Le Guin's The Farthest Shore
Sun Jun 27th 2004, 7:10pm
(3 1/2 of 5 Elk [rating system])

The Farthest Shore is Le Guin's third in the Earthsea series, featuring the return of our protagonist Ged, who along with his new sidekick Arren take us on a journey to save Earthsea by traveling inside mankind's dark soul and challenging our most basic fears.

The story is framed by Ged's and Arren's somewhat aimless journey-for-a-journey to find the cause of the loss of magic among wizards and general spirit for life amongst Earthsea's populous. We learn that the antagonist has found a way to achieve immortality by bridging the worlds of life and death, while failing to realize (or care) that this act has opened a hole between the two worlds, leading the world of the living into a zombie-like state of neglect and uncaring. As before, Le Guin excels at her vivid, show-not-tell portrayal of every step of their journey.

But this is all backdrop, the real quest is about confronting man's fear of death and overcoming it by coming to accept and appreciate the balances in nature: the need for both ying and yang, light and dark, and most importantly, life and death. Through Ged, Le Guin tells us that without dark there is no light, and without death there is no life. It is this proper balance that Ged--now aged, wizened, and almost impossibly altruistic--is determined to restore.

While I absolutely loved A Wizard of Earthsea's story of Ged's fall and redemption (see my review), Farthest is not a story to evoke such love, with much darker and more introspective subject matter. But overall it is another vivid, powerful story, and a worthwhile read.

Visitor comments
On Tue Jun 29th 2004, 3:38pm, Matt posted:
Looks like the scifi channel is planning an Earthsea mini-series for December. http://www.scifi.com/earthsea/

On Tue Jun 29th 2004, 4:05pm, Steve Kehlet posted:
Cool! Nice catch man. Shawn Ashmore (Bobby from X-Men), Kristin Kreuk (Lana from Smallville), Isabella Rossellini and Danny Glover. Sounds like it'll be based on the first two novels.

On Fri Dec 3rd 2004, 4:43pm, Steve Kehlet posted:
While stuck in a theater the other day watching "The 20", they ran a spot on "Earthsea", to air Monday and Tuesday, December 13th and 14th. The cast, costumes, scenery, and so on look great. I was a little surprised at first to see that the spot seemed to showcase more of the flashy elements of the combined plot lines from "Wizard" and "Tombs", but I'm hoping that this was just the inherent nature of any preview, and that the miniseries itself won't skim over the genuine, profound issues of determination and maturation that Le Guin raised in each. Set your Tivos!