Review – The Other Wind

Posted June 14, 2016 by Nicky in Reviews / 4 Comments

Cover of The Other Wind by Ursula Le GuinThe Other Wind, Ursula Le Guin

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.

Rating: 4/5

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4 responses to “Review – The Other Wind

  1. arbieroo

    I whole-heartedly agree that this is a fitting end to the Earthsea series and a triumphant one rather than the resoundingly negative one we could have had in Tehanu.

    • There are things I like Tehanu for, but when you think about the version of the afterlife in Earthsea and the way it’s left without The Other Wind, it’s kind of awful.

      • arbieroo

        I appreciate Tehanu more every time I read it but I feel like it stands out as being radically different from all the others, in that it just doesn’t feel constructive to me. It feels border-line male-bashing which is not actually helpful and like the plot is more or less an after thought.

        • Hmm, I think I disagree there. I think it furthers the role of women in Earthsea, which has been very unbalanced — we don’t even see the ordinary life of women in Earthsea until Tehanu. And there are plenty of decent men: Ged, Ogion, Lebannen… Some men really do act in the way some men act in this book, and it’s not like we haven’t seen women being despicable (Ged’s aunt, the girl from Oskill in both appearances, some of the priestesses in Atuan, and on a lower level too, with women who react badly to Therru because she’s burnt). I think it’s very much a feminine point of view after the first and third books are largely male-driven and male-centric, yeah, but I think it’s pretty much due for that exact reason.

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