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The Tombs of Atuan (The Earthsea Cycle, Book 2) Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 2001
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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? --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Le Guin's Earthsea books are all excellent, but some people feel that The Tombs of Atuan is slow to start, and less eventful than the other three. My opinion, for what it's worth, is quite the opposite. The introspective beginning of Tombs is not unlike the beginning of Wizard, focussing closely on a single character, that character's uniqueness, and the way that character is shaped by life. The reader approaches the threshold of adventure with the protagonist; the reader, too, is drawn into the struggle, shares bewilderment, doubt, and uncertainty; and the reader, too, has made a passage by the end of the book.
Too much of modern fantasy is all long journeys, heated battles, unquestionably terrible villains -- and swordplay, of course. Le Guin recognizes that moral ambiguity creates the greatest obstacle a character can confront...and that if the question is worthwhile, the answer is neither easy nor painless.
Tenar is a strong heroine and I would especially recommend this book for teenage girls, whose plight is sometimes not unlike that of the Eaten One; however, as all the best books are, this is a story which is based on human character and thus speaks to both sexes and all ages.
You don't need to know anything about Carl Jung to read and enjoy this book. At one level, this is a children's tale. But this book has many levels. Consider: the last king, Maharrion, had prophesied that there would be no king to succeed him until one appeared who had crossed the farthest shore. I'm not giving anything away by telling you that the farthest shore is physical - the western shore of the westernmost isle of Earthsea and metaphysical - death. And readers of earlier books know that for the wizards of Earthasea, there is a low stone fence that separates the living from the dead.
There is another wizard - humiliated by a younger Sparrowhawk - who has both great power and a terror of death. And he has worked a spell that will devastate the world, by denying and avoiding death. But by denying death, he has denied life, and magic, song, joy, reason and even life are draining out of the world. That spell must be undone before it is too late. And that task falls to Sparowhawk and Arren.
Arren must learn to understand and accept that death is necessary. Not just in the abstract but personally. He must cross that low stonewall with no hope of returning. He must cross the final shore.
This story has dragons, despair, joy, loss, discovery and marvelous surprises.Read more ›
Earthsea has places where there are elder powers present. Readers of "Wizard of Earthsea" encountered one in the Terrenon. Tenar, as an infant, is given to the elder power of the Tombs. Her name is taken from her and she becomes Arha, "the eaten one." She serves as a priestess to a nearly forgotten religion that treats the power of the Tombs as a god. But everything Tenar has been told is twice a lie; her religion is almost forgotten and the Power is anything but a god.
This is the story of how Tenar came to understand that her life, all of what she had been and most of what she believed was a lie. LeGuin makes it utterly convincing, in a spare, terse way that is stark and persuasive. Sparrowhawk plays a crucial role in all this, but he is not the protagonist. Sparrowhawk may have been the catalyst for Tenar's changes, but like a catalyst he is mostly unchanged by the process. It is Tenar who is changed. This is Tenar's tale.
Can you imagine how devastating it must have been for Tenar? How many of us could accept and understand that what we had been taught was evil or, worse still, utterly meaningless? Could you do as well if, say, Christianity were revealed to be an utter fraud? LeGuin makes it vivid. Any thoughtful reader is left in awe of Tenar's strength and resilience. And in awe of LeGuin's writing.
In most trilogies, the middle book is the weakest. Not the Earthsea books. This is a wonderful tale, superbly told. Very highly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Absolutely excellent sequel. I had a difficult time getting started, because the protagonist had changed from the first book. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Lysa Wright
This is the second book in LeGuin's Earthsea series. And it's better than the first.
This was a really great read. I enjoyed it a lot. Arha was an interesting character.
I love the Earthsea Cycle series! Highly recommend reading all four books (this is the third). A great escape to enjoy anytime.Published 1 month ago by Maggie
I highly recommend it to you
Let me know what you think of it and of her other works
"The Farthest Shore" is another wonderful novel in Le Guin's Earthsea series, following "A Wizard of Earthsea" and "The Tombs of Atuan. Read morePublished 1 month ago by M. Thornburg