2. Ged


Ged has grown older and more powerful since the previous books.

What did you think of him as a mentor to Arren?

As an Archmage during a crisis?

As an old man nearing the end of his vocation?

How does he compare to other wizard-mentors in fantasy literature?


  • 1

    Ged has grown older - how old exactly isn't clear. I think it;s mentioned someone that he's only been archmage for five years, which suggests to me that he's not all that old, and still has plenty of room to grow. In this books, as in all the others, he's competent but contemplative. He always seems to know the answer to his immediate problem, if not to the large problem that besets him. I didn't get the sense he was nearing the end of his vocation - not at all. But in the end he had to sacrifice who he was for a cause he believed it. And he did it quietly and willingy. So, again, an archetype - much like Gandalf, Dumbledore, or Obi Wan Kenobi - all of whom sacrificed themselves for their cause, and so that the people they were mentoring could carry on in their vein.

    Is there something of the Heroe's Journey in that?

  • 0

    There are occasional comments about sundry great deeds that he has performed between books 2 and 3, for example, capping the Black Well of Fundaur (whatever that is :) ). So we can assume that he has quite adequately proved his competence... but my impression is that he, rather than any of the other Masters of Roke, is Archmage, not so much because of power but because of wisdom.

    Something that comes over from time to time is that being Archmage is not really much fun - he longs to retire back to Gont and hang out with Tenar in the woods and hills of that island, but instead he continues carrying out what seems to be a rather burdensome duty.

  • 1

    Ged has two goals in this book. One is to stop the death of magic, by closing up the hole in the wall bounding the land of the dead. The other is to develop Arren so he can become the true king of Earthsea. I think the former is the more important to him, but he wants, perhaps needs, to use and develop Arren's strength in the process.

    I think he's an Archmage during a crisis. He can see there is a crisis more than the other elders of Roke, even though he's unsure of what the crisis is and what should be done about it.

    I agree with @Apocryphal : Ged wasn't looking to retire. In fact, I think he was fully expecting to be the advisor to King Arren for many years to come.

  • 1
    Yes, he's not all that old. He's at the height of his powers, but willingly sacrifices them up to deal with the crisis. The question is what is Ged going to do now. He no longer has power or purpose. His loss of power could also be seen as being struck with a disability.
  • 2
    edited December 2019

    I got the impression that Ged didn’t expect to survive this quest, even from the beginning. Maybe I’m seeing his equanimity in the face of his demise and reading it as fatalism, but that was my impression. Plus, he’s already seen that punching a hole in the world requires the life of an Archmage to repair (because he’s the one who punched the hole it in the first book).

    You could read The Farthest Shore without having read the other books, but I like how Ged’s own transgressions in A Wizard of Earthsea are never far from mind here, and that we can see how that experience gives him the strength to ignore Cob’s temptations. Ged’s like “Been there. Done that. Got the scars to prove it.”

    And, as @RichardAbbott pointed out in the other thread, Sparrowhawk often says that he’s the one following Arren. For being the greatest wizard since Erreth-Akbe, he’s very humble.

    Also, I love how Ged just knows people’s true names and just naturally brings it up in conversation:

    “If the rowan’s roots are shallow, it bears no crown.” At this Arren looked up startled, for his true name, Lebannen, meant the rowan tree.

  • 1

    I don't know that he's following Arren because he's humble. I think he's following Arren - or at least telling Arren he following him - so he can see what choices Arren is making. It's a test of sorts. It was already discussed in the wizard's council how the land needs a king, and I think Ged agrees with this prognosis. But is Arren that king? Ged means to find out, even as he tries to solve the ills of the world.

    I also don't really think Ged expected he would not survive - but I do think he expected to make a great sacrifice, whatever the form.

    I love how he knows people's names, too. There are many great masters in Earthsea - the master chanter, the master namer, the master patterner, the Windkey. Ged seems to have at least competence in all the fields. I'm remined of The Master of the Five Magics by Lyndon Hardy, which we read in the early G+ days.

Sign In or Register to comment.