While A Wizard of Earthsea was a major childhood touchstone for me, it is the sequel The Farthest Shore that I return to time and again. Over the years I have found both comfort and strength within its pages during times of loss. For death is what the book, even though it is a YA novel (a National Book Award winning one at that), is really about:
“The Farthest Shore is about the thing you do not live through and survive. It seemed an absolutely suitable subject to me for young readers, since in a way one can say that the hour when a child realizes, not that death exists – children are intensely aware of death – but that he/she, personally, is mortal, will die, is the hour when childhood ends, and the new life begins. Coming of age again, but in a larger context.”
– Dreams must Explain Themselves, The Language of the Night
And so inspired, here’s my tribute to the tale of Ged and Arren as they travel beyond the farthest shore, into the dry land under the low stone wall, to right wrongs caused by one who rejects nature and refuses death.
“…You are young, you stand on the border 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.”
– Ged to Arren, The Farthest Shore