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Tehanu

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Years ago, they had escaped together from the sinister Tombs of Atuan—she, an isolated young priestess; he, a powerful wizard. Now she is a farmer's widow, having chosen for herself the simple pleasures of an ordinary life. And he is a broken old man, mourning the powers lost to him through no choice of his own. Once, when they were young, they helped each other Years ago, they had escaped together from the sinister Tombs of Atuan—she, an isolated young priestess; he, a powerful wizard. Now she is a farmer's widow, having chosen for herself the simple pleasures of an ordinary life. And he is a broken old man, mourning the powers lost to him through no choice of his own. Once, when they were young, they helped each other at a time of darkness and danger and shared an adventure like no other. Now they must join forces again, to help another in need -- the physically and emotionally scarred child whose own destiny has yet to be revealed.


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Years ago, they had escaped together from the sinister Tombs of Atuan—she, an isolated young priestess; he, a powerful wizard. Now she is a farmer's widow, having chosen for herself the simple pleasures of an ordinary life. And he is a broken old man, mourning the powers lost to him through no choice of his own. Once, when they were young, they helped each other Years ago, they had escaped together from the sinister Tombs of Atuan—she, an isolated young priestess; he, a powerful wizard. Now she is a farmer's widow, having chosen for herself the simple pleasures of an ordinary life. And he is a broken old man, mourning the powers lost to him through no choice of his own. Once, when they were young, they helped each other at a time of darkness and danger and shared an adventure like no other. Now they must join forces again, to help another in need -- the physically and emotionally scarred child whose own destiny has yet to be revealed.

30 review for Tehanu

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    May 2013 I don't know anything anymore. A Wizard of Earthsea and The Farthest Shore, you can take your dragons and shove em. Your wizardry's not wanted here. All your quests are just cruises and island-hopping, boys' own adventures. Fuck it all. This is the real story. The tedium and horror of regular life is more epic than your silly jaunts, and all your hoity-toity man's magic won't do nothing to save you here. Goddamn.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs the Bookdragon

    Of all the fantasy realms I’ve read about, lived in, imagined, there is only one I prefer to Earthsea and that’s Tolkien’s. So I hope that illustrates how highly I regard this series. Earthsea is beautiful and as eloquently described as ever in Tehanu. There’s just something about the careful way Le Guin writes that makes this world seems so complete. She doesn’t waste words and her novels are always quite brief and very character driven, though somehow I have a keener picture of Earthsea than most oth Of all the fantasy realms I’ve read about, lived in, imagined, there is only one I prefer to Earthsea and that’s Tolkien’s. So I hope that illustrates how highly I regard this series. Earthsea is beautiful and as eloquently described as ever in Tehanu. There’s just something about the careful way Le Guin writes that makes this world seems so complete. She doesn’t waste words and her novels are always quite brief and very character driven, though somehow I have a keener picture of Earthsea than most other fantasy realms. Her stories never stop moving forward. This one focuses on a much older Sparrowhawk, one who has lost his sense of self. After years of saving people and performing great feats with his magic, he is dried up and spent: he has nothing left. What is a mage without magic? Nothing, he would tell you. And they’re sad words to hear because the character has always been somewhat of a leader, an inspirer of others who were ready to give up. So this takes on a rather introspective turn as he attempts to overcome his depression by reconnecting with some old friends. He is sad, forlorn and without hope and the writing is loaded with bleak emotions. The only other writer of epic fantasy I have found who can capture such human feeling within her books is Robin Hobb. I think returning readers need to be really careful with this one and approach it with an open-mind. This was unlike all the other books; yet, it brought them altogether perfectly and into what Le Guin originally thought was the conclusion before she wrote The Other Wind. “He was so intense, so serious, armoured in the formality of his rank and yet vulnerable in his honesty, the purity of his will. Her heart yearned to him. He thought he had learned pain, but he would learn it again and again, all his life, and forget none of it.” Ursula Le Guin is one of my favourite fantasy writers. And she is painfully under read in comparison to some leading names. Her works are not as clever as Tolkien’s, and she did not invent her own language(s) or comprehensive history, though her world really has influenced a large part of modern fantasy. I see a lot of her ideas paralleled in video games (namely the elder scrolls universe) and the works of later writers. So, my point is, she’s not a writer to be missed for fantasy fans, especially those who want to read traditional fantasy at its finest. This is fourth book in this series now, a series that is consistently good yet manages to bring in new ideas with each new instalment. Earthsea Cycle 1. A Wizard of Earthsea- Four worthy stars 2. The Tombs of Atuan- A redeeming four stars 3. The Farthest Shore- A strong four stars 4. Tehanu - A sad four stars Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Insta | Academia

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    I remember reading Tehanu in grade school; I also remember not liking it very much. However, reading it again, years later, I think of it as a masterpiece. The first three Earthsea novels were good, interesting, entertaining, but Tehanu belongs to another tier entirely. Its character development and world-building are par with Tombs of Atuan, but its pacing is better and it ties in more tightly to existing lore. Further, we get to see the characters we've come to love in a more natural light. It I remember reading Tehanu in grade school; I also remember not liking it very much. However, reading it again, years later, I think of it as a masterpiece. The first three Earthsea novels were good, interesting, entertaining, but Tehanu belongs to another tier entirely. Its character development and world-building are par with Tombs of Atuan, but its pacing is better and it ties in more tightly to existing lore. Further, we get to see the characters we've come to love in a more natural light. It's heartening to learn that, without the crutches of myth and magic and religion, they still stand as individuals, well-developed and interesting to read about. The moments of thrill and fear are well put together and memorable, but also down-to-earth: it's perfectly reasonable to expect that anyone could be put in danger during a moment of home invasion or by an unwelcome encounter on the road. Despite the simple, pastoral setting and the almost complete lack of magic, the story has a certain grandiosity to it that reflects the depth of its content. Tehanu is a book about people, the good and the bad, about life and growing up and the mysteries of someone else's way of seeing.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    This is a difficult Earthsea book to read. After Ged's adventures crossing the sea and dealing with Kings, Princes and Mages, this book stays pretty much firmly on Gont and he hardly appears. Instead the book concentrates on Tenar (from the "Tombs of Atuan") and her life on Gont Island and that of the small damaged girl Tenar finds in the road one day who has been so badly burned and mistreated that she is terribly deformed. The book deals with discrimination on the basis of appearenc This is a difficult Earthsea book to read. After Ged's adventures crossing the sea and dealing with Kings, Princes and Mages, this book stays pretty much firmly on Gont and he hardly appears. Instead the book concentrates on Tenar (from the "Tombs of Atuan") and her life on Gont Island and that of the small damaged girl Tenar finds in the road one day who has been so badly burned and mistreated that she is terribly deformed. The book deals with discrimination on the basis of appearence, the everyday sexism of the society, and the will of a strong woman to defy that sexism and live her life and protect her adopted, damaged child, and also care for her damaged rescuer turned lover (Ged). It's a quiet but incredibly powerful book with a stunning and unexpected ended. I highly recommend it. Another rereading this year (2012), and this book impressed me even more, it's utterly beautiful in so many ways. The power of love and it's ability to redeem is made clear here. It's hard to believe that this is considered a children's book as it has more powerful things to say about love and living than the majority of books written for adults.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    This is the fantasy book that I've always hoped would be written but thought impossible in the genre: a beautifully crafted tale of humanity where the magic and dragons take the back seat. It's ok if it isn't the best fantasy you've ever read, but to me it's the most perfect fantasy novel. It makes me want to be a better reader, a better writer, a better person. In 2017 I spent so much time reading ULG that many of the 133 books begin to pale. I haven't added up all the pages but betw This is the fantasy book that I've always hoped would be written but thought impossible in the genre: a beautifully crafted tale of humanity where the magic and dragons take the back seat. It's ok if it isn't the best fantasy you've ever read, but to me it's the most perfect fantasy novel. It makes me want to be a better reader, a better writer, a better person. In 2017 I spent so much time reading ULG that many of the 133 books begin to pale. I haven't added up all the pages but between the entire Earthsea cycle, all of her novellas, two books of short stories and a Hainish cycle book I can say that I'm an Ursula Le Guin acolyte. She's a treasure. The world is a better place because she decided to put pen to paper and teach us. Rest in peace, Ursula. Your gift to humanity will forever remind us that we are made of stars.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    I think this was an interesting installment for the Earthsea books not because it continued the grand tradition of huge fantasy implications and events, but because it flips our expectations and gives us a very domestic view of Earthsea. That's not to say that evil things don't happen, because they do, but the scope is pulled all the way back in, with Tenar from book 2 and Ged meeting up again after almost a lifetime, with her as a middle-aged woman and Ged much changed after the even I think this was an interesting installment for the Earthsea books not because it continued the grand tradition of huge fantasy implications and events, but because it flips our expectations and gives us a very domestic view of Earthsea. That's not to say that evil things don't happen, because they do, but the scope is pulled all the way back in, with Tenar from book 2 and Ged meeting up again after almost a lifetime, with her as a middle-aged woman and Ged much changed after the events of book 3, having lost his magic. Reader expectations can be a huge complication to any tale that wants to be told. If I hadn't gone into this with my eyes wide open, I might have been rather upset. As it is, I judged this book in my mind against a vast collection of fantasy novels rather than the highest expectations of LeGuin's other novels and I didn't find it wanting. In fact, I quite enjoyed the deeper exploration of what it means to be a woman in Earthsea, with the different kinds of magic, the complications, and the down-to-earth feel. If Ged is the wind, then the female side is the earth. No surprise, I'm sure, but it was quite well done. As for the plot, it didn't drag for me. I've read much, much worse. :) The setup at the end was quite interesting, too. Final estimation? It's not on the same level as the other three, but it does explore the world of Earthsea in a rather interesting way that includes two of my favorite characters from the previous books. Sparrowhawk isn't mighty and righteous or just trying to fix his mistakes. He's just a man. That's okay. :)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    Yes, it's obvious this book is written by a woman. Your point, everybody? Like, God, do you even understand how many books are "so obviously written by a man?" Historically, nearly all books have been written by men. Certainly most of Western canon has been. And for most of those, there's no mistaking it: they were written by men, would not have been written by a woman, could not have been written by a woman. Why? Because in them, female characters are written only as decorations and toys for Yes, it's obvious this book is written by a woman. Your point, everybody? Like, God, do you even understand how many books are "so obviously written by a man?" Historically, nearly all books have been written by men. Certainly most of Western canon has been. And for most of those, there's no mistaking it: they were written by men, would not have been written by a woman, could not have been written by a woman. Why? Because in them, female characters are written only as decorations and toys for the male characters, are drawn so vaguely and so stylized that they're barely recognizable as human beings with internal lives and self-driven motivations and needs. (Let me just... let me just... have you ever read Hemingway? Seriously? Do you think a woman would ever, ever, ever have written a character as ridiculous and pathetic and unreal as Maria in For Whom the Bell Tolls? WHAT A JOKE.) In any case, I hardly think that's what le Guin's done here. Yes, she has richly drawn female characters around whom the story centers (can you even deal with it?) but her male characters don't suffer for it. Ged isn't exactly neglected or mistreated by le Guin. In fact, he seems more complete and deeper and more real in this novel than in the Wizard of Earthsea. Yes, there are a lot of shitty male characters, too. Of course, there are a lot of shitty men IRL. Them's the breaks. That's the rant. Anyway, what le Guin has done with Tehanu is nothing short of remarkable. It's sensitive, well-plotted and paced, sincere and warm and earnest. She treats the reader gently, tenderly, but firmly, and never succumbs to trite cliches. She never chooses the answer that is simply easier, or more exciting, if it reduces the bones of the story to something less honest. Perfect afterword, too. "Maybe the change coming into Earthsea has something to do with no longer identifying freedom with power, with separating being free from being in control." And what le Guin says of the conversation between Moss and Tenar on the difference between men and women: "Moss is pretty contemptuous of men in general, having been treated by them with contempt all her life. That's all right, and I find her discussion of men's power and women's power harsh, incomplete, but interesting. Then she goes off into an incantatory praise of mysterious female knowledge: 'Who knows where a woman begins or ends? I have roots, I go back into the dark!' And she ends with a rhetorical question- 'Who'll as the dark its name?' 'I will,' Tenar says. 'I lived long enough in the dark.' I've often seen Moss's rhapsody quoted with approval. Tenar's fierce answer almost always goes unquoted, unnoticed. Yet it refuses Moss's self-admiring mysticism. And all Tenar's life is in it." UGH. Le Guin is just so... so together, so conscious, so self-aware.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Apollo Hesiod

    Very enjoyable, now I need to find out what happens with Therru, on to the next book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. "What cannot be healed must be transcended." Welcome back, all. Today I'll be discussing Ursula Le Guin's Tehanu, published in 1990 and that year's winner of the Nebula Award for Best Novel and the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel. Spoilers follow, as well as some discussion of child abuse. So What's It About? Tenar, last seen as a teenage girl in The Tombs of Atuan, is now well into middle age and widowhood. After having felt adrift for some time, she finds a new sense of purpose when she/>So "What cannot be healed must be transcended." Welcome back, all. Today I'll be discussing Ursula Le Guin's Tehanu, published in 1990 and that year's winner of the Nebula Award for Best Novel and the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel. Spoilers follow, as well as some discussion of child abuse. So What's It About? Tenar, last seen as a teenage girl in The Tombs of Atuan, is now well into middle age and widowhood. After having felt adrift for some time, she finds a new sense of purpose when she takes in a severely burned little girl who was left for dead by her abusive parents. She and the girl, Therru, settle into life together, but their pattern is once again disturbed when Ged returns to Gont near death and bereft of his magic. What follows is a reflection on the true meaning of power and what it means to live in its absence. What I Thought/The F Word Very few books have ever resonated with me quite as much as Tehanu did. It's nothing short of brilliant in my view, a quietly transformative, meditatively powerful reflection on some of the most fundamental questions that characterize my own life. There are three key thematic strands that deftly weave their way through Tehanu's narrative, dealing chiefly with trauma, gender and power and how the three are inextricably linked. "What cannot be mended must be transcended." There are some wrongs that may never be righted, there are some hurts that will never heal. But if this is true, how do you nevertheless forge onwards, find meaning in life and be more than what has been done to you? Maybe that transcendence looks different for everyone. It's how Tenar made the choice to fight for a normal, peaceful existence with a farm and a husband and children after the unimaginable darkness of her childhood. It's how Therru takes tiny, miraculous steps towards feeling safe and expressing herself through play and speech and trust in adults. It's how Ged slowly makes sense of his new identity after his entire life has been shattered. Tehanu makes it clear that the act of enacting harm against someone is also an act of expressing your power over them: "It’s so easy, she thought with rage, it’s so easy for Handy to take the sunlight from her, take the ship and the King and her childhood from her, and it’s so hard to give them back! A year I’ve spent trying to give them back to her, and with one touch he takes them and throws them away. And what good does it do him—what’s his prize, his power? Is power that—an emptiness?" The power that you achieve through harming others is, as Tenar puts it, "an emptiness," but even the allure of that empty power is enough for some people to justify their actions against others. What is agonizing about this is how incredibly easy it is to enact that destructive power against others, while building up true constructive power through love and connection is a delicate process that requires time, vulnerability and trust. There is also the question of the stigma that accompanies trauma. Therru carries the physical markings of what has been done to her, and because of that people fear and shun her. They cannot stand the thought of a child being thrown into the flames or raped or beaten, and deal with that inability by projecting their fear and disgust onto the survivor instead of the perpetrator. Just as it is easier to tear someone down for empty power, it is easier to blame a victim than it is to confront a world where parents would be capable of doing what has been done to Therru. I never loved Tenar more than when she insisted on how wrong this was, and told Therru that she is defined by who she is and what she can do instead of what has been done to her: “You are beautiful," Tenar said in a different tone. "Listen to me, Therru. Come here. You have scars, ugly scars, because an ugly, evil thing was done to you. People see the scars. But they see you, too, and you aren't the scars. You aren't ugly. You aren't evil. You are Therru, and beautiful. You are Therru who can work, and walk, and run, and dance, beautifully, in a red dress.” Tehanu is equally preoccupied with questions of masculinity and femininity as it is with questions of trauma. There are several meditations on inherently "masculine" and "feminine" types of power, and my favorite of these occurs between Tenar and a witchwoman named Moss. Tenar asks Moss what is wrong with men, and Moss replies as follows: “The best I can say, it's like this. A man's in his skin, see, like a nut in its shell ... It's hard and strong, that shell, and it's all full of him. Full of grand man-meat, man-self. And that's all. That's all there is." A woman's a different thing entirely. Who knows where a woman begins and ends? Listen mistress, I have roots, I have roots deeper than this island. Deeper than the sea, older than the raising of the lands. I go back into the dark ... I go back into the dark! Before the moon I am, what a woman is, a woman of power, a woman's power, deeper than the roots of trees, deeper than the roots of islands, older than the Making, older than the moon. Who dares ask questions of the dark? Who'll ask the dark its name?” Moss has completely subscribed to the idea that there are inherent, boundless differences between men and women and the kinds of power that they embody. It can be tempting to subscribe to this view sometimes - that women are essentially divine, mystical, pure and powerful in a way that men are not. Tenar, however, and Le Guin, do not seem to be convinced by this idea. Tenar mildly responds that the horrors of her childhood were perpetrated entirely by women, complicating Moss's celebration of pure, mystical female power. Later, she says the following to Ged: "It seems to me we make up most of the differences, and then complain about ’em." By arguing that we "make up most of the differences," Le Guin supports the notion that sex and gender by and large social constructs that we perpetuate in order to simplify the world into easy, false dichotomies. "Making up most of the differences" also complicates notions of biological essentialism that dictate certain traits as inherently masculine or feminine. What is clear, however, is that while gender may have started out as a social construct, it has come to be an extremely real thing to the people who live within its rules, power dynamics and expectations on a daily basis. The impact of gender expectations is conveyed most clearly through Ged's story- the "unmanning" that he experiences in Tehanu through the loss of his magic. When Ged loses his magic - his masculine-coded power-he experiences an agonizing identity crisis. His shame puzzles Tenar: "But even so she did not feel she understood his shame, his agony of humiliation. Perhaps only a man could feel so. A woman got used to shame." In this way it is clear that Ged's shame as a result of his loss of power is gendered as well - a woman, who lives with a constant lack of power and plenty of the shame that accompanies being a denigrated gender-cannot be caught up by the conundrum of ego that masculinity causes. For a significant portion of the book, Ged essentially sees himself as nothing without his magic, and as a result is completely cowed, self-absorbed and emotionally stunted, unwilling to care about anything but nursing his wounds and stewing over his downfall: "Ged—the one who might really have helped—Ged ran away. Ran off like a whipped dog, and never sent sign or word to her, never gave a thought to her or Therru, but only to his own precious shame. That was his child, his nurseling. That was all he cared about. He had never cared or thought about her, only about power—her power, his power, how he could use it, how he could make more power of it. Putting the broken Ring together, making the Rune, putting a king on the throne. And when his power was gone, still it was all he could think about: that it was gone, lost, leaving him only himself, his shame, his emptiness." This, Le Guin argues, is what our construction of masculinity can make of men. Even a courageous, heroic, truly good man like Ged has built his entire identity upon having more power than other people, and when that is no longer the case he reverts back to being a terrified, emotionally-repressed teenager again. The rest of the wizards in the book are presented in much the same light- emotionally repressed, terrified of losing their power, and arrogant. It is only when Ged's worst fears do in fact come true that he is able to actually begin to live in a genuine way and forge a healthy identity for himself as a real man as opposed to a man whose entire sense of himself is constructed on notions of empty power. As Le Guin puts it in the afterward: "In Tehanu he can become, finally, fully a man. He is no longer the servant of his power." This is the strange, pitiable paradox of masculinity: men have constructed themselves as the more powerful gender, but this construction of power leads to constant fears of being perceived as weak and unmanly. Again we come back to the notion of empty power- if your power is built on others' fear and leads to your own constant fear of weakness, what is it truly worth? And with that in mind, what are the other ways that we might be able to define power in a healthier and more grounded way? “Why are men afraid of women?" "If your strength is only the other's weakness, you live in fear," Ged said. "Yes; but women seem to fear their own strength, to be afraid of themselves." "Are they ever taught to trust themselves?" Ged asked, and as he spoke Therru came in on her work again. His eyes and Tenar's met. "No," she said. "Trust is not what we're taught." She watched the child stack the wood in the box. "If power were trust," she said. "I like that word. If it weren't all these arrangements - one above the other - kings and masters and mages and owners - It all seems so unnecessary. Real power, real freedom, would lie in trust, not force." "As children trust their parents," he said.” Again, what cannot be mended must be transcended. We must find a way to transcend what is unmendable and unendurable in our current construction of power dynamics, and the quiet revolution of Tehanu offers just one promising alternative. About the Author Ursula Le Guin lived from 1929 to 2018. She was born in Berkelely, California, and after a master's degree in French, abandoned her doctoral work to begin a writing career in the 1950s. Her first published book was Rocannon's World in 1966, but critical acclaim became hers with The Wizard of Earthsea in 1968. She was the first woman to win a Nebula Award for Best Novel, and over the course of her career she was awarded with numerous Hugos, Nebulas and Locus Awards, as well as being appointed the second female Grand Master of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Her works often featured explorations of cultural anthropology, feminism, alternative distributions of power and Taoism. She is also notable for her early and continued exploration of non-heterosexual sexuality and non-white worlds .

  10. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    I must have been about 10 when I read the original Earthsea trilogy for the first time and was just blown away by it. I loved it and have re-read it many times since. I daydreamed about going to Roke and proving to all those narrow-minded wizards that a woman could be as good at magic as a man. I even tried to make my own model of the tombs of Atuan. I was thrilled when Le Guin decided to write another story in that world - until I read it. I was deeply disappointed by this heavy-handed update i I must have been about 10 when I read the original Earthsea trilogy for the first time and was just blown away by it. I loved it and have re-read it many times since. I daydreamed about going to Roke and proving to all those narrow-minded wizards that a woman could be as good at magic as a man. I even tried to make my own model of the tombs of Atuan. I was thrilled when Le Guin decided to write another story in that world - until I read it. I was deeply disappointed by this heavy-handed update in the series. If at 10 I was able to see that the Earthsea society was patriarchal and misogynistic, as an adult I certainly don't need it Spelt Out To Me In Words Of One Syllable So I Get The Point. I'm also capable of understanding that an author can craft a world and put words in mouths of characters without necessarily approving of it all. Perhaps my biggest objection is the violence she had to do to the characters of Tenar and Ged to fit into her brave new world. Le Guin is a talented writer. She could have made her point without being anywhere near this clumsy. I remember getting into a discussion about this book when it first came out, back in the dim, dark ages of Usenet. One of the posters said there are actually two Ursula Le Guins. Good Ursula is a gifted storyteller who writes beautifully crafted and thought provoking novels. Bad Ursula never lets the story get in the way of The Message. Tehanu was written by Bad Ursula.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

    I’m finding it increasingly difficult to articulate how and why the genius writer Ursula K. Le Guin’s work pierces my soul as I read more and more of it. There is so much hard-earned, plainspoken, painful, loving wisdom in this book. It feels like she absorbed everything that she had created in the first three Earthsea books, written decades earlier, and found a way to filter them through her own accumulated life experiences and ideas, and poured everything that she was into this new tale. It fe I’m finding it increasingly difficult to articulate how and why the genius writer Ursula K. Le Guin’s work pierces my soul as I read more and more of it. There is so much hard-earned, plainspoken, painful, loving wisdom in this book. It feels like she absorbed everything that she had created in the first three Earthsea books, written decades earlier, and found a way to filter them through her own accumulated life experiences and ideas, and poured everything that she was into this new tale. It feels profoundly personal to her in a way that is just magical and utterly moving.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michael Tildsley

    This book never really feels like book #4 in the Earthsea Cycle to me. The first hundred pages or so did not feel needed. The darkness, sexuality, and gender role issues in this book, though valid on their own merits, felt really out of place to me in this fantasy world. It would be like if Wicked were the fourth sequel in the Oz series. The political and social agendas do not jive with the previous books. My other gripe is that this book would have been infinitely more entertaining if it had be This book never really feels like book #4 in the Earthsea Cycle to me. The first hundred pages or so did not feel needed. The darkness, sexuality, and gender role issues in this book, though valid on their own merits, felt really out of place to me in this fantasy world. It would be like if Wicked were the fourth sequel in the Oz series. The political and social agendas do not jive with the previous books. My other gripe is that this book would have been infinitely more entertaining if it had been written from Tehanu's perspective. The other three books are written in this way, from Ged to Tenar to the young prince. The logical, pattern-driven expectation is that Tehanu should be next in a line of perspectives. Getting to know the classic characters and seeing the stressful situations through her eyes would have been so much better. Instead we get Tenar again. She is old and bitter at the world. **SPOILERS** Also, to those who would say that Tehanu's perspective would give away too much to soon concerning her true nature as a dragon person, I have two things to say. One, Le Guin spills the beans early on with the folktale of the fisher woman and Tehanu's continued interest in said dragon people. Two, imagine how much more entertaining and unique it would have been to get inside the mind of this new creature for more than just the last eight pages of the book. What is her opinion on Ged, the broken hero of the series? What does she think of Tenar, the former priestess of darkness, as a foster mother? One of Kurt Vonnegut's rules on writing is not to leave the reader in the dark, but to tell your audience as much as you can as fast as you can. I can see the merit of that rule clearly through the follies of this novel.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Allison Hurd

    I was not prepared. If Wizard of Earthsea is a coming of age tale, and Atuan is about the power of self, where Farthest Shore speaks of death and the power of adulthood, Tehanu is the story of the power of the feminine. All the joy, all the horror, the frustration, loss, fear, deep love, the resilience and resentment. It's here, in this book, in plain English, served on a platter made with both great satisfaction and abiding contempt. A master wordsmith shaped not just an allegory of femininity, I was not prepared. If Wizard of Earthsea is a coming of age tale, and Atuan is about the power of self, where Farthest Shore speaks of death and the power of adulthood, Tehanu is the story of the power of the feminine. All the joy, all the horror, the frustration, loss, fear, deep love, the resilience and resentment. It's here, in this book, in plain English, served on a platter made with both great satisfaction and abiding contempt. A master wordsmith shaped not just an allegory of femininity, but the truth of it, in its full complexity and hypocrisy. Be warned, it is not an easy read. Either it will speak to you so directly you will know anger, fear, and despair...or, if you have not reached for the feminine inside yourself, shame. And if you feel neither, perhaps you live under Aspen's curse. May some dragon free you, and may she choose to be kind about it. CONTENT WARNING: (view spoiler)[ This is a tale of feminine horror. Rape, mutilation, subservience, loss of a child, torture, coercion of will, home invasion. (hide spoiler)]

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jerzy

    It's possible that people who have never experienced much actual trauma or severe discrimination might not understand how on-target this book can be. If that's you, you'd probably find it really interesting to check out Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman for a solid overview of how/why trauma survivors can be crippled by fear in seemingly irrational ways. And The Macho Paradox by Jackson Katz is a surprisingly good book on male violence (and not just against women). Reading the first 3 Earth It's possible that people who have never experienced much actual trauma or severe discrimination might not understand how on-target this book can be. If that's you, you'd probably find it really interesting to check out Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman for a solid overview of how/why trauma survivors can be crippled by fear in seemingly irrational ways. And The Macho Paradox by Jackson Katz is a surprisingly good book on male violence (and not just against women). Reading the first 3 Earthsea books, I couldn't understand why some people called Le Guin a "feminist writer." In Tehanu this finally comes across clearly - and it works very well. I love that each of the Earthsea books is very different, and this one certainly takes fantasy novels in a new direction. Dealing with your own weaknesses and other people's ignorance and fear in daily life can take far more courage and perseverance than any heroic quest. Honestly, the feminism of this book is no different from themes that are found in all her other books: no matter what status or power you have, it's important to have respect for people, maintain balance in your actions, and not rely excessively on force. I'm not sure what to make of the ending, which doesn't tie up some loose ends... but then that's sort of her point, right? Things are never neat and tidy. Life is complex; life goes on. Previously: The Farthest Shore

  15. 4 out of 5

    Martine

    Tehanu is the fourth entry in the Earthsea Cycle. It was written years after the original trilogy, and it shows: It is markedly different from the other books, both in style and in substance. Sadly, it is also inferior to the earlier books. Le Guin had picked up a strident feminism in between The Farthest Shore and Tehanu, and it shows in Tehanu in the worst way possible. Literally every female character in the book is worthy (even dirty, crazy Aunty Moss), whereas all the men in the book are weak and ineffective at be Tehanu is the fourth entry in the Earthsea Cycle. It was written years after the original trilogy, and it shows: It is markedly different from the other books, both in style and in substance. Sadly, it is also inferior to the earlier books. Le Guin had picked up a strident feminism in between The Farthest Shore and Tehanu, and it shows in Tehanu in the worst way possible. Literally every female character in the book is worthy (even dirty, crazy Aunty Moss), whereas all the men in the book are weak and ineffective at best and downright obnoxious at worst. There are so many scathing remarks about men in the book that it made me groan at times. (And I'm not even male. I can only imagine how a male reader must feel about this book.) It's a pity Le Guin had to ruin her book like this, for the story itself, about the former High Priestess of Atuan who adopts a special girl and finds she is very special indeed, is interesting. It successfully weaves together loose threads from the previous books and sets up a new series, which, alas, I haven't read yet. I look forward to reading more about Tehanu in The Other Wind, which I hear is much better than Tehanu. But still. What a sub-par book. Three stars because I like the characters and the story, two stars for the writing.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Neda

    Wow... In less than 10 pages Le Guin is able turn all the tables, lead the reader to climax and finish the novel altogether.. She is the master of storytellers in my regard. Highly recommended

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jen/The Tolkien Gal/ジェニファー

    I've had such a deep hankering to start a new fantasy series. However, I then realised there are six or seven series I haven't finished - The Dark Tower, Chronicles of Morgain, How to Train Your Dragon...and so the list goes on. I've now decided to continue with a series I fell in love with long ago. So simple yet so elegant in its narrative, written by the queen of science fiction and fantasy herself. I've had such a deep hankering to start a new fantasy series. However, I then realised there are six or seven series I haven't finished - The Dark Tower, Chronicles of Morgain, How to Train Your Dragon...and so the list goes on. I've now decided to continue with a series I fell in love with long ago. So simple yet so elegant in its narrative, written by the queen of science fiction and fantasy herself.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Zanna

    I finally completed my reading of the Earthsea cycle. The first book is all about the wizard, Ged, coming into his power and adulthood, and the second is all about Tenar, a child selected to preside over an ancient temple under the belief that she is the reincarnation of the previous priestess. In the third book, Ged sets out with an aristocratic youth to save the world, and in this final installment, Tenar cares for an abused girl, whom she names Therru ("fire" in her own language). Possibly, t I finally completed my reading of the Earthsea cycle. The first book is all about the wizard, Ged, coming into his power and adulthood, and the second is all about Tenar, a child selected to preside over an ancient temple under the belief that she is the reincarnation of the previous priestess. In the third book, Ged sets out with an aristocratic youth to save the world, and in this final installment, Tenar cares for an abused girl, whom she names Therru ("fire" in her own language). Possibly, this book was my favourite. Possibly, that's because in my opinion it's the most feminist, in terms of challenging patriarchal assumptions and control. As a foreigner in a conservative rural society, Tenar has gained acceptance through a degree of conformity, meeting the prevailing expectations of women. So often novels are about navigating and resisting societal pressure/oppression, but it's a little unusual to have a story about a middle-aged woman caring for a child and various other folks take centre-stage in a YA-ish fantasy. What's awesome is that Le Guin, I think, succeeds in putting that story on the same level of importance as the previous installments (Tenar's care for Therru seems no less vital than any of Ged's acts in the earlier books), while at the same time showing how gender structures her struggle. Misogyny is not the preserve of bigots, it is built into language and ways of knowing. As in the other books in the cycle, particularly the second, where trust is so touching, what I enjoyed most here was connecting with the characters and feeling for them in their relationships, but I think in those terms this is the richest book. In Tenar's world, interconnection is in the texture of everyday life, not a mystery to be uncovered.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rachel (Kalanadi)

    I could not like this book very much as a child because I think it takes an adult mind to feel the depth of its questions and to understand the pain and the characters' reactions. It is dark, there is death, there is horrible evil of the most mundane sort, wreaked by men only and not by magic. What is power and what does it mean to have it, and then to have it taken away? What is a man's power? What is a woman's power? Now I think this is probably the strongest book of the Earthsea se I could not like this book very much as a child because I think it takes an adult mind to feel the depth of its questions and to understand the pain and the characters' reactions. It is dark, there is death, there is horrible evil of the most mundane sort, wreaked by men only and not by magic. What is power and what does it mean to have it, and then to have it taken away? What is a man's power? What is a woman's power? Now I think this is probably the strongest book of the Earthsea series (or at least of the quartet), but it wouldn't have been nearly as great a book without the previous tales and the writing of those books. You can clearly see Le Guin's own evolution, as a writer and a thinker and a woman, through the first four books of Earthsea, and it culminates in Tehanu. Where are the women in A Wizard of Earthsea? Here.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Gabi

    Tehanu is my favourite out of the Earthsea quartett (I have yet to read the story collection and the last novel). What irked me in the trilogy is made the main topic here: The way only men seem to shape the world in Earthsea and how women are only allowed in their assigned spaces and functions. It was utterly satisfying to accompany Tenar as she starts to question those standards and tries to wiggle her way into a society that wasn't meant for her in the first place.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jareed

    Also posted on imbookedindefinitely It is surprising that it has taken Le Guin up to the fourth book to bring to the forefront one of the most conspicuous and prevalent inequities not only in the fantasy genre but more importantly in the living world, that is the inequity between the sexes. Le Guin's writing aside from boasting of incomparable depth, truth and weight is exceptionally fluid. Tehanu is surprising in respect with the presentation of the themes in the book in that some almost felt like th Also posted on imbookedindefinitely It is surprising that it has taken Le Guin up to the fourth book to bring to the forefront one of the most conspicuous and prevalent inequities not only in the fantasy genre but more importantly in the living world, that is the inequity between the sexes. Le Guin's writing aside from boasting of incomparable depth, truth and weight is exceptionally fluid. Tehanu is surprising in respect with the presentation of the themes in the book in that some almost felt like that they are forced rather than something that has come naturally. Perhaps this is by reason that Le Guin was severely criticized for not touching sexism up until this point or that the Earthsea cycle was originally slated only for three books. Some transitional points are also rather quirky. On page 242 Ged and Tenar's conversation “Well,” she said, “which bed shall I sleep in, Ged? The child’s, or yours?” He drew breath. He spoke low. “Mine, if you will.” “I will.” Suddenly the inhibitions are all forgotten. What happened to about a hundred pages of inhibitions, subtle refusals and of repressions? I guess pent-up sexual tension can only be held so much, even in books. Ged has been built up as the proverbial Archmage, full of wisdom, the seemingly cradle of power. So when he gave up his arts, and ended up perpetually depressed and moping at what has been, it was somehow inconsistent with the man that has been painted (this is more of a personal dislike rather than an objective point). Though i guess this is one of the more elegiac themes albeit of real life importance that Le Guin presents (considering further what characterizes her writing). And one she presents as veracious as possible I might say. At the risk of being redundant, the Earthsea cycle is not for those of fantasy readers that seek excitement and action. The books contain a diminutive portion of these servings, they are enjoyable, and I could only wish that Le Guin expanded this portions however meager. Alas, this was not the end she sought.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. OK, so I've quit procrastinating and started typing... The first three Earthsea books were written in a relatively short space of time (published 1969-73, IIRC). They were all there when I first picked up A Wizard of Earthsea, maybe just over a decade after its initial publication - the series was complete. Let's face it, there is no requirement for a fourth book. Ged is getting old, his magic is gone, but Earthsea has a King and the Rune of Peace again. The story is over. Then, after OK, so I've quit procrastinating and started typing... The first three Earthsea books were written in a relatively short space of time (published 1969-73, IIRC). They were all there when I first picked up A Wizard of Earthsea, maybe just over a decade after its initial publication - the series was complete. Let's face it, there is no requirement for a fourth book. Ged is getting old, his magic is gone, but Earthsea has a King and the Rune of Peace again. The story is over. Then, after a gap of time almost as long as I was old, Tehanu was released. "??????!!!!!!," I said, loudly, and bought a copy. Maybe Ged gets his magic back, I thought. Maybe he sails the North Reach - or even has to go to Hogenland, I thought. Actually, he goes home, herds some goats and gets married. Imagine my shock! The entire book is set on Gont, there is no quest and Ged just mopes about being miserable. What a heap of rubbish. Except, of course, this is Ursula LeGuin, so it isn't rubbish (though there are a lot of bad smells) - instead there was quiet excellence and I was being stupid, caught in the pitfall trap made by the gap between expectation and reality. Tehanu is not epic fantasy. Tough luck. Get over it. That might take a long time, though. Every time I re-read the Earthsea books after 1990, I was tempted to just not bother with Tehanu but each time I liked it more than the previous time, until, by the time The Other Wind was released it did not occur to me skip its predecessor. How do I feel this time round? I feel that there are the Earthsea books and there are the New Earthsea books and that Tehanu is the first of these, even though it was never planned either at the time of A Wizard of Earthsea or that two more books would come after it. The latter three books seem to be a reaction to the first three and to epic fantasy in general. Put another way, the Great Feminist Revision of Earthsea started here, though in a small, quiet way, with one woman taking in an abused child and a lost man mourning for his lost power. The discussion of the roles of women in Archipeligan society is clearly a transposed discussion of women's roles back here in the "real" world as well as in epic fantasy generally. Tenar's position of mother, farm manager and labourer goes undervalued, hardly noticed. It may as well be called, "housewife." It's very sexist, as is the distinction between wizards (men) and witches (women). Wizards are powerful, educated, noble, wise. Witches are dirty, poor, weak and evil. Unfortunately, the wizards aren't always wise or noble; sometimes they are stupid, self-serving and nasty and if the witches are often selfish, at least they haven't been seeking immortality or breaking the natural order with their magic. When Ged and Tenar discuss this, hearing Ged spout a heap of sexist nonsense is painful. I expect better from him. He's just a victim of his education, though and it is hard to question everything you've been taught and am I any different, really? I've been brought up to believe that woman deserve respect and equal opportunity, equal reward, that child-rearing and managing a home are important and hard jobs. I didn't come to that conclusion in the face of enormous pressure to conform to the contrary. I can now relate to Ged's situation better, too. It must be difficult to step from being the most powerful man in the world to being weaker than most, unprepared and in but a moment. It is unsurprising and natural that he should grieve for what he has lost. It is lucky for him that he finds Tenar, who gives him something different in its place: love. Their romance seems entirely natural, indeed somehow incipient in The Tombs of Atuan. So, as usual LeGuin gives deep insight and characterisation and makes a powerful, important point, but this book only gets three stars, because of LeGuin's one weakness - the plotting. Here, the plot rambles, disappears, comes back, goes again then sort of piles up at the edge of a cliff and gets squashed under Kalessin's belly. This lack of narrative drive is the sole flaw in the book, which, thankfully, despite its themes, never deteriorates into mere male-bashing. It was an anti-climactic end to the series, though - I'm so glad that The Last Book of Earthsea turned out to be a terrible misnomer.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I loved the original trilogy and considered it complete. Who knew there was more to say about Earthsea? But how glad I am there was! Tehanu catches up with Tenar years after Ged left her on Gont. She's a widow with grown children who has quite left her past as Ahra-the-Eaten-One behind. When she takes in a severely abused child as a foster daughter her life changes again. Ursula LeGuin is gifted, she can tell an interesting (gripping even!) story that taken at face value is just a story. On an/> I loved the original trilogy and considered it complete. Who knew there was more to say about Earthsea? But how glad I am there was! Tehanu catches up with Tenar years after Ged left her on Gont. She's a widow with grown children who has quite left her past as Ahra-the-Eaten-One behind. When she takes in a severely abused child as a foster daughter her life changes again. Ursula LeGuin is gifted, she can tell an interesting (gripping even!) story that taken at face value is just a story. On another level she is noting and commenting on sociological and cultural norms. Why do men hurt women and children? Why are they allowed to? If a good person does bad things, does that make them bad? Who is a parent, someone that bears you or someone that loves you? If your life is based on wielding power and you can no longer do so, what are you and what can you do now? I love all the Earthsea books. If I had to choose a handfull of books to take on a desert island, this series would make the cut. Every time I read them I catch something new and learn something about myself.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tom Ippen

    100 Stars. If more children--boys--read the Earthsea saga, finishing off with "Tehanu," the world wouldn't have this fucking "meninist" problem. Loss, shame, the weight of love: it's all explored here, with patience and honesty. “She thought about how it was to have been a woman in the prime of life, with children and a man, and then to lose all that, becoming old and a widow, powerless. But even so she did not feel she understood his shame, his agony of humiliation. Perhaps only 100 Stars. If more children--boys--read the Earthsea saga, finishing off with "Tehanu," the world wouldn't have this fucking "meninist" problem. Loss, shame, the weight of love: it's all explored here, with patience and honesty. “She thought about how it was to have been a woman in the prime of life, with children and a man, and then to lose all that, becoming old and a widow, powerless. But even so she did not feel she understood his shame, his agony of humiliation. Perhaps only a man could feel so. A woman got used to shame.” Re-reading this series was a beautiful, emotional experience, and I'm sad it's over, yet very grateful. Only in silence the word, Only in dark the light, Only in dying life: Bright the hawk's flight On the empty sky. —The Creation of Éa

  25. 4 out of 5

    Macade

    I loved the first 3 Earthsea books...but this book was just too weird. I could never tell, nor did I care, that the first three books were written by a woman. Also, I didn't notice any political or social agendas in the first 3(real world agendas). Tehanu is very strange and hard to read because it is so different from the first 3 books. It REALLY feels like a woman wrote it, it has a very strong undertone of woman's suffrage. It also has very dark themes about a young girl being raped and how t I loved the first 3 Earthsea books...but this book was just too weird. I could never tell, nor did I care, that the first three books were written by a woman. Also, I didn't notice any political or social agendas in the first 3(real world agendas). Tehanu is very strange and hard to read because it is so different from the first 3 books. It REALLY feels like a woman wrote it, it has a very strong undertone of woman's suffrage. It also has very dark themes about a young girl being raped and how the main character is also afraid of being raped. Since when has rape and sexual fear been a theme in any of these books? It just seems very strange and out of place, which made it almost unreadable to me. I read it to the end though because I kept hoping that it would eventually become an earthsea worthy book...sorely disappointed in this author for ruining a perfectly good fantasy series. It would be like Tolkien writing a 4th Lord of the Rings book about Gandalf's life after his wizarding power has been taken away and he's afraid of a local orc who teases him, but he can't do anything about it (you get the idea). Please save your good image of Earthsea and DO NOT READ THIS BOOK.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    I'm glad I read this book again — as an adult I understood it much better than when I was a teenager. "Tehanu" is the follow-up to "The Tombs of Atuan," and it was a bit of a shock when I first read it. "Tombs" ended with the promise of a typical fantasy ending. The heroine and the wizard enter triumphant into the city with the fabled artifact, honors doled out, followed by heroine coming into her own, learning magic and traveling the world having adventures. And stuff. "Tehanu" picks I'm glad I read this book again — as an adult I understood it much better than when I was a teenager. "Tehanu" is the follow-up to "The Tombs of Atuan," and it was a bit of a shock when I first read it. "Tombs" ended with the promise of a typical fantasy ending. The heroine and the wizard enter triumphant into the city with the fabled artifact, honors doled out, followed by heroine coming into her own, learning magic and traveling the world having adventures. And stuff. "Tehanu" picks up about twenty-five years later. The heroine, Tenar, is a middle-aged widow living quietly on a farm. The artifact she brought to the land set into motion a series of events that eventually led to the crowning of the prophesized king who shows every sign of promise in bringing peace and stability to the land. Tenar herself was not a part of those events, though. She started studying magic but did not feel that she fit in the man's world of wizardy, and so chose to marry a prosperous farmer and raise a family like a normal woman. As a teenager, this was a disappointment. Who would want to be normal when you could be out talking to dragons and having adventures? I still liked the book (Le Guin is a fabulous writer) but it wasn't until now that I really understood the tension of the novel. Tenar is trapped by definitions of gender imposed by her society. She can't be a wizard because it requires thinking like the way men think they think. And she can't go back to what she was raised as, a symbol of darkness created by men. And in "Tehanu" she is realizing that she can't be a normal housewife, either, because she does dream of dragons and asks too many questions. This passage helps explain Tenar's struggle: ******* (This opens with Ged explaining the thinking of wizards) The Mages of Roke are men — their power is the power of men, their knowledge is the knowledge of men. Both manhood and magery are built on one rock: power belongs to men. If women had power, what would men be but women who can't bear children? And what would women be but men who can?" "Hah!" went Tenar; and presently, with some cunning, she said, "Haven't there been queens? Weren't they women of power?" "A queen's only a she-king," said Ged. She snorted. "I mean, men give her power. They let her use their power. But it isn't hers, is it? It isn't because she's a woman that she's powerful, but despite it." She nodded. she stretched, sitting back from the spinning wheel. "What is a woman's power, then?" she asked. "I don't think we know." "When has a woman power because she's a woman? With her children, I suppose. For a while..." "In her house maybe." She looked around the kitchen. "But the doors are shut," she said, "the doors are locked." "Because you're valuable." "Oh, yes. We're precious. So long as we're powerless...I remember when I first learned that! Kossil threatened me — me, the One Priestess of the Tombs. And I realized that I was helpless. I had the honor; but she had the power, from the God-king, the man. Oh, it made me angry! And frightened me...Lark and I talked about this once. She said, "Why are men afraid of women?" "If your strength is only the other's weakness, you live in fear," Ged said. "Yes; but women seem to fear their own strength, to be afraid of themselves." "Are they ever taught to trust themselves?" Ged asked, and as he spoke Therru came in on her work again. His eyes and Tenar's met. "No," she said. "Trust is not what we're taught." ******* The plot revolves around these conflicts of power. As a teenager, I believed in the story of young-girl-finds-magic-beats-all-odds. "Tehanu" shows another side to this, where the young girl can never overcome the odds because they are a part of the social fabric, influencing her in ways she is not aware of until older. Tenar the woman has to learn to trust herself and it is more complicated than "believing in yourself." "Tehanu" is a complicated book about gender and power and creation and (of course) dragons.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    She must search around the house, the springhouse, the milking shed, more carefully. This was her fault. She had caused it to happen by thinking of making Therru into a weaver, shutting her away in the dark to work, to be respectable. When Ogion had said "Teach her, teach her all, Tenar!" When she knew that a wrong that cannot be repaired must be transcended. When she knew that the child had been given her and she had failed in her charge, failed her trust, lost her, lost the one great gift.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    This still wasn’t a favourite book for me in the Earthsea sequence, because it deals so much with the consequences of what happened to Ged in The Farthest Shore. Considering I’m not a great fan of that plot (though I have come to appreciate it more as an artistic choice and for the way it changes Earthsea), I guess it’s not surprising that I’m not such a fan — even though, like The Tombs of Atuan, this brings the female point of view to the fore and deals with some of the issues of sexism in the This still wasn’t a favourite book for me in the Earthsea sequence, because it deals so much with the consequences of what happened to Ged in The Farthest Shore. Considering I’m not a great fan of that plot (though I have come to appreciate it more as an artistic choice and for the way it changes Earthsea), I guess it’s not surprising that I’m not such a fan — even though, like The Tombs of Atuan, this brings the female point of view to the fore and deals with some of the issues of sexism in the world. The brief glimpse of Lebanen as the young king is lovely, and the understanding Tenar and Ged eventually come to is too. The stuff about the friendship between women, and the way Tenar realises that she’s totally failed to raise the kind of man she’d like for a son, also works pretty well. But it takes away Ged’s dignity — and that, more than the loss of his power, I dislike intensely. He’s always been proud, and here… he can’t fight, can’t save himself. He needs Therru and the dragons. So as with The Farthest Shore, I see the thematic importance. I just… don’t like it that much. Originally posted here.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Neil

    So very different from most fantasy fiction, so very beautiful. It's kind of like an extended riff on that last part of The Lord of the Rings that I've always loved so much, where the heroes have returned home after the great adventure and discover that they've got the rest of life to live meaningfully. So sad, but so true. The main protagonist here is Tenar, from The Tombs of Atuan. After her part in the adventure, she married a farmer and made a country life for herself. As the book So very different from most fantasy fiction, so very beautiful. It's kind of like an extended riff on that last part of The Lord of the Rings that I've always loved so much, where the heroes have returned home after the great adventure and discover that they've got the rest of life to live meaningfully. So sad, but so true. The main protagonist here is Tenar, from The Tombs of Atuan. After her part in the adventure, she married a farmer and made a country life for herself. As the book opens, farmer Flint has died, and Ogeon, Ged and Tenar's mentor follows soon afterwards. Ged is brought by the dragon to Ogeon's place on Gont, but his magic is all used up. Tenar is trying to figure out her place in the world, trying to care for Ged, and most important trying to help a little girl named Therru, who was abused, then badly burned by her father and other men. She's timid, disfigured, but perhaps powerful. Tenar, in trying to care for her, comes into danger from the men who did the evil, a sorcerer named Aspen who has a problem with women, and others. In this book, Le Guin is spelling out her positions on women, remedying some of the mistakes she made earlier in her career when she left women out of her magical equation. There are some hard truths about men and their power here, ideas that some of the current crop of fantasy writers ought to think hard on. There are also some truly harrowing and sad moments in regards to the plight of the little girl, who most people find frightening and somehow blame for her disfigurement. I know most people don't read fantasy for its coverage of social issues, and if you're after escapism, this isn't the book to read. But it's a wonderful book--one of the great Le Guin's best--and if one of the reasons you like fantasy, like me, is the way that it allows good writers to take on some of life's biggest questions through allegory and extreme plot scenarios, then this is a book you must read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Karen Floyd

    It was good to meet up with Tenar again after all these years. And Ged. I tried to read it when it first came out, and was put off by what had been done to the little girl. Sad to say, it was easier to read now because it was horribly familiar. We hear about it all the time. I hope I never stop feeling sickened and outraged by such things, become resigned to "that's the way the world is." I do think that reading it now, when I am about Tenar's age, married with grown children, that I understand It was good to meet up with Tenar again after all these years. And Ged. I tried to read it when it first came out, and was put off by what had been done to the little girl. Sad to say, it was easier to read now because it was horribly familiar. We hear about it all the time. I hope I never stop feeling sickened and outraged by such things, become resigned to "that's the way the world is." I do think that reading it now, when I am about Tenar's age, married with grown children, that I understand her better now than I would have 20 years ago. And the plight and invisibility of women once they get past childbearing age. There are certain things women are for, and that's that. Then they're no longer useful. There is a strong sense of outrage over the way the aged, women, children, "foreigners," and other helpless and unprotected people are treated, used, throughout the book, but it doesn't overpower the story, it flows from the story. I don't want to say much about the story because I think readers should be left to discover it for themselves. But I'll be re-reading it again soon.

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