The Tombs of Atuan

⭐⭐⭐⭐ based on 1 review.

Written by Ursula K. Le Guin.

tl;dr: A darker and more confined narrative that takes several quite unexpected turns.




Spoilers Ahead: My reviews are not spoiler-free. You have been warned.

The boy that was Sparrowhawk is now the young man known as Ged (to some – I do love the whole "true name" concept), and whilst his outlook on life is certainly much more mature, his approach is still filled with youthful arrogance and an overconfidence in his own effective plot armour. Though, I guess, as this is a book, and he does survive, perhaps that confidence isn't too poorly placed 😄

After the previous story, I'd been expecting more grand adventures on the high seas, further exploration of the islands of Earthsea, and a rich, varied narrative, probably seeing Ged evolve his powers continually. The story is certainly still rich, and there's plenty of character (and power) growth for Ged, but I hadn't expected it to largely focus elsewhere, and stick to one location. The Tombs of Atuan is arguably a much better book than the alternative I had envisaged, not least of all because it develops a very compelling new character in Tenar/Arha, and gives us an almost entirely alien look into another corner of this increasingly fascinating world.

There is an element of frustration that we still don't get much concrete information on the nature or origin of the Nameless Ones, who feel very much intertwined with the being in the Stone from the previous story, but perhaps that ambiguity is the key to their terror. And that's about the only criticism I can rightfully level at what is otherwise a well paced, intriguing extension of the first book, and a joy to read. It's definitely slower and a little less grand in its plans – which does make the ending feel a little out of place – but it's no less enjoyable.

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