The Other Wind (Earthsea Series #5)

The Other Wind (Earthsea Series #5)

by Ursula K. Le Guin


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547722436
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 09/11/2012
Series: Earthsea Series , #5
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 364,277
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile: 840L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

URSULA K. LE GUIN is the author of more than three dozen books. She was awarded a Newbery Honor for the second volume of the Earthsea Cycle, The Tombs of Atuan, and among her other distinctions are the Margaret A. Edwards Award, a National Book Award, and six Nebula Awards. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Visit her at


Portland, Oregon

Date of Birth:

October 21, 1929

Place of Birth:

Berkeley, California


B.A., Radcliffe College; M.A., Columbia University, 1952

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Mending the Green Pitcher

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. She glided into the still water landward of the jetty, so sure and graceful a creature of the wind that a couple of townsmen fishing off the old quay cheered her in, waving to the crewmen and the one passenger standing in the prow.

He was a thin man with a thin pack and an old black cloak, probably a sorcerer or small tradesman, nobody important. The two fishermen watched the bustle on the dock and the ship's deck as she made ready to unload her cargo, and only glanced at the passenger with a bit of curiosity when as he left the ship one of the sailors made a gesture behind his back, thumb and first and last finger of the left hand all pointed at him: May you never come back!

He hesitated on the pier, shouldered his pack, and set off into the streets of Gont Port. They were busy streets, and he got at once into the Fish Market, abrawl with hawkers and hagglers, paving stones glittering with fish scales and brine. If he had a way, he soon lost it among the carts and stalls and crowds and the cold stares of dead fish.

A tall old woman turned from the stall where she had been insulting the freshness of the herring and the veracity of the fishwife. Seeing her glaring at him, the stranger said unwisely, "Would you have the kindness to tell me the way I should go for Re Albi?"

"Why, go drown yourself in pig slop for a start," said the tall woman and strode off, leaving the stranger wilted and dismayed. But the fishwife, seeing a chance to seize the high moral ground, blared out, "Re Albi is it? Re Albi you want, man? Speak up then! The Old Mage's house, that would be what you'd want at Re Albi. Yes it would. So you go out by the corner there, and up Elvers Lane there, see, till you reach the tower..."

Once he was out of the market, broad streets led him uphill and past the massive watchtower to a town gate. Two stone dragons large as life guarded it, teeth the length of his forearm, stone eyes glaring blindly out over the town and the bay. A lounging guard told him just turn left at the top of the road and he'd be in Re Albi. "And keep on through the village for the Old Mage's house," the guard said.

So he went trudging up the road, which was pretty steep, looking up as he went to the steeper slopes and far peak of Gont Mountain that overhung its island like a cloud.

It was a long road and a hot day. He soon had his black cloak off and went on bareheaded in his shirtsleeves, but he had not thought to find water or buy food in the town, or had been too shy to, maybe, for he was not a man familiar with cities or at ease with strangers.

After several long miles he caught up to a cart which he had seen far up the dusty way for a long time as a dark blot in a white blot of dust. It creaked and screaked along at the pace of a pair of small oxen that looked as old, wrinkled, and unhopeful as tortoises. He greeted the carter, who resembled the oxen. The carter said nothing, but blinked.

"Might there be a spring of water up the road?" the stranger asked.

The carter slowly shook his head. After a long time he said, "No." A while later he said, "There ain't."

They all plodded along. Discouraged, the stranger found it hard to go any faster than the oxen, about a mile an hour, maybe.

He became aware that the carter was wordlessly reaching something out to him: a big clay jug wrapped round with wicker. He took it, and finding it very heavy, drank his fill of the water, leaving it scarcely lighter when he passed it back with his thanks.

"Climb on," said the carter after a while.

"Thanks. I'll walk. How far might it be to Re Albi?"

The wheels creaked. The oxen heaved deep sighs, first one, then the other. Their dusty hides smelled sweet in the hot sunlight.

"Ten mile," the carter said. He thought, and said, "Or twelve." After a while he said, "No less."

"I'd better walk on, then," said the stranger.

Refreshed by the water, he was able to get ahead of the oxen, and they and the cart and the carter were a good way behind him when he heard the carter speak again. "Going to the Old Mage's house," he said. If it was a question, it seemed to need no answer. The traveler walked on.

When he started up the road it had still lain in the vast shadow of the mountain, but when he turned left to the little village he took to be Re Albi, the sun was blazing in the western sky and under it the sea lay white as steel.

There were scattered small houses, a small dusty square, a fountain with one thin stream of water falling. He made for that, drank from his hands again and again, put his head under the stream, rubbed cool water through his hair and let it run down his arms, and sat for a while on the stone rim of the fountain, observed in attentive silence by two dirty little boys and a dirty little girl.

Copyright © 2001 by Ursula K. Le Guin, published by Harcourt, Inc. All rights reserved. For permission to reproduce this information, go to our Permissions and Copyright Requests page at

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The Other Wind (Earthsea Series #5) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Other Wind is the winner of the 2001 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, and for a reason. The book is beautifully written and meticulously crafted; It's a concise book in which every word counts and has a reason for being there. It deals in a more mature way with themes that appeared in the previous four Earthsea novels: death, loss, greed, intelligence (represented by the wizards) vs. wisdom (represented by the witches, sorcerers and common folk), middle age and earthly (e.g. watering the cabbages) vs. epic (e.g. healing the world) concerns, the difference between men and women and how opposite things actually complement each other (light/darkness, silence/sound and, new in this book, destruction/healing); to name a few. I can understand why some people were disappointed with Tehanu, the previous novel in the series (although personally I liked it): it dealt almost exclusively with mundane life and its problems; the fantasy element was almost non-existent. The Other Wind, while still dealing with some of these issues, is a much more epic story. And since, as I mentioned above, it magnificently blends elements from all the previous novels, it should appeal to anybody who has read an Earthsea book in the past and liked it. The book also ties up neatly most of the threads from the previous books and answers most questions that were previously left unanswered. Unlike what many popular authors do these days, this book wasn't written by Le Guin to make quick money on a classic series. On the contrary: This is a book that demanded to be written. As any good book, it can be read on different levels and enjoyed by people of different ages and genders. The Other Wind is a book that deals maturely and, despite being concise, thoroughly with many themes and is the culmination of decades of constant work and refinement by Ursula Le Guin. Oren Douek
horomnizon on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Not my favorite of the series as it seemed that so much time was wasted getting to the action. LeGuin seems to enjoy describing sea voyages and people waiting around for other people, but that can get a bit old when you're waiting for the climax of a 6 book cycle. I was not disappointed in the conclusion, necessarily, but it did seem a bit of a let down...perhaps she just preferred to leave the rest to the reader's imagination. Or maybe The Other Wind wasn't the last book...who knows?Overall, an absolutely wonderful and enjoyable series, with its ups and downs, but the characters become like friends through the books and I especially enjoyed the second trilogy, written later and with a bit more focus on the women. It was like LeGuin had gone back with different glasses on and reread the first 3 books and wondered why they didn't have a very big role - then righted it by challenging the beliefs that were taken for granted in the initial series.
bragan on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The sixth and final book in Le Guin's Earthsea Cycle. Despite an interesting and reasonably effective conclusion, this volume feels kind of slight, and I'd say this is the weakest of the novels in the series. But that's only to say that it's simply good, rather than being one of the finest works of fantasy ever published, which is a description I'm fairly comfortable applying to the original trilogy. Le Guin is a writer of many strengths, and I think the Earthsea books showcase them all wonderfully. Her writing is lovely, compellingly readable, and scattered through with apt turns of phrase and with imagery that that seems to tap directly into a deep place in your brain. Her world-building is thoughtful and skillfully presented. This particular volume doesn't showcase her ability to weave together plot and theme so well, as it's a bit short on the former. But it does beautifully demonstrate her ability to take large, abstract ideas -- relationships between kingdoms, origin myths, an exploration of the boundaries between life and death -- and ground them beautifully in small, poignant, human details.If this final installment comes across as something of an afterthought -- and I think it does -- it's at least one that's worth reading.
TadAD on LibraryThing 8 months ago
While still enjoyable, this and Tehanu weren't as good as the first three books that were written much earlier. I sort of wish she had left the story alone.
Raven on LibraryThing 8 months ago
As a novel alone, I doubt The Other Wind would work very well. It's too bound up in what came before, the past stories, both told, and told within those that were told. But reading it as the last of the Earthsea novels is a little strange, also. The last one I read was Tehanu, which is itself different from the three that came before: it is well-known as Le Guin's feminist critique of her own world of Earthsea, and the influences of the patriarchy evident in the previous three novels. Which is a good and laudable aim, but unfortunately, it doesn't quite work: a critique is all very well, but Tehanu doesn't work as a novel, only as a polemic, and more, while it shows us how women have been oppressed, it doesn't show us how they can work to end their oppression.So I was looking forward to this novel: I wanted it to put right both failings in the previous novel, and while it tells a good story, it doesn't, I feel, address the threads that were left hanging. It's an excellent story. Its protagonist, a village sorceror named Alder, is a quiet and gentle hero, worthy of Sparrowhawk, and his love story forms a lovely basis to the rest of the plot. (Which reminds me, mostly, of The Amber Spyglass - the same themes, the same swipes at the Christian fetishisation of the afterlife, are there, and it's interesting to note that this very specific plot point should have been replicated over two novels published at a very similar time.)Tenar, as always, is a good character. But Tehanu, who ought to be the heroine of this book, shrinks into the background for the vast majority of it, and Orm Irian, the woman-as-dragon who also ought to be a heroine, serves no clearly-defined purpose.And without the mythic, resonant style of the previous novels, there is very little of the epic feel to the stories that they do have. In conclusion - Le Guin is always worth reading, and so is a novel of Earthsea. But I was disappointed.
RBeffa on LibraryThing 8 months ago
With some mild trepidation I started the 6th book in the Earthsea series (5th novel). Tehanu (#4) was a disappointment compared to the first three novels, since Le Guin seemed to go out of her way to make it clear that the men of Earthsea are women abusers, either in manner or physically. The short story/novella collection Tales From Earthsea (#5) had a more balanced way of storytelling, so I had some hopes for The Other Wind.It has turned out to be an enjoyable book - mostly as a return to many prior characters at a much later time in their lives. Big things afoot but it plays out, at a pretty easygoing pace. A notable lack of woman-bashing in this book makes me wonder all the more what happened with Tehanu (#4).Upon finishing I find "The Other Wind" to be a satisactory finish to the Earthsea series. Many different things from among the novels and shorter stories are wrapped up here and there is a sense of finality about it all, a sense that the well travelled road is behind us. I liked this story quite a bit.
Jim53 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
LeGuin returns one last time to Earthsea, following up Tehanu with another novel that depicts Tenar and Ged as mature adults, and adds Lebannen and Tehanu as maturing young adults. The primary new characters, Alder and Seserakh, are well drawn, although they take a while to emerge. Overall the novel develops slowly, as the great and less-great of Earthsea join their growing insights into what's wrong with the world and fit different pieces of the puzzle together. The novel is initially puzzling, because we don't have a clearly defined problem for its characters to overcome, but that's the nature of the problem LeGuin is describing, and the pace of the narrative matches its content. LeGuin retains the earnestness of Tehanu but manages to reduce the stridency that marred the previous volume. The Other Wind requires some patience as we figure out what's going on; the last third of the book flies along and is full of rich rewards for the reader who has persevered that long.In some ways, LeGuin's resolution is just as radical as Philip Pullman's His dark Materials, which has received much more attention. I won't go into the details here, in order to avoid spoilers, but I will add my comments to the current Earthsea thread in the Green Dragon.
ragwaine on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Started off okay but then got progressively worse. The end exploded in chaos and I have no idea what happened. This sucks, it would have been nice to have some closure for the series but I guess I can just cling to the couple satisfying parts of this one.
reading_fox on LibraryThing 10 months ago
The fifth part of Le Guin's Earthsea world. Continuing the story of Tehanu, now that Geds powers are spent, he still doesn't have any trouble telling right from wrong, though other people do. this book rounds ou the story of Tehanu that was unfullfilled in book 4.
selfnoise on LibraryThing 11 months ago
The most recent Earthsea novel, it is good reading but follows the recent trend of Le Guin novels feeling a bit too gentle, and without a storytelling spine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm so glad I read this book. It's so rich with meaning, and the writing is so remarkably beautiful. It may be helpful to have read the other Earthsea stories before reading this, but it's not really essential. This book will stay with me for a long, long time.
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Henzaru More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this conclusion to the Earthsea series. LeGuin is good at keeping a mystery interesting even as you learn about it. She also gives the reader a lot to think about.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first finished reading Tehanu I thought it was the last book she would right! I was going berserk! I knew the story couldn't end like that! Once I read Other Wind I knew the end had come. Even though a few things seemed unfinished I am completely satisfied by the ending.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Readers who have read the first three Earthsea books find themselves unable to forget the characters of Ged and Tenar, whose stories come to a satisfactory climax in this final book. Le Guin's writing is always excellent, literate, and sheds light on the human condition. An excellent book.