In Chapter one of A Wizard of Earthsea, we are immediately thrown into an entirely new universe in which Le Guin quickly introduces the idea of magic and continues to beautifully set the stage for this new pantheon of characters. Out of these we have Duny, our protagonist. Le Guin first describes Duny as “a thriving weed, a tall, quick boy, loud and proud and full of temper”(2). Which without establishing much visual description, or stories of his life, allows us to already feel connected to him. This metaphor compares Duny to a weed rather than any other plant, which is significant because weeds generally carry a negative connotation alongside them. If Le Guin used a tree in her metaphor, we would most likely receive a completely different perception of Duny’s attitude and general personality. As for the setting, Le Guin has the difficult task of creating a new world. To do this, she uses some of the most beautiful and effective imagery that I’ve ever read. Such as the first scene describing Gont where she sets the stage by helping the reader to visualize Ten Alders which is shown in the following passage.
“High on the mountain at the head of the Northward Vale. Below the village the pastures and plowlands of the Vale slope downward level below level towards the sea, and other towns lie on the bends of the River Ar; above the village only forest rises ridge behind ridge to the stone and snow of the heights.”(1)
Once you get into the story, you start to be able to conceptualize Earthsea, and draw parallels between this fantastical archipelago and our own Earth. My one criticism of Le Guin’s style would be that it occasionally gets in the way of the flow of the story. Though grammatically correct, using an extreme amount of comma disrupts the way the story is read. For example, in the passage: “She threw clear water on the fire till the smoke cleared away, and gave the boy water to drink, and when the air was clear and he could speak again she taught him the true name of the falcon, to which the falcon must come”(5) The word and is used three times and the clauses seem unnecessarily choppy. Might just be personal preference, but when I read a story where the writing sounds like messy poetry, it makes it difficult to full comprehend everything that is happening.
Overall, I believe that Le Guin’s writing style, being as different as it is, further affirms to the reader that this story is not of our world. When an author has a decisively abnormal style of writing it is often on purpose, and not just because of personal choice.