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The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle #2)

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  53,086 ratings  ·  1,079 reviews

WHEN YOUNG TENAR is chosen as high priestess to the ancient and nameless Powers of the Earth, everything is taken away -- home, family, possessions, even her name. For she is now Arha, the Eaten One, guardian of the ominous Tombs of Atuan. While she is learning her way through the dark labyrinth, a young wizard, Ged, comes to steal the Tombs' greatest hidden treasure, the
Library Binding, 0 pages
Published October 28th 1999 by Sagebrush Education Resources (first published 1970)
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June 2012

I want to give this five stars, but I'm afraid one of the next ones will be even better, and my attempts to rate it higher will cause Goodreads to implode. Or something.

On second thought, no. Five stars. Let's do this thing.

You've probably read or heard somewhere that you can put a frog (it's a frog, right?) in a pot of water and set it on a stove, and the frog will never notice what's happening until it's too late. So they say. Well, Ursula K. Le Guin writes like that: you open the boo
Half way through reading The Tombs of Atuan, I was sitting downstairs playing my xBox late at night when I heard voices drifting down from upstairs. I sat and listened to the door muffled murmurs of Miloš & Brontë, but I couldn't make out what they were saying.

Usually I'd just call up to them and tell them it was time to shoosh and go to sleep, but I was curious to figure out what they were talking about. Even obscured I could tell it wasn't the usual joke fest or scary story, there was som
And at the year's end she is taken to the Hall of the Throne and he name is given back to those who are her Masters, the Nameless Ones: for she is the nameless one, the Priestess Ever Reborn.

Tenar is selected as a young child as the Priestess Reborn and taken from her family at the young age of 5 to become the guardian of the Tombs of Atuan. However, one day while walking the labyrinth of her domain, she comes across a young wizard, Sparrowhawk, searching for the treasure hidden there, the Ring
I've read the first three Earthsea books a heap of times, starting when I was at my academic peak (i.e. in primary school). Through-out my childhood readings I preferred the two that sandwiched this one. Looking back it is easy for me to see why: it wasn't about Ged and it didn't have enough sailing about to far flung places (i.e. exploration) in it. In contrast, I have observed that a number of female Goodreaders who are also LeGuin fans, rate this higher than the other two. I can take a guess ...more
When I first tried reading this in my teens I could not manage to go beyond 50 pages because I wanted Ged (AKA Sparrowhawk), the hero of the previous volume A Wizard of Earthsea, to show up and follow him on new adventures. What I found instead was a story of an entirely new protagonist, a young girl called Tenar who lives an oppressive life on the island of Atuan. Young fool that I was, I did not read on to the middle of the book where Ged does show up for more adventures, though this time as t ...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This is the second book in the Earthsea Cycle. Plot-wise it's not as good as A Wizard of Earthsea, but the writing is better. It has such wonderful fluidity that I read the entire book in just a few hours. For that I can give it four stars, though the story lacks the magic and adventure of the first book.

Tenar is taken from her family at the age of five and given to "the Dark Ones" (aka "the Nameless Ones") at the age of six. The belief is that they eat her soul, and thereafter she belongs to t
Much as I love A Wizard of Earthsea, there isn't much feminine about it. It's a male society, it seems in that book, shaped by men and only inhabited by women. I don't know how much thought Le Guin put into that, originally, but the women in the story don't really have much of a place. There's the witch and Serret and the Kargish woman and Yarrow... but they don't have great parts in Ged's life. He's taken away from the tutelage of the witch because only a man can teach him wizardry, and there's ...more
The second book of the Earthsea Cycle starts off in a slightly baffling way -- not with Ged, the central character of the series, but rather with Arha, a young girl who has been chosen to become the next High Priestess of the Tombs of Atuan and spends her life performing rituals in which no one really seems to believe any more. We follow Arha around her daily tasks, and just when we're wondering where the hell Ged is, he makes an appearance, and a fascinating sparring match between the wizard an ...more
I think The Tombs of Atuan has always been my favourite of the Earthsea cycle. I said to someone recently that the quiet moment where Tenar watches Ged sleeping, and there's a thistle by his hand, and the world just seems so strange, was somehow a moment that perfectly defines Le Guin's work for me. That quietness, that moment of clarity, of seeing-things-anew...

If nothing else, that's the feeling I get when I read her work.

The Tombs of Atuan begins to redress the balance of the world Le Guin cr

Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my LOCUS FANTASY list.

As the Locus Sci-Fi Award winners list treated me so kindly, I figure I’ll trust those same good folk to pick me some stars in their sister-list, the Locus Fantasy Award winners.

Le Guin and I continue to rub along well-enough, without bec
Ben Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
3.5 stars. Well written novel (as usual for Ursula LeGuin) and second in the Earthsea Cycle after A Wizard of Earthsea. Despite liking the characters, the world created by LeGuin and appreciating the fact that it was well-written, the story just didn't hold my interest as much as I would have hoped. A good, fast read. Just not a great one.

Nominee: Mythopoeic Award for Adult Literature.
What wonderful and vivid imagery this book contains. Imagery with power for those readers who can identify with the central figure, Arha/Tenar, especially those who are faced with challenges in their own lives similar to those she confronts. I found imagery of the mystery and challenge of self-discovery; imagery of the conflict and dual-nature within humanity and within individuals; imagery of loss, dedication, loneliness, and self-denial; imagery of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood; imager ...more
Zachary Rawlins
One of the most perfect, lonely, and wonderful books that I have ever read. This book revolves around Tenar, a young priestess/sacrifice to the darkness of Atuan, rather than Sparrowhawk or the rest of the Earthsea Saga, and can actually be read by itself, as I first did.

The imagery of a child, growing up in the ruins of a previous society, worshiping by wandering the dark and seemingly endless halls of a perpetually light-less labyrinth, is both haunting and impossibly beautiful. Tenar is both
I like the complexity and the emotion, but I found the book disturbing, too. Bringing up "unfaith" and skepticism was good. The struggle for power between Arha and Kossil was good as well.

I didn't like the inconsistency, though. The gods (the Nameless Ones) had power, just not the power Arha thought they had, so they weren't worth worshipping? Or was it merely that Ged decided they were "bad"? Or that they wouldn't strike Kossil down? They had not done anything until Ged came along (others sacr
Florian Pekazh
Тенар е малко момиче, когато бива откъсната от семейството си, за да се превърна във върховна жрица на тайнствените сили на земята. Тя става арха, погълнатата, която трябва да бъде модел за подражание на останалите жрици. Вместо това тя е изпълнена със съмнение, отшелническият живот не й допада, а измислиците за далечни земи и магьосници пораждат нейното любопитство. Какво става когато тези измислици се оказват истини и Тенар ги вижда със собствените си очи?
Jan 10, 2010 Christine rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of fantasy, wizards, philosophical fiction
This is easily one of my favorite books, possibly my absolute favorite (which is funny because the first time I read it as a kid I disliked it enough that I never wanted to read another Le Guin book again). It's a little slow for the first half of the book, but once Ged shows up, the plot takes on a pressing, page-turning urgency that was never present in "A Wizard of Earthsea." Tenar is a wonderfully complicated main character, as is the moral development she undergoes, and Ged is awesome in hi ...more
I recall an old gamers' joke about how the best magical item in the setting of The Lord of the Rings is a cursed Ring of Invisibility. In The Tombs of Atuan, the best magical item is also a ring, apparently, that bears "the sign of dominion, the sign of peace," without which "no king could rule well," leading to "tyrants and wars and quarrelling abont all the lands of Earthsea" (134). I recall that Donaldson's repulsive protagonist also has a special ring--perhaps someone needs to write about th ...more
Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

The Tombs of Atuan is very different from A Wizard of Earthsea. It focuses on a young woman who has spent her life cloistered in the tombs of gods who she serves but doesn't know. Just as the reader feels completely miserable at the state of this disillusioned young lady, Ged (who nobody would describe as particularly cheerful or up-beat), arrives and brings with him a much-needed ray of sunshine, even though he spends most of the book under the earth. Aft
Andrew Obrigewitsch
This book rated between 2 and 3 stars for me. It's not because it was badly written, but it's because not much really happened. It was like reading the first 3 chapters of a book, and then having the book end right with you get introduced to the characters and they actually do something. Or it was like reading a short story in an anthology. I'm hoping the 3rd one has a lot more meat to it.
I can't believe I never read this trilogy before now. I read the first book in the trilogy over the weekend, then read this one in practically one sitting. I think I actually liked this book slightly better than the first book, but that may just be related to this one having a strong female lead. I also appreciate that the characters and events in the books have slight overlap, but that it really isn't necessary to have read the first book to enjoy the second. I'll definitely be reading the thir ...more
A step back from A Wizard of Earthsea, this book was enjoyable enough, but I found it a bit lacking on every front compared to its predecessor. The plot is less exciting, the characters are a little more boring, the themes that bind the story together were not as strong. The protagonist of this story is a priestess-girl named Arha/Tenar from one of the outlying islands whose life, from a young age, is to guard and conduct rituals at one of her people's holy sites. Ged returns, but as a supportin ...more
This book has me torn. I absolutely adore the writing, that same semi-dreamlike quality from the first earthsea novel is once again strong in this book, and the main character of Tenar is quite well written, but the story itself is not to the same standard I expected from Le Guin.
Not much really happens here. Just when they escape and are headed for a new life, it is over. It is a wonderful exploration of a character, and it's nice to se Ged from another perspective, but the story feels like a s
Ursula Le Guin continues to impress. This is a fairly dramatic departure from the Wizard of Earthsea. Ged (wizard from the first book) does not arrive until mid-way through the novel and Le Guin spends the majority of time on Tenar, a child taken from her parents to serve the Nameless Ones (spirits from the earliest inhabitants) as the Arch Priestess, or the "Eaten One". The novel focuses on her growth and the religious cult that she is forced to serve and ultimately lead as the priestess, the r ...more
Kad lasīju sēriju pirmo reizi- mazpadsmit gados- tieši šī grāmata man patika visvairāk un nebrīnīšos, ja arī šoreiz tā paliks nepārspēta. Man jau vispār patīk lieliskas fantāzijas grāmatas ar meitenēm/sievietēm galvenajās lomās, ko padarīsi.
Mani sajūsmina Gvinas brīnišķīgā valoda un smalki izveidotā pasaule, bet jo īpaši valdzina sērijas daudzslāņainība- to var lasīt gan kā aizraujošu piedzīvojumu stāstu, gan kā stāstu par drūmu pasauli ar ļauniem spēkiem, gan kā nopietnu filozofiju par cilvēku
O Feiticeiro e a Sombra deixou-me intrigada em relação ao que se seguiria nesta série. Por isso, foi com naturalidade que decidi partir de imediato para a leitura do segundo volume, este Os Túmulos de Atuan.

Para minha surpresa, este volume não começa imediatamente a seguir aos acontecimentos do primeiro, nem sequer retoma a vida de Gued, o protagonista daquele. Em vez disso, seguimos a vida da pequena Tenar que, por ter nascido no dia em que a Sacerdotisa dos Túmulos de Atuan morreu, é levada da
Magdalena Amanda
Gak berlebihan deh kalo dibilang buku ini menginspirasi buku-buku fiksi-fantasi yang ada sekarang ini.

Dari segi cerita, memang terasa "beda". Salah satunya adalah nggak ada perang skala antar negara di sini. :)) *panda bosan fiksi-fantasi diisi perang* Masalah yang dibahas bisa dibilang simpel, dengan skala yang tidak sampai harus menyelamatkan dunia. Seorang pendeta wanita (Arha/Tenar) yang suatu kali memutuskan mengulur2 waktu tidak menghukum seorang pencuri (Ged/Sparrowhawk) yang masuk ke tem
Ursula Le Guin é um dos nomes incontestáveis da ficção-científica e Earthsea é uma das maiores obras de sempre da literatura fantástica. Com milhares de cópias vendidas por todo o mundo, Earthsea tem feito parte do imaginário de miúdos e graúdos, demonstrando que os ingredientes mais básicos podem criar uma história inesquecível e que ultrapasse tudo o que se pode imaginar.
Neste segundo volume, Le Guin vai mais longe e traz-nos mais uma aventura do nosso mago que virará lenda, desta vez num dos
Mina Villalobos
"Freedom if 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."

I can't remember if I read this one when I was young! I suspect I didn't, and this makes me sad, as I think it would have made a great impact in young me. But perhaps I did and it did? It really resonated with me, so perhaps I have just forgotten about it. I really enjoyed this quote about the price and heft of freedom. Af
Simon Mcleish
Originally published on my blog here in July 2001.

Of the three novels making up the original Earthsea trilogy, The Tombs of Atuan is most obviously aimed at children. This is not so much because of its content (like the others, it's unusually dark for a children's story) but because of what might have been its content; if it had been written for adults, there are several areas which le Guin would probably have explored more thoroughly.

The central character of The Tombs of Atuan is a young girl,
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As of 2013, Ursula K. Le Guin has published twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received many awards: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc. Her recent publications include the novel Lavinia, an essay collection, Cheek by Jowl, and The Wild Girls. Forthcoming ...more
More about Ursula K. Le Guin...

Other Books in the Series

Earthsea Cycle (6 books)
  • A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1)
  • The Farthest Shore (Earthsea Cycle, #3)
  • Tehanu (Earthsea Cycle, #4)
  • Tales from Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #5)
  • The Other Wind (Earthsea Cycle, #6)
A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1) The Farthest Shore (Earthsea Cycle, #3) The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle, #4) The Dispossessed (Hainish Cycle, #5) The Lathe of Heaven

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“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.” 181 likes
“Living, being in the world, was a much greater and stranger thing than she had ever dreamed.” 36 likes
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