Two decades passed between the publication of the third book of the Earthsea cycle and this, the fourth. Ged is old and retired, no longer Archmage. Tenar is a widow with two grown children, and new guardian to a young girl who has suffered great physical harm. Unlike the previous books, there are few adventures here; rather, the story follows Ged and Tenar as they become reacquainted, as Tenar learns to heal a child whose scars will not heal, and as Ged—bereft of magic—discovers who he is and how he wants to live. The book was not entirely well-received when it was published—many readers missed the excitement of the previous books in the series. But Le Guin is singularly able to make domestic life as full and complex and deserving of attention as any dragon fight, and this book is by far my favorite in the series.