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The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Tombs of Atuan (original 1971; edition 1975)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

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5,999100695 (4)195
Title:The Tombs of Atuan
Authors:Ursula K. Le Guin
Info:Bantam Books (1975), Edition: paperback / softback, Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:Earthsea Cycle, Fantasy, Newbery, Newbery Challenge, Young Adult

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The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin (1971)


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English (94)  Spanish (3)  Swedish (1)  Japanese (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (100)
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
A book that might have been shocking for its time, with the hidden Priestess who is taken as a child, the underground passages, the mysterious rites . . . and as always, told in a few quick but well-chosen words. The first time I read this I kept wondering Where's Ged?" Now, I read it seeing a new take on the Archipelago and a new society that emerges most skillfully. And the fact that there is a female character who grows, who is not just the hedge-witch of the first novel, is a good development in Ms. LeGuin's world." ( )
1 vote threadnsong | Jun 18, 2016 |
I wasn’t going to keep reading this series but this one is also required for class. Tenar being the protagonist made things a bit better. Still, then Ged shows up and kinda steals the show. I spent all my critical energies for this on an essay but overall, it was just ok.
( )
  askajnaiman | Jun 14, 2016 |
The limited world of a young priestess is shattered by the wizard Sparrowhawk. Liked it better than the other books in this series. ( )
1 vote seschanfield | Mar 7, 2016 |
Duny is a young boy on Gont, one of the larger islands which dot Earthsea. His mother is dead, his much older siblings have all left home, and his father is a dour, taciturn bronze-smith with nothing in common with his son, so the boy grows up wild and headstrong. Duny discovers by accident that he has an extraordinary talent for magic. His aunt, the village witch, teaches him the little she herself knows, but his power far exceeds hers.

One day, he uses his talent and a fog-gathering spell he learned from a passing weatherworker to save his village from Karg raiders. The tale of his remarkable feat spreads far and wide, finally reaching the ear of a wise Gontish mage, Ogion the Silent. He recognizes that the boy is so powerful he must be trained so as not to become a danger to himself and others. In the rite of passage into adulthood, he gives the boy his "true name", Ged, and takes him as an apprentice. In this world, a magician who knows someone's true name has control over that person, so one's true name is revealed only to those whom one trusts implicitly. Normally, a person is referred to by his or her "use name". Ged's is Sparrowhawk.

1971 Puffin edition. 201 pagesThe undisciplined young man grows restless under the gentle, patient tutelage of his master. Ogion finally gives him a choice: stay with him or go to the renowned school for wizards, on the island of Roke. Though he has grown to love the old man, the youngster is drawn irresistibly to a life of doing, rather than being.

At the school, Sparrowhawk masters his craft with ease, but his pride and arrogance grow even faster than his skill and, in his hubris, he attempts to summon a dead spirit - a perilous spell which goes awry. An unknown creature appears and attacks him, scarring his face. It is driven off by the head of the school, the Archmage Nemmerle, who expends all of his power in the process and dies shortly thereafter.

Sparrowhawk is wracked with guilt at causing the old man's death, but after a painful and slow recovery, he graduates from the school. Normally, Roke's wizards are much sought after by princes and rich merchants, but the new Archmage sends a willing Sparrowhawk to a poor island group instead, to protect the inhabitants from a powerful dragon and its maturing sons, who have been seen scouting the region.

Sparrowhawk eventually comes to realize that he cannot both defend the islanders against the dragon and himself against the nameless thing he summoned into the world. He takes a desperate gamble; in the old histories, he has found the true name of a dragon which might be the one he faces. His guess is right and by using the dragon's name, he is able to force the dragon to vow that neither it nor its offspring will ever trouble the islanders.

Then, with no idea how to deal with his other foe, Sparrowhawk tries to return to the safety of Roke, but the magical, protective Roke-wind drives away the ship on which he is a passenger. He is nearly caught by a gebbeth, a man taken over by his nemesis, but finds what appears to be a safe haven in the domain of one of the Old Powers. However, he is nearly enslaved by the ancient guardian instead. He realizes his peril just in time and, taking the form of a falcon, flees yet again.

He instinctively returns to Ogion, who advises him to turn about and seek his shadow. In following his master's wise guidance, the roles of Sparrowhawk and his enemy become reversed, and he becomes the hunter.

Sparrowhawk is nearly drowned when the shadow lures him into steering his boat onto rocks. The vessel sinks, but he manages to reach a small island inhabited by only two old people, a man and his sister, who have lived there alone so long they have forgotten there is an outside world and other people. After Sparrowhawk regains his strength, he constructs another boat, held together by magic. When he is ready to leave, he offers to take the pair wherever they want to go, but the man fearfully turns him down and the woman does not seem to understand that there are other people and other lands. However, she gives him a parting gift of one of her few possessions, a broken half of an armlet. (The siblings' story and the gift's significance are revealed in the sequel).

Back at sea, the shadow nearly takes Sparrowhawk unawares, but he senses it just in time and comes to grips with it. His enemy flees, but he senses that he has forged a bond that cannot be broken and that the shadow cannot now avoid a final confrontation.

During his pursuit, Sparrowhawk encounters Vetch, the only friend he made at school. Together, the two wizards set off into the open sea. Sparrowhawk perceives the ocean gradually turning into land, an immensely powerful magic. Though Vetch cannot see the transformation, the boat runs aground. Sparrowhawk steps out of the boat and walks off to confront his waiting shadow. Though some of his teachers had thought it to be nameless, Sparrowhawk and his adversary speak at the same moment, each naming the other "Ged". Sparrowhawk embraces his foe and the two become one.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
One of my favorite books of all time - I've probably read this one over two dozen times.
It's a deceptively simple story, simple in the way that all truths are simple, allegorical in that it can be applied to all of our lives. it's a story of growing up, of claiming freedom and independence, and all the fear and pain and joy that can accompany that. But it's also just the story of Tenar, called Arha, priestess of the Nameless Ones and mistress of the Undertomb - a girl who believes herself hard, cold and powerful. And it is the story of Ged, the young wizard who finds himself at her mercy. It is a story of finding compassion, and how strength lies not in the dark and restricted ways, or in bringing death - but instead lies in having the courage to admit vulnerability, in daring to step outside all that is taught and to find ones way to the light.
The writing is just beautiful - some of the descriptive passages here are unparallelled. A perfect book. ( )
2 vote AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
Carol Reich (KLIATT Review, March 1995 (Vol. 29, No. 2))
Le Guin's 1970 fantasy for YAs (part two of the Earthsea Trilogy) has held up well over the decades and remains engaging. Narrative predominates throughout, but during the dialogue Inglis' voiced characters are never confusing to the listener. The three main female voices are acceptably done, the two main male voices are well done, the recording is clear, and Inglis is skilled enough to drop out of character for phrases such as "she said." Between the two of them, Le Guin and Inglis paint a vivid picture of the devious, threatening labyrinth that exists both underneath the temple and within the heart of the High Priestess whom the Wizard Ged rescues from service to the Nameless Ones. This book can stand alone. Category: Fiction Audiobooks. KLIATT Codes: JS*--Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1994, Recorded Books, 4 tapes, 5.5 hrs.
added by kthomp25 | editKLIATT, Carol Reich (Mar 1, 1995)

» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ursula K. Le Guinprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Garraty, GailIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gilbert, Anne YvonneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guay, RebeccaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rikman, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0689845367, Mass Market Paperback)

Often compared to Tolkien's Middle-earth or Lewis's Narnia, Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea is a stunning fantasy world that grabs quickly at our hearts, pulling us deeply into its imaginary realms. Four books (A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, and Tehanu) tell the whole Earthsea cycle--a tale about a reckless, awkward boy named Sparrowhawk who becomes a wizard's apprentice after the wizard reveals Sparrowhawk's true name. The boy comes to realize that his fate may be far more important than he ever dreamed possible. Le Guin challenges her readers to think about the power of language, how in the act of naming the world around us we actually create that world. Teens, especially, will be inspired by the way Le Guin allows her characters to evolve and grow into their own powers.

In this second book of Le Guin's Earthsea series, readers will meet Tenar, a priestess to the "Nameless Ones" who guard the catacombs of the Tombs of Atuan. Only Tenar knows the passageways of this dark labyrinth, and only she can lead the young wizard Sparrowhawk, who stumbles into its maze, to the greatest treasure of all. Will she?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:42 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Arha's isolated existence as high priestess in the tombs of Atuan is jarred by a thief who seeks a special treasure.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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