Saturday 19 November 2016

Tehanu (Earthsea Book 4) - Ursula K. Le Guin

Title: Tehanu (Earthsea Book 4)
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 1990
Formats: Hardback/Paperback/Ebook

Available at:
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

“Tehanu” by Ursula K. Le Guin is the fourth book in the Earthsea fantasy series. The story is returns the reader to the island of Gont and the woman Tenar who had been brought to the Island by Ged after he had rescued her in the previous novel “The Tombs of Atuan”. Years have passed since then and she is ow as a widow with her own grown-up children. However, her seemingly ordinary life soon changes when she opts to take in a severely abused child as a foster daughter.

The book was written several years after the original trilogy and it is therefore quite different from the previous books, in both style and substance. Le Guin has quite clearly picked up a stronger feminist viewpoint since the original trilogy and has used “Tehanu” as a novel in which she can call out the inequity between the sexes in both the fantasy genre and the world in general. Fundamentally, I don’t have an issue with this except for the fact that I think she takes it too far. Perhaps this is just a defensive viewpoint from a man, but at times it almost felt like every female character was somehow worthy and important whilst the men were portrayed as weak and flawed. In fact, the way in which Ged has been reduced to depressed individual who mopes around feeling sorry for himself felt rather inconsistent with the man we had come to know in the other novels.

Her writing of course is as skilful as always and overall plot itself was rather intriguing if not brimming with action or a fast pace. But to be honest, anyone who has read any of Le Guin’s other Earthsea books should be used to that by now. The ending itself was left a little bit open for my liking but I think this is intentional as it is being used to set up future books in the series.

Overall, I did enjoy this latest book in the Earthsea series but it wasn’t a favourite of mine. I found the stripping back of Ged’s dignity a bit sore to take and the in your face feminist slant just came across to strongly.


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