As the weekend draws to a close and we’re all apparently still here, I spent some time giving thought to the next question in the 30 Days of Books list:
Day 18 – A book that disappointed you
Geez, there’s been lots of books that have been disappointments. Anything that I rated 2-stars or below on Goodreads was probably a disappointment because obviously I’d hoped for something more.
But what came to mind for this question was a book that I had read with great expectation that not only was a disappointment, but managed to tarnish one of my all time favorite series. That book was Ursula K. LeGuin’s Tehanu.
Tehanu was published almost twenty years after LeGuin’s third Earthsea book The Farthest Shore. Now the original trilogy of Earthsea is one of my alltime favorite series.
In them, LeGuin wrote brief lyrical fantasy stories that managed to get outside the Tolkien sphere. They are wonderful.
So, I was excited to go back to Earthsea when Tehanu came out, but it didn’t take long to figure out that this book wasn’t going to dovetail with the others.
In it, Ged, the hero of the first three books – the greatest wizard of the age – the man that saved the world – loses all his power. Which isn’t so bad and might have been an interesting twist, but not only does he lose his power, he loses his will, his decisiveness, his personality — everything that made him who he was. In the book, LeGuin heavy-handedly emasculates Ged and makes just about every other male in the book either weak or evil, while the only wisdom and power for good is to be found in the hands (and hearts) of women.
Now, I’m all for gender equality, but Tehanu not only failed to extend and enhance her previous writing, it tore it down. With Tehanu LeGuin says, “Yeah, those first three books? Screw them.” – and in so, she undermines the entire mythos and wonderful stories that she’d created. She is the George Lucas of fantasy writers.