The Farthest Shore, by Ursula Le Guin
The third book in Le Guin's famous Earthsea quartet, "The Farthest Shore" is another hero's journey, but with an added element. The path is walked by two: our old friend Sparrowhawk, now Archmage, and Aren, a young prince of Enlad who comes to the Isle of Roke with ill tidings. Along the edges of the islands that make up Earthsea, magic seems to be disappearing. Those who practiced it so easily before can no longer remember the words or hand symbols to work their magic. Towns are falling into anarchy, ruled by only those with the strength to rule, and once happy and productive people now sit idle in their villages, scornful of everything but unable to make anything new themselves. Sparrowhawk and Aren sail around Earthsea, trying to pinpoint the source of this deadly imbalance. I enjoyed this volume, though not as much as the previous one. The metaphors run deep, and I especially liked Le Guin's description of the grey land of death. These are powerful books, and I look forward to seeing how the cycle ends.