The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle, #2)
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The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle #2)

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  49,472 ratings  ·  963 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 R...more
Mass Market Paperback, 180 pages
Published September 1st 2001 by Saga Press (first published 1970)
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Jacob
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...more
Brad
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...more
Robert
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
Apatt
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...more
Nikki
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
Ben Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Martine
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
Clouds
Le Guin and I continue to rub along well-enough, without becoming friends. I've come to respect what she does, while acknowledging it just doesn't push my buttons.

When I scan the many 5-star reviews from Goodreads friends whose opinions I respect (and normally agree with) I find myself in the apathetic minority with Earthsea. They're on the cusp between "it was OK" and "like it", and I round that 2.5 up to 3 because I have a generous soul.

This is the story of the Eaten One, the reincarnated Prie...more
Nikki
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...more
Stephen
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.
Ian
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...more
Jonnynsb
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...more
sologdin
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...more
Joanna
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
Leslie
This was my favorite book in third grade. I checked it out from my school library a jillion times. I had no idea it was actually a trilogy till I discovered the set in a bookstore just a few years ago. The other two were okay for me but the Tombs was awesome! It is a little bit spooky and dark and just so weird. Nothing objectionable for kiddoes. A little girl is the heroe and she's worthy of such a label, being brave and noble -hearted and a freethinker. Sigh. I'll have to go look for this and...more
Spigana
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...more
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...more
Patrícia
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...more
Christine
Jan 10, 2010 Christine rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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...more
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,...more
Laura Martinelli
To be honest, it’s been a few years since I read A Wizard of Earthsea—we had it in at work for once, I’d never read it, I’ve should have read because I’ve never really read any Ursula K. LeGuin and how have I never read her before. And I remembered that I liked it…but it didn’t blow my mind. And unfortunately, I haven’t gotten a chance to revisit the first book. So I knew going into The Tombs of Atuan that it was a follow-up to A Wizard of Earthsea, and I remembered a good chunk of what happened...more
Kate
Tenar is chosen as a child to be High Priestess. She undergoes a ritual death and takes on her role of privilege and isolation and is an example of the ways in which darkness takes hold and perpetuates itself through ritual and tradition.

Le Guin writes a stark, austere story of a girl who lives a stark, austere life. A life lived in darkness until the strange sorcerer comes and lights the cavern where light is forbidden and she sees the beauty that has been withheld all these centuries.

In freein...more
Nancy O'Toole
As an infant, Tenar is singled out as the reincarnation of the Priestess Arha, the guardian of the Tombs of Atuan. Raised with full knowledge of the great responsibility that she will one day inherit, Tenar grows up haughty and proud. Then the wizard Ged arrives at the Tombs, seeking an ancient treasure known as the Ring of Erreth-Akbe. Ged soon becomes young Tenar's prisoner, his presence stirring seeds of doubt deep within Tenar, causing her to second guess everything she's been told about her...more
Agos
After the third or fourth chapter, a reader who read the first book might wonder why this is on the same series. Well, the reason for it only comes later in the book.
In spite of that, I found this story to be much more consistent and interesting than the first.
There are a few more characters and interactions between them. Although, this time, they are mostly female, by contrast with the first book, in which they were almost all male. This separation seems a bit too extreme and implausible, at ti...more
charlotte
More original and interesting (to me) than the first of the Earthsea books. I am constantly amazed at Le Guin's economy of prose, and her ability to create worlds that feel thoroughly ancient and familiar, and yet not pat or cliche. Just amazing. We see the world -- a very cold and cruel world -- from the main character's perspective, who, knowing nothing else, thinks very little of it. At the same time, we get the outside observer's privileged stance. It's about a religion, without being about...more
Althea Ann
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,...more
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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...
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.” 172 likes
“Do you know how to read?"
"No. It is one of the black arts."
He nodded. "But a useful one," he said.”
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