book review: tehanu

Tehanu is the fourth book in Ursula K LeGuin’s Earthsea series and it’s the one that makes these books so powerful. Now, do not get me wrong, all the cool hero’s journey stuff that happens in the first three is great. You should totally read them if you haven’t. But those are tales of young adventurers heading out into the world and changing being changed by it, without any consideration of the women who do not go a roaming. Tehanu does that examination, and it does it by looking at how women’s strength is different from men’s strength and though it’s easily dismissed it’s worth a hell of a lot more.

I love this book for how it’s feminist in its challenging of fundamental values of what is worth celebrating: adventure or making a home livable. So often we just read about female characters off having adventures to make them seen as just as capable as men, while we don’t see many stories about men trying to be just as capable as women in these female spheres.

Anyway. I’m probably not talking about it correctly. I just loved this book as an adult in a way I don’t think I appreciated years ago (if I even read it – I didn’t have any clear recollections). It’s so good.

2 thoughts on “book review: tehanu

  1. I read this book many years ago while devouring the Earthsea books and fell in love with it. This is probably the romantic in me, but I still vividly remember the scene where Tenar and Ged finally culminate their relationship. Beautiful!

  2. I think this is the only one of the Earthsea books I didn’t read as a kid, and now I’m really interested to read it. The focus on traditional male characters in Earthsea has previously struck me as a little odd given the author’s other work, so I’ll be interested to read how this shifts the balance.

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