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The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Tombs of Atuan (1971)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Earthsea Cycle (2)

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English (107)  Spanish (3)  Swedish (1)  Japanese (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (113)
Showing 1-5 of 107 (next | show all)
Sometimes perseverance does actually pay off! (Unlike Tales of the Alhambra - sorry Donna.) It took me quite a while to get into the story, there is a lot of build up and background to begin with as a new and endearing character is introduced. In the end, I absolutely loved this story, even more so than A Wizard of Earthsea. The ending was a bit abrupt, but I love the idea that Arha/Tenar went where she did...don't want to "spoil" anything. ( )
  Amelia1989 | Jun 10, 2019 |
I enjoyed the change of pace in this book, and I found the story really engaging. Its a short book, and I really tore through it. The tone and narrative are a bit of a change from most of the fantasy fiction I've read and I like that so much of this story is contained in a small and enclosed place. I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about Tenar's lack of agency in her own life, but I did appreciate how the escape of both main characters is entirely dependent on their trust in each other. The ending is also subtly different from the usual ending of this sort of story, and it felt completely appropriate here. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this series. ( )
1 vote duchessjlh | Apr 1, 2019 |
“Freedom is a heavy load, a great and strange burden for the spirit to undertake. It is not easy. It is not a gift given, but a choice made, and the choice may be a hard one. The road goes upward towards the light; but the laden traveler may never reach the end of it.”

“The Earth is beautiful, and bright, and kindly, but that is not all. The Earth is also terrible, and dark, and cruel.” ( )
1 vote | bookworm12 | Dec 28, 2018 |
The 2nd part in the Earthsea Cycle, this book does not pick up where the previous left off. Instead, we meet a new character, Tenar, the reborn priestess of the Nameless Ones. Trained from a young age to resume her duties after the death of the previous priestess, her life is a lonely one, but the only one she knows. Unlike the previous book, we don't see any more of Earthsea, just this one lonely island where there are no wizards and no dragons. That all changes one day when the light-less labyrinth under the temple is invaded by a robber.
This book had the same tone and excellent world building as the previous book, so despite the abrupt turn in the plot at the beginning, it fits right in with the previous. It is short in length and scope, but it really feels like part of the trilogy and as always, the writing is outstanding. ( )
1 vote Karlstar | Dec 27, 2018 |
Here I've been going around thinking [b:The Left Hand of Darkness|18423|The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle #6)|Ursula K. Le Guin|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1488213612s/18423.jpg|817527] was my favorite Le Guin novel, but no, it's definitely The Tombs of Atuan.

This book made such an impression on me as a kid that I have carried Arha's labyrinth in my memories for all the years since. Rereading it as an adult (and a feminist) was an absolute joy: it contains everything I remembered with such fondness, and much more.

When I read Earthsea as a kid, I was stunned by how different it was from any other fantasy story; decades later, I still am.

I could write an essay about the symbolism and the gender dynamics and the lessons about male and female power within society, but here, let's just use these quotes from the afterword in the Kindle edition:

But since I was writing about the people who in most societies have not been given much power—women—it seemed perfectly plausible to place my heroine in a situation that led her to question the nature and value of power itself. The word power has two different meanings. There is power to: strength, gift, skill, art, the mastery of a craft, the authority of knowledge. And there is power over: rule, dominion, supremacy, might, mastery of slaves, authority over others. Ged was offered both kinds of power. Tenar was offered only one.

In the Archipelago, strong, active magic belongs almost entirely to men, witches being untrained and mistrusted; and the Old Powers are commonly described as misogynists describe women: obscure, dark, weak, and treacherous. In The Tombs of Atuan, the Old Powers, the Nameless Ones, appear as mysterious, ominous, and yet inactive. Arha/Tenar is their priestess, the greatest of all priestesses, whom the Godking himself is supposed to obey: But what is her realm? A prison in the desert. Women guarded by eunuchs. Ancient tombstones, a half-ruined temple, an empty throne. A fearful underground labyrinth where prisoners are left to die of starvation and thirst, where only she can walk the maze, where light must never come. She rules a dark, empty, useless realm. Her power imprisons her.

Rereading the book, more than forty years after I wrote it, I wonder about many of its elements. It was the first book I wrote with a woman as the true central character. Tenar’s character and the events of the story came from deep within me, so deep that the subterranean and labyrinthine imagery, and a certain volcanic quality, are hardly to be wondered at. But the darkness, the cruelty, the vengefulness . . . [...] Maybe it was the whole primitive, hateful idea of the feminine as dark, blind, weak, and evil that I saw shaking itself to pieces, imploding, crumbling into wreckage on a desert ground. And I rejoiced to see it fall. I still do. ( )
1 vote wirehead | Sep 3, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 107 (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 (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ursula K. Le Guinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Garraty, GailIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gilbert, Anne YvonneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guay, RebeccaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paronis, MargotTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rikman, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For the redhead from Telluride
First words
"Come home, Tenar!" (prologue)
One high horn shrilled and ceased.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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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.

» see all 7 descriptions

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