- Age Range: 12 and up
- Grade Level: 7 and up
- Series: The Earthsea Cycle (Book 6)
- Mass Market Paperback: 328 pages
- Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (September 11, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0547773722
- ISBN-13: 978-0547773728
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.8 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #976,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Other Wind (The Earthsea Cycle) Mass Market Paperback – September 11, 2012
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The greatest fantasies of the 20th century are J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea Cycle. Regrettably, the Earthsea Cycle has not received the fame and sales of Tolkien's trilogy. Fortunately, new Earthsea books have appeared in the 21st century, and they are as powerful, beautiful, and imaginative as the first four novels. The fifth novel and sixth book of the Earthsea Cycle is The Other Wind.
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.
Ursula K. Le Guin has received the National Book Award, five Nebula and five Hugo Awards, and the Newbery Award, among many other honors. The Other Wind lives up to expectations for one of the greatest fantasy cycles. --Cynthia Ward --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
What a year it's been for Le Guin. First, there was The Telling, the widely praised new novel in her Hainish sequence, followed by Tales from Earthsea, a collection of recent short fiction in her other major series. Now she returns with 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 reaching out to him across the low stone wall that separates them from the land of the living. Soon, more general signs and portents begin to disturb Earthsea. The dragons break their long-standing truce and begin to move east. The new ruler of the Kargad Lands sends his daughter west in an attempt to wed her to King Lebannen. Even Ged, the former archmage, now living in peaceful, self-imposed exile on Gont, starts to have disturbing dreams. In Tehanu (1990), the fourth book in the series, Le Guin rethought the traditional connection between gender and magic that she had assumed in the original Earthsea trilogy. In her new novel, however, she reconsiders the relationship between magic and something even more basic: life and death itself. This is not what 70-year-old writers of genre fantasy are supposed to do, but then, there aren't many writers around like Le Guin. (Oct. 1)has won a National Book Award, the Kafka Award and a Pushcart Prize.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Alder, a sorcerer whose skill is mending, is deeply troubled by dreams of the dead. Nightmares about his newly lost wife and others struggling to be free. These dreams drive him to the wizards at Roke, who in turn send Alder on to Ged, once the Archmage of Earthsea, now powerless, but happy. Ged recognizes that Alder's dreams are the truth, that something momentous is happening at the wall which borders the dry kingdom of the dead. He sends Alder on to Havnor from where Lebannen rules the kingdom.
Lebannen is deeply troubled by Alder's report. Nor is that his only problem. Seserakh, daughter of the Kargish king has been offered to him for wife, and Lebannen resents this manipulation. In addition dragons at the edge of his kingdom are beginning to terrorize and attack the populace, breaking a longstanding truce. Nor is he happy that Tenar, Ged's wife, has taken Seserakh's side. Tehanu, adopted by Ged and Tenar, badly disfigured by fire as a child, is his only link to the dragons. Kalessin, the eldest dragon has recognized her as his daughter.
When Lebannen, Tehanu, and Onyx of Roke confront the dragons about their actions they discover little, and much. The dragons agree to a temporary truce, and bronze Irian, another of Kalessin's children, consents to come to Havnor to parley. There in the councils of Havnor Irian tells the dragons' story and the forgotten legends of many of the Earthsea folk are recalled. In some fashion, the human quest for eternal life has broken both the agreement between dragon and human and the heart of the world. All must go to Roke to find the answer in the immanent grove and heal the damage.
For a thin book, 'The Other Wind' has an incredible richness of themes. Life after death, sacrifice, courage, the varieties of love, redemption, and many others weave together time and again. There are no villains in this story, where much of the action takes place in the heart and the mind. Nor is there violence. Just questions, and answers, and questions again. Le Guin has an almost zen-like ability to use just enough writing to serve her purpose, and trusts us to fill in the rest ourselves. She has also made me homesick for the first tales in this series, to be once again beguiled by dragons and wizards.
Ged and Arren returned out of the Dry Land, but left behind those who were neither alive nor truly dead.
Who were those shadows of the living? Why were they condemned to lead such miserable half-lives, in which Arren "saw the mother and child who had died together, and they were in the dark land together; but the child did not run, nor did it cry, and the mother did not hold it or ever look at it. And those who had died for love passed each other in the streets."
"The Other Wind" debates the riddle of a 'true' death, and reveals how the very existence of the Dry Land threatens the people of Earthsea.
Actually there is more debate than action in this latest Le Guin fantasy, but as always she delivers her message through her complex and likeable characters. There lives the true magic in this series.
The reader is first introduced to the plight of the undead through Alder, a recent widower who can magically mend crockery and other mundane items. In a dream, his deceased wife kisses him over the low stone wall that separates the living world from the Dry Land. Subsequent dreams reveal other undead, who beg him to release them from the dark and return them to the land of the living.
Alder flees to the Island of Gont, to seek help from the former Archmage. But old Ged used up all of his magic while defeating the Dry Land mage (in "The Farthest Shore") and he counsels Alder to ask for assistance from the new King.
At the royal residence on Havnor, Alder meets many characters from previous Earthsea stories: Ged's wife, Tenar who was formerly priestess of the Tombs of Atuan; the burned child, Tehanu who can summon dragons; the dragon, Irien who assumes the shape of a woman; and Arren, the young King himself, companion to Ged on his fateful journey to the Dry Land.
King Arren (who now uses his true name, Lebannen) has problems of his own, including rampaging dragons and a heavily veiled princess, foisted off on him by a former enemy who orders the King to marry her. Nevertheless he agrees to help Arren, the sorcerous pot-mender who seems to have acquired the power to destroy the balance between Earthsea's underworld and its realm of the living.
The climax to "The Other Wind" takes place on Roke, the island of Mages, where the author ties all of her loose plot devices together--EXCEPT for the prophecy regarding 'The Woman of Gont.'
Admittedly the former archmage, Ged offered Alder 'a' solution to the prophecy before the sorcerer left Gont, but it wasn't very satisfying.
My hope is that there is time for at least one more Earthsea fantasy --one where the prophecy first revealed in "Tehanu (volume three)" is fully explained.
At first, it appears to be a story about a character called the Alder who seeks to reconcile with his deceased wife. However, once he reaches Havnor, the narrative focuses on King Lebannen's struggles to maintain his rule and peace with the Kargs. The Kargs send a princess, Seserakh, to be married off to Lebannen. Meanwhile, trouble is stirring with the dragons again.
The interaction between Seserakh and Tenar works well. There's some subtle character moments as Seserakh learns to interact with the people of Havnor. Tenar meanwhile has to reconcile her own Kargish background with her new life. LeGuin, with her love of languages, creates some memorable scenes as Tenar translates for Seserakh. Unfortunately, beyond their relationship, the rest of the book is not nearly as memorable.
Ultimately, the book resembled Farthest Shore a bit too much in its thematic explorations of death and dragons. Except that Other Wind is very introspective in that it seems that much of the book is geared towards explaining - or reexplaning how dragons and death work in Earthsea rather than telling a new story. Admittedly, these reconceptualizations do add important new wrinkles to Earthsea, but they also robbed the earlier books of some of their broader thematic significance.
Worth reading for Earthsea fans once to see how it turns out, but I think many fans will prefer to just stop at Tehanu.