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