43 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Awesome trilogy but weak ending.........,
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This review is from: Earthsea: The First Four Books: "A Wizard Of Earthsea"; "The Tombs of Atuan"; "The Farthest Shore"; "Tehanu" (Puffin Books) (Paperback)
I first read the Earthsea Trilogy when i was 12 & it was brilliant back then. After re-reading it recently, it still held my imagination after 5 yrs ! As a huge fan of SF & Fantasy, I rate her first 3 books in my top ten with their historically evocative depiction of magic practised with the Taoist philosophy of needful action only. This 4th book was written 10 years after the previous 3 & attempts to continue on where the others left off. Unfortunately, it does a very poor job of it !
The first 3 books are "coming of age" novels whose main characters grow into adulthood through their travels & deeds as the books progress. Tehanu however, is mostly an old woman's reflections on the bitterness of her life ! The world described is a much darker & clearly sexist place as seen through the eyes of Tenar than it ever was with Ged.This is actually the best thing about the book since it does show a woman's view of a world where men rule & hold all the knowledge & wealth, but there is little to inspire the reader to challenge these views ! Tenar grudgingly accepts things as they are & does not attempt to change this status-quo. The young girl Therru is more of a mystery & there are indications that we will read great things of her in "The Other Wind" which is Le Guin's continuation of this story.
I think it would have been better to write this as a prequel to "The Other Wind" rather than as a finale to a trilogy which was quite capable of standing on its own (5 stars !). There was little reason to tie the stories of Ged & Tehanu together as she has done, although it does provide for continuity & allows her to explore Ged's lose of his magic & Tenar's bitterness towards the men in her life at the same time.
In summary I would say this book (3 stars !) is best read as an intro to "The Other Wind" rather then as part of the original Earthsea Trilogy which is a masterpiece in a class of its own. Whether Le Guin's newer work will rival it remains to be seen, but if this indication of what to expect then I fear we have already seen her best.