Book review

The Other Wind by Ursula Le Guin (2002)

They brew their magic strong in the Archipelago.

Have you read A Wizard of Earthsea? Do you remember that prickly young goatherd from Gont, who journeyed to Roke to study at the school for wizards? You will know that he was a very gifted young wizard, if a little difficult to live with. Well, four books later, he is no longer the Archmage, Lord Sparrowhawk. He is living quietly in retirement, back on Gont, but trouble is brewing, where it should not.

There is a low stone wall, which separates our world from the Dry Land, where the grass is withered, the stars never move and lovers pass without knowing each other. In the land of the dead, the dead are stirring. They are seeking to free themselves and invade Earthsea. They call the sorcerer Alder to them, in his dreams.

Alder desperately needs help. He seeks out Sparrowhawk, who has journeyed through the realms of the dead, and returned. Sparrowhawk can offer advice, but this time the problem must be solved by the next generation. Sparrowhawk's daughter, Tehanu, is already in Havnor at the court of the young King Lebannen, and that is where Sparrowhawk directs the troubled Alder:

Another door opened. A man came in, dressed in black, about Alder's age, quick moving, with a fine, strong face as smooth as bronze. He came straight to Alder: "Master Alder, I am Lebannen."
He put out his right hand to touch Alder's hand, palm against palm, as the custom was in Ea and the Enlades. Alder responded automatically to the familiar gesture. Then he thought he ought to kneel, or bow at least, but the moment to do so seemed to have passed. He stood dumb.
"You came from my Lord Sparrowhawk? How is he? Is he well?"
"Yes, lord. He sends you -" Alder hurriedly groped inside his jacket for the letter, which he had intended to offer to the king kneeling, when they finally showed him to the throne room where the king would be sitting on his throne - "this letter, my lord."

Fortunately, King Lebannen is a man of action, and he'll need to be to sort this one out ...

It's a fantastic tale of dragons and wizards, full of emotion, love and yearning, great power and learning. Brilliant! Highly recommended!

What can I read next?

There are many tales from Earthsea:

If you like your magic grim and threatening, you might enjoy this compelling story by Garth Nix:

You might also like to look at the trilogy by Philip Pullman, known as His Dark Materials:

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