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The Other Wind (2001)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Earthsea Cycle (6)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,189542,897 (3.96)102
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.… (more)

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» See also 102 mentions

English (51)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  Bulgarian (1)  All languages (54)
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
How many months overdue is this review? Since sometime late last year, anyway...I was still in Belgium...that was two countries ago!

This will almost certainly be the last novel about Earthsea that we shall see from Ursula LeGuin and it is a much more fitting end than Tehanu because it feels triumphant rather than negative. In similar vein to the Tales from Earthsea, ancient crimes and cover-ups that have had profound effects on the Archipelago's peoples are revealed. Matters are also set to rights. It's not really a spoiler to say that this is not a book about Ged, although he appears in the story and performs a minor miracle involving a kitten without using any wizardry at all. Instead, Tenar, Tehanu and Dragonfly come to the fore, along with the King, a sorcerer with troubling dreams and a Princess from the Kargish lands. That women take an equal or leading role in this story feels very natural, arising from the story, where-as in Tehanu the story was contrived to highlight women. Perhaps that is the ultimate reason why Tehanu troubles many people and is not an unqualified success. This, however, is a triumphant success.
So many of the themes arising in the previous books are taken up again and given a last examination. The desire for immortality, the nature of Dragons, the history of the Kargs and the Archipeligans, perceptions and mis-perceptions of foreign peoples, the roles of women in society. The whole thing is brought to an unexpected and wonderful conclusion.

This feels much more like the original three books than either of the two later ones but it does still lack the sense of exploration I prize so highly that is found in A Wizard of Earthsea and The Final Shore, which leads me back to the beginning of the review; this is the last of Earthsea and there are somethings I could wish had happened somewhere along the way, that didn't: Ged travels far and wide in the course of his stories but we never sail the North Reach with him or explore Hogen land. Is it another island, or a high-latitude continent like Antarctica? Another Goodreader suggested that Ged and Tenar should have had a child; that would have been lovely but perhaps Ged is too old?

This series as a whole represents one of the great triumphs of fantasy literature, more profound, thought-provoking, imaginative and beautifully written than most books I have ever read. It deserves to be taken up in the canon in the way that Lord of the Rings has been. Farewell, Earthsea, until next time I need magic, adventure and beauty, all at once.

Near the end of this volume the protagonists wonder if their actions will destroy all magic in Earthsea. It doesn't happen which is a profound relief because Earthsea without Wizardry would be like air without oxygen, to me.

**************************************************​
And now it is my pleasure to introduce Flagon Dragon (see profile pic and my other photos) who will give his first ever Goodreads review here, regarding the Earthsea books as a whole. It should be noted that Flagon is a self-appointed Ambassador to Humanity from the Welsh Dragons, who promotes goodwill between both Species, mainly by being ridiculously cute and cuddly and giving everybody heaps of hugs. The review is hidden because it is a giant spoiler about one of the themes that links all the books.

Roarhi! {{hugs}} I'm Flagon the Fierce and Friendly Red Dragon! I read along with Robert in the evenings and so I get to enjoy lots of stories. Some of those stories have Dragons in them and the Earthsea books are my favourite stories about Dragons except for the story about my Mum, who is on the Welsh flag and the stories of my own Adventures.

Roar - so the first time we learn about Dragons in Earthsea it seems they are really Pesky, burning places and chomping folks and making them flee from their island homes. It seems like Dragons are really naughty! This is bad because Dragons have an undeserved bad reputation with all sorts of dubious and distorted myths and legends that make us out as EBIL! Roar! But later on, we discover that the older Dragons are wise as well as wiley and know things that Humans have forgotten! So it seems that Dragons are a bit like Humans - not all good or all bad, which is better! Then, later still, we learn that Humans and Dragons have common ancestors! We changed because we were more interested in different things than the Humans who didn't change. Interesting. Then, near the end we learn that the reason the Dragons are annoyed with Humans is because they stole something from us so long ago that only Dragons remember and the Humans have forgotten all about it! The Dragons decide they want their property back and set about getting it. Luckily the Humans realise that their theft was a big mistake and that they don't even want what they took anymore, so they give it back! Everybody understands each other a little better afterward, which is good and what I try to achieve as Ambassador to Humans. So these are my favourite books about Dragons!
( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
This is one of those novels that you have to see through to the very end before the total shape becomes clear and casts the entire series in a new light. Unfortunately, the buildup to get there is kinda middling for me.

Don't get me wrong, the dragons are great and the whole introduction of new characters and getting back to the King and to the question of Ged and the role of women in this world is pretty good, but the best part is the return to the dry lands, the realm of the dead.

As before, there's a balance between wizards and dragons, and all of this becomes even more pronounced as the reveals keep coming, as we learn mankind's place in the world and where we fit into the scheme of things along with our dragon brothers.

Pretty cool stuff, really. I just wish that I didn't have to do a re-read of the weaker novels in order to get to the really cool stuff.

I really wish that I could have the joys and the pacing and the coherency of the first two novels repeated in the ones to come after, but it just isn't to be. Maybe I expect too much.

That being said, I can truly appreciate the end of the Earthsea cycle as it has become, and not be truly dissatisfied. Dualities can be a real pain. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
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. ( )
  JBD1 | Feb 22, 2020 |
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. ( )
  MillieHennessy | Sep 18, 2019 |
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. ( )
  Griffin22 | Sep 6, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
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.
added by melmore | editThe Guardian, Nicholas Lezard (Jul 26, 2002)
 
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
added by melmore | editSalon.com, Donna Minkowitz (Oct 4, 2001)
 

» Add other authors (41 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ursula K. Le Guinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Nielsen, CliffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pente, JoachimTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rikman, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roukin, SamuelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seegmiller, DonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Farther west than west
beyond the land
my people are dancing
on the other wind.

- The Song of the Woman of Kemay
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Sails long and white as swan's wings carried the ship Farflyer through summer air down the bay from the Armed Cliffs toward Gont Port.
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