‘Tehanu’ is the last book in the Earthsea Quartet by Ursula Le Guin. It continues on from where ‘The Farthest Shore’ left off, but instead returns to the story of Tenar from ‘The Tombs of Atuan’ who, much older now, is a widow raising an adopted child who is half burnt after suffering abuse from her parents.
This book is so different from the others. It is less about adventure and more about the characters and society. Sexism plays a massive role, particularly with the main ‘villain’ being incredibly misogynistic and the question of why women can’t be mages. Despite being different, I did really enjoy ‘Tehanu’. The world was still recognisable, and so were the character to the most part. The only one that I had trouble recognising was Tenar, who ended up living a life completely separate to what I had envisioned for her and her personality, which also seemed to have changed. No longer did I see a girl who questioned society and did what she felt was right rather than what she should do. It irked me a little bit.
I did find the ending a bit disturbing. If you don’t enjoy or do get triggered by forced submission, beatings and name-calling, then I suggest you skip over this section, and just read the last few pages. Otherwise, it is a good book that is well-written and does make you think. There are moments where I thought I was getting mixed messages about what Le Guin was trying to say, but it was interesting and I did read the book in a day.