The Farthest Shore

The Farthest Shore  - Ursula K. Le Guin For quite a while, I've spent my time in reading fantasy books. From The Lord of the Rings, Narnia, and Harry Potter, to Eragon, Percy Jackson, and Stardust. I have to say that Earthsea is really a wonderful addition to the world of fantasy. Though what makes Earthsea outstanding is not what I expected.

One thing that I can't believe is that this book is actually published in 1972, more than three decades ago, but is still in print today. As a matter of fact, my copy was from Simon Pulse, published in 2012, less than a year ago.

The World of Earthsea is amazing. It was full of different peoples, blacks and whites. Yet one thing that makes Earthsea outstanding is it's treatment of magic and the antagonists.

Magic is not some secondary force that can be used freely by the magicians, like shooting fireballs and disarming opponents whenever the magicians wanted to. To use magic, no matter how insignificant it seems, is to add something to the balance of the world. A pretty cool concept, considering how for some books, wand and staff is just a gun in disguise. Magic here is pretty deep, just like in The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany in a way.

Then the antagonists. In the first two books that I've read, the antagonists presented themselves not as an arbitrary dark lord, but as a sinister, looming, cunning spiritual forces. Ain't that cool? I was quite bored with dark lords, evil witches and tyrannical king, so reading Earthsea is like some kind of holiday.

The weakness of Earthsea is that the story is told more in narratives than in actions, so sometimes it does bore me.

My conclusion is that for a fantasy book, Earthsea is quite interesting. It might lack the showier fantasy elements (noble elves, short dwarves, centaurs, etc.) but makes it up with thoughtful philosophies.