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Tehanu (The Earthsea Cycle, Book 4) Hardcover – March 28, 1990


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Series: Earthsea
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum; Reissue edition (March 28, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689315953
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689315954
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (171 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,566,869 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

From Publishers Weekly

The publication of Tehanu will give lovers of LeGuin's enchanted realm of Earthsea cause for celebration. In Tehanu , LeGuin spins a bittersweet tale of Tenar and Ged, familiar characters from the classic Earthsea trilogy. Tenar, now a widow facing obscurity and loneliness, rescues a badly burned girl from her abusive parents. The girl, it turns out, will be an important power in the new age dawning on Earthsea. Ged, now broken, is learning how to live with the great loss he suffered at the end of the trilogy. Tenar's struggle to protect and nurture a defenseless child and Ged's slow recovery make painful but thrilling reading. Sharply defined characterizations give rich resonance to Tehanu 's themes of aging, feminism and child abuse as well as its emotional chords of grief and loss. Tehanu is a heartbreaking farewell to a world that is passing, and is full of tantalizing hints of the new world to come. Fans of the Earthsea trilogy will be deeply moved. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

This is in fact not a bad thing.
Assaf Tal
I was sorely disappointed with the plot line, character development, general tone and themes of the book.
Edward Sunder
Le Guin tells a powerful story that captures so much of the truth about men and woman and relationships.
Christopher Davis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Carmen on January 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
This story is so hard to rate, because it is excellent - the writing is so much more personal and deep than in the previous books in the trilogy. If you are looking at the technical parts of the story, Tehanu is much better than the beginning stories, and you will go back to the first trilogy, read it and wonder why she couldn't have made the style more like it. It is an good starting point for people who are not accustomed to fantasy, or who like reality to have a place in a fairy tale.
The problem that everyone has with this book, in my opinion, is how harsh it is, how human the characters. We who loved the first book will be shocked and dismayed at how frail and... and real our heroes have become. Ged without magic, and utterly without power really hurts to read about. Reading these characters, after having loved who they were, is like having your dreams shattered. The magic is torn brutally out of the fairy tale, and what we have left isn't pleasant. I kept reading the story only because I was certain Le Guin wouldn't let what was once a beloved story for adults and children alike become such a hard, ugly story about life and pain and hope. She just couldn't, but she did. Reading a fantasy in which your heroes are broken and humbled is almost as frightening as watching your parents cry, or seeing what was once a beloved place be torn down to make something like a freeway, black and ugly and full of smog. I kept wishing for the dream that was clear and innocent and beautiful in the first books to come back, but it never did.
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165 of 204 people found the following review helpful By Barry C. Chow on November 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a betrayal of all that came before. It should never have been written.
The first three were works of wonder, touching on universal themes: sublime, compelling, cogent and inspiring. They asked large questions and arrived at honest answers, but they did so gently and gracefully. The quiet unhurried voice is one that this author has honed to perfection. Her world of Earthsea ranks among the very classics, alongside Middle Earth, Narnia and Avalon.
Here, everything that made Earthsea so inspiring and evocative is sacrificed to make a point. Le Guin has decided that the fourth book of the series shall be a polemic - an undisguised and prolonged treatise directed at female empowerment and decrying child abuse. Are these worthy moral pursuits? Of course they are. Do they belong in the world of Earthsea? Not even remotely.
This book was one of the most excruciating and disappointing reads I have ever undertaken. It's not the writing or the skill - the author's proficiency remains unparalleled - but the desecration of what was magnificent. The skill with which this work is written actually adds to the anguish; we remember what this skill was harnessed to build and cannot help but contrast it to what it is now being used to destroy.
Reading this book, one is struck by how fragile a fantasy world like Earthsea really is. Earthsea works because, like all myth, it is founded in a successful illusion. When an author creates such a world, she makes a pact with the reader: "Accept this illusion, and we will journey to a place more vital than any you have known." If the author ever forgets this promise, if she ever turns from the myth to the commonplace, the illusion collapses and the world disintegrates.
In this novel, Earthsea suffers precisely such a fate.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 21, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy was a classic of fantasy literature, until "Tehanu" was written (making it a quadrology). Now with the series rounded out to six books, "Tehanu" has proved itself to be the black sheep of the family -- it's well written, but preachy and lacking in Le Guin's magical touch.

Tenar was once a powerful priestess in a darkened kingdom, until the wizard Ged rescued her and brought her away with him. Now Tenar is a widow, after marrying into an ordinary village and living an ordinary life. She's lonely, but takes care of the burned Therru, a silent young girl who was abused by her parents. Suddenly a dragon arrives, with a wounded Ged on its back -- he's lost his powers in saving Earthsea.

Tenar helps nurse her old friend back to health, and Ged struggles to come to terms with the loss of his magic, which is something he's always had. Their relationship begins to grow deeper and tenderer. But a new threat rears its head, and it may not be Ged or Tenar -- but Therru -- who is called on to stop it.

The biggest problem with "Tehanu" is that it really has no story. Each of the previous books had a clearly defined storyline, but in this book, it's basically just Tenar pottering around, Ged moping, and Therru not doing much at all. At the end, the narrative develops some vitality and mystery. Up until then, there is no epic power, no awe-inspiring quality.

Certainly there's nothing wrong with a smaller, more intimate story. Nor is there a problem with the feministic slant of the book. However, without the spellbinding quality of the first three books, there really isn't much to hold your attention.
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