Ged, or Sparrowhawk, the title character. Over the course of the novel, he learns the true meaning of wizardry, its limits as well as its capabilities. As a youth on the Isle of Gont, Ged shows potential as a wizard. He also displays overconfidence and a willingness to try magic beyond his skill. Earthsea is a world of widely scattered islands, some sophisticated and some modest and plain. When Ged goes to the school for wizards on Roke Island, he feels that he does not fit in. His home island is isolated and backward, and many of the students on Roke are from wealthy and sophisticated families on important islands. Because he feels inferior, Ged attempts wizardry for which he is not yet prepared. Jasper, a fellow student, taunts Ged into attempting a dangerous summoning of a dead spirit. Ged’s attempt fails; he summons a mysterious shadow. Ged’s release of the shadow upsets the balance of Earthsea, which wizards are charged to preserve. The shadow pursues Ged across Earthsea. Ged must deal with it or die. In his desperate efforts to deal with the shadow, Ged matures, eventually becoming the most powerful wizard on Earthsea.
Ogion, Ged’s first tutor in wizardry. Living as a hermit on the Isle of Gont, Ogion teaches Ged wizardry, but not as much as Ged would like to learn. Ogion has to straighten up the messes Ged makes while trying to guide him toward maturity. When Ged releases a malign spirit unintentionally, Ogion must dispel it. Ogion insists that a wizard should use his powers sparingly and never for selfish reasons.
Vetch, Ged’s best friend. Vetch and Ged meet at the school for wizards on Roke. In contrast to Ged, Vetch is calm and easygoing. He has neither the sheer natural ability of Ged nor Ged’s pride and...
(The entire section is 744 words.)