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The Farthest Shore (Earthsea Cycle, #3)
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Group Reads Discussions 2018 > "The Farthest Shore" - Full Discussion *Spoilers*

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message 1: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new) - rated it 3 stars

Allison Hurd | 13034 comments Mod
What did you think? In keeping with the rest? More like Wizard or Tombs? What about the themes and characters?


Anthony (albinokid) | 1471 comments I was very moved by this book, by the wisdom Le Guin has infused in it. Ged/Sparrowhawk essentially has to peer into the literal abyss and come through the other side, and the courage and grace he displays through this journey stirred me to my soul. I love that in the course of three relatively short novels we get to experience the fullness of his life’s journey. I’m also amazed that there is a young adult book that is so steeped in pretty heady Taoist philosophical precepts.


Ariana | 657 comments I also loved this, especially the counterpoint between Arren and Sparrowhawk. I really liked that even though Arren is young, he's not an idiot or a coward (I'm looking at you, Alif the Unseen). And conversely, even though Ged is much older and (in general) wiser, he still makes mistakes, and even thought he's incredibly powerful, we still get to see him be vulnerable.


message 4: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new) - rated it 3 stars

Allison Hurd | 13034 comments Mod
Ariana wrote: "I also loved this, especially the counterpoint between Arren and Sparrowhawk. I really liked that even though Arren is young, he's not an idiot or a coward (I'm looking at you, [book:Alif the Unsee..."

lolol I just finished reading Alif. Great juxtaposition, for sure.

I do love all the character choices in this book. Seeing an older, black man in a position of respect gets a cheer from me. The dialogue, too, was so layered and beautiful.

My one complaint, and this follows from Tombs, is that the story arc went so allegorical that it didn't feel substantive. Meandering about until The Climax Happens is a style that I'm really picky about, and didn't quite hit the mark for me.

I loved that the tone carried some of the darkness of Tombs but the overall feel of Wizard. It was a great mesh for me of those two books and I liked seeing Ged's earlier dilemmas anew through Arren's eyes and revisited through Ged's wiser but sadder point of view.


Anthony (albinokid) | 1471 comments You articulated very well something that occurred to me about the fusion or meshing of the first two books in the series.

I loved the culture of the people on the rafts as well, and the horror of their joyful ritual getting interrupted by the darkness that was sweeping the land.

And speaking of that, it was so brilliant of Le Guin to depict the coming darkness as an absence of joy or expression. It doesn’t always have to come in the form of vengeful spirits or Orcs.


message 6: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new) - rated it 3 stars

Allison Hurd | 13034 comments Mod
Dr M says:

To me Wizard and Shore are two sides to the same coin, in a way. The former is a coming-of-age story and ultimately about facing and coming to terms with the dark and destructive forces within yourself. It is about morality focused inward. Shore, on the other hand, is about the responsibilities of power, about moral choices and the destructive forces of power on society and culture, and it is about wisdom and difficult choices. It is about morality looking at the bigger picture. Wizard shows us the wizard as a young man, learning about virtue and morality and the loss of the innocence of childhood. Shore shows us the wizard as an older man, who has mastered his powers and now needs to apply the lessons he has learned to a purpose greater than himself.


Anthony (albinokid) | 1471 comments Allison wrote: "Dr M says:

To me Wizard and Shore are two sides to the same coin, in a way. The former is a coming-of-age story and ultimately about facing and coming to terms with the dark and destructive forces..."


I 100% agree with all of this. Another throughline in all three books is about two people coming together to face down darkness, something they would never be able to do on their own, but at the same time each member of the pair has to dig into the deepest part of him- or herself to do so.


message 8: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new) - rated it 3 stars

Allison Hurd | 13034 comments Mod
I've felt these books are a bit more morbid, perhaps, taking on the concepts of death and darkness and saying not to fear either, because it is either your time, at which point staying longer would make you a monster, or you're still alive and can fight.

Wizard says "do not fear the darkness in you, for either in death or in choice, there is freedom."

Tenar says "do not fear the darkness around you, we can make palaces of anything."

Shore says "do not allow your love to turn to darkness, and do not look for saving. You are your own savior."

It all feels more like the morality tales than anything uplifting to me. I read in loss of loved ones, ostracism, mental illness, loneliness, and how those can be scarier but less temporary than death. A sort of combination lesson in mortality and fighting suicide.


Dr M | 14 comments Anthony wrote: "Allison wrote: "Dr M says:

Just to clarify for context: I originally wrote my comment in the "no spoilers" thread as a response to Allison noting that Wizard and Shore are very similar. Allison kindly moved my comment here, just to be on the safe side spoiler-wise.

Anthony wrote: "Another throughline in all three books is about two people coming together to face down darkness, […] each member of the pair has to dig into the deepest part of him- or herself to do so."

Allison says: "It all feels more like the morality tales than anything uplifting to me."

Absolutely so! Le Guin, at least in her earlier works, is primarily a moral writer. She seems interested in our inner drives, dreams and fears and their consequences. The struggle with innate destructive forces, within oneself and as unintended consequences, and how they can be faced reoccurs again and again in different contexts in several of her books from this period: The original Earthsea trilogy (the later Earthsea works too to some extent, but they have a different focus), The Dispossessed, The Lathe of Heaven, to name the most obvious examples.


message 11: by Kaa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kaa | 1454 comments I am (re)starting this today. From the first chapter, I am interested that "The Plot" seems to show up sooner/more clearly than in the previous two books. I'm interested to see how this affects the overall feel of the book.


message 12: by Kaa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kaa | 1454 comments About 60% in: Wow, this depiction of Arren's existential depression is super relatable.


message 13: by Kaa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kaa | 1454 comments I just finished, and am appreciating reading the previous comments about the book. I found this book pretty overwhelming, in a mostly good way. This December is the third anniversary of a close friend's suicide, and it's been on my mind a lot recently, as has the topic of depression more generally. I found the tension in this book, between the desire to live and the lack of life in immortality, to be really thoughtfully considered, and the description of some of the feeling of depression quite resonant.

I also thought the descriptions of places and dragons and other striking visuals were a perfect way to shift the reader's brain and to prevent the book from being overwhelmingly dark. For me, these moments immediately evoked the feeling of a truly beautiful moment in nature, the kind of moment that takes your breath away and makes you suddenly grateful to have been alive and part of the world so that you could experience it.


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