Surreysmum's Reviews > The Farthest Shore

The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin
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's review
Mar 28, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 1981, fantasy-fiction
Read in December, 1981

[These notes were made in 1981:]. The young king-to-be and the old wizard set out for the end of the world to conquer the forces of darkness - not death, but the denial of death. It has everything - the initiation of the young man, a trip to the underworld, dragons, and a primal struggle between the strongest representative of Good and strongest of Evil. And the young man comes back from his ordeal ready to benefit the world. The whole thing would make Campbell's heart beat with delight. But although its structure - and it is a very methodical one - is the core of all that is so fascinating about this book, it is the trimmings - the atmosphere, the details of the lore, the extraordinarily human interactions between these characters of mythic stature - which set this volume apart from any old story you can read in a book of myths. LeGuin has a real gift for creating an allegorical world which is neither insultingly parallel nor disturbingly satirical. Yes, anyone with half an education realizes that the notion of the name - the word - being the essence of the thing is hardly a new idea. And just as Tolkien's trilogy is tied very, very closely to Norse/Germanic roots, so LeGuin's books are likely to be most immediately and fundamentally sympathetic to Judaeo-Christian Westerners. Yet one never feels that Earthsea is simply our own terra with other names. It is only closely enough linked that its own final, radiantly positive vision can set us smiling in our mundane and less noble world.

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message 1: by Erfan (new)

Erfan This was such a wonderful book. It's a pleasure to see your review. I found these books extraordinary but could not have explained why, in the way that you have found words to do so.

The language, and the feelings she touches on with that language so deftly, astonished me when I read the stories, with how she got to the heart of her themes and characters. I truly like what she writes to; she's a marvellous philosopher and her use of science fiction, or fantasy, is always philosophical, always about people and society, in the most thoughtful, perceptive ways. Heart-wrenching books, and brilliant. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts with the review.

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