BOOK REVIEW – URSULA K. LE GUIN – THE TOMBS OF ATUAN.1970 Bantham Books. The second volume in the semi-mystical Earthsea fantasy series of books, following on from The Wizard Of Earthsea. A young girl, Temar, is taken from her home when she is about six, And taught to believe that she is the latest incarnation of an eternal Goddess, serving the temples of Atuan, which she can never leave, bar for brief exercise visits o the desert surrounding the temple. Beneath the temple runs a Labyrinth, which she alone has, full access too, but the labyrinth is the haven of dark, nameless gods. When three men are caught trying to break into the temple, Temar, now called Arha, has them executed, which she regrets doing. Later, she discovers another intruder, a wizard, who she traps in the Labyrinth by sealing his exit. The wizard is Jed, Sparrowhawk from the first novel, older and wiser, and in search of the second half of a powerful peace bringing talisman that he believes to be hidden among the Labyrinth’s treasures. Fascinated by the Wizard’s plight, Arha grows to like him, and trust him. She realizes that the religion that worships her is false, and that the deities of the Labyrinth are not Gods, but demons, unable to leave the darkness for the World Of Light, and indifferent to human needs.
Arha pretends that the Wizard is dead, but her priests grow suspicious. Arha and Jed prepare to escape, and he prepares her for the role of peace-bringer to the Isles that she is truly destined for, though she would rather be his apprentice, having something of a crush on him. There is a strong sense of claustrophobia here, with much of the book-talking place in dark corridors and cells, rather than across the many islands and seas of Earthsea as the first book did. Jed is stronger now, though for much of the book it is not apparent how much magic he is performing to keep himself and Arha safe, at least until he stops performing it and she sees the destruction of the temples she has left behind forever. A powerful, and allegory laden tale of considerable force and beauty. For my review of the first book in the series see - http://www.shvoong.com/books/fantasy/1699140-wizard-earthsea/ Arthur Chappell