Words from Tehanu

Casey lent me Ursula K LeGuin’s Tehanu, one of the books from The Earthsea Trilogy-turned-cycle. I’ve always been attracted to science fiction, but rarely fantasy (although they both fall under the clumsy term “speculative fiction”). However, the Earthsea Trilogy engaged me the whole way through.

Tehanu was written many years after the original trilogy, and is a very different type of book. Where the other books tell of adventures, Tehanu is much more reflective and conversational on the world the characters inhabit. Still fantastic, but fantastic in the way that the real world is already fantastic.

The world of Earthsea is infused with the power of words; it’s appropriate that while reading I recorded words that I didn’t know how to use well. (For example, I understand the word “ire”, but wouldn’t use it myself because I know there was more of an implication than just “anger”.) Below are the words and definitions, mostly as a reference for myself, but maybe you’d like one as well.

Definitions from Princeton Wordnet (I think)


anger: a strong emotion; a feeling that is oriented toward some real or supposed grievance
wrath: belligerence aroused by a real or supposed wrong (personified as one of the deadly sins)

Usage: “the witch accepted her due with unending ire”


influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering

usage: “a wheedling kindness”


relating to or containing gnomes

This definition is a little disappointing. I thought it would be more explicitly about the earth rather than just about gnomes.


the mental ability to understand and discriminate between relations


a pressing or urgent situation

Usage: “the indifference of a man towards the exigencies that rule a woman”


a supply of food especially for a household

Usage: “living off his larder”


noun: a false accusation of an offense or a malicious misrepresentation of someone’s words or actions

Usage: “casting calumny and lies”


fairness: ability to make judgments free from discrimination or dishonesty


an act or expression of criticism and censure


a favorable omen

Usage: “and it sounds as if all auspices and events were fortunate”


showing modest reserve

Usage: “he said it in a diffident way”

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