Not Far from My Favorite Book

The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin. Saga Press, 2001. 9780689845345.

the-farthest-shoreI’m doing something I hardly ever do — I’m writing this review without notes. I just had a conversation with my friend Adam, and at the heart of it was the idea of being present. When I feel overwhelmed I realize I return to books that I love, and this is one of them. When I picked it up last week, in the middle of working my way through five or six other books that I’m enjoying, it was because as I worked my way though this familiar and beautifully told story I was able to take time to reflect and think and to even watch myself reading it, if that makes any sense.

It’s a concise and poetic fantasy novel of the type that are rarely written, the third in the Earthsea series. Magic is disappearing from the world, and the Archmage Sparrowhawk and a young prince set out to investigate. Their journey takes them across the islands of Earthsea. They find people who can’t remember who they are, who seem to have given up their selves for the lie of living forever. The world is out of balance. A man, misusing his gifts and his power, is at the heart of it all and has to be stopped.

This reading it all seemed to be about the price of greed and being motivated by fear, but maybe that’s the election talking. That true immortality, or at least as much of it as we can have, can only be found in songs. That there’s value in wandering over hills and seas and even in stillness. That to become who you are you have to risk death. (And that if you want young people to become who they are, you have to let them take this risk, you can’t take it for them or protect them from it.)

What do you reread?

6 thoughts on “Not Far from My Favorite Book

  1. Le Guin is a true artist and those little Earthsea books are great examples of it.

    In amidst the suck that has been the last couple years when I find myself stalling on my to-read pile, I’ve been going back to Steven Brust’s Vlad Taltos series. Something about Vlad, the smart-ass witch sorcerer assassin with his wise cracking flying lizard sidekick pulls me out of whatever trap my brain has gotten itself into. And while they may appear to be standard pulp fantasy, Brust is always doing something narratively interesting within his 17 chapters. No two of the books are alike.

    But right now I’m reading Samuel Delany’s Dhalgren for the nth time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re a better man than me, Jeff. Dhalgren made my head hurt, though it probably bears rereading at some point. I’m hesitant to admit I’ve never read Brust’s series. Which book should I start with? (from Gene)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. First book in the Vlad Taltos series is Jhereg. I think it’s only in print as part of the omnibus The Book of Jhereg which also includes the second and third books, Yendi and Teckla.


  2. I’ve read some of the Vlad Taltos series and enjoyed them as well. But the book I often come back to is Night Watch by Terry Pratchett (mayherestinpeace). It features an older man seeing the world anew with the birth of his son, and then time-traveling to meet (and teach) his younger self. It brings tears to my eyes each time I read it.


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