Monday, July 6, 2015

Review: The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin

Title: The Tombs of Atuan
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
Series: Earthsea Cycle #2
Publication: September 11th 2012 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (first published 1970)

Genre: Fantasy
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo
Rating: 5/5


  
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 Ring of Erreth-Akbe. But Ged also brings with him the light of magic, and together, he and Tenar escape from the darkness that has become her domain.


I read the first Earthsea Cycle book, A Wizard of Earthsea back in February and although I liked it, I wasn't blown away by it. I started The Tombs of Atuan kind of randomly and I ended up finishing it that same day because this time I was absolutely blown away. Definitely a huge change from how I felt about the first book. It was so damn good.

Unlike the first book, this one features Tenar, a high priestess as the main character. Ged a.k.a. Sparrowhawk was in the book also but he was more of a secondary character, although his role in the book was important as well. 

But anyway back to Tenar. I have to admit that I didn't always like her in the book but she made such a huge change, especially towards the end that I couldn't help but like her in the end. 

I also liked Tenar and Ged's relationship, how at first they didn't quite know how to trust one another but eventually Ged got Tenar to see that there's more in the world than just serving the dark powers of the tombs of Atuan. 

I'm really not sure why I wasn't a big fan of the first book because this one was absolutely amazing. The prose, especially was simply gorgeous. That was probably my favorite thing about the book, the beautiful writing. But really, every single thing about this book was fantastic. I'm definitely recommending this to anyone (even if you didn't like the first book, just give it a shot!)




       Favorite Quotes:
“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. The rabbit shrieks dying in the green meadows. The mountains clench their great hands full of hidden fire. There are sharks in the sea, and there is cruelty in men’s eyes.”

“A dark hand had let go its lifelong hold upon her heart. But she did not feel joy, as she had in the mountains. She put her head down in her arms and cried, and her cheeks were salt and wet. She cried for the waste of her years in bondage to a useless evil. She wept in pain, because she was free.”



       About the Author:

       Website
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 in 2012, Finding My Elegy, New and Selected Poems. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

She is known for her treatment of gender (The Left Hand of Darkness, The Matter of Seggri), political systems (The Telling, The Dispossessed) and difference/otherness in any other form. Her interest in non-Western philosophies is reflected in works such as 'Solitude' and 'The Telling' but even more interesting are her imagined societies, often mixing traits extracted from her profound knowledge of anthropology acquired from growing up with her father, the famous anthropologist, Alfred Krober. The Hainish Cycle reflects the anthropologist's experience of immersing themselves in new strange cultures since most of their main characters and narrators (Le Guin favours the first person narration) are envoys from a humanitarian organization, the Ekumen, sent to investigate or ally themselves with the people of a different world and learn their ways.


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