Monday, November 16, 2009

Review: Tehanu

On a visit to a used bookstore in town, the kind with stacks of books to the ceiling and a cat making her bed on a shelf, I found Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin. I devoured Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, and The Farthest Shore) as a child and was thrilled to find this later addition to the series.

This is an interesting addition to the series. Right up front, I can tell you that this is not a book that stands alone very well - I really needed to have read the previous books in the series to understand what was going on in this book. And since it had been so long since I read them, it did take me a while to figure out who everyone was and what was happening.

The earlier books were, in comparison to Tehanu, much more action driven. Tenar, the former priestess of the tombs of Atuan, is now Goha, a farmer's widow. She takes in a child who has been abused, burnt, and left for dead. Then Ged, who had been the Archmage of Earthsea, returns, drained of his power. And, together, they struggle to make sense of the world and their place in it.
"What's a child for? What's it there for? To be used. To be raped, to be gelded - Listen, Moss. When I lived in the dark places, that was what they did. And when I came here, I thought I'd come out into the light. I learned the true words. And I had my man, I bore my children, I lived well. In the broad daylight. And in the broad daylight, they did that - to the the child. In the meadows by the river. The river that rises from the spring where Ogion named my daughter. In the sunlight. I am trying to find out where I can live, Moss. Do you know what I mean? What I'm trying to say?"
I read some of the reviews on Amazon, and some readers had a visceral dislike of this book. I am not one of these. There is a lot of beauty in Tehanu. For one thing, Le Guin is a wonderful writer, and I love her voice - the crisp way she has of telling her story. But this, I think, will not be enough to keep everyone engrossed in this book. Not much happens in Tehanu and when action does occur, it happened in such a blur I had to re-read the passage a few times to understand what was going on. I get the feeling that this is an in-between book, so I am interested in reading the next two books in the series, Tales from Earthsea and The Other Wind.

Buy Tehanu (Earthsea Book 4) on Amazon.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to get comments and welcome them on any of my posts. There is comment moderation on posts older than 14 days, but your comments will appear immediately on current posts.

Due to th eabsolutely insane number of spam comments I have been getting recently, I have unfortunately had to turn on word verification. Please email me if you have problems posting a comment.