My 6th grade reading teacher, Mrs. Terrell, swore to us that A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin was the best book in all of fantasy literature. I recall finding that statement rather dubious, especially having read Anne McCaffrey, but I was willing to give it a go.
Published by a tiny company called Parnassus in 1968, A Wizard of Earthsea tells the tale of a young mage named Ged who was training as an apprentice wizard. It’s the first book in a series of five novels and quite a number of short stories. The story follows a fairly traditional Hero’s Journey, complete with a quest and the fight against evil.
While I didn’t consider it the best novel in all of fantasy, I loved the world of Earthsea. Seeing an author create such an in-depth world made me want to duplicate the task. After finishing the novel, I pulled out my sketchpad and set about drawing detailed maps for the world of my novels. I then made detailed sketches of my characters, the dragons in my book, and finished by brainstorming details of the religion and culture of my character’s worlds. In fact, if you click on the picture to see it larger, you’ll see the dragon I drew in 6th grade and the map on the other side that bled through the page when scanned. 😉 If I can find a copy of that map, I’ll definitely have to post it. It was a hoot from my 12 year old self! (That picture is 24 years old…I feel old!)
If anything, I would say that A Wizard of Earthsea gave me my love of cartography and map making. (If you haven’t seen the map I made for Boahim, the world from Amaskan’s Blood, you should check it out now by clicking here: The Little Dozen Kingdoms of Boahim. (Trust me, it’s MUCH better than what I drew at age twelve!)
Want to read other Flashback Fridays? Click here to see the list in this series.