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01 July 2010 @ 10:11 pm
Book Review: "Tombs of Atuan" by Ursula K. Le Guin  
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Pocket (June 25, 1970)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1416509623
ISBN-13: 978-1416509622
Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches  

Synopsis from Back Cover:
When young Tenar is chosen as high priestess to the ancient and nameless Powers of the Earth, everything is taken away from her-home, family, possessions, even her name. She is now known only as Arha, the Eaten One, guardian of the labyrinthine Tombs of Atuan, shrouded in darkness. When a young wizard, Ged Sparrowhawk, comes to steal the Tombs' greatest hidden treasure, the Ring of Erreth-Akbe, Tenar's rightful duty is to protect the Tombs. But Ged also brings with him the light of magic and tales of a brighter world Tenar has never known. Will Tenar risk everything to escape the darkness that has become her domain?.

My Review: Le Guin's style is a little different from most traditional stories. Readers will find that they will not be able to see actual textualized representations of main character thoughts. Instead, Le Guin prefers a more fly on the wall type of approach. At the same time though, readers will discover upon reading the Earthsea series that Le Guin does in fact keep a limited point of view. That is to say that she will stay with one character throughout the story. Whatever that character sees, so does the reader, but inner thoughts are rather limited. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure what kind of point of view style it has, but it does seem to just fit - though it was something that took a bit of getting used to for me when reading the first of the series, A Wizard of Earthsea.

However, Le Guin's characters are captivating, especially young Sparrowhawk. He returns in The Tombs of Atuan, but this time, Le Guin allows him to take the stage not as a major character, but as a supporting role to Tenar or Ahra the protagonist. Those who read the first book in the series may feel a little sad not following Sparrowhawk on his journey and seeing him from Tenar's distant perspective.

The beginning chapter could have possibly been deleted since it's main purpose seems only to show readers the true name of the protagonist, though anyone who read A Wizard of Earthsea will know the importance of names. Her name is mentioned once more by a servant, which would have sufficed in getting her true name across.

Tenar's decision to leave the Tombs also seemed slightly surprising at first, yet when you take into account Sparrowhawk's powers with names it isn't as surprising. The cliffhanger at the end will most likely keep most readers interested in picking up book three, The Farthest Shore.

Readers looking for heavy action stories with countless swordfights, magic, or quests may not enjoy The Tombs of Atuan, as it is a little slower paced than even A Wizard of Earthsea was. However, The Tombs of Atuan does illustrate that sometimes the biggest quests in life are the ones we make for ourselves as far as morality and responsibility are concerned. That said, it would not have hurt to look deeper into Tenar/Ahra's character. Compared to A Wizard of Earthsea, she has not been built as strongly as Sparrowhawk or explored as deeply, especially since most of The Tombs of Atuan appear to be her lessons. I can only hope Sparrowhawk returns as the main protagonist in book three as being the first and the original character of Earthsea, he is my favorite.

Overall, Le Guin offered another intriguing insight into her world of Earthsea and will keep most fans interested in learning more.

Rating: 3/5 for mild climax, some lack of character depth, but a return of the ever intriguing Sparrowhawk and cliffhanger


x-posted here.