This book is a hard one to recommend.
On the one hand, it’s one of the most beautiful novels I’ve ever read. Le Guin’s prose is always a joy to read, on a line by line level, and as a writer looking to improve her craft I can’t help but read it as poetry. It’s a trait Le Guin’s writing has nearly across the board, and here it’s at its finest.
On the other hand, this is the final novel in the Earthsea series (saga?) and it changes so, so much about the worldbuilding in one fell swoop; in particular, the afterlife of Earthsea, which took center stage in The Farthest Shore.
I personally enjoyed the creative reinterpretation that Le Guin gets up to, but it is what it is: a repudiation of how she had built the world, and a push to something she finds more satisfying. Not everyone will get on board with her in this, hence my hesitation. Things change in this book, and I don’t know if everyone will agree it’s for the better.
That I think so, and unequivocally, might just speak to my own relationship with Earthsea. I got into the world late, reading the first three practically over a weekend, and jumping into Tehanu shortly thereafter. I suspect those who have grown up with Ged, Tenar and Arren will feel differently.
It’s a beautiful book, however, and every character’s arc found within (King Lebannen, Tenar, Tehanu and newcomer Alder) is handled with grace. Tenar’s final line brought tears to my eyes, a fitting conclusion to the journey she began in Tehanu.
On the strength of that alone, I make my recommendation. Pick this one up.