Review: The Farthest Shore (Earthsea Cycle Book 3 of 6ish)

The Farthest Shore - Ursula K. Le Guin

On average, I would say I enjoyed this book about as much as I had enjoyed the previous two books, but maybe less in some ways, and more in other ways.

In the very beginning of book one, we were told Ged would eventually be an Archmage.  At the beginning of this book, we find that this has come to pass and Ged is now the Archmage at the school on Roke.  Prince Arren, a teenager introduced in this book, has traveled to Roke to tell the wizards that people seem to be losing their ability to work magic.  Ged and Arren then travel together to try to discover the source of the problem.

Ged and Arren had nearly equal “page time”, and I was happy to see more of Ged than I had in the second book.  I also liked the character of Arren, and Arren’s hero worship of Ged and Ged’s affection toward Arren was very nice to read about.  The story started off quite interesting, although I think the second book had the strongest story of the three.  In this book, particularly in the second half, some of the plot points and character decisions became a bit too nebulous.  Our characters sometimes did things because they felt right, not because there was any solid, logical reason for doing them.  I do think most of that was explained or at least explainable by the end, though.

This book was published 18 years before the next book in the series, and it has a very definite “this is the end of the story” feel to it.  It would be easy to stop here and be satisfied, and some people have in fact suggested doing just that, but there may have been a cat somewhere in my distant ancestry because I’m too curious to stop here.  The mixed opinions about the later books have me curious to see what I’ll think, and I’m also curious to see what the author’s later writing style is like, and I’m curious to see how she chose to continue the series.  So I plan to move on to book four, and then decide from there whether or not to continue.