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Series / Earthsea

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Earthsea (originally titled Legend of Earthsea) is a 2004 Sci Fi Channel miniseries very loosely based on Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea novels. It stars Shawn Ashmore as a wizard named Ged.

This TV series provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Name Change:
    • In the novel the main character's true name is Ged, and his nickname is Sparrowhawk; the miniseries switches them around.
    • The Ring of Erreth-Akbe becomes the Amulet of Peace.
  • Animorphism: A story is told about a wizard who got so obsessed with shapeshifting into a bear that the bear's personality eventually displaced his own, causing him to eat his entire family.
  • Ascended Extra: King Tygath fulfills the role of the unseen and unnamed Godking from The Tombs of Atuan.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The necklace the old woman gives Ged at the start of the series. It's half of the Amulet of Peace.
  • Compensating for Something:
    Jasper: Blacksmith! Perhaps you could entertain us with a [magic] demonstration of your own. You could make something miniscule appear enormous: your brain for instance!
    Ged: (chuckles) You may want to try that trick on yourself, Jasper, just aim a little lower.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The miniseries essentially merges the plots of A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan, among other things making Ged's shadow from Wizard into a Nameless One he accidentally releases from the Tombs.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Close enough. When King Tygath storms Roke, Archmage Nemmerl fakes his own death and impersonates Jasper, who had agreed to let Tygath's troops into the Wizarding School in exchange for being named Archmage. The real Jasper isn't dead: Nemmerl transformed him into a juggler performing in the town square out front, and regains his identity when Ged and Tenar restore the Amulet of Peace at the end of the miniseries.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Ged experiments with shapeshifting into a sparrowhawk during his one-upmanship war with Jasper. Jasper tattles on him (or so Ged accuses him), and Archmage Nemmerl warns the student body off of shapeshifting. He tells a tale of a wizard who liked shapeshifting into a bear so much that he gradually forgot he was originally human, killed his own son in bear form, and was finally hunted and killed by villagers.
  • Girl of My Dreams: Tenar is this to Ged.
  • Horny Vikings: As in the books, the Kargads are essentially this to the peoples of Earthsea: Ged narrowly avoids a Disney Death when he's knocked off a cliff while using magic to foil a raiding party.
  • I Know Your True Name: They keep the concept since it's the major rule for works of magic in the setting, although Ged becomes the character's public name and Sparrowhawk his true name.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Tygath runs Kossil through from behind after she's outlived her usefulness to him.
  • Jackass Genie: The dragon Orm Embar, after Ged speaks its true name and forces it to give him some information instead of eating him.
    Orm Embar: Two questions, wizard, and two questions only.
    Ged: Isn't it usually three?
    Orm Embar: True, but with that you're back to two.
  • Literal Metaphor: Ged forces Orm Embar to tell him the location of the Amulet of Peace, which Orm Embar answers with a riddle saying that "what you seek is within your grasp". Nemmerl observes that all of Earthsea is conceivably within a wizard's grasp, and therefore the dragon probably meant it literally. And indeed Ged's half of the Amulet is on the necklace he was given at the start of the story.
  • Magical Negro: Ogion the Silent is depicted as this instead of being Race Lifted like all the other dark-skinned characters from the novel.
  • The Mole: Jasper has apparently been feeding Tygath information for a while, and helps his troops break through the wizarding school's magicked gate and capture the school.
  • Race Lift: Although many of the characters in the novels were dark-skinned (e.g. Ged is supposed to be Ambiguously Brown, and Vetch is black), the cast of the mini-series is white apart from Danny Glover as Ogion and Kristin Kreuk as Arha/Tenar (who actually was white in the novel, being an ethnic Kargad).
  • The Rival: Jasper, per the novel. The nobleman takes instant dislike to the common-born but more naturally talented Ged, and their competition eventually leads to Ged summoning a Nameless One on a dare.
  • Sexposition: Early in the first episode, King Tygath and Kossil exposit their plot to take over the temple on Atuan and release the Nameless Ones as Kossil strips to join Tygath in bed.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Zig-Zagged. In the book, Archmage Nemmerl was mortally wounded driving the gebbeth away from Ged/Sparrowhawk. In the series he survives this, only to be apparently killed by King Tygath when he storms Roke. Actually he fakes his own death and impersonates Jasper.
  • Storming the Castle: Tygath leads his men to conquer Roke about halfway through the miniseries, but they're stymied by the magicked gates of the wizarding school while the wizards blast them to pieces from the battlements. Then Jasper helps them break through.
  • Token Minority: There's a few girls at the Roke wizarding school, in contrast to the book version where wizards were supposed to be male and celibate (explained in one of the Tales from Earthsea short stories as the work of an extremist faction that took over the order early on).
  • Torture Always Works: Downplayed. Tygath's men torture a captured wizard for information on a prophesied mage who will derail his plans. The torture succeeds in getting the prisoner to tell them that the prophesied wizard is in Earthsea now (it's Ged), but he dies before the torturer can make him give up the name.
  • Two Halves Make a Plot: Each of the protagonists unknowingly hold onto a half of the Amulet of Peace, the MacGuffin necessary to literally close the door on a realm full of unspeakable evil.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Ged is a very talented wizard, but he's also an arrogant fool. It takes him nearly being killed by the gebbeth he accidentally summons in his contest with Jasper before he finally gets through his head that magic is not a toy.

Alternative Title(s): Legend Of Earthsea