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Summary

In this second novel in the Earthsea series, Tenar is chosen as high priestess to the ancient and nameless Powers of the Earth, and everything is taken from her - home, family, possessions, even her name. She is now known only as Arha, the Eaten One, and guards the shadowy, labyrinthine Tombs of Atuan.

Then a wizard, Ged Sparrowhawk, comes to steal the tombs' greatest hidden treasure, the Ring of Erreth-Akbe. Tenar's duty is to protect the ring, but Ged possesses the light of magic and tales of a world that Tenar has never known. Will Tenar risk everything to escape from the darkness that has become her domain?

©1970 Ursula K. Le Guin (P)2019 Orion Publishing Group

Critic reviews

"[This] trilogy made me look at the world in a new way, imbued everything with a magic that was so much deeper than the magic I'd encountered before then. This was a magic of words, a magic of true speaking." (Neil Gaiman)

"Drink this magic up. Drown in it. Dream it." (David Mitchell)

What listeners say about The Tombs of Atuan

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I love Le Guin - the voice just didn't fit to me.

I love Le Guin and have read the Earthsea series many times. The readers voice when in the characters of the Priestess and Wizard just didn't fit to me -but as a narrator she did build atmosphere.

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In the Darkness Live the Nameless Ones

Out of all Le Guin's Earthsea novels The Tombs of Atuan is probably the slowest and (if I recall correctly) the only one where Sparrowhawk isn't the main protagonist. That being said the story of Tenar, a young girl taken from her home as a toddler, raised as the reincarnation of the ancient priestess of the tombs is engaging and wonderful.
This novel, much like its predecessor, is a wonderful character study. Shining light on the loneliness and isolation of a child separated from all family and raised to be a High Priestess. I'll not say anymore about the story as I want everyone to experience it for themselves.
The choice of narrator for this Audible release was genius. Aysha Kala sounds just right as the young Tenar and gives the book a life my inner middle-aged white dude simply cannot manage.

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  • 17-10-19

Why a different narrator?

It's lovely, I'm loving this series but A) why get a different narrator for the second part of the trilogy when the other narrator had done the first and the third? I'm not sure why this is the case. And B) perfectly nice reading but there are no accents or different voices as with the other narrator which was disappointing!

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Excellent

Captivating story nicely read. I like the change in narrator from the previous book to reflect the change in main protagonist.

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Focus on world building

Ged, now middle-aged, well-travelled and well-renowned, accompanies the the young prince Arran on a quest to investigate a dark brooding force that is engulfing the world. Through rich dialogue, Ged acts as a philosophical guide both to Arran and the reader. Thoughts are on responsibility/duty, the limited nature of life and balance. The Farthest Shore may be the best in the series so far.

From the first book to the second there was a real shift in style; that is from lonely venturing across numerous locations to a geographically constrained plot with a focus on world building. We're back to that original style but The Farthest Shore is more mature and feels like a more complete and more traditional fantasy tale.

Despite the style shift, some worldbuilding does take place. We're introduced to an intriguing people 'The Children of the Open Sea', a sea-dwelling culture the likes of which hasn't really been explored before in the genre. Moreover, dragons feature quite heavily and not just in passing but as individual characters.

It has to be said that Ursula K. Le Guin really knew how to write a solid ending and it's no different here. It's atmospheric, symbolic, contemplative and complete.

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Superb

A beautiful book which has changed the way I think! I thoroughly enjoyed it, and Aysha Kala is the perfect voice for Arha/Tenar. Definitely recommend it.

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loved it

a satisfyingly complete story, no bits left dangling, no awkward bits glossed over. Aysha Kala's narration is excellent and a pleasure to listen to.

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amazing read. great book. great fun

narrator was amazing. she could really impersonate Tenar really good. Ged voice was bit female but that's ok

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superb

excellent in every department! Cant get tge next one soon enough Better naration thsn the first book!

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Wish There Was More

The writing and story was excellent as you'd expect from Ursula K. LeGuin and Earthsea and I found I just kept listening. I just wish it was longer, so much happened in a Wizard of Earthsea and this feels more like a short self contained story. It may have more relevance in the greater story but the story of the novel itself is relatively small and over before you know it. I still recommend though as this series is incredible.