Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Farthest Shore, by Ursula K. Le Guin


By far the best in the series so far. By sending the two main characters on a lonely voyage over sea, Le Guin eliminates the need for any supporting characters. Indeed, the few people the heroes encounter along the way have been transformed into mere shells of humanity, so Le Guin's tendency to produce two dimensional (or even one-dimensional) supporting characters actually works to her advantage here.

The story, too, is quite compelling--a moving allegorical tale of the danger of pursuing immortality and power and your own self-interest. It has all the elements of good fantasy: dragons, magic, a young prince, an old wizard, strange lands, friendship, loyalty, danger, courage, self-sacrifice. Once again, there are glimpses of Harry Potter, though this time Ged, the young wizard prodigy in A Wizard of Earthsea, is himself the careworn master wizard with a protegee of his own.

I'm still not as blown away by Le Guin as I expected to be, based on her reputation, but I look forward to reading more (after all, I haven't read any of her (many) Nebula and Hugo award winners).

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