[Ursula K. Le Guin] Tehanu

The Earthsea Cycle

  • Title: Tehanu
  • Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Published: 1990
  • Publisher: Simon and Schuster
  • ISBN: 978-1-4424-5996-0

What cannot be mended must be transcended.

from the Afterword


Tehanu” is the fourth book of the Earthsea Cycle. It is written 18 years after the third book ‘The Farthest Shore.’ Even though the book starts right after the final event of the previous book, the long time span of the author’s life lies in the book.

It is surprising and also interesting to see the story is not in the big work of fantasy. There are no more great wizards, strong warriors, or epic battles between good and evil. Women, children, and ordinary farmers and goat herders drive the story. Rather than race, gender is the main issue throughout the book. Is it the mirror image of our reality?

In the meantime, you are still struggling with the question of identity? What am I? My life, my existence, and myself – Are they given, determined, chosen without other options, chosen by my will, or made by me?

Tenar appeared as three people: Arha, a priestess of the Nameless one, is given by others. Goha, a wife and mother, seems to be chosen by her will but is an easy path of everyone. Finally, she became freer and responsible for her life once being old. Her struggling and acceptance of a new life penetrates the systematical gender problem of our society. Ged, the archmage, lost his all mage power and became a normal man. He was a man of power in the male-dominated realm. But the power is a shell, and there is only emptiness inside it. Ged had to throw away the broken shell and find meaning in life in the world of no power. The link of the lost two people is a young girl Therru, who is damaged and vulnerable.

Even though the book is quite interesting and easy to read, with many ideas to think over, the messages are too straightforward, and the characters usually act in a predictable way. By delivering the underlying ideas directly to readers, rather than giving them a chance to think over, the author made the characters – Therru, Tenar, and Ged – conventional figures without charms. I miss young Tenar and Ged, but I also have to admit that the author actually know s and depicts the reality.

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