map of Earthsea, and named all of the places that she knew about from her story, and then went about naming all of the rest of the places, wondering all the while what those far away places were like, what kind of people lived there, and how they would interact with the characters and peoples she already knew about. She speaks about wanting to travel to these places through story to find what was there, say that this is how she wrote The Farthest Shore--by letting the story take its own course without knowing what would happen next, and especially not knowing the ending.
Of the three, I think I like this one best. The character of Sparrowhawk has grown, and has a certainly solidity to him that may have been a little thin in the other two, even the first where he is introduced. This volume also has a epic sweep to it that was also absent in the others, there is an Odyssey-like aspect to it which is nice.
And the dragons. The dragons are fleshed out in some detail in this story unlike they were in the mysterious first book. Le Guin talks about how she borrowed from others in her development of the dragons, and I haven't read all of the authors she nods to in the afterword, but they do seem to have an aspect to them the rings as original to my ear.
There are some grand developments in the Earthsea universe in this story, and I'm curious to see how these developments impact the next stories in the series.