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The Tombs of Atuan: Volume 2 (Earthsea Cycle)

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Kuznets, Lois R. (1985). " "High Fantasy" in America: A Study of Lloyd Alexander, Ursula Le Guin, and Susan Cooper". The Lion and the Unicorn. 9: 19–35. doi: 10.1353/uni.0.0075. S2CID 143248850. Arha devises a plan to protect Sparrowhawk and deceive Kossil. Manan will escort Sparrowhawk to the Great Treasury by following Arha, then dig a fake grave deep in the Undertomb. Manan disagrees, but obeys Arha's commands. A treacherous pit lies across their path and can only be crossed via a hand-width ledge skirting the left wall. Finally, Arha and Sparrowhawk enter a room with Manan waiting just outside the door. Inside, six great stone chests lie under a layer of dust, but neither seems interested. She tells him this is the Great Treasury he's been seeking, but that he can never leave. Dejected and betrayed, Sparrowhawk says nothing. Arha promises to return with food and water when she's able, but it will be sporadically, since she cannot starve herself forever. Sparrowhawk replies, "Take care, Tenar." Chapter 8: Names [ ] Besides featuring a female protagonist, I also noticed a detail I overlooked in the first book: Sparrowhawk is described as being dark skinned. We rarely get fantasy books with non-white protagonists to this day, and a female protagonist was very rare at the time this book was written, so it’s amazing to me how far ahead of its time this series was. Slusser, George Edgar (1976). The Farthest Shores of Ursula K. Le Guin. Wildside Press LLC. ISBN 978-0-89370-205-2.

a b c d e Cadden, Mike (2006). "Taking Different Roads to the City: The Development of Ursula K. Le Guin's Young Adult Novels". Extrapolation. 47 (3): 427–444. doi: 10.3828/extr.2006.47.3.7.

Table of Contents

Earthsea is an archipelago, or group of islands. In the fictional history of this world, the islands were raised from the ocean by Segoy, an ancient deity or hero. The world is inhabited by both humans and dragons, and several among the humans are sorcerers or wizards. [20] Influenced strongly by Le Guin's interest in Taoism, the world is shown as being based on a delicate balance, which most of its inhabitants are aware of, but which is disrupted by somebody in each of the original trilogy of novels. [21] [22] Magic in the societies of Earthsea is depicted as a force for both good and evil. [21] The setting of Earthsea is preindustrial, and has many cultures within the widespread archipelago. Most of the characters of the story are of the Hardic peoples, who are dark-skinned, and who populate most of the islands. [5] The internal universe of Earthsea has not remained constant across Le Guin's various works set in it, but has been continually adjusted and revised. [23] A priestess named Kossil learns of the presence of Ged within the tombs of Atuan, and so informs Arha that she must sacrifice his life to the Nameless Ones. Unable to do so, she asks her only friend eunuch Manan to dig a fake grave, and hide Ged in the treasury of the tombs, where only she can go. She and Kossil have a relationship that is beyond an enemy, beyond just a nemesis. Kossil informs Arha during an argument that the Nameless Ones do not exist, and that the real power lies with her. Arha refuses to believe it, and curses her in the name of the Nameless Ones. She realises that Kossil will now wish to kill her for her actions. In finding a place to think, she sees Kossil unearthing the fake grave, and so she runs to the treasury to confess everything to he prisoner, Ged. Cummins, Elizabeth (1990). Understanding Ursula K. Le Guin. Columbia, South Carolina, US: University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-87249-687-3. 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.

I also appreciate the theme of seeking truth versus believing what you are told, and the value of seeking the wisdom of expertise, a through-line theme of the series. It today’s modern age of “my ignorance is a good as your knowledge” it’s nice to return to a world where education is revered. One winter night, Arha descends into the Labyrinth and notices a faint gray light in the Undertomb. Light was never permitted, so she sees the beautiful natural cavern of limestone sparkling with crystal, diamond, and amethyst for the first time. A dark-skinned man carries a staff glowing with magic light searching the Undertomb. At first, Arha cannot even conceive that it is a stranger, a thief violating the sacred Undertomb where no man was permitted. She wonders why the Nameless Ones don't eat this man like the prisoners buried shallowly in the Undertomb, until she realizes they mean her to take action. She shouts, "Go! Go! Begone!" startling the man. He momentarily glimpses Arha, puts out the light, and flees into the darkness. Eventually, Arha traps the intruder in the greater Labyrinth slamming the Iron Door behind him. Above the tombs is the island of Atuan, located in the Kargad Lands. It is said that people are taken to the tombs, usually prisoners, are sent to be sacrificed to the Nameless Ones for a slow death. It is said that each priestess is a reincarnation of the first, and are therefore taken into the tombs for a lifetime of servitude at a young age. Tenar, or Arha, is the only priestess who is allowed to roam the labyrinth above. Because the tombs are below Kargad Lands, there are no wizards present because of the Kargad belief that wizardry is impermissible. List of Newberry award winners". Association for Library Service for Children . Retrieved November 17, 2014.Though the structure of the Earthsea novels is in many ways typical of fantasy, it has been described as subverting the tropes of this genre. The protagonists of her stories, with the exception of Tenar, were all dark-skinned, in comparison to the white-skinned heroes more traditionally used. [60] [61] [5] The Tombs of Atuan examines the development of a young girl in great detail, a choice unusual for a fantasy writer of the period in which the book was written. [5] Though significantly shorter than A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan showcase Le Guin's incredible skill at delivering powerful narrative, style, and characterization in very little space. Compared to the first book, which crosses the line somewhat between fairy tale and typical fantasy styles, the Tombs of Atuan in its limited scope feels much more fairy tale and surreal. It feels ancient - showing a place in Earthsea which has remained unchanged for thousands of years, making you feel as though you are delving the secrets of an ancient land like something out of the Hyborian age.

The Tombs of Atuan / ˈ æ t uː ɑː n/ [4] is a fantasy novel by the American author Ursula K. Le Guin, first published in the Winter 1970 issue of Worlds of Fantasy, and published as a book by Atheneum Books in 1971. It is the second book in the Earthsea series after A Wizard of Earthsea (1969). The Tombs of Atuan was a Newbery Honor Book in 1972. Hollindale, Peter (September 2003). "The Last Dragon of Earthsea". Children's Literature in Education. 34 (3): 183–193. doi: 10.1023/A:1025390102089. S2CID 160303057. The notion of faith and deep belief is a large part of the novel, and is related to the book's other theme of identity. Throughout the story there is a tension between faith in the Nameless Ones and their power, and human curiosity and the tendency to question. [38] The importance of tradition and belief in Kargish culture is emphasized when Tenar is taken from her family, and chosen to be the high priestess of the Tombs. However, Tenar's mother unsuccessfully tries to dupe the priestesses into believing the child has a skin disease. Commentators state that this episode suggests certain universal impulses can lead to resistance against "cultural imperatives"; Tenar's mother is willing to bend the rules to keep her child. [17] Unlike the rest of Earthsea, which relies on the "Old Speech" for its magic and rituals, the Kargish lands use their own tongue, and rituals are conducted with meaningless babble; thus from the moment the chanting of the priestesses is described, Le Guin suggests that the Kargish faith is one of meaningless words and ritual. [24] The Kargish deities are revered as the "Nameless Ones"; thus Ged's statement to Arha that all things have names also works to undermine her faith. [24] By the 4th day, Arha finds him collapsed inside the Painted Room. From a spy hole in the floor of the Temple of the Twin Gods, she taunts him with directions to the Great Treasury where "maybe, you'll find water." Again, she fantasizes about toying with him and giving death, death, death instead of water. Kossil finds Arha in the Temple of the Twin Gods and asks if the man is dead yet. Arha replies that his magical light has gone out so he is probably near death. Suspicious, Kossil suggests having her servant Duby bring out the corpse. Arha confronts Kossil, claiming her domain, her Masters, and needing no more lessons in death. Hatfield, Len (1993). "From Master to Brother: Shifting the Balance of Authority in Ursula K. Le Guin's Farthest Shore and Tehanu". Children's Literature. 21 (1): 43–65. doi: 10.1353/chl.0.0516. hdl: 10919/25443.Although lonely, Tenar’s childhood is marked by friendship to some degree. She develops a very close bond with Manan, and another close bond with a fellow similarly aged priestess-in-training known as Penthe. The two priestesses charged with training Tenar are named Thar and Kossil. Thar is intensely stern but also fair. Kossil, on the other hand, is hateful and suspicious of Tenar’s growing power, and jealous of the esteem in which Tenar is held by the Nameless Ones. Through her training, Tenar learns to navigate the labyrinthine tunnels beneath the tombs, where it is said there is a highly valuable treasure that “evil” sorcerers of Hardic descent have sought for years. Part of Tenar’s duty as high priestess is to protect this treasure. Like A Wizard of Earthsea, The Tombs of Atuan is a bildungsroman that explores Tenar's growth and identity. Tenar's coming-of-age is closely tied to her exploration of faith and her belief in the Nameless Ones. The Tombs of Atuan explores themes of gender and power in the setting of a cult of female priests in service to a patriarchal society, while providing an anthropological view of Kargish culture. Tenar, who became the subject of Le Guin's fourth Earthsea novel, Tehanu, has been described as a more revolutionary protagonist than Ged, or Arren, the protagonist of The Farthest Shore (1972), the third Earthsea volume. Whereas the two men grow into socially approved roles, Tenar rebels and struggles against the confines of her social role. The Tombs of Atuan shares elements of the story of a heroic quest with other Earthsea novels, but subverts some of the tropes common to the genre of fantasy at the time, such as by choosing a female protagonist, and a dark-skinned leading character. [5] Teitelbaum, Ilana. "A Master of Fantasy: Rereading "The Tombs of Atuan" by Ursula Le Guin". The Huffington Post . Retrieved June 22, 2017. a b c d e f Esmonde, Margaret P. (1981). "The Good Witch of the West". Children's Literature. 9: 185–190. doi: 10.1353/chl.0.0112.

The story follows a girl named Tenar, born on the Kargish island of Atuan. Born on the day that the high priestess of the Tombs of Atuan died, she is believed to be her reincarnation. Tenar is taken from her family when five years old and goes to the Tombs. [14] Her name is taken from her in a ceremony, and she is referred to as "Arha", or the "eaten one", [24] after being consecrated to the service of the "Nameless Ones" at the age of six with a ceremony involving a symbolic sacrifice. [28] She moves into her own tiny house, and is given a eunuch servant, Manan, with whom she develops a bond of affection.

New in Series

a b Dooley, Patricia (1980). "Magic and Art in Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea Trilogy". Children's Literature. 8: 103–110. doi: 10.1353/chl.0.0319. Like A Wizard of Earthsea before it, Le Guin’s The Tombs of Atuan was meant for kids. Now we call it a YA novel, though recent marketing schemes for the Earthsea series seem to be aiming more for the 8-11 year old crowd (I cannot stand my books’ covers!). Of course, the novels weren’t written solely for children but for anyone, even if they happen to be quite marketable as children’s fiction. But Le Guin certainly did right by her publishers’ intended audience when she chose the setting, an underground tomb and labyrinth complex both frightening and exhilarating, an extension of Earthsea all the more exciting because it is so unspeakably mundane and exotic at once: the darkness. And, what’s more, it’s about those who dwell in the darkness, the Nameless Ones, embodiments of the great Powers we imagine and fear are there. True, we’ve no proof, but we have heard stories and would rather not chance it—so we run, we shut the door tight, we turn the lights on, we pull the covers over our heads. Kids are primed to experience the Tombs. Yet—and here is where Le Guin deepens her proto-feminist critical intuition—even the power of the Godking is illusory, for when Arha takes the name Tenar and escapes the Tombs with Ged, when she passes through what to her seems a gigantic city and thus represents the might of the Kargish Empire which could, in her mind, crush Ged’s lands to the west, Ged gently quiets her naiveté and lets her know that Kargad is but a small land, its cities small, its Godking barely more than a minor warlord. Indeed, the Godkings are but petty men, so afraid of others having power that they both banished magic—understood in Earthsea as the ability to have power over other life through the knowing of true-names—and labeled writing a dark art. Separated from the rest of Earthsea by geological happenstance, the Godkings ruled the four islands of Kargad like British middle-schoolers stranded on an uninhabited island. Arha avoided Kossil as much as possible and often escaped to the relative safety of the Labyrinth. She only trusted Manan to learn the secret paths of the Labyrinth, despite his unease. Arha wandered the Labyrinth until it was second nature, but even she wearied of the great trap. So, she began exploring the many rooms of the Hall of the Throne above with its dusty chests, jewel-embroidered gowns, rusting armor, and countless jewels and precious metals all falling into decay... all recalling the past glory of the One Priestess.

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