Saturday, 11 August 2001

Ursula K. le Guin: Tehanu (1990)

Edition: Bantam, 1991
Review number: 902

It is rare for a sequel written many years later to match up with a famous original, and Tehanu is not an exception to this rule. In time it follows on immediately from the end of The Farthest Shore, and it continues the story of Tenar, one-time priestess of the Nameless Ones in The Tombs of Atuan. Rejecting the fame she could have had, she married a farmer from the island of Gont, birthplace of Sparrowhawk, the central character of all the Earthsea books. She is now a widow whose grown up children have left home, and she takes in a small girl, victim of extreme abuse - rescued from a fire in which she was put by her father, she is terribly scarred.

Tehanu is much more aimed at adults than the original trilogy, even if they had a dark side which would make them unsuitable for younger children. Its intended audience is probably those who, like myself, had enjoyed the first three novels at the appropriate age and who had grown up by the time Tehanu came out. Even so, it is a disappointment.

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