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The Farthest Shore (1972)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Earthsea Cycle (3)

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7,6811111,116 (4.02)180
A young prince joins forces with a master wizard on a journey to discover a cause and remedy for the loss of magic in Earthsea.

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English (105)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  Japanese (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (111)
Showing 1-5 of 105 (next | show all)
This third Earthsea book exhausts my reread of that series from my childhood, so that I can now continue to the later volumes. Each of these books has been more surprising (i.e. poorly remembered) than the last.

Ged is now the aged Archmage of Roke, and a new character Arren takes on the burden of the young adult viewpoint. Although he becomes Ged's companion, he is not an apprentice wizard. He is instead a princeling who could fulfill the promise of a renewed kingship offered by Ged and Tenar's restoration of the Ring of Erreth-Akbe. (Tenar, "the White Lady of Gont," is mentioned only briefly: 10, 200.)

For all that The Tombs of Atuan was dark and often oppressive, The Farthest Shore is gritty and nasty in ways unprecedented for this series, quickly bringing in slavery, drug abuse, and criminal violence. Magic is perishing, and magicians are being maddened and persecuted.

The full ordeal offered to Arren resembles in several ways that of Ged in A Wizard of Earthsea, but it is more extraverted. He is devoted to the Archmage, and struggles with the sense of duty kindled in him by their relationship. The foe that they ultimately confront is not of Arren's making, but indirectly (and once more) of Ged's.

Le Guin's 2012 afterword in this edition treats her exploratory approach to authoring fiction and how she learned about dragons in the writing of this book. It also discusses her unbelief in pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die and laments the social and spiritual deficits of capitalism. I was a little surprised to find her reflections here setting The Farthest Shore into a shared cultural space with Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
1 vote paradoxosalpha | Nov 26, 2023 |
A continuing draw of the Earthsea cycle for me has been the excellent world-building. The setting of the first two books and now of The Farthest Shore, has all been in the same world, with more focus on certain islands and lands in each book. And there is always the connection of the sea— of land, sea, air, and fire, as all elements come together in balance to create nature. In fact, this installment to the cycle seems to place the most focus on the importance of balance, though it has certainly been a strong theme through the first two books as well. Finding the balance is something Ged had to learn the hard way, at a young age. Now, Sparrow-hawk seeks to pass this knowledge on to a young man, Arren, his sole companion on a journey to save the world.

Arren first comes to Ged with news of people in Enlad loosing the words of the old language, which is what enables the use of wizardry. However it is soon discovered that this art is not the only thing being drained away, but hope and motivation as well. On their journey to find the cause of this darkness, the two men travel through many lands. Arren has never left Enlad, and as he sees new places, meets new people, and most of all as he learns from Ged, he grows tremendously as a person in a very short period of time. There were definitely growing pains involved, it certainly wasn’t all smooth sailing, but the difficult way is the way that has something to teach you and the ability to change you.

I was particularly fond of the descriptions of each new community and land the travelers came upon. I also enjoyed seeing how much, once again, the storyline centers around the consequences of actions that Ged has made over his lifetime. And of course just as there are actions and consequences, there is good and bad, and dark and light, and so there are the good and the bad consequences and the need to accept both in order to have either, and to live the whole.

I once again took forever reading an Ursula K Le Guin book, because to truly take it all in, it must be done slowly. And even then, I am positive there are some themes and connections and symbolism I have missed. The Farthest Shore greatly parallels Wizard of Earthsea, with the exception that Ged has already taken his life-changing journey and on this one he is taking along Arren to experience a similar journey as to the one that transformed him so long ago. I was very glad to return to a style more like the first book, because though I loved the second one, I found it to have a much slower pace.

I would certainly, and do quite often, recommend both this book and the two before it of the Earthsea Cycle. Le Guin once agains takes us deeper into this beautiful world, and into the minds of such poignant characters. I cannot wait to continue on with the next book of the cycle, Tehanu. ( )
  rianainthestacks | Nov 5, 2023 |
"When I was young, I had to choose between the life of being and the life of doing. And I leapt at the latter like a trout to a fly. But each deed you do, each act, binds you to itself and to its consequences, and makes you act again and yet again. Then very seldom do you come upon a space, a time like this, between act and act, when you may stop and simply be. Or wonder who, after all, you are." ( )
1 vote enlasnubess | Oct 2, 2023 |
The Earthsea Trilogy is one of the best fantasy trilogies of all time. Second time through, it's even better. Le Guin writes a stately, very moving set of books that succeeds on many levels. ( )
  dbsovereign | Aug 15, 2023 |
In the third Earthsea book, the Archmage Ged and the princeling Arren set off to discover why magic and reason are disappearing from the islands of Earthsea.

The Farthest Shore is a book about sailing and civilization and maturity and dragons, but mostly it is about death. I have mixed feelings about the book. It has the slow, ponderous pace which I disliked in A Wizard of Earthsea; it has the uncomfortable relationships and insights which I relished in The Tombs of Atuan. Arren is a dull protagonist even with his doubts and guilt, but Ged's humanity mounts with every chapter as he strips away his authority. ( )
  proustbot | Jun 19, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 105 (next | show all)
As adventure narrative this lacks the concrete tensions of its predecessors, but once more the themes -- centering here on the "unmeasured desire for life" and its misapplications -- are deeply embedded in the action (though far from peculiar to the imagined kingdom of Earthsea)
added by melmore | editKirkus Review (Sep 8, 1972)

» Add other authors (77 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ursula K. Le Guinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Garraty, GailIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gilbert, Anne YvonneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guay, RebeccaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Inglis, RobNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paronis, MargotTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pergameno, SandroPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rambelli, RobertaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rikman, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Solo nel silenzio la parola,
solo nella tenebra la luce,
solo nella morte è vita;
fulgido è il volo del falco
nel cielo deserto.

La creazione di Éa
For Elisabeth, Caroline, and Theodore
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In the court of the fountain the sun of March shone through young leaves of ash and elm, and water leapt and fell through shadow and clear light.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A young prince joins forces with a master wizard on a journey to discover a cause and remedy for the loss of magic in Earthsea.

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