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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Becoming Whole
LeGuin's third book in her Earthsea series is her most ambitious. Her thesis: you can only become whole by facing and accepting death, the darkest shadow. Lifted straight from Jungian psychology, this is the hardest and the important part of being whole. Sparrowhawk knows most of this truth already: remember the climax to Wizard of Earthsea. Arren, the young prince who...
Published on June 1 2001 by James D. DeWitt

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad- however it bogs down
The Earth-Sea is one of my favorite fantasy series; probably my third favorite or so. I liked the first two books. This isn't a trilogy in any real sense, but just 3 novels with the same main character.
The Tombs of Atuan (the second book) was my favorite. This and the first book were quiet, speculative novels that though earthy, had their own sense of wonder. The...
Published on Oct. 17 2000 by Amitava Banerjea


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Becoming Whole, June 1 2001
By 
James D. DeWitt "Alaska Fan" (Fairbanks, AK United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Farthest Shore (Paperback)
LeGuin's third book in her Earthsea series is her most ambitious. Her thesis: you can only become whole by facing and accepting death, the darkest shadow. Lifted straight from Jungian psychology, this is the hardest and the important part of being whole. Sparrowhawk knows most of this truth already: remember the climax to Wizard of Earthsea. Arren, the young prince who accompanies Sparrowhawk on the epic voyages of this third book, has not yet learned this harsh lesson.
You don't need to know anything about Carl Jung to read and enjoy this book. At one level, this is a children's tale. But this book has many levels. Consider: the last king, Maharrion, had prophesied that there would be no king to succeed him until one appeared who had crossed the farthest shore. I'm not giving anything away by telling you that the farthest shore is physical - the western shore of the westernmost isle of Earthsea and metaphysical - death. And readers of earlier books know that for the wizards of Earthasea, there is a low stone fence that separates the living from the dead.
There is another wizard - humiliated by a younger Sparrowhawk - who has both great power and a terror of death. And he has worked a spell that will devastate the world, by denying and avoiding death. But by denying death, he has denied life, and magic, song, joy, reason and even life are draining out of the world. That spell must be undone before it is too late. And that task falls to Sparowhawk and Arren.
Arren must learn to understand and accept that death is necessary. Not just in the abstract but personally. He must cross that low stonewall with no hope of returning. He must cross the final shore.
This story has dragons, despair, joy, loss, discovery and marvelous surprises. Like all of the Earthsea books, it is sparely but beautifully told. The deepest of the first three books, it is an absolute joy. And for a thoughtful, reflecting reader, it might be even more. This is a book that can change a reader's life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book to Read, May 11 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Tombs of Atuan (Mass Market Paperback)
I had read the first book of this great series and I found myself not being able to put the book down. And when I started reading the second book I only thought there was no way this could be as good, however I had the same great time reading it as I did the first book. I believe that everyone should read this book even if you have not read any others from this series, because in essence this book is really based on people growing up, finding themselves and learning what they want to accomplish in life. This book also shows a great friendship between two people and overall it is just a wonderful book. I suggest everyone to read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Earthsea Always Satisfy's., Nov. 29 2008
By 
Steven R. McEvoy "MCWPP" (Canada) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Tombs of Atuan (Mass Market Paperback)
Book one The Wizard of Earthsea was required reading for a children's literature course I did back in 1999. I enjoyed it so much I read all the books and collections of short stories set in that world. Yet even though this novel finishes by revolving again around Ged, it is really about Tenar/Arha, a young girl believed to be the reborn High Priest of the unnamed ones. (Nameless ones.) Her name is taken from her at 6 years of age, a year after she was taken from her family and home. She is given the name/title 'Arha' ' 'the one without a name.'

She grows, learns and becomes high priestess under the tutelage of Kossil, priestess to the God-Kings and Thar of the God Brothers.

Then one day she sees Ged in the under tomb, and he has magic light. She traps him in the labyrinth. She then chains him and visits with him. Kossil finds out about this and plans to kill them both. Tenar, fearing this, visits Ged in the treasury where she has hidden him.

He renames her Tenar and together they escape and return the Ring of Erreth-Akbe to the inner islands that they may have peace. For the 9th rune that had been lost when the ring was broken when the rune was cut in half. Now with both pieces Ged could recover the rune and restore peace.

The book ends with them in the city of Havnor.

Note: Pay close attention to the names of boats in the series. In this one Ged guides a boat called Lookfar.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Tombs of Atuan, April 14 2004
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This review is from: The Tombs of Atuan (Paperback)
The second book in the EarthSea trilogy, The Tombs of Atuan is a great book for all those who delve into the world of fantasy. The Author of this book is Ursula K. Le Guin. Le Guin wrote the Earthsea trilogy which became a well known series for all audiances.
Though it would be better understood and probably more forfilling if the first book was read of the series. I believe the theme to have been Man vs. Nature as Sparrowhawk the main character, a wizard from the island of Gount seeks out an ancient treasure in the Tombs of Atuan. He meets the high preistess of Atuan. They must battle against the spirits with the tomb.
In my opion it was a book that forced me to ponder about the morales in my life. It's rather a short book but it has a great ending despite that, that makes you search for the last book in the series. Some people may consider it slow in the beginning but I must say that it's building the plot thick and strong in the begining. Overall Le Guin is a great writer and that the second book is as good and brilliant as the first.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Return to the world of Earthsea, Feb. 18 2004
By 
E. A Solinas "ea_solinas" (MD USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Tombs of Atuan (Mass Market Paperback)
The second book of Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea Cycle, "Tombs of Atuan," is very different from the first book. It features a different coming-of-age tale from Ged Sparrowhawk's, this time of a spirited girl who has been given everything except freedom. More contemplative and disturbing, this is almost as good as "Wizard of Earthsea."
As a little child, Tenar was taken from her family by the priestesses, who said she was the reborn High Princess of the Nameless Ones, the dark, ruthless powers who are in the Tombs of Atuan. Her name is taken away and she was afterwards called Arha (which means that she was "eaten," spiritually), and she is raised in the cold, uninviting temple. When Arha is fifteen, she finds that a wizard has somehow gained entrance to the massive mazelike Labyrinth, committing sacrilege and polluting the "center of darkness" with his staff's light.
He's searching for half of a powerful ring; he has one half, she has the other. She takes the wizard Sparrowhawk prisoner, and for some reason doesn't want to kill him. Instead she listens to his stories about dragons, magic and his home -- until a vengeful priestess learns that Arha is keeping the wizard alive. To escape horrible deaths, they must escape together from the Nameless Ones, and Tenar will be set free in more ways than one.
Ursula Le Guin's worldbuilding was masterful in the first book, and it's no less so in "Tombs of Atuan." The decayed, corrupted, darkness-obsessed religion and culture that Tenar is raised in seems very real. The only spot of warmth and life is Penthe, a childhood pal of Tenar's, who longs to get away from the temple and go live a normal, happy life.
Le Guin's writing is both spare and descriptive; she makes you feel like you know the characters with only a few pages. Her elegantly understated descriptions bring the grey, cold temple and tombs to life. Themes like religion, disbelief, loyalty, redemption, freedom, and enslavement are woven in, but not preachily. The book suffers somewhat when Ged and Tenar are getting to know each other; even during a crisis, Ged spends a lot of time talking about his past and the Ring. It's less a conversation than an infodump.
The relationship between Tenar and Ged is the centerpiece of the book. At first they are enemies, then gradually grow to trust one another even though rationally neither one should. Tenar is a strong, brave, slightly immature girl whose spirit has been kept enslaved to the Nameless Ones, and Ged is the brave, gentle, strong wizard we got to know in "Wizard."
The second book of the Earthsea cycle, while not as strong as the first, is still a compelling book. The dark, tense "Tombs of Atuan" remains a modern fantasy classic. And does it ever deserve it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Child and the Shadow, Jan. 7 2004
Whilst I read A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA and THE TOMBS OF ATUAN many times as a child and a teenager, I never read THE FARTHEST SHORE, though I suspect I began it and did not finish. This book is heavygoing, both in tone and subject matter, but utterly rewarding for the engaged reader.
The wizard Ged, hero of the earlier novels, but now much wearied by age, accompanies a young prince of Enlad, Arren, in a journey by sea and land into the dark places of Earthsea and the dark places of the soul. Magic and joy in life are being leeched from the land by a malignant being who has found the secret of immortality - at the cost of the denial and ultimate destruction of all life.
This novel is probably more explicit than any of le Guin's other novels in portraying her conviction that all serious fantasy is at heart about the journey through the strange foreign lands of the inner soul. The reader is drawn inexorably with Ged and Arren as they try to save Earthsea by travelling into the dark heart of mankind and grappling with the ultimate challenge to selfhood - acceptance of death. Fantasy, le Guin maintains, is not about escape from the self but escape into the self. This philosophy lays the foundation for her serious, thoughtful fantasy, which may disappoint some readers seeking no more than vicarious thrills through daring adventures.
The serene, Taoist philosophy permeating the essence of this novel probably has more significance for me now at 23 than it could have at 7 or 13. Yet this novel, though difficult, is still accessible to the perservering younger reader. I hope that for all readers THE FARTHEST SHORE can provide as fulfilling a reading experience as it did for me, and I heartily encourage older readers to seek out le Guin's critical writing on fantasy and on Earthsea (such as LANGUAGE OF THE NIGHT and EARTHSEA REVISITED), which are an enthralling read in themselves.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Heavy-duty, serious fantasy. Not for the light-hearted., Aug. 14 2003
In the third entry to the Earthsea series, Ged is now Arch-Mage, and is faced with a new crisis: Magic around the world is failing. Together with Arren, a young prince from Enlad, he journeys to the end of the world to battle and defeat the source of this threat to the world. His quest is to rescue Earthsea from the death of magic. It's an exciting adventure, perhaps even more so than the second volume of the series. It was the National Book Award winner for Children's Books in 1973.
But of particular interst is the fact that through the eyes of Arren, the reader gains a true appreciation for the enduring qualities of a LeGuine type fantasy. Arren is perplexed why Ged doesn't perform more magic, to the point where he even questions whether he is a true wizard. "Even in small matters magery was not worth counting on. Sparrowhawk was always miserly about employing his arts; they went by the world's wind whenever they might, they fished for food, and they spared their water, like any sailors ... There, thought Arren, lay the very heart of wizardry: to hint at mighty meanings while saying nothing at all, and to make doing nothing at all seem the very crown of wisdom." Over time Arren - and the reader - come to understand what magic in this world is really all about. Eventually Arren learns that true wizards don't do magic all the time: "The first lesson on Roke, and the last is: Do what is needful. And no more!"
This is the essence of magic in LeGuin's novels - one will not find here the trite magic used to make boys fly on brooms or make girls invisible, as one finds in books like Harry Potter. LeGuin's magic and fantasy is never trite, but always serious and credible. In many respects it represents an early form of new age philosophy. "On every act the balance of the whole depends. The winds and seas, the powers of water and earth and light, all that these do, and all that the beasts and green things do, is well done, and rightly done. All these act within the Equilibrium - But we, insofar as we have power over the world and over one another, we must *learn* to do what the leaf and the whale and the wind do of their own nature. We must learn to keep the balance." Much of it appears to have roots in Eastern philosophy such as the Taoist yin-yang. "There are two, Arren, two that make one: the world and the shadow, the light and the dark. The two poles of the Balance. Life rises out of death, death rises out of life; in being opposite they yearn to each other, they give birth to each other and are forever reborn." The climax of the plot is taken straight from Jungian psychology: wholeness is obtained by embracing the darkest shadow of death. Weighty dialogue about such philosophy fills the novel - this is not for the light-hearted.
Even if one disagrees with this philosophy, there has to be appreciation for LeGuin's seriousness and depth. Ged and Arren's quest never has overtones of a fantasy fun adventure as one might find with J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter, but it has a constant shadow of deep seriousness, perhaps even more so than J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings or C.S. Lewis' Narnia Chronicles. This deeper and more serious spin on fantasy in itself makes this series worth reading. The fantasy world and storyline are not as captivating or fun as one might expect from Tolkien, Lewis, or even Rowling and Robert Jordan, and so fans of these novels might well find the taste of LeGuin somewhat disappointing. Reviews of the fourth book of the series, Tenahu, suggest that this is a strongly feminist tale and a departure from the beauty of the first three novels, and is better left untouched. I think I'll close the pages on LeGuin for now, with The Farthest Shore being the most distant shore of her work for me. -GODLY GADFLY
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4.0 out of 5 stars The inward-looking sequel to "A Wizard of Earthsea", Aug. 12 2003
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This review is from: The Tombs of Atuan (Mass Market Paperback)
After encountering the broadly expansive world detailed so lovingly in "A Wizard of Earthsea," younger readers may be puzzled at first by the extremely different scope of the second book in the "Earthsea" tetralogy, "The Tombs of Atuan," which restricts almost all of its narrative to the title site. (The map in some editions of the labyrinth under the tombs seems almost to parody the indispenable maps of Earthsea in the first book in the series.) The hero of the first book, Ged, doesn't even appear until well into the narrative: while Ged was a wanderer, this book is about a young woman, originally named Tenar, who has been since infancy marked out as the most important religious figure in the largest political power in earthsea at the time of the book's events, but who is nonetheless restricted to a dreary life of ritual serving the Nameless Ones in a desolate shrine. You'd think Le Guin couldn't pull off such a purposeful reversal of scale and tone after the stunning achievement of the first book, but she does, and the respectful (and non-romantic) relationship between Tenar and Ged is deftly limned, as are Tenar's revelations about the nature of the gods she serves. It's not a book for everyone, given its decidely dismal atmosphere, but it is nonetheless accomplished with brilliant skill.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Contemplative coming of age story with a new heroine., Aug. 5 2003
This review is from: The Tombs of Atuan (Mass Market Paperback)
In the second volume of LeGuin's "Earthsea Trilogy", the wizard Sparrowhawk (Ged) returns, but only in the latter half of the book. The story first centers around Tenar, who at the tender age of five is taken from her parents to the Place of the Tombs in the deserts of Atuan and renamed Arha, "the Eaten One". Born on the same day that the head priestess of the cult worshipping the Nameless Ones died, she is designated to be the cult's new leader. Much of the first part of the novel is introspective, revolving around Arha's loneliness and her days in the darkness of the tombs. Imprisoned by the cult, as she matures she struggles with the legitimacy of the cult which revolves around her, and her own identity. It's a journey from the darkness of her oppressive religion to the light of freedom and truth.
At this point Ged arrives, but only as a supporting character. Ged is on a quest to obtain the other half of a magic amulet. Together, he and Arha complete the quest and make the journey to a new beginning. But the novel's real focus is Arha, and her journey from bondage to freedom, from childhood to adulthood. Unlike much other fantasy, LeGuin's books don't revolve around cheap and flashy displays of trivial magic. In "The Tombs of Atuan" at least, the magic falls to the background, for the telling of a serious tale about a girl's journey to womanhood. Even though it's part of a series, this is a story that functions independently in its own right. Those looking for Harry Potter type fantasy adventure and fun will be disappointed, but for fans of serious fantasy and characterization this is not to be missed. It's no wonder that this title won the Newberry Award. -GODLY GADFLY
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4.0 out of 5 stars THis book is fasonating, Dec 1 2002
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This review is from: The Tombs of Atuan (Hardcover)
The book The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin was a sequel to the book The Wizard of Earthsea. To me this book had so many great things about it but it also had many bad things. An example of a bad part would have to be the first 60 pages of the book. They were soooo boring! The Words were hard to follow and it wasn't very exciting because nothing happened during those pages. An example of a good part of the book would be that the rest of the book after the first 60 pages was really great. It was very entertaining and made you always wanting to keep on reading it. The story also made you keep thinking to yourself of what might happen next or what was going to become to Ged.
I think the theme of this story was "even though you don't know someone very well doesn't mean you cant trust them." I think this is the theme because when Tenar finds the thief and brings him into the painted room she doesn't trust him at first, but when she talks and talks with him more and more she finds out that she might be able to trust this stranger. Only knowing Ged for a week or so and saying that she would go with him back to Havnor to me shows that she does. "I must lock the door but when I come back I will trust you. You know that you can't leave... that you must not try? I am their vengeance, I do their will but if I fail them... if you fail my trust... then they will avenge themselves..." pg. 115 is a good example of the theme.
I recommend and encourage this book to others that like magic and adventure in a story. This book is a thrilling tale that will leave you wanting to read more and more. For those people that like short books here is your chance to finish it in one day if you really like it. I encourage the readers that haven't read the Wizard of Earthsea to read that book before this one because I don't think it would make much sense when you skip to this book.
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The Tombs of Atuan
The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin (Mass Market Paperback - Sept. 1 2001)
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