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Summary

Years before, 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 not by choice.

A lifetime ago they helped each other at a time of darkness and danger. Now they must join forces again to help another - the physically and emotionally scarred child whose own destiny remains to be revealed.

©1990 Ursula K. Le Guin (P)2016 Recorded Books

What listeners say about Tehanu

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Tehanu

I love this book. My absolute favourite of the earthsea series. I read the trilogy over 30 years ago as a teanager and the tombs of Atuan was my favourite, and I wanted Ged and Tenar to get together, I was so glad when I discovered the sequel. Ursula le Guin was master story teller. Great narration. I see audible has just added a wizard of earthsea. Please release the whole series unabridged, and please do the same fur Diana Wynne Jones’ books.

5 people found this helpful

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A story all it's own, tying up loose threads

Loved it, an original story woven around familiar characters well told and read. Total contrast to the 'trilogy' it now concludes.

2 people found this helpful

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Wonderful

Such a fresh take on what can be a very stilted Genre. I don't think I have cared more about characters in any book I've read before. All of it is good, all of it.

1 person found this helpful

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Excellent reading of my favourite Earthsea book!

The most human, profound and positively subversive of Le Guin's Earthsea novels. My favourite! Beautifully performed!

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Uncomfortable and unbalanced

Le Guin fails to ask the basic question all fantasy authors should ask themselves, that is 'How can I make this book interesting?' and instead asks 'How can I alienate fans of the Earthsea Cycle?' The book is incredibly dull: Ged has lost his magic and doesn't feature too much; it's filled with the musings of a now normal old woman; there's little fantasy and it feels a little like a soap opera. Written 18 years after the magnificent previous entry, The Farthest Shore, one cannot help but wonder how Le Guin lost her passion for the series.

If you find everyday life interesting, you might like this book. If you like Catherine Cookson (no problem if you!), you might like this book. If you came expecting to be captivated by an epic fantasy story in a unique, rich world, you'll be bored to tears.

There's little philosophy or knowledge to be gleaned; few real take aways or ideas to reflect on post read. If anything, the book tries to condemn action ('doing') and promotes idleness ('being') as an acceptable and even mature way of living.

The character development is unreasonable and so patronisingly uneven that the book feels like a bitter rant. Ged, a moral philosopher in the previous book becomes a lost little boy in a flash. Other male characters make obscene decisions whilst each of the female characters are enlightened. In The Tombs of Atuan Le Guin nailed the female perspective and wove it into a captivating plot. Here, very little of value is achieved.

There are a few charming moments towards the end although these in no way do enough to salvage any merit.

The afterword from the author attempts unsuccessfully and somewhat pretentiously to defend the direction of the book. Le Guin likens the original trilogy to a 3-legged chair. However, this 3-legged chair at least stood up. With 4 legs, the chair is an uncomfortable, unbalanced and inferior product.

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This might be my favourite fantasy novel ever

This book has been written by, about -and, I think, ~for~ (although not exclusively) - women who have lived beyond their youth. There may be other fantasy books that have been written in this way, but I’ve not found them - this book spoke to me in such a specific way. It’s passionate, exciting, sad, thoughtful, hopeful and moving.

The performance does the story justice, which is high praise! I can’t recommend it enough.

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different

excellent narration, story very different to the previous earthsea books, darker and set more in fairly ordinary day to day life. I enjoyed it although the ending seemed a bit abrupt and incomplete as if the author had suddenly lost interest and decided to just end it.

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  • JA
  • 30-08-17

Delivers on Promise of Tenar and the Tombs

Only a misogynist or someone who heard excerpts could misread this book as feminist preaching. Round characters, beautiful sentences, and a fantastic reader, to boot!

14 people found this helpful

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  • Aseretk
  • 12-09-19

Rare and gifted narrator

I do not wish to write a review of this book, because it is a favorite of mine, told in Ursula Le Guin’s spare beautiful way. The characters are more precious to me now that I, like them, are also older. What I most want to comment on is how amazing narrator, Jenny Sterlin is as she gives voice to each character and how easy her voice tells this story. It is rare for me to love a narrator from the start, in fact if the material of a book isn’t interested a poorly chosen narrator can ruin the experience. High marks for Ms Sterlin. I hope she continues to narrate many other audio books.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Alan
  • 09-10-19

Beautiful but Mundane

Very well-written, and Le Guin (as always) has a knack for making rounded and believable characters. However, unlike the previous books, Tehanu is light on plot. As the author admits in the postscript, Tehanu’s focus is on the ordinary lives of ordinary people, on finding grace in the mundane.

Unfortunately, experiencing the mundane lives of ordinary people is not why most people (myself included) read fantasy novels. The stakes weren’t high enough, the fantasy element wasn’t strong enough, and the plot plodded. I gave 3/5 stars out of respect for Le Guin’s writing, but (compared to its predecessors) Tehanu was a bit of a disappointment.

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  • Matthew
  • 27-08-19

Le Guin is incredible

really interesting change in perspective after the last three. this book challenges each character fundamentally, as well as the world and culture of earthsea, as well as our own world in what it shares with earthsea. it took a more difficult but ultimately rewarding path, and i have nothing but respect and awe for the author.

some developments do seem convenient or heavy-handed, but they are still effective and don't get in the way of the engaging emotional journeys of the characters - which i see as the main exploration of the book.

the performance was also fantastic.

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  • Reynaldo Garcia
  • 26-12-16

Different, in a good way.

I really enjoyed this one. A far different type of tale, but just as grand in its own way. Recommend.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Peter
  • 29-05-18

Like a hot coal

Ursula le guin takes on a new perspective, that of the “powerless”- the women, children, and laymen of earthsea. This book is like a hot coal- it burns with anger, trauma, injustice, and beauty. It deserves to be studied and to be reread over and over.


The narrator did a fabulous job of harnessing tenar’s voice.


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  • Hilary Hontz
  • 03-08-16

An excellent story and a brilliant telling.

Tehanu is a critical and introspective look at female intuition and the expectations society can so often impose, knowingly or unknowingly, upon the wife, mother, sister, and daughter.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Michael G.
  • 07-12-19

A beautiful story

It wasn't what I was expecting, but I love it all the more for that.

I really love her stories.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Lee
  • 06-11-17

Least favorite book of the series

This book has to be my least favorite of the series. A little too much feminism for me. Why didn't she make her female characters stronger in the previous books, instead of making the men all weak and insecure. I don't even know if I want to read the last book if it's going to be the same.. There are strong female characters in many great book series without displacing the men. (Mistborn, The wheel of time, Stormlight Archives, Outlander, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Hunger Games, Harry Potter...)

3 people found this helpful

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  • Bob
  • 15-06-22

still good, bit not as profound as previous books

Le Guin's writing is great, as always, and she whisks you away to another world and makes you forget where you are. But she's exploring a different aspect of the hero's journey in this book, and struggling with different aspects of the human struggle, and they don't resonate with the spirit, as the themes of the first three books did. Still, questions of power, societal roles, and respect are great themes, and she explores them with interest, so the bok is worth reading. Her thoughts aren't as profound as the questions she tries to address in A Wizard of Earthsea, and her thoughts aren't as well formed. But it will still make you think.
*Note: apparently, some have either panned or lauded this book as a feminist book, and a break from Le Guin's Earthsea work. It breaks from the grandeur of the themes of the first three books, exploring life for regular folk, as well as exploring the feminine power and authority, but it is by no means feminist. Le Guin's thoughts are far more balanced, and nuanced for such claims.

1 person found this helpful