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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read the trilogy first [contains spoilers], 28 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea (Puffin Books) (Paperback)
A while ago, I was in the cinema to watch the re-release of "The Jungle Book." Sitting next to me was a small girl, who sat through the whole film completely enraptured as Mowgli talks to animals, floats down the river on Baloo, falls asleep enfolded in leaves, etc ... until the final "Father's hunting in the forest" number, sung by a little girl coming down from the village with her water jar.

Whereupon, the child's mother leaned over and hissed importantly in her ear, "I'd forgotten how sexist this film was."

The emotion I felt, on hearing this demented harridan shatter forever her daughter's illusion that she actually *was* Mowgli, is the identical emotion which I felt on first reading Tehanu some twenty years ago.

I suppose the original Earthsea trilogy was such a perfect conception that we all thought we knew how it ended - with Ged flying away on dragonback to Gont, free of Roke, free even of the restrictions of his own former power, transcendentally free, like Frodo going off to the Grey Havens. We certainly didn't envisage him going off to have a mid-life crisis and get off with Tenar, or at any rate I didn't.

However; as Ursula Guin herself has said, nothing ever ends, now becomes then. Life goes on. So I suppose, if we're to accept her as our guide to Earthsea, then we have to follow on wherever she leads us next. On re-reading Tehanu, now, and without the initial total indignation at the feminist makeover, I can at least appreciate the writing, which is as fine as ever. The airy gulfs of light above Gont Port, the names, the slow-turning seasons, the Greek-peasant simplicity of the food on the table, everything is beautifully evoked. The large-scale map of Gont on the flyfleaf sets the scene. This story is not (by and large) the stuff of epic songs, but acts of heroism on a tiny, daily scale, endlessly repeated; a child is healed not by a gesture and a word of power, but over the course of long months, through love, patience, ceaseless encouragement.

I can see this. I can see that both Tenar and Ged are in their way, as much as most people ever are, heroes. Still - this book does not have for me, and I don't think it ever will have, the epic resonance of, say, "The Tombs of Atuan." And (where it appears) I still can't quite get my head round the mythology. This business of people being dragons, dragons being people, it's beautifully described, but it feels like a clever poem that doesn't work. It feels added on. Is Tehanu half a dragon because she was half burnt, or was she half burnt because she was half a dragon? And her calling Kalessin "Segoy", the creator, at the end, what the heck was all *that* about? And Aspen, the wizard of Re Albi, I just found his misogyny completely unconvincing as villainies go - I mean, really, what is the point of it?

Possibly in another twenty years I'll come to appreciate this more, just as I appreciate Ogion more than I did as a teenager, when I just found him really boring and could totally understand why Ged left. Maybe you need to grow in wisdom to understand "Tehanu," as well. However, for the time being, and though one is always grateful to have another Earthsea book, and no-one can do Earthsea like Ursula le Guin, this isn't the book that the first three books had led us to hope for.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good story, if rather disturbing, but with a good ending., 21 Dec. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea (Puffin Books) (Paperback)
The original 'Earthsea Trilogy' is a children's/young peoples series (although I read it and thoroughly enjoyed it as an adult!). Tehanu is not a book I would give to a child! It is a good story, and makes a good 'final part', but some of the things in the book are rather harrowing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A more adult continuation of the Earthsea story, 14 Nov. 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea (Puffin Books) (Paperback)
As with all Le Guin novels, beautifully written. Continues the story of Sparrowhawk from the earlier Earthsea books, but is less of an adventure story and more reflective. You can tell that Le Guin has thought deeply about the implications of various of her Earthsea world which were not previously considered - for example, the ruling that only men could become mages. If this sounds a bit dull however, do not be put off - there are plenty of dragons in this book, and though it will make you think, its worth the mental exercise.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Tehanu, 30 Nov. 2012
By 
Clare O'Beara - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea (Puffin Books) (Paperback)
This tale was to 'complete' the Earthsea trilogy into a quartet, but there has since been another book, The Other Wind. Read the Earthsea earlier books first.
In this one Ged the wizard has lost his powers and retired. Tenar, the girl he rescued in the second book, is now a widowed woman and comes to visit him. She is told by a local witch that she cannot live with Ged as it would not be seemly, everyone knowing that wizards don't sleep with women but a retired wizard being able to do that as he has no powers left. I suspect that LeGuin and Terry Pratchett had a good old chat about such matters and this book is the outcome. Anyway a child has been dumped by a travelling band of tinkers, left half-burnt in a bonfire. Tenar adopts her and names her Therru. The three of them go off to see about a wizard alleged to be using his powers for evil. But Ged is older now and less capable, and he needs friends around him. For some reason never explained the girl turns into a dragon called Tehanu at the end. There is also a revisiting of the land of the dead from the first book, which was clearly the inspiration for Philp Pullman's land of the dead in the His Dark Materials trilogy.
This is worth a read for the sake of completion, and we'd all like to think Ged and Tenar met up again. It doesn't compare with the first three though, and because it is slower and dwells on adult or unpleasant matters may not be suitable for children.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not the last book of Earthsea....., 5 July 2009
This review is from: Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea (Puffin Books) (Paperback)
Brilliant. Every bit as good as the other Earthsea books. What are you waiting for.....?
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Earthsea is always great, 28 Nov. 2008
By 
Steven R. McEvoy "MCWPP" (Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea (Puffin Books) (Paperback)
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? Especially who are we after loss? For Tenar/Ghoa it is the loss of husband; for Ged the loss of power, ceasing to be a mage. Also it is man's struggle to conquer death.

We also learn in this book that in earthsea, man and dragons were once one race. Men are the children of dragons that horded and built fortresses and forgot how to fly. Therru is an adopted child of Tenar and we find out that she is really the daughter of Kalessin the oldest of dragons. Yet we also find out that Kalessin is really Segoy the creator of earthsea.

Segoy leaves his daughter with Ged and Tenar saying he will one day be given a child by them.

Key Notes on Names:
Tenar / Gohn - Arha
Ged / Sparrowhawk - Hawk - Duny
Therru / Tehanu
Kalessin / Segoy - Oldest
Origon / Aihak
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Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea (Puffin Books)
Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea (Puffin Books) by Ursula K. Le Guin (Paperback - 26 Mar. 1992)
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