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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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7,1841011,087 (4.01)174
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 (96)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  Japanese (1)  All languages (101)
Showing 1-5 of 96 (next | show all)
I love how the narrative of these Earthsea books isn’t strictly episodic, picking up where the last one left off and giving us simply what “happens next.” Le Guin was far too creative for that, and the premise she came up with here of an evil present in the world, one threatening to sap away joy and the ability to do magic, is fantastic. There is something apocalyptic about this concept, and it echoes the real-world evil (both 1972 and 2022) which undermines the things we take for granted as basic “goodness” about life. The journey Ged goes on with a young prince to the far ends of Earthsea becomes a spiritual odyssey, and it’s a reminder that it takes real courage and effort to fight in a world leaning towards darkness and nihilism.

It's a Young Adult book but there is always a sophistication to Le Guin’s writing, and it’s more intelligent than what you would find in books like the Harry Potter series (and I say that even though I enjoyed the latter). Along those lines, though, it would be nice if J.K. Rowling acknowledged her debt to Le Guin (and other authors), and that the less mainstream works of Le Guin were more widely lauded. This one isn’t perfect – it drags a bit in getting to the finale – but it’s a joy to read, even as an adult.

“So when one stands in a cherished place for the last time before a voyage without return, he sees it all whole, and real, and dear, as he has never seen it before and never will see it again.” ( )
1 vote gbill | Jul 29, 2022 |
Marvelous. Le Guin is a master of that point where the sense of sight meets emotion. ( )
  AlainaZ | Jun 5, 2022 |
Sort of dull but gets much better near end, too much philosophy (?). ( )
  MarkLacy | May 29, 2022 |
It was pretty underwhelming. I don't have much to say about the topic of Death, I agree with most of what Le Guin was trying to say, that it's a necessary and natural counterpart to Life. So the philosophical parts were a bit boring for me.

What I did like about this, is how Ged is slowly and slowly becoming like a supporting actor in his own book. So unusual, to see the hero turn old, and in the third book in a series of six at that. I wonder what the next book will be about, if it's true that Ged has lost his magery.

"He's done with doing. He goes home."
( )
  kahell | May 12, 2022 |
I have a confession to make: I've never been able to get into Le Guin's books. I've read The Left Hand of Darkness and the Earthsea trilogy, and there's something to the voice that I find dry and intolerable, like an anthropologist clinically describing observed events. Under this voice, even the most exciting scene is relayed in the monotonous drone of a professor lecturing ungrateful freshman. The Farthest Shore has the additional problem of the apparent main character, Arren, having little-to-no agency for 95% of the book, the plot being driven by Ged and the Other.

Which is a shame, because, otherwise, these books are amazing.

Outside of Doctor Who, it's difficult to find stories where violence does not solve all of your problems. I just reviewed Wolves of the Calla, solution: gunslinger violence. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, solution: violence against androids, then feel bad about it. The Slow Regard of Silent Things, solution: make soap (this might be one of the reasons why I liked this book as well). Cloud Atlas, solution: violence of every genre. Star Wars, solution: lightsaber violence*.

You get the picture.

In The Farthest Shore, violence is never the ultimate the solution. Sacrifice, life, balance, mercy, wisdom, these are the answers. Some quick violence in the service of protection may be necessary, but never as punishment or revenge, and always as a small piece of a greater solution. When I think of books I want my daughter to read as she grows up, Le Guin's sit far ahead of King's, or even Sanderson's (who's been my favorite author for a long while now). I just wish I could get into them myself.

*One might argue that, ultimately, in Return of the Jedi the solution was mercy, given that Luke won by showing mercy to Vader, but one would be forgetting that this mercy was not the final solution; Vader throwing the Emperor down a conveniently placed reactor shaft holds that honor. And Lando blowing up the Death Star. And Han blowing up the shield generator. And Admiral Akbar fighting off the Imperial navy. And, ultimately, you have to consider the Endor holocaust. My point is, the solution was violence on a massive scale, likely killing billions living on the Death Star alone. ( )
  Azuaron | Mar 1, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 96 (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
Rikman, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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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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