Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Other Wind by Ursula K. Leguin

How in the world did I miss this book? It came out in 2001, and of course I was busy raising a family, holding down a job, and all that, but still! I have been a huge LeGuin and Earthsea fan ever since the books first came out, and have eagerly read and re-read them all...except this one. Just wow!

It's just like visiting the old neighborhood when a man debarks from a ship in the harbor of Gont and asks the way to Re Albi, where the Archmage Sparrowhawk has gone to retire, and the entire book simply has that feel of visiting with old friends and family for me.

A minor wizard, Alder, who specializes in mending, has recently begun to dream of his deceased wife calling to him across the wall between the land of the living and that of the dead, the Dry Land, and she has been joined by other spirits entreating him to set them free. He fears to sleep, and has traveled far to take counsel with the former mage, who is one of the only men living to have crossed the Dry Land, emerging on the other side. Sparrowhawk's time of doing has passed, but he sends Alder onwards to visit the young king, Lebannen, in Havnor, where his wife, Tenar, and adopted daughter, Tehanu, are visiting.

Lebannen has been trying to make peace with the warlike Kargs, and has been trapped by their proposed solution, marry their high princess to unite the kingdoms. It wouldn't be as interesting a story if he didn't fight the proposal tooth and nail, so you can bet on the outcome, if you like. And recently, the Archipelago has been undergoing a plague of dragon attacks on property, for which he is trying to determine a cause.

All of these plot threads are woven nicely together into a gripping story which kept me up far later than I should have been. The origins of the conflict between the two races of men and the race of dragons is finally brought to light, as well as the source of the wizards' power. Truly worth the wait, though I wish I'd read it sooner.

No comments: