The Other Wind by Ursula Le Guin

Rating 9.0/10
An involving tale, told beautifully and full of warm and humane characters.

This is another wonderful book from Ursula Le Guin. Exploring themes such as fear of death and belief in reincarnation. This is not a fantasy book full of large battles and insurmountable odds but a book about people and how they live life, deal with grief and try to make the right choices when they are presented.

The sorcerer Alder dreams of his dead wife and is able to kiss her across the stone wall that separates our world from the land of the dead. This puts Alder and Earthsea in mortal danger as the dead seek to free themselves through Alder and invade the land of the living.

Alder looks to Sparrowhawk, the former Archmage for advice and help and is sent to Havnor to seek the council of Tenar, Tahanu and King Lebannen. The dragons are also threatening Earthsea and Alder, his three new companions and a dragon woman named Irian journey to the Immanent Grove on Roke looking for answers.

Thankfully, The Other Wind keeps up the high standard of story-telling that readers of the Earthsea books have come to expect. It is evenly paced book that is strong on the characters with a deep, involving story. Some readers may have been concerned that this was an unnecessary sequel that could detract from the originals but they need not have worried.

"She was calling to me. I heard her voice saying my name, and I went to her. I knew she was dead, I knew it in the dream, but I was glad to go. I couldn't see her clear, and I went to see her, to be with her. And she reached out across the wall. It was no higher than my heart. I had thought she might have the child with her, but she did not. She was reaching her hands out to me, and so I reached out to her, and we took each other's hands."
"You touched?"
The Other Wind: Mending the Green Pitcher

Once again the story deals with death, love, freedom and the dangers of interference in the natural order of life. It is obvious that Le Guin is putting her own beliefs and thoughts across into the book but I'm glad to say that it never feels like you are preached to or having beliefs thrust upon you. I have read that Le Guin uses feminist and Taoist themes in her books but due to a lack of knowledge in both these areas I am unable to comment if this is true in The Other Wind. As I have said before, the themes that do come across strongly are death, how races view the afterlife differently and of the human streak of self destruction. There is, again, a certain darkness surrounding this book as the author does not shy away from subject matter that is not normally found within adult literature.

The most enjoyable parts of the book were, for me, the chapters involving Ged. He is now an elderly man, no longer possessing the powers he once had. What I most liked was the dignified way in which he conducts himself, he is an example of how I would like to be when I am old.

The long, gold mailed head swung round. The dragon looked at the king.
The king looked down and did not meet its eyes. But he stood straight and spoke clearly. "Orm Irian welcome. I am Lebannen."
"Agni Lebannen," said the great hissing voice, greeting him as Orm Embar had greeted him long ago, in the farthest west, before he was king.
The Other Wind: The Dragon Council

This is another wonderful book from Ursula Le Guin. Exploring themes such as fear of death and belief in reincarnation. This is not a fantasy book full of large battles and insurmountable odds but a book about people and how they live life, deal with grief and try to make the right choices when they are presented.

I would advise reading the prior Earthsea books before The Other Wind as some of the references may otherwise be lost. I would really just advise reading the Earthsea books, full stop.

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The Other Wind reader reviews

from US

9-stars

This is a moving and beautifully written finale to the Earthsea saga. Le Guin's prose instils a sense of calm as the wonderful plot and character advancement washes over the reader. A must-read for fans of Earthsea.

from Rialto, CA

10-stars

This is a beautifully written fable about life, death, the fall from Paradise, the human condition, greed, freedom, and much else. It is strong on characterization. Like one of the characters, I wept at the conclusion.

from London

9-stars

This is great way to bring one of the best fantasy series to an end. It moved me immensely and the themes it covers are very important to the series and life as a whole. Beautiful in its simplicity.

from Cambridge

10-stars

Unlike a lot of Earthsea readers I enjoyed the change of pace that Tehanu brought to the series, the characters had changed as so too did the narrative. The Other Wind carries on in the same style and is a perfect conclusion (if this is the last book) to the saga. Ursula Le Guin has a gift and that is in telling deep and involving stories in a way that is accessible to both children and adults. If you thought that Harry Potter was good, this is even better.

9.4/10 from 5 reviews

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