Book Review: Tehanu

Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin
Tehanu (Earthsea Cycle, #4) 
by Ursula K. Le Guin

4 out of 5 stars on GoodReads

Tenar is living as a poor farmer’s widow in the valleys of Gont, and adopts a disfigured child who was beaten and burned. When Ged, the Archmage Sparrowhawk, comes back into her life, Tenar must face the mystery behind the magic that has followed her all her life.

As with most of Le Guin’s books, I’m not quite sure what to think. It’s masterfully written with truly beautiful prose, and a deep story full of meaning and emotion. But it’s just so strange and other-worldly and odd. There are so many questions and few definitive answers. The best thing about her writing is that it makes you think about things… really think and ponder. 
And I love that she never explains things to the reader in a condescending way. She expects the reader to have the intelligence and imagination to fill in the little gaps between the words. It’s like she gives you the first half of a well-known sentence, and your heart calls out the end of the sentence before you realize it. She lays such a subtle pathway for you to follow that you KNOW what the character is feeling, or what the character wanted to say behind the dialogue they actually said, without a lengthy explanation of the inner workings of the character. One word suffices.

As always, I adore Ged. He is such a complex and appealing character, and the thread of his strength holds the entire series together. I loved seeing Tenar all grown up, looking back on the choices she made in her youth. And I was intrigued by the sad little disfigured girl, Therru, battling her own demons and slowly healing.

I can’t really say that I enjoyed reading this book. It’s too sad and full of misery, although there are also lovely peaceful scenes like bright spots in the darkness. It’s definitely a memorable and important story, and I’m glad that I read it.

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