Short Story Review: “Dragonfly”

Earthsea series
By Ursula K. Le Guin
Collected in Legends
Edited by Robert Silverberg

Set on the island world of Earthsea, “Dragonfly” follows a young girl as she seeks to discover her true self. Dragonfly, born to one of four heirs to the domain of Iria on the island of Way, wishes to discover the meaning of a power she feels within herself. The local witch senses her power and, afraid of what it might mean, refuses to teach the girl.

When a young wizard falls in lust with Dragonfly, he offers to help her enter the Great House on the island of Roke, where wizards are trained and no women are allowed. Wishing only to convince her to sleep with him, the plan backfires on the young wizard when they reach the island.

Dragonfly is allowed into the Great House by the Doorkeeper, but many of the wizards, led by the power-hungry Master Summoner, disagree with his decision and Dragonfly is forced to leave. The Doorkeeper lets her out through a different door, where she meets and is apprenticed to the Patterner. As he helps her learn to listen to the world around her, the disagreement in the Great House builds to a climax which could result in Dragonfly’s banishment from the isle of Roke.

This story was very well-written and made me curious to read more about the world of Earthsea. It was a little difficult to follow in some places, but I don’t know if that was the story itself or my unfamiliarity with the Earthsea universe. I would definitely recommend this story to anyone who is a fan of the series or who is interested in expanding their circle of fantasy reading.

This review originally appeared 17 November 2012 on

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