Content warning mild spoilers inside
A lovely third instalment of the Earthsea series, and a good handoff from it being all Ged's story to broadening out. A few off notes though:
- I found the emphasis on restoring the King to bring back order off-putting and at odds with the gentle daoism infusing everything else about these books.
- Arren seems to go awfully quickly from doubting naif to ready to be crowned. I liked how much Ged's ascendancy was about time, effort and learning from his own mistakes, and Arren's feels rushed by comparison.
- This may be the most extreme of the Earthsea books so far for just lacking female characters.
I gather that the later books were in part a deliberate effort by an older Le Guin to fix some of the deficiencies of the first 3, especially around gender (even in Tombs of Atuan, I found Tenar more a captive who has things happen to her than a full actor). As much as I did enjoy this one, it's made me look forward to those even more.