With everything that is going on these days, it is great to have the opportunity to step between the pages of a book and experience a world in which right and wrong are truly defined, in which men and women respect each other, in which evil never wins over good. Welcome to Earthsea, the fictional paradise of Ursula K. Le Guin's formidable series. After five go-rounds, she's back again. "It's been a joy for me to go back to Earthsea and find it still there, entirely familiar, and yet changed and still changing," the author herself has proclaimed. And so will a legion of her fans.
A kiss between the worlds of the living and of the dead draws the dead towards Earthsea. The purveyors of this kiss, the sorcerer Alder and his young wife, who died a tragically early death, have a love that will last forever. However, if Alder, who dreams of this kiss night after night, continues to enjoy his reveries, the dead may be able to enter Earthsea through him, a fate he does not wish to fulfill. Seeking help, he rounds up a strange assembly of associates to combat them --- and the lives of all those in Earthsea fall into his hands.
Once you get past the names, like a checklist of Dostoyevsky-ish confusions, you will recognize mere humanity in the faces of all that inhabit Earthsea. And yet, thanks to Le Guin's brilliantly subversive prose --- messages carried in the simple guise of a well-crafted and proficient story --- the struggles of these peoples will come to represent something very personal to each reader. Such is Le Guin's prolific ability to draw an audience in, keep them there and haunt their waking and dreaming states thereafter. THE OTHER WIND is sure to entertain, provoke and enrich the minds of all who take in its vast history.
Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on September 13, 2001