Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Other Wind (2003)

I don't recall if I read The Other Wind (2003) by Ursula LeGuin before, so most likely, I likely listened to it as an audiobook. The book tells the story of a mending sorcerer who talks to many people in Earthsea, listening to those many stories, before finally wrapping up with something that approximates an ending.

The first quarter of the book catches us up on the events of previous Earthsea novels, making sure that all the highlights have been highlighted. We then travel onward, where we catch up with a few more characters, more events recapped, and more details filled in. Finally, for the last quarter of the book, everyone goes on a boat ride to Roke, then go camping, thus saving the world.

Ostensibly, the plot involves the fact that the Dry Lands are an artificial construct, created by wizards, to create some sort of immortality among themselves, but over the centuries that's pretty much been forgotten. At this point, the dead have gotten pretty sick of being dead and just want to be finally and completely dead, not just mostly dead. So, the dead reach out to a sorcerer particularly adept at repairing, for they want him to tear down the wall, which doesn't need repairing at all, and helps you to understand why that poor sorcerer was so confused. Who hires a mender to tear things down?

We have some symbolic plots closed up. When the Ring of Elfarran was rejoined, it symbolized rejoining in Earthsea as well, and so our good Earthsea king gets a fierce Earthsea Karg princess, and so the realms are joined and Earthsea itself made whole. This plot I actually approve of. Not only does it make thematic sense, it gives our dear Tenar something to do and lets her have her identity as a Karg back again. We have the mutterings of "change" finally brought forth and we get to see change, although we really don't know what that change means, so this is change with sparklers and neon signs. The presentation is pretty but we still don't know what's actually changed other than the dry lands, which only wizards could visit, is gone. I don't see most people noticing that change.

Other plots are wrapped up as well. Ged never gets his powers back. Tehanu flies away to the other wind, finally a dragon. The King finds his Queen. And everyone who's had a stick up their ass takes it out and gets to be a decent human being for once. The only thing missing from this book in the end was a rousing Kubaya around the campfire while a joint got passed around.

I'll happily recommend this book to any fan of Earthsea, but if you haven't read anything else in the series, most of the book will be lost to you.