The Farthest Shore

The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin, 1972

Finished: January 8

About five years ago I had the pleasure of reading The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin. By the end of the first chapter I knew it was destined to become one of my favorite books. As soon as I turned the last page and set it down I ran to my local library and checked out every book it had in Le Guin’s Hainish Cycle (four of the six I had yet to read). I tore through those, foregoing sleep and more than a meal or two, and entered the Great Le Guin Drought of the 2010’s.

For years I forgot about The Dispossessed and I thought nothing of Le Guin. Then, a couple months ago I was reading through some fantasy book recommendations online and came across something called A Wizard of Earthsea.

That was how I learned I was an idiot. Somehow, throughout my fantasy filled youth, I had missed A Wizard of Earthsea. I couldn’t help wondering how my life would have changed if she joined the ranks of Lloyd Alexander in my young head.

Thus I was more than a little disappointed when I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first book in this trilogy – A Wizard of Earthsea. For whatever reason it fell flat. Thankfully I have what I usually call a problem. I can’t not finish a book or a series. No matter how much I hate it (Heart of Darkness) I will slog through every word.

I happily came to find that each book in the series was a marked improvement on the previous installment. The Farthest Shore — the final book in the series— had everything I had hoped the first book, or any fantasy book for that matter, could be. Wise old wizard, youth destined for greatness, dragons. Oh wait, the first book had all of those too… Perhaps, I read the first book at a bad time and didn’t fully immerse myself in Earthsea.

I’ve tried over the past two days to elaborate on why exactly The Farthest Shore was so amazing. Many ideas have come to mind but none could adequately capture the point I hoped to make. Suffice it to say that Le Guin is at her writing and storytelling peak in this book. If you’re a fan of fantasy I would say that it should be toward the top of your list and ‘required reading’ of sorts. If you’re not a fan of fantasy but love the art of writing: ditto.

Rating: 4 out 5 Lorbanery Silks

In progress: On Writing by Stephen King and East of Eden by John Steinbeck

On deck: The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

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