I am trying to identify a series of books that I had read back in high school during the '90s. The story in question (as far as I can remember) is about a boy who is trained by his mother to be a wizard of some sort.

From what I can remember, the mother has to hand him off to another wizard for training, of which there are a few, but the mother has one in particular that she wants her son to train with. The boy is tricked somehow into going with a different wizard that the mother did not want him to go with… I think.

I believe the story also has something to do with a staff with a sparrow on top. When I search this I keep running into the Earthsea series but the story does not line up with what I remember.

2 Answers 2


The Gom series by Grace Chetwin could be a possibility.

From the Booklist Review

Gr. 6-8. After the death of his father (in Gom on Windy Mountain, Booklist 83:1308 My 1 86), Gom leaves his solitary home to seek his mother, Harga, who vanished the day he was born, leaving behind a rune that he constantly wears. He knows little about the stone, only that he must return it to Harga and that, before he can do so, he must solve a riddle posed to him by a wooden sparrow on his staff, magically come to life.

  • 3
    Boom!!! This is it! This is the series I was looking for! I appreciate everyone’s help and a big thank you to Ayshe!
    – run1onya
    Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 17:55

A Wizard of Earthsea (1968)

The character is Ged / Duny, called the Sparrowhawk his whole life.

It is his aunt, not his mom, who initially trains him.

Ged is then trained by Ogion, but then is sent to wizarding school when Ged becomes too impatient with the master’s slower teaching style.

  • I guess my question is this: in leading up to training with the first wizard before wizard school, is the protagonist tricked into going with a different wizard than the one originally intended? Thank you for all the help!
    – run1onya
    Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 11:32
  • There was some contention. Duny’s aunt is a local witch, ignorant of higher sorcery and took him as far as she could. Ogion wants to take Duny away and train him, but Duny’s father begs the wizard to let Duny spend his 13th birthday—his “Passage” into adulthood—at home. Ogion vows to return for the boy after the winter has passed and keep him as prentice, or apprentice. Ogion says he anticipates with excitement the day Duny turns 13 and receives his true name. The ceremony occurs and Duny finds his true name is Ged; he then goes on to begin training with Ogion. Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 11:43
  • It’s more about coming of age and importance of true names in Earthsea than any deceit. Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 11:43
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    I truly appreciate everybody’s help! For some reason though, I have it in my head that the boy was supposed to go with one of four wizards(I could be making this number up) and is somehow tricked or delayed on purpose while waiting to meet the intended wizard and in turn has to go with a wizard that was not originally intended.
    – run1onya
    Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 11:50
  • 6
    Ged's staff was of yew, shod with iron; there was no sparrow on it (and his use-name was "Sparrowhawk" which is sort of the opposite of a sparrow). There was no trickery involved in his training, and all his troubles as a youth and young man were due to his own impatience.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Oct 4, 2021 at 12:21

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