The Tombs of Atuan - Earthsea 2 Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Tombs of Atuan - Earthsea 2

The Tombs of Atuan is the second novel in the Earthsea fantasy series. It is a continuation of the life story of Ged after he is made a wizard.
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As a child, Arha is taken from her parents to be raised to become the reincarnation of the high priestess of the Nameless Ones, ancient, malevolent non-human powers. She grows up in an isolated temple complex in the desert.

When she is 15, however, she spies through a peephole a strange man lost in the vast underground maze of the Nameless Ones. Intrigued, she doesn't betray him to the other priestesses to be killed. He tells her he is Ged, a wizard who has come to try to steal back the half of a powerful amulet that was taken long ago from the most famous wizard of all, Erreth-Akbe. (Ged himself gained possession of the other half in the previous book.) Strong as he is in magic, he can barely hold off the Nameless Ones on their own ground, and he is weakening. Eventually, he gains her trust and, with her aid, escapes from the maze with the amulet half. He takes Arha and his prize back in triumph to his own land.

Best part of story, including ending: Le Guin is an amazing, highly respected author who always infuses humanity into her stories.

Best scene in story: In the first real conversation between Arha and Ged, the latter is unconsciously a bit arrogant, but in a rather appealing way.

Opinion about the main character: Arha is a truly believable character, hesitant to leave behind all she knows for an uncertain future, not some cardboard fantasy creation.

The review of this Book prepared by J. Lee a Level 10 Peregrine Falcon scholar

This is the second of a trilogy of stories in the world of Earthsea, which is set in a Tolkien-time of dragons and wizards. In the first half of this story we meet our heroine, the girl who is taken early in life to grow up and become the guardian-priestess of the ancient tombs of Atuan which hold much treasure. Our hero is Sparrowhawk, the greatest mage of Earthsea, seeking in the tombs of Atuan the lost half of the amulet of Erreth-Akbe. Its value lies not in its power but in its broken rune, which is the lost key to a unifying power. In the underground maze it is easy to trapped, and many have entered never to return. The traps of the place and the guardians are certain to catch him, and even Sparrowhawk may never escape as spells alone are not enough to succeed. But he is fated to quest for the lost rune as it is the key to the restoration of peace to all the world of Earthsea.

The review of this Book prepared by Michael JR Jose

On the island of Atuan, the little girl Tenar is chosen to assume the role of the One Priestess of the Tombs of Atuan, where the Nameless Ones are said to dwell. Renamed Arha, the Eaten One, she receives training in her duties from Thar and Kossil, the elderly Priestesses. Beneath Arha's small house, the Throne, and the Tombs lies a vast and complex Labyrinth, whose dark passages she steadily explores and makes her own. One day when Arha is in her teens, she discovers a thief in the Labyrinth; it is Sparrowhawk/Ged (from the first Earthsea book), come to find the missing half of the broken amulet of Erreth-Akbe. Arha has him bound and manacled, her initial purpose to starve and perhaps torture him to death. But as she comes to know him, she begins to wonder whether her teacher Kossil might be her true enemy, and whether the Nameless Ones she has devoted her life to honoring are really worthy of her fealty. This sets up a showdown between her faith -- her entire way of life -- and her strange new friend.
The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus

This is the second volume in the Earthsea quartet (following A Wizard of Earthsea and followed by The Farthest Shore and Tehanu).

The story takes place on the desert island of Atuan. There, in a terrifying ritual, a five-year-old little girl becomes Arha, the Eaten One. As the years go by in the Place of the Tombs, among an odd community of young scholar girls, old women and eunuchs, she learns the sacred dances and songs devoted to the Nameless Ones.

At the age of fourteen, she finally becomes the One Priestess, the guardian of the Great Treasure, and the only one to know the ways of the Labyrinth, a place of utter darkness where men are not allowed and cruelly put to death if found there.

The story was beginning to bore me, I was watching Arha becoming more arrogant, and old Kossil meaner, by the day and I was reluctantly facing the fact that I didn't care much for her... until the middle of the book, until Arha one day comes across a dim light in the pitch black of the Labyrinth. And as it brings a complete upheaval in Arha's well-ordered and dull life, with it the story also becomes enthralling and finally I almost couldn't put the book down. I hope The Farthest Shore won't disappoint me...
The review of this Book prepared by crooty

A mage Sparrowhawk comes in search of a half ring belonged to a great mage and ruler. He finds a girl in the labirynths of the place who serves the dark forces. The young woman helps the wizard and they leave the place to go to the main land of the Earthsea.
The review of this Book prepared by irina

Tenar is take at the age of five to be the One Priestess of the Tombs of Atuan, as she has been for all her past lives. When Tenar becomes Arha(The Eaten One), she starts to be trained in her duties as the Highest Priestess of the Kargad Empire. When a traveler from the land of wizards come to the Place of the Tombs of Atuan, Arha meets finds him in the Labryinth which belongs to the Nameless Ones whose tombs she serves, she talks to him and he convinces her to leave the place. As they leave the place is destroyed by a great earthquake/collapse of the labyrinth.
The review of this Book prepared by Chris

Chapter Analysis of The Tombs of Atuan - Earthsea 2

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book Descript. of chases or violence 20%planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 20%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 40%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 20% FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   fantasy world/fantasy past Youngster becomes    -   an adult (general) Tech./$$$/Info hunt    -   Yes Stealing/recovering/destroying    -   magical artifact

Main Character

Identity:    -   Female Profession/status:    -   religious figure Age:    -   a teen


Terrain    -   Desert    -   Domed/Underground City Earth setting:    -   during "Tolkien" (fairytime) times A substantial portion of this book takes place on a non-Earth planetary body:    -   humans in a primitive/fantasy society    -   very controlled society Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes Planet outside solar system?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment How much dialogue?    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Ursula K. Le Guin Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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