The Other Wind ends the Earthsea Cycle by resolving an issue which, for attentive readers, has been present since the very first book. Despite all the joys of wizardry and the great things the wizards can do, the world of death looms from the very first, and it doesn’t sound like a great place. In the second book, Tenar’s background reveals that her people believe their souls are reborn, but that wizards’ souls are not. In the third book, we see the world of death: a dead, dry, empty place, surrounded only by pain, where lovers can pass each other on the street and not recognise one another.
That’s not a world we want to see Ged or Lebannen condemned to, and so The Other Wind is a fitting end in that it dismantles that — and brings in another female character who is Kargish, makes Lebannen examine some of his issues, makes Tehanu grow up, and ties in the thread of Irian from the novella ‘Dragonfly’. Other themes that’ve been a big part of the books previously (the role of women, for example) are still here, now integral to the world where perhaps they weren’t in time for A Wizard of Earthsea and Yarrow.
It wasn’t my favourite of the series when I first read it — I think I have to concede I love the first two books most and always will, though Tehanu and The Other Wind are growing on me — but reading it this time, it seems like a very fitting ending point. I think I’m right in saying that Le Guin isn’t writing novels anymore, so it’s likely this really is Earthsea’s end, and it’s a good way to finish, with Ged and Tenar in their house and the dragons flying on the other wind.