I ask because I've been rereading Le Guin, and came across this interesting passage in Wizard of Earthsea:

“In Matter of the Dragons, which Ged read very closely, there was a tale of an ancient Dragonlord who had come under the sway of one of the Old Powers, a speaking stone that lay in a far northern land.”
LeGuin, Wizard of Earthsea, Chapter 4

Those who have read Raven Tower will immediately recognize this as an on-the-nose description of the central character/narrator.

  • Is it possible Leckie was inspired by this passage? (Has she commented on Le Guin as an influence?) Have others made this observation?
  • 2
    You need a corresponding quote from Raven Tower.
    – Spencer
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 23:01
  • @Spencer ok, I'll try to dig something up. Wiki not great but: "The story is narrated by The Strength and Patience of the Hill, a god who inhabited a large boulder and later [becomes] a millstone." wiki The quote is slightly inaccurate as the stone is physically transported south, and isn't literally used for milling. The novel strongly suggests the stone is the god, not just "inhabited" by the god. The book also has a map that shows the "far north" as where the speaking stone that is an "old god" originates from.
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 23:10
  • @Spencer part of the problem is that Leckie is extraordinarily subtle, so there's no single concise passage, although I assure you that readers of the novel will know exactly what I a referring to. For instance, in the appendix: "Ancient Ones: Strength & Patience of the Hill; The Myriad" (The Myriad is an iron meteor which fell to earth; Strength and Patience is a boulder that starts out on a hill in the Far North.) Even reinforcing that the character is one of the Old Gods constitutes a spoiler, b/c the reader isn't supposed to explicitly realize that until the finale.
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Jul 30, 2020 at 23:16
  • 3
    If Leckie was influenced by A Wizard of Earthsea, it would probably not have been this little passage. What Sparrowhawk reads about on Roke is foreshadowing of the very similar encounter he will have later in the book with the evil Terranon: “It was rough and dank as the rest, a heavy unshapen paving-stone: yet he felt the power of it as if it spoke to him aloud.… This was a very ancient thing: an old and terrible spirt was prisoned in that block of stone.” The Stone of Terranon had already enslaved at least one wizard, and it might or might not have been the very stone Ged had read about.
    – Buzz
    Commented Jul 31, 2020 at 0:29
  • @Buzz Can I ask if you've read Raven Tower?
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Jul 31, 2020 at 4:37

1 Answer 1


Frankly, it would be astonishing if Leckie didn't claim Ursula Le Guin as an influence. She gives "The Left Hand of Darkness" as one of her favourite novels and an influence on her Ancillary Justice trilogy.

So, it seems likely to me that this is a deliberate reference. In addition to the speaking stone from the far North part, there is an assoication with ravens. Nemmerle's raven was from Osskil, and spoke to Ged about the Terranon.

  • Good points. I recently read "Left Hand of Darkness" and it's impossible not to see it link between that book and the Ancillary trilogy.
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 21:58

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