The other wind

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Paper Book, 2003



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London : Orion, 2003.


The sorcerer Alder has the power of mending, but it may have become the power of destruction: every night he dreams of the wall between the land of the living and the land of the dead, and the wall is being dismantled. If the wall is breached, the dead will invade Earthsea. Ged, once Archmage of Earthsea, sends Alder to King Lebannen. Now Alder and the king must join with a burned woman, a wizard of forbidden lore, and a being who is woman and dragon both, in an impossible quest to save Earthsea.

Media reviews

But there is more to The Other Wind than that: Le Guin's consistency now becomes revealed as a kind of destiny, a drive towards democracy if you like, an implicit impatience with the highfalutin genealogies such bogus mythologies are compelled to recite. Marvellously, the book contains humour, which is otherwise a kind of universal acid to children's fable: if it is funny, it corrodes everything it touches. Here it actually works. And the real magic now is the magic of writing.
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Love, too, is much more central and important than in the other Earthsea books. The loss that all lovers face, even when they are completely constant and loving, is one of the aching subjects here. In the first few pages of the novel, Ged feels “a sadness at the very heart of things,” and in fact essential loss, essential grief is the main thing that “The Other Wind” is about.... How to address that sadness is this novel’s question

User reviews

LibraryThing member selfnoise
The most recent Earthsea novel, it is good reading but follows the recent trend of Le Guin novels feeling a bit too gentle, and without a storytelling spine.
LibraryThing member drardavis
05/25/14 Earthsea: The Other Wind, Ursula K. LeGuin, 2001. Back to the intricate, full-length story again, and excellent as usual. There was quite of bit of reviewing past plot threads and summing up, but it was seamlessly inserted into the story. The symbolism and philosophy reach an interesting conclusion, but they still leave the reader wanting to follow the dragons. Anything else I could say would spoil the fun.… (more)
LibraryThing member RBeffa
With some mild trepidation I started the 6th book in the Earthsea series (5th novel). Tehanu (#4) was a disappointment compared to the first three novels, since Le Guin seemed to go out of her way to make it clear that the men of Earthsea are women abusers, either in manner or physically. The short story/novella collection Tales From Earthsea (#5) had a more balanced way of storytelling, so I had some hopes for The Other Wind.

It has turned out to be an enjoyable book - mostly as a return to many prior characters at a much later time in their lives. Big things afoot but it plays out, at a pretty easygoing pace. A notable lack of woman-bashing in this book makes me wonder all the more what happened with Tehanu (#4).

Upon finishing I find "The Other Wind" to be a satisactory finish to the Earthsea series. Many different things from among the novels and shorter stories are wrapped up here and there is a sense of finality about it all, a sense that the well travelled road is behind us.

I liked this story quite a bit.
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LibraryThing member Jim53
LeGuin returns one last time to Earthsea, following up Tehanu with another novel that depicts Tenar and Ged as mature adults, and adds Lebannen and Tehanu as maturing young adults. The primary new characters, Alder and Seserakh, are well drawn, although they take a while to emerge. Overall the novel develops slowly, as the great and less-great of Earthsea join their growing insights into what's wrong with the world and fit different pieces of the puzzle together. The novel is initially puzzling, because we don't have a clearly defined problem for its characters to overcome, but that's the nature of the problem LeGuin is describing, and the pace of the narrative matches its content. LeGuin retains the earnestness of Tehanu but manages to reduce the stridency that marred the previous volume. The Other Wind requires some patience as we figure out what's going on; the last third of the book flies along and is full of rich rewards for the reader who has persevered that long.

In some ways, LeGuin's resolution is just as radical as Philip Pullman's His dark Materials, which has received much more attention. I won't go into the details here, in order to avoid spoilers, but I will add my comments to the current Earthsea thread in the Green Dragon.
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LibraryThing member bragan
The sixth and final book in Le Guin's Earthsea Cycle. Despite an interesting and reasonably effective conclusion, this volume feels kind of slight, and I'd say this is the weakest of the novels in the series. But that's only to say that it's simply good, rather than being one of the finest works of fantasy ever published, which is a description I'm fairly comfortable applying to the original trilogy.

Le Guin is a writer of many strengths, and I think the Earthsea books showcase them all wonderfully. Her writing is lovely, compellingly readable, and scattered through with apt turns of phrase and with imagery that that seems to tap directly into a deep place in your brain. Her world-building is thoughtful and skillfully presented. This particular volume doesn't showcase her ability to weave together plot and theme so well, as it's a bit short on the former. But it does beautifully demonstrate her ability to take large, abstract ideas -- relationships between kingdoms, origin myths, an exploration of the boundaries between life and death -- and ground them beautifully in small, poignant, human details.

If this final installment comes across as something of an afterthought -- and I think it does -- it's at least one that's worth reading.
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LibraryThing member MomsterBookworm
The last book of the 'Earthsea Chronicles'. The ending chapter was the shortest, but all the loose ends were so impeccably tied up that the the conclusion was not rushed or abrupt, as can only be executed by a master storyteller. And as elaborate as the plot (of the whole series) has been, there is only one word to describe this: "Brilliant!" Simply brilliant!!!!… (more)
LibraryThing member TadAD
While still enjoyable, this and Tehanu weren't as good as the first three books that were written much earlier. I sort of wish she had left the story alone.
LibraryThing member ragwaine
Started off okay but then got progressively worse. The end exploded in chaos and I have no idea what happened. This sucks, it would have been nice to have some closure for the series but I guess I can just cling to the couple satisfying parts of this one.
LibraryThing member Black_samvara
I enjoy her style of writing and this was a very easy book to read. I'm a little conscious, while reading that this was in some ways an answer to feminist criticism as well as a story about the consequences of trying to outwit death. I can't help but see that as a massive metaphor for male arrogance as well.
LibraryThing member reading_fox
The fifth part of Le Guin's Earthsea world. Continuing the story of Tehanu, now that Geds powers are spent, he still doesn't have any trouble telling right from wrong, though other people do. this book rounds ou the story of Tehanu that was unfullfilled in book 4.
LibraryThing member Raven
As a novel alone, I doubt The Other Wind would work very well. It's too bound up in what came before, the past stories, both told, and told within those that were told. But reading it as the last of the Earthsea novels is a little strange, also. The last one I read was Tehanu, which is itself different from the three that came before: it is well-known as Le Guin's feminist critique of her own world of Earthsea, and the influences of the patriarchy evident in the previous three novels. Which is a good and laudable aim, but unfortunately, it doesn't quite work: a critique is all very well, but Tehanu doesn't work as a novel, only as a polemic, and more, while it shows us how women have been oppressed, it doesn't show us how they can work to end their oppression.

So I was looking forward to this novel: I wanted it to put right both failings in the previous novel, and while it tells a good story, it doesn't, I feel, address the threads that were left hanging. It's an excellent story. Its protagonist, a village sorceror named Alder, is a quiet and gentle hero, worthy of Sparrowhawk, and his love story forms a lovely basis to the rest of the plot. (Which reminds me, mostly, of The Amber Spyglass - the same themes, the same swipes at the Christian fetishisation of the afterlife, are there, and it's interesting to note that this very specific plot point should have been replicated over two novels published at a very similar time.)

Tenar, as always, is a good character. But Tehanu, who ought to be the heroine of this book, shrinks into the background for the vast majority of it, and Orm Irian, the woman-as-dragon who also ought to be a heroine, serves no clearly-defined purpose.And without the mythic, resonant style of the previous novels, there is very little of the epic feel to the stories that they do have.

In conclusion - Le Guin is always worth reading, and so is a novel of Earthsea. But I was disappointed.
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LibraryThing member comixminx
Sweet, more upbeat fifth book in the Earthsea trilogy. I didn't want to stop reading.
LibraryThing member j.q.badger
My favorite of LeGuin's Earthsea books. It explores many of the issues that made the first three so dissatisfying, but with a less heavy hand than Tehanu, or The Left Hand of Darkness, or even The Dispossessed (another favorite).
LibraryThing member krisiti
Ah.Women and dragons, dragons women. And sorcerers given their place. All explained, or explained away - I'm not sure if Tehanu becomes a better book, or worse, in retrospect. Somehow less ambitious.
LibraryThing member horomnizon
Not my favorite of the series as it seemed that so much time was wasted getting to the action. LeGuin seems to enjoy describing sea voyages and people waiting around for other people, but that can get a bit old when you're waiting for the climax of a 6 book cycle.

I was not disappointed in the conclusion, necessarily, but it did seem a bit of a let down...perhaps she just preferred to leave the rest to the reader's imagination. Or maybe The Other Wind wasn't the last book...who knows?

Overall, an absolutely wonderful and enjoyable series, with its ups and downs, but the characters become like friends through the books and I especially enjoyed the second trilogy, written later and with a bit more focus on the women. It was like LeGuin had gone back with different glasses on and reread the first 3 books and wondered why they didn't have a very big role - then righted it by challenging the beliefs that were taken for granted in the initial series.
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LibraryThing member Sullywriter
I enjoyed some aspects of this novel but compared to the other books in the cycle, it is disappointing.
LibraryThing member iansales
I have a lot of time for LeGuin’s writing, although I can’t say I’ve enjoyed everything she’s written. I knew The Other Wind was a sequel of sorts to the Earthsea quartet, and I do think those books are very good. Nonetheless, my expectations for The Other Wind were middling, perhaps because I was under the impression it was YA. True, the Earthsea books were published for many years in the UK by Puffin, the children’s imprint of Penguin; but I’ve never really thought of them as YA. The Other Wind is set late in the lives of Ged and Tenar, Ged has long since retired as Arch-mage and no longer has any magic powers. He is visited by Alder, a village magician who has been dreaming about meeting his much-loved late wife at the wall between the land of the living and the land of the dead. Ged advises Alder to consult with Tenar, and their daughter Tehanu, currently on Havnor, advising King Lebannen on recent incursions by dragons. It turns out the dragons are upset because the humans of the archipelago do ont return to the world on dying, but instead gather in the land of the dead. Dragons are apparently trans-dimensional. And all those dead folk are cluttering up their private dimension. It’s a completely new view of the afterlife as presented in the Earthsea quartet, and yet it doesn’t contradict it. There’s a wonderfully elegiac, and yet matter-of-fact, tone to the prose, and a beautifully-drawn cast, from Alder through Tehanu to King Lebannen… but especially the princess from the Kargad Empire who has been sent to Havnor to marry the king. It feels like damning the book with faint praise, especially since the last LeGuin collection I read was a bit dull, but The Other Wind is a thoroughly charming novel. I loved it. It made me want to reread the Earthsea quartet, it made me want to read more LeGuin. Recommended.… (more)
LibraryThing member MillieHennessy
As final stories go, this was a damn good one. In keeping with the tone of the series, this book isn’t an action-packed fantasy adventure. It’s a story about the characters and their lives – both familiar and new. It’s about how the use of magic and the relationship between humans and dragons has changed over the years. It’s a story about the balance between the living and the dead, and the small group who wishes to restore that balance.

I loved being back with Ged, Tenar, Tehanu, and even king Lebannen. We also meet Alder and revisit Irian, from the short Dragonfly. I loved seeing how the events of all the stories shaped the characters we’ve known through several books, as well as the world and the magic in it.

The end was a little less exciting than I’d hoped. I had to read a few scenes a second time because I was like, “Was that it?” But if it had been a showy ending, it wouldn’t have fit with the tone of the series.

I also enjoyed that not everything was tied up in a neat little bow. Obviously, this is the last Earthsea novel we’ll get, but LeGuin intended for it to be the last. I like that there are some lingering questions and the possibility of other stories, even though LeGuin isn’t around to right them. The end struck the right balance for me between resolution and open-ended.
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LibraryThing member nebula21
The final book in the Earthsea series. It started off really well but I was a little disappointed by the end. The conclusion for all the characters happened very fast in a short space of time and I think that left me with a feeling that there was something missing from the story or at least the telling of it. Le Guin took the time to develop the characters well but in some cases the end of their stories was rushed and undetailed.… (more)
LibraryThing member Vivl
I started this with great enthusiasm, on a wave of Earthsea excitement having read all the previous books in order over the past month or so. Tehanu and Tales from Earthsea, the two that precede this (at present) final novel were very much my favourites so I hoped that The Other Wind would continue the upward trend.

By and large it does: the first chapter, Mending the Green Pitcher is a joy. The current state of affairs is effectively and pleasantly presented, we visit with Ged (who is minding Ogion's old farm while Tenar & Tehanu assist King Lebannen on Havnor) and are introduced to Alder, a recently bereaved village sorcerer who is having particularly unsettling dreams, dreams that will eventually unsettle the foundations of Earthsea itself.

A large slab of the story takes place at the court of Lebannen, and that's where it came just a tad unstuck for me. I still enjoyed the characters and concepts explored, but it got a bit... untidy.

Finally most everyone choofs off to Roke for a denouement that is excellently done. The history and traditions of dragons, be they winged or not, Kargs, the Pelnish and Archipelagans come together in a most satisfactory manner. (You can tell I'm trying not to drop any major hints, can't you!)

Without shame I admit to tears of mingled happiness and sympathy at the end. And not a few times before that as well. Two scenes come most strongly to mind: the night of dreams, when we are shown the unconscious wanderings of various characters, and this declaration by Tehanu which comes not far from the end (I don't believe it gives anything away but shall label it as a spoiler all the same so you can choose to see it or not) --

"I think," Tehanu said in her soft, strange voice, "that when I die, I can breathe back the breath that made me live. I can give back to the world all that I didn't do. All that I might have been and couldn't be. All the choices I didn't make. All the things I lost and spent and wasted. I can give them back to the world. To the lives that haven't been lived yet. That will be my gift back to the world that gave me the life I did live, the love I loved, the breath I breathed."

I don't think I'll ever look at the stars in the same way again.
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LibraryThing member NineLarks
For the most part, I greatly enjoyed the final installment to the Earthsea Cycle.

As I have remarked in past reviews, I love Ged - so I was glad to see him reappear for a while longer in this book in his old age in his house next to the cliff harvesting plums and herding goats.

The premise is beautiful as always, regarding freedom and choice as a yoke and decision we humans make. It delves into philosophies of death and immortality and the longings of the human heart.

However, there were a few major issues I have with the book.

For some reason, (this happened in the fourth book as well) but I have come to the realization that I dislike Tenar. I believe she is the culmination of the Le Guin's conception of the power of women in a man's world. But she comes across more as self-righteous and bitterly angry for the weakness of women rather than pushing forward for a woman's voice in the books. I am appreciative of her trying to show how the Red Princess was made of courage and strength to be shipped to an unknown place powerless and alone. But I am taken aback by the way, the wording, the scorn she refers to men in general. It's strange because she so clearly loves Ged and Lebannen and has motherly affection, but when Tenar philosophizes about the nature of woman and men, it becomes very divided. But I really think the reason I am turned off by her personality is that self-righteous tone. How she speaks so little to make men understand but gets angry at them for things they have no idea that they're doing. It's like a passive-aggressive person. You can see it in how she refers to herself and the Red Princess conspiring against Lebannen, etc.

Going off of that, I also very much disliked the relationship and depiction of Lebannen and the Red Princess. It was my understanding that Lebannen didn't want the marriage because he did not want to be sold or bartered in a mockery of a relationship. But Tenar refers to the situation instead as a king's duty and remarks that he had never shied from that before - and she even becomes angry that he would not want to marry the princess. Is that really so strange?!
And then because they start finding each other attractive, that mitigates the initial problem of not wanting to be a stepping stone for the Kurgish throne? Where did his initial problem go? I don't understand. I don't understand at all.

However, there were many beautiful things about this book. I love how it wove every single novel together. From the first book we are reminded of how Ged learned to call goats and was saved by the small tongue of an otak. (By the way, Tug the cat is just adorable). From the short stories, we remember Irian and her dragon form. Of course Lebannen and Tenar are major characters from past books. It is all woven together and brought into one true story when all of the characters gather at the center of the world: Roke.

Three stars. Beautiful if not for certain issues. But a good ending to the series.
I would recommend this series for people who love a slower type of science fiction and fantasy novel.
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LibraryThing member JBD1
Some of the same wonderful energy and world-building of the earlier Earthsea books, but for some reason it just didn't hold my interest or attention as well as they did. I'll have to try it again sometime. Still a great read, to be sure.
LibraryThing member Griffin22
This book takes us back to Earthsea and adds to the story of all the main characters of the previous novels. It also delves into the relationship between humans and dragons, and explains why the humans have such a horrible dark afterlife. Definitely not a stand-alone novel. It didn't seem to me that there was as much 'story' as in the first triology. The two novels and collection of short stories since then, while interesting, feel like afterthoughts; a way to tie up some loose ends and give more history and backstory. I'd recommend the original trilogy to anyone, but the following books only to fans.… (more)
LibraryThing member SarahEHWilson
There is much I like about this book, and much that I don't. Tenar, Lebannen, and his bride from the Kargish lands make for a compelling tale of cross-cultural conflict and the odd course of love. Therru was a disappointment to me; maybe realistic, but I was constantly frustrated by her fear and shrinkingness. I thought her early encounter with dragons and Tenar's strong mothering would have helped her seize her own power more meaningfully. I also felt like it turned into a polemic against the resurrection, which I suppose may be an outgrowth of LeGuin's Taoist convictions, but if it was meant to be targeted against Christianity (I don't honestly know whether or not it is), it's so far off the mark of Christian teaching that it just seems like the proverbial straw man. The release of the spirits from the dead seemed to be a take-off of the last volume of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. I didn't find Tenar and Ged's sudden final belief in reincarnation to be convincing, either. I did appreciate Tenar's coming to a more positive evaluation of her Kargish home culture and beliefs, but all the way to the point of honoring the dark powers again? It seemed at times that the characters' spiritual development was more an accessory to the author's beliefs that their own story in its own right. Still, if you are an Earthsea fan, you have to read this conclusion to the cycle.… (more)
LibraryThing member Aspenhugger
"A superb novel-length addition to the Earthsea universe, one that, once again, turns that entire series on its head. Alder, the man who unwittingly initiates the transformation of Earthsea, is a humble sorcerer who specializes in fixing broken pots and repairing fence lines, but when his beloved wife, Lily, dies, he is inconsolable. He begins to dream of the land of the dead and sees both Lily and other shades reahing out to him across the low stone wall that sepoarates them from the land of the living. In her new novel, Le Guin reconsiders the relationship between magic and something ever more basic: life and death itself."
~~back cover

It's been a while since I read the Earthsea Trilogy, so I'd forgotten the sheer beauty of her language, and the charming intricacies of her plots. I couldn't put the book down!
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