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The Farthest Shore

(Earthsea Cycle #3)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  87,016 ratings  ·  1,824 reviews
Book Three of Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea CycleDarkness threatens to overtake Earthsea: the world and its wizards are losing their magic. Despite being wearied with age, Ged Sparrowhawk -- Archmage, wizard, and dragonlord -- embarks on a daring, treacherous journey, accompanied by Enlad's young Prince Arren, to discover the reasons behind this devastating pattern of loss. ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 197 pages
Published June 1977 by Bantam Books (first published September 1972)
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Hannah Hall You technically could -- each entry in the trilogy is an independent story. But they also take place chronologically and assume the reader is already…moreYou technically could -- each entry in the trilogy is an independent story. But they also take place chronologically and assume the reader is already familiar with the world as described in prior books, so it'll be more rewarding to read them in order. (less)
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  87,016 ratings  ·  1,824 reviews


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Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
Decades before J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, and even longer before Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind, came a school of magic that clearly inspired them all. It does not take centre stage in this series, Sparrowhawk has that honour, but it does play a major role in the workings of this beautiful fantasy world.

And I don’t use that word liberally. Not only is the scenery vivid and vast, bordering upon the picturesque in regards to its language, it is also a powerful
...more
Apatt
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I would not ask a sick man to run a race,” said Sparrowhawk, “nor lay a stone on an overburdened back.” It was not clear whether he spoke of himself or of the world at large. Always his answers were grudging, hard to understand. There, thought Arren, lay the very heart of wizardry: to hint at mighty meanings while saying nothing at all, and to make doing nothing at all seem the very crown of wisdom."

There are surely better passages to quote than the above to encapsulate the meaning or theme
...more
Bradley
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-shelf, fantasy
This wraps up Le Guin's original trilogy of Ged, better known as Sparrowhawk, the greatest wizard of Earthsea, and even though I really enjoyed it, something about it keeps nagging me.

It's about death, the deathlands, and the end of magic. That's not the problem. In fact, that's the best part of it.

I suppose it's just the feel that this story is the end of Ged after I just started to get to know him. That cocky kid and cocky adult just metamorphosed into an old man. I mean, sure, he's still
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The farthest shore (The Earthsea Cycle, #3), Ursula K. Le Guin
Darkness threatens to overtake Earthsea: the world and its wizards are losing their magic. Despite being wearied with age, Ged Sparrowhawk — Archmage, wizard, and dragonlord — embarks on a daring, treacherous journey, accompanied by Enlad's young Prince Arren, to discover the reasons behind this devastating pattern of loss. Together they will sail to the farthest reaches of their world — even beyond the realm of death — as they seek
...more
Martyn Stanley
I'm somewhat conflicted by this book. It took me longer to read than expected. I really, really enjoyed The Tombs of Atuan You can read my review here:- https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

I therefore had high hopes for 'The Farthest Shore'. However it disappointed. In a nutshell I didn't enjoy this book. Before I go into why I didn't, the obligatory free plug: My first fantasy novel is currently free on all good ebook retailers. If you like fantasy, please give it a look.
The Last Dragon
...more
Jerzy
May 05, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
As usual with Le Guin's books, the flow of the plot is not the strong point. It's more about the sum of experiences and discussions that the characters have, if that makes any sense. So although this one has a more hackneyed plot than any other book of hers I've read, there are (as usual) quite a few really nice moments and deep insights. She spins out some more thoughts about balance and equilibrium, continuing the conversation from A Wizard of Earthsea. Here, Earthsea is being overrun by ...more
Markus
Dec 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, fantasy
Earthsea is losing its magic.

That sentence could function both as a description of the book's plot, and as my evaluation of it. For while Le Guin's writing is as impeccable as always, this was not as good as the first two parts of the series, and of course, far from the intellectual literary quality of her science fiction.

It's never a bad thing to be reading about the journeys of Sparrowhawk and his companions, but Earthsea also seemed to me like a fun little side adventure for the author while
...more
Brad
I started reading this to Miloš & Brontë at the beginning of March, and somewhere around May they lost interest.

I don't think I can blame Ursula K. LeGuin, at least not entirely. I was a big part of the problem. I struggled with this installment of The Earthsea Cycle, and that must have translated into the way I read this aloud, making it and me tough to listen to (never have the kids fallen asleep so often while I was reading. I usually have to tear myself away).

My problem is tough to
...more
Tim
Dec 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1970s, fantasy, reviewed
I sadly have very little to say about this one. In many ways I think it is the worst of the original three Earthsea books, never reaching the clever subversive nature of the first book, nor the phenomenal world building and charm of the second. It has some minor elements of them, but it mostly just feels like the most standard generic “hero story” of the three. With that said, I think I may prefer it over the first one slightly, as I feel it tells a more entertaining tale, but I can easily see ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
The Farthest Shore was written for tweens and teens, so if you just want a good fantasy full of adventure and daring and DRAGONS (the best part!), ignore all of the following and just enjoy.

This is a story the meaning of which will derive from the beliefs of the individual reader. Had I read it when I still held spiritual beliefs, I would doubtless have fit the story into a framework of religious allegory and symbolism. As I am now comfortable in my unbelief, I focused on the more concrete
...more
Sumant
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's really hard for me to write a review for this book, because this book changed my perception regarding it dramatically from start to the end. Initially when I started it I really liked how the story was flowing in it, but then Le Guin starts introducing a lot of philosophy in the middle, at that time I thought what the hell is going on ?. What am I reading ? whether this is fantasy or a philosophical book ? but she manages to tie things up masterfully at the end that I devoured this book in ...more
Kaora
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one is between 3 and 4 stars for me, but I'm feeling generous so I'm giving it a 4.

All over Earthsea wizards are losing their magic, so Ged Sparrowhawk and Prince Arren embark on a quest to discover the source of the disappearing magic.

While this one again starts off rather slow as Le Guin builds the scene, and the action doesn't occur until the end, I'm stating to enjoy the world she has created more and more as it is slowly revealed.

I also enjoyed the characters a great deal more in this
...more
Eric
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He was a peerless sailor, though. Arren had learned more in three days' sailing with him, than in ten years of boating and racing on Berila Bay. And mage and sailor are not so far apart; both work with the powers of sky and sea, and bend great winds to the use of their hands, bringing near what was remote. Archmage or Hawk the sea-trader, it came to much the same thing.

He was a rather silent man, though perfectly good-humored. No clumsiness of Arren's fretted him; he was companionable; there
...more
Ana-Maria Petre
It requires a special talent to write a boring fantasy book.

(I couldn't finish this. It's the weakest volume of the series by far. The storyline is jagged and thin. Nothing happens. Overall, it was a tedious read with rare moments of interest, and I think I'm going to ditch it.)
Jemppu
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't realize "Farthest Shore" was going to be so - I'd like to say 'literal with', but the title/approach is literally figurative - focused on actual exploration of the philosophy of dying, of life and death (and by extension, immortality).

It's too early to say anything about personal favorite books of the series, having read so little of it still, but there is certain maturity of thought in this book over the first one, which is a very favorable aspect.

Le Guin's prose and world building are
...more
Solseit
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I loved about this book was the more philosophical analysis of the nature of mankind (are they evil?) and questions regarding other topics that fascinate mankind, such as immortality.

I also realize this is the second book about Ged but with a different point of view. And I like it, it provides a fresh and different perspective, people of different background and knowledge talking about their lives and their interaction with Ged.

It is just a marvelous story that is worth reading if you are
...more
Joseph
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I do not care what comes after; I have seen the dragons on the wind of morning.
Kaa
I don't really know what there is to say about a book that managed to evoke both some of the most difficult moments and the most wonderful moments I've ever experienced. The discussions of death, depression, and suicide are intense and very real, yet so are the moments of beauty. Late in the book, Arren thinks to himself, "I do not care what comes after; I have seen the dragons on the wind of morning," and I immediately recognized that feeling of breathless appreciation that I have only ever ...more
Donna
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third book in the Earthsea Cycle, closing out the trilogy, though the stories of Earthsea continue with subsequent books. The story picks up years after book two ends, when Ged is middle-aged and has become the Archmage of Roke, which is the center of wizardry in that world, housing a school for those in training. Roke is isolated, though well protected from hostile invasion. This gives little comfort to Ged when he learns that wizards in other parts of Earthsea have lost their magic ...more
Dan
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it
Good story, bad prose.

When I was in high school, I read an Ursula K. Le Guin story in my Science Fiction Literature class. I found it to be difficult to read. I chalked that up to being young and a relatively inexperienced reader. I saw this book at a library book sale and picked it up to give it a try.

I discovered that being young an inexperienced had nothing to do with her stories being hard to read. She uses peculiar word order that confuses the meaning, missing or extra commas, excessive
...more
Nikki
Apr 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This has always been my least favourite of the Earthsea books, and I think that’s sort of inevitable given the central conflict, the issue that the whole book centres around. It’s about magic dying out, about death and fighting death and being afraid of death, where few people are whole and entire and able to see the world as it is rather than wishing it was something else. Ged is one of those people, of course: he’s the Archmage for a reason, and more importantly, he’s faced the dark part of ...more
J. Trott
May 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
People like to talk about "The Golden Compass" as the athiestic answer to C. S. Lewis' Narnia series. However Ursula Le Guin's series has a far better claim to this title. In these books, the most trenchant critiques of religion, and the best arguments for humanism are presented. In the first book, the greatest enemy is within the protagonist, who must name his darkest self in order to overcome. Old powers are present throughout, and fear is their power. In the second book we see this replayed, ...more
Allison Hurd
Hm. This kind of felt like an epilogue to Wizard of Earthsea. Same themes, same overall concept of a quest without a direction, same moments of glory.

CONTENT WARNING: (no actual spoilers, just a list of topics. Perhaps a slight spoiler for Wizard of Earthsea) (view spoiler)

Things to love:

-The writing. She's amazing, what else needs to be said?

-Ged. Poor, serious Ged who works so hard just
...more
Doug
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am shocked, shocked that this book was written in 1972.

I think I had to pinch myself multiple times, lest I think that this was published in the past 10 years. It certainly reads that way. You could say that about any of Le Guin's Earthsea books, honestly.

This is fantasy, but it doesn't read like most fantasy. It is very deconstructionist in nature, almost anti-fantasy, in a subtle way. Le Guin writes with fantasy characters, such as wizards, warriors, and dragons, but in an entirely
...more
Robert
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nikki
Jul 14, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Dawn C
Something about an wizard from the first book and a younger wizard traveling across the sea and then a dragon and some other character and a talk about being dead but not really? That’s what I got from this. I love Le Guin and she obviously writes well, I’m just more into her scifi I guess.
Juho Pohjalainen
You see all sorts of apocalyptic threats thrown around in fiction - and occasionally in real life - to drive the stakes high and make the plot concern the entire world. We've had meteorites and supervolcanoes, nuclear holocausts and plague outbreaks, vast demonic armies and zombie apocalypses, aliens and awakening elder gods... and the thing that tends to be common about them all is that they threaten us with a violent and painful death. They stab us, bite us, burn us, crush us, zap us with ...more
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All three books of the original Earthsea trilogy have always been right up there with my most favorite books of all time, but both when I was a child, and now, I thought that The Farthest Shore was the least strong of the three. However, I think I had different reasons for feeling that way now, than I did then.

I think that now, the main focus of the book worked better for me – the whole idea of dealing with the consequences of your own actions, as well as LeGuin’s conceptual idea of evil, and
...more
Lesley
Aug 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A powerful conclusion to the original Earthsea Trilogy, further exploring themes of vulnerability, dichotomy and balance: life and death, dark and light, arrogance and humility. As always Le Guin's writing is magical, resonant and compelling. Maybe because I’ve recently been exposed to Brené Brown's work, I was especially struck by Le Guin's treatment of vulnerability in this installment, that we guard what’s most personal to us so that others can’t use it against us. However in order to truly ...more
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15,877 followers
Ursula K. Le Guin published twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received many awards: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc. Her recent publications include the novel Lavinia, an essay collection, Cheek by Jowl, and The Wild Girls. She lived in Portland, ...more

Other books in the series

Earthsea Cycle (6 books)
  • A Wizard of Earthsea
  • The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle, #2)
  • Tehanu (Earthsea Cycle, #4)
  • Tales from Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #5)
  • The Other Wind (Earthsea Cycle, #6)
“I do not care what comes after; I have seen the dragons on the wind of morning.” 300 likes
“This is. And thou art. There is no safety. There is no end. The word must be heard in silence. There must be darkness to see the stars. The dance is always danced above the hollow place, above the terrible abyss.” 165 likes
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