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Tehanu (The Earthsea Cycle, Book 4) by…
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Tehanu (The Earthsea Cycle, Book 4) (original 1990; edition 2004)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

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3,956491,836 (3.79)120
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Title:Tehanu (The Earthsea Cycle, Book 4)
Authors:Ursula K. Le Guin
Info:Pocket (2004), Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fantasy, read 2005, Earthsea

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Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin (1990)

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English (45)  Finnish (2)  Swedish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (49)
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
I liked the non-male focus on regular lives a lot! Tenar and Tenahu are both really cool. But the story was weird … pacing, content, it felt irregular and all over the place for me. Story 2/5, setting 4/5. ( )
  _rixx_ | Aug 30, 2018 |
As a fantasy novel Tehanu is a tough read: it touches on child abuse, rape, misogyny, prejudice, paranoia, xenophobia, torture and psychopathy. But against all these evils we also witness loyalty, support, care, consolation, compassion and love. Does magic come into it? Well, a bit. And let's not forget dragons, or at least one particular dragon.

This instalment of the Earthsea series is set immediately after the events in The Farthest Shore. That ended with the promise of a crowning and Sparrowhawk's return to his place of birth, the island of Gont. Great events had shaken the archipelago, but one might have hoped that the overthrow of one evil would have returned Earthsea to some stability. Much has happened in the twenty years since Tenar was rescued from the Place of the Tombs on Atuan: the former child priestess has married a Gontish farmer, had children, and has lately been widowed. But things remain awry; indeed, they may be getting worse.

There was always a hint of menace in the original Earthsea trilogy -- Sparrowhawk's shadow, a likely slow death in the confined spaces of Atuan's Labyrinth, the gradual leaking away of magic in the archipelago and its consequences for the inhabitants of that world -- but in Tehanu that menace is less a plot-driver than a reflection of the ill-will of human individuals, in particular certain men. Tenar is the main focus of Tehanu, as she was in The Tombs of Atuan, but here she lives the lowly life of a farmer's widow on Gont; and in fact, unlike two of the earlier books which ranged more widely, all the action is set in and around this island, including a short sea journey. Things start to change when she rescues a young girl who has been horrifically abused, leaving the right side of her face and hand and arm badly burnt.

In this era of #MeToo, of gender imbalance and of misogyny both insidious and invidious we are only too aware of a gross societal injustice being met upon a good half of the global population by too many of the other half, an injustice that has gone on for far too long. How can things be different in an Earthsea which has so much in common with our own world? Up till now we have largely been aware of male wizards, male adversaries, male rulers, male movers and shakers. As witness to Earthsea being no idyllic example of an utopia, it's widely accepted that no witch can be a wizard. And what kind of men would leave a child to die in the remains of a camp fire? And then stalk the rescuer and the rescued?

There is light, however, amidst the doom and gloom. Sparrowhawk, who has succumbed to that familiar male angst and shame when his ability to fill a role (for him, as Archmage) becomes redundant, slowly starts to lose his listlessness and self-pity when he finds there are compensations for relinquishing his power. Tenar, who has taken responsibility for the hurt child whom she calls Therru, finds an unexpected reward for that selflessness when she is at her lowest ebb. And Therru, scarred and damaged by fire, is able to call upon unforeseen resources when she and her adoptive parents are rescued by fire of a different kind.

Without us needing to be told, there are clear signs here that in the years between the original trilogy and this book Le Guin had reconsidered the basis of the secondary world she had created and had found it wanting: we can see it in the discourse between characters, in the apparent mundanity of Tenar and Therru's lives for most of the narrative, in the almost peripheral appearance of magic in Earthsea.

To readers wedded to sword-and-sorcery scenarios this may well have been a disappointment, even a betrayal; this is to assume that fantasy must stick to conventions, conform to expectations -- to me, that way lies moribundity. But, far from disappointing the perceptive reader, who might possibly have expected more of the same -- the basic premise of fantasy being that magic pervades everything -- I believe that Tehanu goes to the heart of what all true narrative is about: what it is to be human.

And what about dragons? Why our fascination with them? Are they not an aspect of what we perceive to be latent within us? If in this novel dragons are associated more with the feminine principle, then that may only be right and apt: Le Guin is after all trying to redress the balance that has gone awry in her world and -- clearly -- remains to be righted in ours. It can't come soon enough. ( )
  ed.pendragon | Aug 23, 2018 |
Here, have another polarizing book.

[b:Tehanu|13661|Tehanu (Earthsea Cycle, #4)|Ursula K. Le Guin|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1386924581s/13661.jpg|2902890] is a much later continuation of the Earthsea Cycle by [a:Ursula K. Le Guin|874602|Ursula K. Le Guin|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1244291425p2/874602.jpg]. It picks up where [b:The Farthest Shore|13667|The Farthest Shore (Earthsea Cycle, #3)|Ursula K. Le Guin|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388200537s/13667.jpg|1322014] ends and continues the story in a way that you pretty much either love or hate.

Remember Tenar from [b:The Tombs of Atuan|13662|The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle, #2)|Ursula K. Le Guin|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1417900879s/13662.jpg|1322146]? Ever wonder what happened to her after? Remember Ogion and Gont? Remember that you've been hearing about how [a:Ursula K. Le Guin|874602|Ursula K. Le Guin|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1244291425p2/874602.jpg] is a strident feminist author but not really seen any evidence of that? Here it all comes rushing forth. There is no quest, there is no real magic or things of that nature. This is a book more grounded in reality, for what it is, and it bucks the very concept of a fantasy novel for the bulk of its pages.

This is an uncomfortable foray into gender studies and why things on Earthsea are the way they are. Why are there no women wizards? What exactly are the dragons? Why are women hated to the extent they are? It's an interesting situation, so long as you aren't expecting a straight up fantasy novel. ( )
  Lepophagus | Jun 14, 2018 |
I loved the first three Earthsea books, brilliantly conceived and executed. The third book ends so neatly I just assumed that the fourth would be about new characters, or a different perspective or something. Not this. While it's well written, and captures grief, loss and the broken nature of the Earthsea society well, it is just... boring. Nothing of note really happens, the main characters grapple with being normal people in a bad society. I suppose I can see why some people might enjoy this exposition and the critique on our own society, but I couldn't get into it.

I once read a Harry Potter fanfiction set post-Deathly Hallows. The set up was basically Harry, Ron and Hermione struggle with middle age - marriage breakups, parents aging, dementia... Obviously the writing style was not in the same class as Le Guin, but Tehanu gave me the same feeling. Why would I want to read about these fantastic heroes struggling with the minutiae of daily life? I read other books for that. Ones set in a more realistic world in which real world problems actually resonate. When you have dragons flying round and evil wizards, normal problems just seem dull. ( )
  mattclark | Oct 14, 2017 |
The tone of this book is much more personal very different from the earlier Earthsea trilogy. And i liked this even more than the previous trilogy. There are no epic heroic quests here, instead we get much closer to the characters, and we see them dealing with the harsh realities of everyday life. The characters were excellent. Ged, who is in a sense reborn and very different from the one we have seen so far. Tenar who is now a farmer's widow. And the abused child.
Written from a female perspective, the major themes are gender issues and the earlier theme of self-hood. She deals with much darker and "adult" themes, and the tone here is much more introspective, with the internal monologues and the contemplative dialogues.

Le Guin is an excellent storyteller and this is a thoughtful, human story that is universally relatable. ( )
  kasyapa | Oct 9, 2017 |
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ursula K. Le Guinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Alsberg, RebeccaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bergen, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guay, RebeccaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Linnert, HildeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palencar, John JudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rikman, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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 Ea
Dedication
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After Farmer Flint of the Middle Valley died, his widow stayed on at the farmhouse.
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Information from the Polish Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Poza najdalszym zachodem, tam, gdzie kończą się lądy, mój lud tańczy na skrzydłach innego wiatru.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0689845332, Mass Market Paperback)

Ursula K. LeGuin follows her classic trilogy from Earthsea with a magical tale that won the 1991 Nebula Award for Science Fiction. Unlike the tales in the trilogy, this novel is short and concise, yet it is by no means simplistic. Promoted as a children's book because of the awards garnered in that category by her previous work, Tehanu transcends classification and shows the wizardry of female magic. The story involves a middle-age widow who sets out to visit her dying mentor and eventually cares for his favorite student.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:34 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In this final episode of "The Earthsea Cycle", the widowed Tenar finds and nurses her aging friend, Sparrowhawk, a magician who has lost his powers.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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