A Wizard of Earthsea describes the maturation of a fantasy superhero. Though Ged, the main character, has the ability to develop extraordinary magical power, he is in many ways like all children; he must learn to accept responsibility for himself and for others before he can enter adult life. Ged's problem is special because he is gifted and must learn about his gift; but at the same time he must go through the ordinary process of growing up. In Le Guin's world view, this process involves coming to know oneself and the world. Ged must learn to be patient, to listen, to recognize the world outside himself, and to act for the good of all rather than to satisfy his vanity. He must learn his true powers and their limits. And finally, he must learn who he is by taking full responsibility for his own choices and actions.
Even though he is a fantastic character in a fantasy world, Ged is similar to any gifted child. The fantasy elements allow an enlargement of gifted children's ordinary problems of growing up. Ged grows through a series of exciting and often touching adventures. One of the main attractions of the novel, in addition to Ged himself, the fantasy, and the adventure, is Le Guin's skill at showing the friendships that make Ged's successes and mistakes seem so important.