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The Farthest Shore

(Earthsea Cycle #3)

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  104,555 ratings  ·  3,068 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
Paperback, 259 pages
Published November 1st 2004 by Gallery Books (first published September 1972)
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Hannah 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)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
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Sean Barrs
Sep 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 4-star-reads
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
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
“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
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 th
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 kno ...more
Martyn Stanley
Oct 16, 2016 rated it liked it
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 fantasy novels are available on Kindle Unlimited. If you like fantasy, here they are:-
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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 t
Paul Weiss
Mar 27, 2022 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
“I cannot get this lute to play out of the minor … what would you hear?”

THE FARTHEST SHORE is an old school quest fantasy. Young Arren, the heir apparent to the Principality of Morred and Ged, the Archmage from Roke, the Isle of the Wise, where the art of magic is taught, set out to parts unknown to attempt to find the reasons why there was no longer true magic in the lands of Earthsea, why “the mages had forgotten their spells”, why “the springs of wizardry were running dry.”

As Ursula K LeG
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 differen
Oh this took a long time to finish! Not because it wasn’t interesting, but laryngitis and lots of travel are not conducive to reading aloud.

That said, it is a lot slower and (seemingly) aimless than the previous 2 in the series. I love the relationship between Arren and Sparrowhawk, how it evolves and goes through ups and downs, but is ultimately based on mutual admiration and love.

I’m not sure what my son thinks about it in the end.

Edit: my son said, it was really good, 4 stars!

My 3rd Readi
Dec 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2018
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
Dec 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 1970s, 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 w ...more
Oct 09, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Extraordinary retelling of a classic fantasy trope - a quest of a young hero, who overcomes obstacles to became a king. As in previous books of this series, the main enemy is the fear (the fear of death in this case) not some villain. So, in order to win the young prince needs to mature, become wiser and grow emotionally. As usual the author is more interested in characters development (phycological states and philosophy of living) than in dynamic plot.
May 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
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 greyn ...more
Karl Jorgenson
Feb 24, 2022 rated it really liked it
Wraps up the Earthsea trilogy with all the beauty, intrigue, and power of the previous two. Here, Sparrow Hawk is now master-mage, old, but at the top of his powers. Something is going wrong in the world: singers have forgotten the songs, sorcerers forget their spells, people everywhere have lost hope and interest, letting things fall apart. It turns out there's a rumor loose in the land that a great mage has found the way back from death. To follow him is to escape death and have eternal life. ...more
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 pinch. I
Lucy Dacus
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'll say it again, young people should read Earthsea instead of, or as much as, Harry Potter. This one is about confronting the fear of death, greed, immortality, humility, respecting the land, and divesting from power. ...more
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
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Emily Lissek
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Life and death.. should each be feared and avoided or embraced equally? This tale of Earthsea is focused on this question, and shows the consequences and positives of each. I love how Ursula combines 'the big questions' into her adventures.. they truly take you on a journey. ...more
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.
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
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 them
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
Ana-Maria Petre
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
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.)
Zitong Ren
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
And that’s book 3 of Earthsea reread! Essentially, I got through the first four books of Earthsea over four years ago and the goal this time is to make my way through the entire cycle of six books. Thus far, I am enjoying myself a fair bit, given that I have rated all three of the first three books four stars. I don’t really have a lot more to say right now that I haven’t already said in my reviews for A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan, so this’ll be short.

I like that there’s more worl
Mar 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Simon Fay
Apr 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
(You can watch the video analysis of the book here: https://youtu.be/pclsfdelZXQ )

For a book that deals with such abstract concepts, The Farthest Shore outlines its ideas a lot more comprehensively than others in the series. While A Wizard of Earthsea arrived at its meaning through a moment of pure epiphany and The Tombs of Atuan illustrated its own through the personal angst of Tenar, this episode of the saga repeatedly summarises its message in both passages and speeches that feature throughou
Dec 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020
I think this is my favourite Earthsea book so far. Finishing the series is one of my goals for 2021 but I really like taking these books slow. One every couple of months or so.

There’s something about the world and the magic system. And Sparrow-hawk of course. It’s so easy to read and yet it’s got a deep ness to it too. I love the idea that knowing names gives you power.
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 cou
RJ - Slayer of Trolls
Life rises out of death, death rises out of life; in being opposite they yearn to each other, they give birth to each other and are forever reborn. And with them, all is reborn, the flower of the apple tree, the light of the stars. In life is death. In death is rebirth. What then is life without death? Life unchanging, everlasting, eternal?-What is it but death-death without rebirth?

Duality remains the central theme of the third book in the Earthsea series; dark and light, good and evil, old and
J. Trott
May 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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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, Orego ...more

Other books in the series

Earthsea Cycle (6 books)
  • A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)
  • The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle, #2)
  • Tehanu (Earthsea Cycle, #4)
  • Tales from Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #5)
  • The Other Wind (Earthsea Cycle, #6)

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