The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula Le Guin
The Tombs of Atuan is the second book in the Earthsea cycle. I finsihed the first,A Wizard of Earthsea during the Fall into Reading 2009 Challenge. It ended up being a little treasure.
Having connected to the character, Ged, in the first story, I was a bit put off that Tombs began with a little girl, related in no way to Ged. I admit to taking a very slow approach to reading the book in the beginning. But once I allowed myself to settle in I became as attached to Tenar (the little girl) as I had been to Ged.
Le Guin's stories place an importance on names, geography, upbringing, and cultural traditions. Tenar is taken away from her family at six to the Tombs of Atuan to be the High Priestess of the Nameless Ones. She is stripped of her name and finally her memories. She lives the life of the Priestess, a life that everyone believes existed in the Priestess before her, and the one before her.
Tenar becomes Arha, The Eaten One...
It is almost halfway through the book before we see Ged enter the story. Ged has come to find the Ring of Erreth-Akbe. He also finds, and is found by Arha. He becomes her prisoner, but in doing so helps her regain her memories.
The Tombs of Atuan is as dark as the name suggests. There is so much that Le Guin could have written, so much detail that was left out it seems. But I think in giving the bare bones of the story Le Guin allows the reader to move forward and not become bogged in history that may or may not be of interest. At only 146 pages this books is small, but packs a big punch.
I'll be following up with the third book, The Farthest Shore, soon.
At first I thought there were only three books in this series. But there are more in the Earthsea collection. I kept finding conflicting information and was stumbling around trying to see what the order was, and finally had the brilliant idea to see if Le Guin, herself listed them on her website. What do you know? She did; citing her publisher had put them out of order. The books from Earthsea are: A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, Tehanu, Tales from Earthsea, The Other Wind.
The Tombs of Atuan was a book on my Winter Reading Challenge List.
Robin of My Two Blessings is hostessing the Winter Reading Challenge.