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Publisher's 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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The power of ordinary people.


I very much enjoyed these later chapters in the lives of fascinating people. Interesting to see the saga unfolding. It was lovely to hear the story so beautifully told too.

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Brilliance from Le Guin

This isn't about powerful wizards and their quests. This is the woman's story, the mundane story after the heroic. A book about gender and power (and dragons), it completes the Earthsea series brilliantly. Truly powerful and sad.

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Brilliantly captures woman living in her own skin

Ursula Le Guin sings the song of my quite long life... Softly: living with men who feel they have lost everything when they lose their power. How they need women then, more than before and differently. It is lucky for these men that some can love through thick and thin. That is love sourced through the red dragon energy. Our sons and also, perhaps, daughters, in their full power, having not been initiated, are willing to do anything to get what is "theirs". Yes, until shadows are owned they seek to control a being.

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an unexpected pleasure!

As a lot of people have no doubt remarked, this installment does not fit the 'hero's journey' structure of the first three books. The journey is more subtle, and gentle.
I loved the stories of Tenar, Tehanu and Ged. These are the ones that aren't explosions and magic battles but the power of a woman, the love of a mother, the trust of a partner and the determination...
Beautiful story, and well read.

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Best Earthsea yet!

Loved the pace and focus of this book. Le Guin at her most thoughtful and kind. Learning about how to be human.

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Great book 📖 it’s amazing.

Le Guin has a truely stunning style of writing. Even the worst of stories can turn out good when Le Guin writes it. But this has great story it is excellent.

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Not what I expected

In a fantastical world of Dragons and magic this story spends much of its time washing dishes and tending onions and making clothes. Which is not what I expected. Yet the themes it deals with are nuanced and raw. I appreciate the underdog story.

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  • JA
  • 30-08-2017

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!

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  • Aseretk
  • 12-09-2019

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.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Alan
  • 09-10-2019

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
  • 27-08-2019

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
  • 26-12-2016

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
  • 29-05-2018

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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  • Michael G.
  • 07-12-2019

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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  • Hilary Armstrong
  • 03-08-2016

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.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 21-08-2021

underappreciated!

Many who love the original Earthsea trilogy will complain that Tehanu feels out of place, on-the-nose feminist, and not as grand or exciting as the first three volumes. I understand where they're coming from, but frankly would say it's from a place of light sexism and underappreciation for the complexity that Le Guin is weaving into her characters and world here! Earthsea as portrayed in the first three volumes IS overtly patriarchal --- women are property of fathers and husbands, witches are considered less savory members of society even as their magical adept is demanded by their villages, and women are not permitted to study at the magical institute on Roke and become fully respected users of magic, as wizards are. Being a series written by a woman, with compelling female characters, and taking up in Tehanu where her characters, her readers, and Le Guin herself are older and more thoughtful than in the earlier volumes, it's no wonder that the nature of society, magic, and culture of Earthsea are being examined through Tenar's eyes. Not to mention there are explorations of broader issues of sex, aging, abuse, duty, and sense of selfhood that readers in the real world can relate to. Le Guin truly deepens the beloved characters of Ged and Tenar in realistic, unidealistic ways, ultimately giving them a tenuous but hopeful future. At the same time, the lore deepens intriguingly with Tehanu, Kalessin, and the dragon-people, leading into The Other Wind nicely. Give it a chance -- if you're a woman you may identify with the feelings of duty, self-actualization, and frustration, and if you're a man you can learn a thing or two from it.

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  • Lee
  • 06-11-2017

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...)

1 person found this helpful

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  • Penelope Bower
  • 28-11-2018

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.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Michael Hirst
  • 28-07-2016

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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  • A J Taylor
  • 11-07-2020

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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