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(Earthsea Cycle #4)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  43,980 ratings  ·  2,503 reviews
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 o
Paperback, 281 pages
Published November 23rd 2004 by Pocket Books (first published June 20th 1990)
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Rupert No.
It is book four in a series, and it very definitely does build on the others.
This book would be a spoiler for the other three in a serious way…more
It is book four in a series, and it very definitely does build on the others.
This book would be a spoiler for the other three in a serious way(less)
Dan Varrette You'll be able to get a lot out of this story on its own, but it does refer to the previous books and the past lives of two major characters: Ged and …moreYou'll be able to get a lot out of this story on its own, but it does refer to the previous books and the past lives of two major characters: Ged and Tenar. The series alternates its focus between the two: 1) Ged, 2) Tenar, 3) Ged, 4) Tenar, though both Ged and Tenar feature prominently in books 2 and 4.

In other words, Tehanu is a book that is much more powerful if you read it last. The book will spoil the outcomes of other books, as it does assume you know what's happened to Tenar and Ged, both separately and together.

I would recommend reading all four books, as they're beautifully written and weave a fascinating tale between the characters. (less)

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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  43,980 ratings  ·  2,503 reviews

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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.

Feb 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Sean Barrs
Sep 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-star-reads, fantasy
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 m
Charlotte Kersten
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Jul 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 every
Dec 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 enti
Apr 17, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sf
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
Oct 14, 2021 rated it it was ok
This book is quite different from the rest of the serious although it continues the plot of The Furthest Shore. It has a lot of misogyny and violence against women. The characters are annoying - sometimes it's hard to understand their motives and stupid actions. And endless philosophical conversations about "the nature of men's and women's power" is just sexist. Also the plot is boring and predictable. ...more
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
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 ...more
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
Allison Hurd
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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,
Apollo Hesiod
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very enjoyable, now I need to find out what happens with Therru, on to the next book.
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what a masterpiece. I've never read anything quite like it, and I'm not sure how to describe it in order to properly convey my feelings. It's a relatively mundane fantasy novel, but by that I don't mean it's boring...to borrow a quote from Le Guin, instead of focusing on "typical" heroes of the genre, it focuses on "...heroics from outside and underneath, from the point of view of the people who are not included. The ones who can't do magic. The ones who don't have shining staffs or swords. ...more
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 we ...more
May 05, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-scifi

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
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 series (or at
Zitong Ren
I’m gonna keep this relatively considering that this is a review on the fourth book in the series and no spoilers. What I can say is that Ursula K. Le Guin was really an author ahead of her time, doing things that nobody did when Earthsea was being written. I mean, this book follows a middle-aged woman, when most fantasy today are still about powerful and heroic young people. This has people well past their prime trying to survive, trying to live out the repercussions and the things that they’ve ...more
Nov 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bechdel-pass
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 ...more
Nov 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
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 ...more
Dawn F
Dec 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: media-storytel
Less than a novel, more an introspective exploration of gender in Ursula Le Guin's own Earthsea world (and ultimately a commentary on the real world). Full of speculation and conversations on what gives men power and why women don't have it, or don't take it, and if a female wizard is possible in the Earthsea world, this is how I know and love Le Guin best, and probably why I was enjoying this novel far more than the previous three, which all seemed to me to be beautifully written but ultimately ...more
May 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
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
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Apr 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-lit
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jen - The Tolkien Gal
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.

Image result for ursula le guin
Apr 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 anothe
Jake Bishop
Nov 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
Tehanu was another unique story, and we are back to the protagonist of The Tombs of Atuan, and in my opinion this is the same level of quality.

This is very much a slice of life book. The protagonist of ToA has lived a life, it takes place about 25 years after that. One day she finds a child who has been the victim of a horrible crime, and has had half of her face and a lot of her body burned from being pushed into the fire. Tenar adopts this child, who is named Therru, and the book is largely ab
Sep 03, 2013 rated it liked it
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 li
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Ursula K. Le Guin published twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received many awards: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc. Her recent publications include the novel Lavinia, an essay collection, Cheek by Jowl, and The Wild Girls. She lived in Portland, Orego ...more

Other books in the series

Earthsea Cycle (6 books)
  • A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)
  • The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle, #2)
  • The Farthest Shore (Earthsea Cycle, #3)
  • Tales from Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #5)
  • The Other Wind (Earthsea Cycle, #6)

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“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.”
“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.”
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