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Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea [Hardcover]

Ursula K. Le Guin
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 28 1990 Earthsea
In the spellbinding finale to the Earthsea books, Goha is called from Oak Farm to the deathbed of the mage Ogion. She takes Therru with her, and the two are led back through the labyrinth of their former lives, ultimately to their true identities and worth.

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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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AFTER FARMER FLINT OF THE MIDDLE Valley died, his widow stayed on at the farmhouse. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Le Guin reflects and develops - can you? Jan. 21 2002
Split down the middle, the reviews there are of this book veer between "this is a shameless feminist manifesto - a betrayal of fantasy!" and "this is a fitting, moving development of the gripping trilogy". I would like to explain why I favour the second point of view.
Studying a great poet like Dante Alighieri has made me realise that the seeds of genius are always present in the work of a great artist, but they take time to mature. Dante's masterwork, the Divine Comedy, was the product of years of undeveloped thought -on love, philosophy and politics. It was only by the time he wrote and later revised the Divine Comedy, that these thoughts could finally crystallise, around an epic yet utterly humane vision. In many ways Dante had renounced some of his earlier beliefs, but this did not make all his works jarring, or inconsistent, it just showed that he had come to master himself and his beliefs.
The original Earthsea trilogy was an engaging enterprise that nonetheless set itself largely within a tradition of "fantasy". 'The Wizard of Earthsea' was a typical 'bildungsroman' i.e. the story of a young man on a quest. But within this set of conventions - the pride, the error, the journey, the temptress, the old master - lurked something deeper. Le Guin posited ideas of how one really understands the nature of power, by using the allegory of magic. To be honest, whether this was 'Taoist' or not, as has been alleged, is immaterial to me.
It is immaterial because Le Guin then went on to forge her own philosophy, which was and continues to be compelling. Tenar in 'The Tombs of Atuan' faces her own challenge; a different yet parallel fate to Ged's awaits her.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing entry that lacks direction July 1 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Award-winning writer Ursula K. Le Guin finished the Earthsea 'trilogy' in 1972 with the tremendous novel "The Farthest Shore," simply one of the best fantasies ever penned. (The other two books are "A Wizard of Earthsea" and "The Tombs of Atuan.") Eighteen years later, in 1990, Le Guin decided to extend the trilogy to another book, "Tehanu," and has since written two additional books, "Tales from Earthsea" and "The Other Wind." In "Tehanu," she sought to balance out the story of Earthsea by re-visiting Tenar, the girl from "The Tombs of Atuan" and viewing the world through her eyes as an adult coming to terms with the way her life has gone and her relationship to Ged, the hero of the previous three books.
Sadly, "Tehanu" is a major disappointment and the poorest of the Earthsea books. The idea sounds interesting: exploring Earthsea from the point of view of a non-sorcerer woman. But Le Guin fails to create an even remotely interesting story around Tenar -- actually, there is hardly any story at all. Tenar stays on the farm, makes a few trips, and takes care of herself and Therru, the strange girl she adopted after Therru was abused and badly burnt. Ged returns abruptly, his magic gone, and the king's men are searching for him. It appears possible that a narrative line will develop from this, but none does. The book plods through unconnected scenes and talky dialogue until it abruptly ends.
I'm at a loss to explain Le Guin's narrative failure here. Perhaps, in feeling that she was achieving a great character study, she felt the book would carry itself without a spine of a story, but it doesn't. The problem doesn't lay in what the author says or how she says it -- I'm fine with the female slant to the book -- but how she chooses to frame it.
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Picking up right where The Farthest Shore left off, Tehanu shows us the life Tenar chose to lead after The Tombs of Atuan, and her encounter with Ged when he returns to Gont following The Farthest Shore. Unfortunately, the book doesn't really have a story to tell (though it's full of portents and stories of goings-on elsewhere in Earthsea). It is, effectively, the story of two souls on a remote island who are no longer part of the larger tapestry.
Which would be fine, except why bother writing a novel set in Earthsea about such people? The charm of the trilogy was that it was Ged's odyssey through a pivotal time in the history of a remarkable world and how he contributed to it. Tehanu shows us nothing new about Le Guin's magical world, and has little interesting to say. It's at its worst when the musings about "mens' work" vs. "womens' work" and "men's power" vs. "womens' power" comes out; Le Guin has nothing provocative or excitings to say here, and no conclusions - satisfying or otherwise - are reached. It's as if Le Guin felt self-conscious that the trilogy was so male-centric and wanted to rectify that. But it comes at the expense of the wonder that made the trilogy great fantasy. It's a small book about small people.
Worst of all, the book falls completely apart at its climax, as the narrative becomes muddy and rushed, with a finale which has little meaning in the context of the rest of the book.
Tehanu shows that you can't go home again; the trilogy was 20 years in her past when she wrote this, and Tehanu neither extends nor expands on it. If you loved the trilogy and want to read more like it, look elsewhere.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Earthsea is always great
This book continues right from the end of The Furthest Shore. The story is slower then the other three, yet it is also much deeper. The primary themes again are being: who are we? Read more
Published on Nov. 27 2008 by Steven R. McEvoy
3.0 out of 5 stars Different from the other Earthsea books, but still beautiful
I picked up "A Wizard of Earthsea" in the library last week and before I knew it, I was sitting down to read "Tehanu. Read more
Published on July 3 2005 by K Tan
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing entry to a classic series
With 'Tehanu,' Ursula Le Guin makes the puzzling decision to extend the classic Earthsea trilogy into a quadrology (now since extended even further), crafting a book that is quite... Read more
Published on April 28 2004 by Eric San Juan
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
After finishing The Farthest Shore and absolutely loving it, I was greatly excited to read Tehanu...and then disappointed. Read more
Published on Feb. 11 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Is LeGuin tired of writing?
I can accept the plot inconsistancies with the previous books in the "trilogy." I can accept her vague style of writing. I like her ideas and think they have potential. Read more
Published on Jan. 16 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Women's Magic
For two decades, Ursula Le Guin's landmark EARTHSEA cycle was considered a trilogy. The surprise publication of a fourth novel in 1990, TEHANU, generated expansive critical acclaim... Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2004 by "leda_au"
4.0 out of 5 stars Some shining moments.
I've read the first four books of this series and overall am very impressed with the author's ability to have the reader "live" the charcters life almost without knowing one has... Read more
Published on Dec 28 2003 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars other side of a circle
It is interesting to see many negative reviews of this book, I loved the other perspective of it and how it deals with the great forgotten of history, the mundane, ordinary and... Read more
Published on July 1 2003 by nathan
1.0 out of 5 stars Extremely dissapointing....
This is not typical LeGuin, and it is barely Earthsea. If you enjoyed the mystery, the deep magic, and rich atmosphere of Earthsea, then avoid this. Read more
Published on May 13 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Different from other Earthsea books, but Great!
Tehanu was different from all the other Earthsea books, but that doesn't necessarily mean I liked it any less. It seemed so real - I could almost see the dragon Kalessin. Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2003 by Kathy K
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