This book is the first in a series of fantasy books from an author who otherwise writes mostly science fiction and nonfiction, this book is a fairy tale story that frequently waxes poetic.

The book starts with a poem:

Only in silence the word,
only in dark the light,
only in dying life:
bright the hawk's flight
on the empty sky.
The Creation of Éa
This poem emphasizes the contrasts needed to appreciate what we have. The story of the book tells the beginning of the first phase of Sparrowhawk's life, and the contrasts he creates in it. Early on in his career as a wizard, he unleaches a powerful evil, which in turn gives him the power to do powerful good for the rest of this phase of his life. But first he must pay the price...

next book: The Tombs of Atuan