The Farthest Shore – a review

Philosophical

Captivating

Conclusion (of the Earthsea trilogy)

I have only just moments ago finished The Farthest Shore, the conclusion of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Trilogy.

I need a moment to catch my breath and slow my heartbeat.

I’m still trying to verbalize my feelings about the book.

Let me say, the conclusion of this book, as with the previous two books, is amazing (if you’re interested in my reviews of those books you can find them here and here).  Le Guin manages to explore philosophical and ethical questions in a manner that drives the stories but never overshadows them.  At the end of this book, I find that I keep thinking about her take on life and death and their inextricable connection.

I’m not going to recap the novel, you can check Wikipedia for that.

The Farthest Shore, Ursula Le Guin, fantasy, dragons, wizards, magic, books,  Earthsea trilogyI would recommend this book, and this series, to fantasy readers.  I would, however, caution potential readers.  These books are not easy reads, they require thinking and hard work.  Like so much in life, there is a lot of work put into building up for the fireworks.  If you are willing to put the work into these books, you will definitely be rewarded.  If you prefer reading books for their face value stories, then I can recommend some others that you will find much more enjoyable.

The Tombs of Atuan: a review

Sequel (to A Wizard of Earthsea)

Slow (to start)

Revealing

The second book in Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy could be a stand alone novel.  As either part of the trilogy or alone it is a masterpiece.

I liked this book so much more than the first (see it’s review here).  I felt the protagonist (not Ged but Arha) was much more relatable.  The majority of the book is developing her character and setting her up for the climax.  Finally towards the end of the book she meets Ged, who is the catalyst for a deep self analysis and through that analysis she makes some powerful discoveries and choices.

Le Guin doesn’t veer from the style she worked with in the first book.  If you find slower, more descriptive books boring this may not be your cup of tea but it’s so well done it might change your perspective on this style of writing. It’s done to such a high caliber that I would encourage anyone to read this book.  It’s rather short, so it’s not a big time commitment, but it is very worthwhile.

The Tombs of Atuan

And now I’m off to read the third book (which I purchased from yet another thrift store).  I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

Descriptive

Immense (yet short)

Magical

I’ve looked at the Earthsea trilogy throughout the years but I never read it.  Then I saw that Anna over at Booknotized had read it.  And really, even without the review that was enough to get me to give it a chance.  That and I found the first two books of the trilogy at the thrift store last week.  Boo-ya!

I thought this book was a very slow moving book.  There is a lot of description and often I felt that it was through the description that the plot moved.  Frequently I find slow moving books boring.  However, this book was anything but boring.  The description created an absolutely believable world.  The characters moved, spoke, and acted in ways that fit with the world that Le Guin created.  Even though the book is description heavy, I never felt I was led away from the plot just to read pretty descriptive prose, every word painstakingly chosen to be true to the world of Earthsea.  And while  I can appreciate the challenge of a an epic fantasy tale being told in such sparse language, Le Guin never shows the work it required.  Instead it felt as though she had effortlessly recorded this detailed world.

The protagonist, Ged, in the folly of his youth releases a demon.  And now he is the only that can save himself and possibly many, many others from the evil the demon would unleash.  In the climax of the book the two face.  It is good versus evil.  It is dark versus light (and as I’ve admitted before, that is my kind of conflict!).  And in a beautiful twist the climax is resolved.  The true beauty of the twist is how simple and logical it is yet the twist isn’t predictable or common.

I can’t wait to read the second novel.  And I should probably go get the third (because I hate waiting for books when I’m in the middle of a series).  If you’re a lover of fantasy this book needs to be added to your list.  And this book needs to be discussed.  Have a friend read it too, so you can have someone with whom you can converse.

A Wizard of Earthsea