Thursday, June 30, 2016

Drawing the Farthest Shore: The Platypus Reads Part CCXCIV

The Farthest Shore concludes the original Earthsea Trilogy. Le Guin has come back and added a further two novels after a long hiatus, but I'm never sure how I feel about their incorporation into the original set. Even The Farthest Shore has differences in tone from A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan. For one thing, it seems as if Le Guin had encountered the works of J.R.R. Tolkien by the time she wrote The Farthest Shore and that The Lord of the Rings exercised a subtle, pervasive influence on both language and content. I was waiting in the penultimate chapter for Sparrowhawk to say to Arren "I'm glad you're with me, Lebannen, here at the end of all things".

Whatever Tolkienian echoes there might be, however, The Farthest Shore is still firmly a work of Ursula K. Le Guin. The world is her own, and she is in full command of it as Sparrowhawk and Arren go in quest of the force that is destroying all of Earthsea. No where is this more evident than in Arren's (Son of Morred = Son of David) christological descent into hell and resurrection. In this event, Le Guin shows that her world possesses a life of its own, growing and moving through historical epochs. The advent of the prophesied King and his war with the Anti-King marks the close of the Ancient Earthsea that began with the "Bronze Age" Ereth-Akbe and ended with the Taoist-Stoic "Late Roman" Ged and begins a Middle Age with its own "Anno Domini".

So, here to pair with these thoughts is a drawing of the Anti-King, Cob, standing in the dry river bed beneath the Mountains of Pain (prismacolor pencils on black sketch-paper). We'll see if any more pleasant images occur to me as I continue to think about The Farthest Shore. If any do occur, you can be sure that I will post them here at Platypus of Truth.

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