The Farthest Shore
Once again, I only finished one book this month (although I started more): The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin was a quick last-minute read. I’m halfway through a couple of longer books, so there’s a chance more of them will land in July.
Like The Tombs of Atuan, this book describes a single episode in Sparrowhawk’s life, told from the point of view of an important new character to the world. Sparrowhawk now leads the school of magic on Roke. When magic itself is threatened, Sparrowhawk and his new companion Arren journey to the edge of the known world to save it. Seen through Arren’s eyes, Sparrowhawk’s behavior is often enigmatic and frustrating, and it takes a long time for trust to develop between the two.
The book is enjoyable but I wasn’t captured by the story like the last two; I’m struggling to remember some of its details as I write this. In a way that fact highlighted the strength of Le Guin’s prose, because the moment-to-moment experience of reading the book is compelling even when events are not. My favorite bits come near the end of the book when Sparrowhawk speaks more openly with Arren. There are a number of reflections on the value of mortality, and the futility of purposeless immortality, and the role that creative work plays in our lives.
You are young, you stand on the borders of possibility, on the shadowland, in the realm of dream, and you hear the voice saying Come. But I, who am old, who have done what I must do, who stand in the daylight facing my own death, the end of all possibility, I know that there is only one power that is real and worth the having. And that is the power, not to take, but to accept.