
  • Ged plans to, but then he runs into their magician – Vetch. After a little confusion – Vetch thought he saw Ged's ghost the other day – the old friends embrace each other and catch up at Vetch's home.
  • Ged meets Vetch's younger siblings, his brother Murre and sister Yarrow. He also gets to see what a normal life is like, with a home and friends and all.
  • But Vetch is willing to give up all of this (temporarily) in order to follow Ged on his quest. Ged at first refuses this offer, but we all know how this is going to end up: with the two of them in a boat.
  • Vetch also tells Ged about Jasper, who never won his wizard's staff, which we suppose is just a fine way of tying up loose ends. Is there anyone else left from the first few chapters for us to hear about?
  • While Vetch takes care of some pre-quest business, Ged gets to know Murre and Yarrow. Murre is Ged's age – nineteen – but they both envy each other's lives: to Ged, Murre's life seems peaceful; to Murre, Ged's life seems heroic. This is what passes for comedy in this otherwise pretty serious book.
  • Ged tells Yarrow and Murre about how wizards have to keep the equilibrium and about how magic works. They talk about how you have to know the true name of things to work magic.
  • They chat about magic and power for a while, and how we're all "syllables of the great word that is very slowly spoken by the shining of the stars" (9.77).
  • These parts often get glossed over in movie versions, and it might sound boring and talky, but it's really kind of interesting to think about where power comes from and what people use it for.
  • The next day, Ged and Vetch go off, while Yarrow waits for them on the dock. (So, yeah, Yarrow's here mostly just to cook and wait for the heroes. Le Guin writes more heroic women characters in other books in the series.)

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