The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin
Genre: Fantasy, fiction
Bantam Books, 1972 (originally published by Atheneum in 1972)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Re-readability: The third Earthsea book brings the main story to a nice close—I’ll definitely read all three again someday.
Reviewed by Pete
The Farthest Shore concludes what was once The Earthsea Trilogy but has since been expanded to include five novels. It follows the wizard Ged and the heir of Morred, a boy named Arren. Magic has begun disappearing from the world, and Ged and Arren set out to find out why.
This book feels like a blend of the first two Earthsea novels as it features a seafaring adventure from island to island and it focuses on Ged and a young pupil, of sorts. The two leave the university at Roke and travel to the most distant islands of Earthsea to understand why magic is vanishing.
Though I enjoyed every moment of this book, I wasn’t drawn in by its premise—“the magic disappears” plot is a well-traveled path, and though Le Guin has her own take on it, I didn’t feel that the plot was as closely linked to the characters as it was in the first two books. This feels more like a traditional quest story, which Earthsea was never about before.
Despite this shortcoming, the writing was strong and concise, continuing to prove that Le Guin is a master not just of fantasy but of writing itself.