Nikki 's Reviews > The Farthest Shore

The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin
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Jul 14, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, dragons, favourites
Read in July, 2009

When I first read Earthsea, this was probably my least favourite book. Probably because throughout it the world I've started to love is dying and in pain. The pain isn't just the characters, it's the whole world; it's less a personal journey and of significance for the whole of the world. I mean, it wasn't like a Ged-gebbeth wasn't a big threat to the world, or finding the ring of Erreth-Akbe wasn't important, but the story in this world is all about the failing of the world -- not a single thing going wrong, but everything. I know that in the end everything is fine, but that takes a big sacrifice on Ged's part, his power. And Ged isn't just his power, I know that, too, but it still saddens me a lot now that he has to lose it.

I guess this story changes the world of Earthsea in a fundamental way: returns a king to the throne, changes magic, has the world decaying, has wizards losing their power.

Even though I like the story better now than I did when I was younger, I still feel a little resentful about that.

It's still beautiful, of course -- the ideas, and the descriptions. The raft-city, and Arren, and dragons, and the Mountains of Pain. It's all very vivid and appeals to my synaesthesia. The discussion of the importance, the value, of death, is interesting, too. And always relevant, no matter who you are. I'm closer to Arren's point of view on this than Ged's: the Ged of The Farthest Shore is older and wiser than when we last saw him, and certainly far wiser than when we first saw him. He's a bit beyond me, still. But the things he says to Arren about the importance of death do resonate with me. I wouldn't want immortality anyway, I think it'd get boring, but Ged makes a good case for the importance of death as a part of life -- not as a waste, the end of life, but as something that gives value to life.

It's a difficult subject to catch in words, I think, and Ursula Le Guin does it well.

Still not my favourite book, though... oh, Ged.
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