The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Series #2)

The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Series #2)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

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Overview

The Newbery Honor–winning second novel in the renowned Earthsea series from Ursula K. LeGuin.

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?

With millions of copies sold worldwide, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle has earned a treasured place on the shelves of fantasy lovers everywhere, alongside the works of such beloved authors as J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781442480841
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 09/11/2012
Series: Earthsea Series , #2
Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 27,683
File size: 4 MB
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018) has published twenty-one novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry, and four of translation, and has received the Hugo, Nebula, Endeavor, Locus, Tiptree, Sturgeon, PEN-Malamud, and National Book Award and the Pushcart and Janet Heidinger Kafka prizes, among others. In recent years she has received lifetime achievement awards from World Fantasy Awards, Los Angeles Times, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association, and Willamette Writers, as well as the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Award and the Library of Congress Living Legends award. Le Guin was the recipient of the Association for Library Service to Children’s May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award and the Margaret Edwards Award. Her recent publications include the novel Lavinia, Words Are My Matter, an essay collection, and Finding My Elegy, New and Selected Poems. Her website is UrsulaKLeGuin.com.

Hometown:

Portland, Oregon

Date of Birth:

October 21, 1929

Place of Birth:

Berkeley, California

Education:

B.A., Radcliffe College; M.A., Columbia University, 1952

Read an Excerpt

The Tombs of Atuan


By Ursula K. Le Guin

Pocket Books

Copyright © 2004 Ursula K. Le Guin
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1416509623

Chapter One: The Eaten One

One high horn shrilled and ceased. The silence that followed was shaken only by the sound of many footsteps keeping time with a drum struck softly at a slow heart-pace. Through cracks in the roof of the Hall of the Throne, gaps between columns where a whole section of masonry and tile had collapsed, unsteady sunlight shone aslant. It was an hour after sunrise. The air was still and cold. Dead leaves of weeds that had forced up between marble pavement-tiles were outlined with frost, and crackled, catching on the long black robes of the priestesses.

They came, four by four, down the vast hall between double rows of columns. The drum beat dully. No voice spoke, no eye watched. Torches carried by black-clad girls burned reddish in the shafts of sunlight, brighter in the dusk between. Outside, on the steps of the Hall of the Throne, the men stood, guards, trumpeters, drummers; within the great doors only women had come, dark-robed and hooded, walking slowly four by four towards the empty throne.

Two came, tall women looming in their black, one of them thin and rigid, the other heavy, swaying with the planting of her feet. Between these two walked a child of about six. She wore a straight white shift. Her head and arms and legs were bare, and she was barefoot. She looked extremely small. At the foot of the steps leading up to the throne, where the others now waited in dark rows, the two tall women halted. They pushed the child forward a little.

The throne on its high platform seemed to be curtained on each side with great webs of blackness dropping from the gloom of the roof; whether these were curtains, or only denser shadows, the eye could not make certain. The throne itself was black, with a dull glimmer of precious stones or gold on the arms and back, and it was huge. A man sitting in it would have been dwarfed; it was not of human dimensions. It was empty. Nothing sat in it but shadows.

Alone, the child climbed up four of the seven steps of red-veined marble. They were so broad and high that she had to get both feet onto one step before attempting the next. On the middle step, directly in front of the throne, stood a large, rough block of wood, hollowed out on top. The child knelt on both knees and fitted her head into the hollow, turning it a little sideways. She knelt there without moving.

A figure in a belted gown of white wool stepped suddenly out of the shadows at the right of the throne and strode down the steps to the child. His face was masked with white. He held a sword of polished steel five feet long. Without word or hesitation he swung the sword, held in both hands, up over the little girl's neck. The drum stopped beating.

As the blade swung to its highest point and poised, a figure in black darted out from the left side of the throne, leapt down the stairs, and stayed the sacrificer's arms with slenderer arms. The sharp edge of the sword glittered in mid-air. So they balanced for a moment, the white figure and the black, both faceless, dancer-like above the motionless child whose white neck was bared by the parting of her black hair.

In silence each leapt aside and up the stairs again, vanishing in the darkness behind the enormous throne. A priestess came forward and poured out a bowl of liquid on the steps beside the kneeling child. The stain looked black in the dimness of the hall.

The child got up and descended the four stairs laboriously. When she stood at the bottom, the two tall priestesses put on her a black robe and hood and mantle, and turned her around again to face the steps, the dark stain, the throne.

"O let the Nameless Ones behold the girl given to them, who is verily the one born ever nameless. Let them accept her life and the years of her life until her death, which is also theirs. Let them find her acceptable. Let her be eaten!"

Other voices, shrill and harsh as trumpets, replied: "She is eaten! She is eaten!"

The little girl stood looking from under her black cowl up at the throne. The jewels inset in the huge clawed arms and the back were glazed with dust, and on the carven back were cobwebs and whitish stains of owl droppings. The three highest steps directly before the throne, above the step on which she had knelt, had never been climbed by mortal feet. They were so thick with dust that they looked like one slant of gray soil, the planes of the red-veined marble wholly hidden by the unstirred, untrodden siftings of how many years, how many centuries.

"She is eaten! She is eaten!"

Now the drum, abrupt, began to sound again, beating a quicker pace.

Silent and shuffling, the procession formed and moved away from the throne, eastward towards the bright, distant square of the doorway. On either side, the thin double columns, like the calves of immense pale legs, went up to the dusk under the ceiling. Among the priestesses, and now all in black like them, the child walked, her small bare feet treading solemnly over the frozen weeds, the icy stones. When sunlight slanting through the ruined roof flashed across her way, she did not look up.

Guards held the great doors wide. The black procession came out into the thin, cold light and wind of early morning. The sun dazzled, swimming above the eastern vastness. Westward, the mountains caught its yellow light, as did the facade of the Hall of the Throne. The other buildings, lower on the hill, still lay in purplish shadow, except for the Temple of the God-Brothers across the way on a little knoll: its roof, newly gilt, flashed the day back in glory. The black line of the priestesses, four by four, wound down the Hill of the Tombs, and as they went they began softly to chant. The tune was on three notes only, and the word that was repeated over and over was a word so old it had lost its meaning, like a signpost still standing when the road is gone. Over and over they chanted the empty word. All that day of the Remaking of the Priestess was filled with the low chanting of women's voices, a dry unceasing drone.

The little girl was taken from room to room, from temple to temple. In one place salt was placed upon her tongue; in another she knelt facing west while her hair was cut short and washed with oil and scented vinegar; in another she lay face down on a slab of black marble behind an altar while shrill voices sang a lament for the dead. Neither she nor any of the priestesses ate food or drank water all that day. As the evening star set, the little girl was put to bed, naked between sheepskin rugs, in a room she had never slept in before. It was in a house that had been locked for years, unlocked only that day. The room was higher than it was long, and had no windows. There was a dead smell in its, still and stale. The silent women left her there in the dark.

She held still, lying just as they had put her. Her eyes were wide open. She lay so for a long time.

She saw light shake on the high wall. Someone came quietly along the corridor, shielding a rushlight so it showed no more light than a firefly. A husky whisper: "Ho, are you there, Tenar?"

The child did not reply.

A head poked in the doorway, a strange head, hairless as a peeled potato, and of the same yellowish color. The eyes were like potato-eyes, brown and tiny. The nose was dwarfed by great, flat slabs of cheek, and the mouth was a lipless slit. The child stared unmoving at this face. Her eyes were large, dark, fixed.

"Ho, Tenar, my little honeycomb, there you are!" The voice was husky, high as a woman's voice but not a woman's voice. "I shouldn't be here, I belong outside the door, on the porch, that's where I go. But I had to see how my little Tenar is, after all the long day of it, eh, how's my poor little honeycomb?"

He moved towards her, noiseless and burly, and put out his hand as if to smooth back her hair.

"I am not Tenar any more," the child said, staring up at him. His hand stopped; he did not touch her.

"No," he said, after a moment, whispering. "I know. I know. Now you're the little Eaten One. But I-"

She said nothing.

"It was a hard day for a little one," the man said, shuffling the tiny light flickering in his big yellow hand.

"You should not be in this house, Manan."

"No. No. I know. I shouldn't be in this House. Well, good night, little one. Good night."

The child said nothing. Manan slowly turned around and went away. The glimmer died from the high cell walls. The little girl, who had no name any more but Ahra, the Eaten One, lay on her back looking steadily at the dark.

Copyright © 2004 by Ursula K. Le Guin

Continues...


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Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide for

The Earthsea Cycle
By Ursula K. Le Guin

About the Earthsea Cycle

Earthsea is a fictional realm originally created by Ursula K. Le Guin for her short story "The Word of Unbinding," published in 1964. Earthsea became the setting for six books, beginning with A Wizard of Earthsea, and continuing with The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, Tehanu, Tales from Earthsea, and The Other Wind. All are set in the world of Earthsea. Each novel in the series has received a prestigious literary award, including the 1969 Boston Globe –Horn Book Award for Fiction and the 1979 Lewis Carroll Shelf Award for A Wizard of Earthsea, the 1972 Newbery Honor for The Tombs of Atuan, the 1973 National Book Award for Children's Books for The Farthest Shore, the 1990 Nebula Award for Best Novel for Tehanu, and the 2002 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel for The Other Wind.

Book 1: A Wizard of Earthsea

About the Book

Ged, the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, was called Sparrowhawk in his reckless youth. Hungry for power and knowledge, Sparrowhawk tampered with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tale of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death's threshold to restore the balance.

Prereading Activities

Introduce readers to the concept of the Bildungsroman, or coming-of-age story, and examples with which they may be familiar, such as Catcher in the Rye and David Copperfield. Explain characteristics of the Bildungsroman story and ask readers to identify them in the course of reading the novel.

Taoist philosophy is represented in all the books of the Earthsea cycle. Have students use print and electronic resources to research the origins of Taoist philosophy, its fundamental characteristics, and influences.

Discussion Questions

1. How would you describe Ged's personality based on his actions and the descriptions?

2. How would you describe the style in which the story is written?

3. What do you think Ogion means when he says, "[T]o keep dark the mind of the mageborn, that is a dangerous thing"?

4. How would you describe the setting of the story? What kind of world is it?

5. What is the first lesson Ogion wants to teach Ged, and why is it the most important?

6. What does Ged's question about the use of fourfoil reveal about his personality? What point is Ogion trying to make when he asks Ged, "What, after all, is the use of you? or of myself? Is Gont Mountain useful, or the Open Sea?"

7. How would you describe Ogion? What is Ogion's philosophy about magic? What does Ged find surprising about him?

8. What do Ged's actions and decisions further reveal about his personality?

9. What do you think of what the man in the town of Thwil says to Ged, "The wise don't need to ask, the fool asks in vain"?

10. How is the appearance of the School's door appropriate, given that it is a school for wizards? How is it representative of themes expressed in the story and in the lessons Ogion has taught Ged? Why must Ged tell the doorkeeper his true name to gain entrance to the School?

11. Why do you think Lord Nemmerle has Ged read Ogion's letter himself?

12. What is Ged's reaction to what the Master Hand tells him? What do you think the Master Hand mean when he says, "To light a candle is to cast a shadow"?

13. How would you describe Jasper? What are some examples of things Jasper does and says that make Ged angry or envious?

14. Why do you think the otak/hoeg is attracted to Ged?

15. How does Ged try to overcome his anger and envy toward Jasper, and his fear about certain spells of Summoning?

16. What does Jasper say that makes Ged decide to challenge him?

17. What changes does Ged notice when he reads the runes in the Book of Summoning in the darkness?

18. Why do you think Nemmerle sacrifices his life to save Ged?

19. Why is Gensher unwilling to accept Ged's fealty?

20. What is Gensher's explanation for why Ged's spell went wrong?

21. Why does Ged want to be alone? What future does he have in mind for himself?

22. What is the gift Vetch gives to Ged? What is the significance of his act?

23. What do you think the Master Summoner means when he says, "[T]he truth is that as a man's real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow grows narrower: until at last he chooses nothing, but does only and wholly what he must do?"

24. Why do you think Ged must ask the Master Doorkeeper's name to win his freedom from the School—what lesson does this teach?

25. How does Ged feel about his assignment to go to Low Torning?

26. What effect does the world of the dead have upon Ged?

27. How is Ged brought back to consciousness? What effect does this have on his thinking?

28. What does Ged learn from his failure to save Ioeth?

29. What is the significance of Ged's decision to go to Pendor to confront the dragons?

30. How does Yevaud try to manipulate Ged? What does Ged's reaction to Yevaud's offer reveal about his character? What does he learn from his encounter with Yevaud?

31. What signs tell Ged that his shadow is not far from him?

32. Why do you think Le Guin decided to keep Ged from returning to Roke?

33. How would you describe the man who tells Ged to go to the Court of the Terrenon. What does the man say and do that is suspicious? How does the man react to Ged's suspicion? Why does Ged decide to take his advice?

34. What does the gebbeth do to Skiorh? Why does it lead Ged out into the desert before confronting him?

35. Why do you think the gebbeth is unable to catch Ged, even when he tires and can no longer run?

36. Why are Lord Benderesk and Lady Serret so hospitable to Ged? What is odd and suspicious about the Court of the Terrenon?

37. Why is Ged unable to "see things plainly" in the tower-keep?

38. What does Serret reveal about the powers of the Terrenon?

39. Why does Serret not believe Ged when he says he fears the Terrenon?

40. What do you think Serret means when she says: "He who throws away his power is filled sometimes with a far greater power"?

41. Why is the Terrenon unable to capture Ged's will?

42. Why is Ged unable to turn back into his human form? Why do you think he flies to Gont rather than Roke?

43. What does Ogion say that contradicts what Gensher told Ged? How do you think the shadow knew Ged's name? What advice does Ogion give him, and why?

44. Why does Ged want to meet the shadow on the sea rather than on land?

45. Why do you think the shadow turns and flees when Ged pursues it? Why doesn't it attack him when he is lying helpless on the beach?

46. How do the man and woman on the cay react to Ged? Why don’t they want to leave the island?

47. What does Ged's treatment of the man and woman reveal about his character?

48. What is ironic about the way the shadow tricks Ged into crashing into the rocks?

49. What effect does grabbing and holding the shadow have on Ged? What does he realize about his task after this?

50. What strange thing happens to Ged on Vemish? What explanation do you have for this phenomenon?

51. Why does Ged at first refuse to let Estarriol accompany him, and how does Estarriol persuade Ged to let him come? Why is it appropriate that Estarriol should be there?

52. What happened to Jasper? Why do you think he left Roke?

53. What possible future does Ged see that frightens him?

54. What explanations do Ged and Estarriol have for the strange behavior of the shadow—for its taking Ged’s form and its inability to defeat Ged by speaking his name?

55. According to Ged, what is the fundamental difference between summoning light and summoning an object? Why is it that summoning light does not upset Equilibrium, yet summoning an object does?

56. Why do Ged and Estarriol avoid using magic on this final voyage?

57. What brief vision does Ged have about where he will meet the shadow?

58. What fears does Estarriol have about their voyage?

59. What is your interpretation of the way in which Ged defeats the shadow?

60. How would you describe the place where Ged meets the shadow? How does it come into existence, and why does it suddenly disappear?

61. Were you surprised by what happens when Ged confronts the shadow? Would you say that his realization is true of all human experience?

62. What is the meaning of the lines quoted from the Creation of Éa: "Only in silence the word, only in dark the light, only in dying life: bright the hawk's flight on the dying sky"? How do these lines relate to the story?

Postreading Activities and Questions

1. Identify three examples of foreshadowing in the story.

2. Create profiles of the major characters in the novel: Sparrowhawk/Ged, Ogion, Vetch/Estarriol, Jasper, Ged’s shadow, and Lady Serret. What facts about each one are important to the story?

3. What are the main themes and messages of the story? Discuss how the characters, setting, and plot help develop these themes.

4. What aspect(s) of the story do you like best? Discuss why you find them appealing. Why is this world called Earthsea? How would you describe it? Why do you think LeGuin chose to set her story in such a world?

5. The language of A Wizard of Earthsea is often poetic. Comment on three sentences that you find particularly beautiful or moving. In what ways is a writer or artist like a wizard?

6. Compare the evil of the shadow with the evil of Terrenon. Are they evil in the same way? How do they differ?

Book 2: The Tombs of Atuan

About the Book

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?

Discussion Questions

1. What do the priestesses mean when they say of Tenar: "Let her be eaten!"?

2. What does it mean when the girl is transformed from Tenar to the Eaten One?

3. How was Arha chosen?

4. How would you describe Arha's life in the Place of the Tombs of Atuan?

5. What is Penthe's relationship with Arha?

6. Why does Arha continue to be frustrated even after crossing into womanhood?

7. How does Manan show Arha new ways of seeing?

8. Why does Kossil fear the tombs?

9. Who are the prisoners in the tombs? For what reasons are they imprisoned?

10. What does Kossil say Arha will learn?

11. What does Arha find herself in agreement about with Penthe? What is it about Penthe's words that frighten Arha?

12. Why does Arha return to the cavern day after day?

13. What does Thar tell Arha about the labyrinth?

14. What is the Ring of Erreth-Akbe?

15. What is Kossil's view of the Wizards of the West?

16. How does Arha feel about Kossil's "unfaith"?

17. Why is Arha conflicted over how to deal with the intruder?

18. What is Sparrowhawk's purpose in coming to the Tombs of Atuan?

19. What does Arha mean when she says: "You know everything, wizard. But I know one thing—the one true thing!" What is the “one true thing”?

20. Why does Arha let Sparrowhawk live?

21. Why does Arha bring Sparrowhawk to the Undertomb?

22. What is the significance of Arha's dream of the birds?

23. When Arha says: "The gods are dead, the gods are dead," what is Sparrowhawk's response?

24. Why can't Sparrowhawk tell Tenar how he found her name?

25. How does Tenar's decision to go with Sparrowhawk set them both free?

26. What does Ged tell Tenar when she says: "The evil must be paid for. I am not free"?

27. The wizard, Ged, explains to Tenar that the Nameless Ones are the Tombs of Atuan, and cannot leave the Place. Why does Le Guin limit the dwellings of the dark powers to a single location in her fantasy world?

28. Le Guin emphasizes the Equilibrium of dark and light forces throughout the Earthsea Cycle. Does Le Guin justify Ged's argument that the dark powers should not be "denied or forgotten?" Why must they be equal with the light powers? How do the sentences that describe the small evils that exist in the world add to this argument?

29. Why does Le Guin make her dark forces nameless in a world where magic and power revolve around names?

30. Why do you think Le Guin describes the dark powers as "holy Powers"?

Book 3: The Farthest Shore

About the Book

In this third book in the Earthsea series, darkness threatens to overtake Earthsea: the world and its wizards are losing their magic. But Ged Sparrowhawk—Archmage, wizard, and dragonlord—is determined to discover the source of this devastating loss. Aided by Enlad’s young prince, Arren, Ged embarks on a treacherous journey that will test their strength and will. To restore magic, the two warriors must venture to the farthest reaches of their world—and even beyond the realm of death.

Discussion Questions

1. Sparrowhawk says to Arren: "When I was young, I had to choose between the life of being and the life of doing. And I leapt at the latter like a trout to a fly. But each deed you do, each act, binds you to itself and to its consequences, and makes you act again and yet again. Then very seldom do you come upon a space, a time like this, between act and act, when you may stop and simply be. Or wonder who, after all, you are." What prompts Sparrowhawk to share this with Arren? Why does Arren find it so surprising?

2. Who is the only creature capable of upsetting the great Balance and what is the cause?

3. Why do you think Le Guin italicizes the sentence, "Infinite are the arguments of mages . . . . "? What might she be trying to create or set up with this statement?

4. When Arren asks if dragons do great evil, Sparrowhawk replies, "Who am I, to judge the acts of dragons? . . . They are wiser than men are. It is with them as with dreams, Arren. We men dream dreams, we work magic, we do good, we do evil. The dragons do not dream. They are dreams. They do not work magic: it is their substance, their being. They do not do; they are". What do you think Sparrowhawk means when he says dragons are dreams? What is it that makes dragons wiser than men? How is this view of dragons different from how they are depicted in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit or other fantasy stories?

5. What do Arren and Sparrowhawk find to be wrong with Hort Town?

6. What do you think Sparrowhawk means when he says of Hare, "For all his craft in sorcery, he has never seen the way before him, seeing only himself"?

7. Why does Arren look upon Sparrowhawk "with love, but also with fear"? What is the great gift of childhood?

8. What had Arren hoped was the reason for Sparrowhawk choosing him for the voyage?

9. What do you think Le Guin means when she writes: "To be one's self is a rare thing and a great one"? How does the idea of being one's self play out in the rest of the novel?

10. Why would Sparrowhawk consider immortality evil? Why is death a necessity?

11. What do Arren and Ged find on the Dry Land? How does Arren feel about what he sees?

12. Who is Cob and why does he refuse Ged's offer to give him death?

13. What is revealed in The Deed of Ged?

Book 4: Tehanu

About the Book

Years before, Tenar and Ged had escaped together from the sinister Tombs of Atuan—she, an isolated young priestess, and he, a powerful wizard. Now she is a farmer's widow, having chosen for herself the simple pleasures of an ordinary life. And he is a broken old man, mourning the powers lost to him not by choice. A lifetime ago, they helped each other at a time of darkness and danger. Now they must join forces again, to help another—the physically and emotionally scarred child whose own destiny remains to be revealed.

Discussion Questions

1. What has become of Tenar since leaving the Tombs of Atuan?

2. Why does Ogion send for Goha?

3. What do you think Goha means when she says she doesn't know what a wizard is but does know what one does?

4. What does Goha tell Therru about Ogion?

5. What are the disturbing rumors heard about the art of magic?

6. What does Ogion say has happened to Ged?

7. What does Ogion say about Therru?

8. Who will Ogion be known as in death?

9. How has Therru changed since coming with Tenar to Ogion's?

10. Why does Tenar wonder if fear is the bond she has with Therru?

11. Who does Tenar encounter on Gont Mountain?

12. What is the gebbeth?

13. What is Aunty Moss's reply to Tenar's question about what is wrong with men?

14. Who has Arren become?

15. What is significant about Therru staring at Ged?

16. What keeps Tenar from leaving Ogion's house?

17. What promise does Tenar make to Ged?

18. Why does Tenar resist Beech's suggestion about Therru?

19. What is Tenar's response to Ged's remark that no woman can be archmage?

20. What do you think will become of Ged, Tenar, and Therru?

Book 5: Tales from Earthsea

About the Book

The tales of this book, as Ursula K. Le Guin writes in her foreword, explore or extend the world established by her first four Earthsea novels. Yet each tale stands on its own. "The Finder," a novella set a few hundred years before A Wizard of Earthsea, presents a dark and troubled Archipelago and reveals how the school on Roke came to be. "The Bones of the Earth" features the wizards who taught the wizard who first taught Ged, and it demonstrates how humility, if great enough, can rein in an earthquake. "Darkrose and Diamond" is a delightful story of young courtship showing that sometimes wizards can pursue alternative careers. "On the High Marsh," from the brief but eventful time of Ged as Archmage of Earthsea, tells of the love of power—and of the power of love. "Dragonfly" shows how a woman, determined enough, can break the glass ceiling of male magedom. Taking place shortly after the last Earthsea novel, it also provides a bridge—a dragon bridge—to the next Earthsea novel, The Other Wind. The author concludes this collection with an essay about Earthsea's history, people, languages, literature, and magic, and provides two new maps of Earthsea.

Discussion Questions

1. "The Finder," is a novella that tells the story of Otter/Medra and the origins of the school of magic upon the "Isle of the Wise," the island of Roke. The story is set about three centuries before the time of Ged. "The Finder" tells of a dark and deeply troubled Archipelago and a time when magic and the wielders of magic were feared and mistrusted. How is this story important to understanding the history and mythology of Earthsea?

2. "The Bones of the Earth" is set on the island of Gont where Ged was born. The story centers on an old, stubborn wizard named Dulse and his apprentice, the mage Ogion, who will become Ged's first teacher in sorcery. How does this story depict a wizard's life? How does the story serve to further illuminate Ogion's character?

3. In what way does the romantic tale, "Darkrose and Diamond," show that wizards can choose to follow an alternative path to becoming one of the "people of power"?

4. In what way does "On the High Marsh" contrast the love of power and the power of love? How does this story explore the theme of redemption?

5. How does "Dragonfly" function as a link between the novels Tehanu and The Other Wind? In what way does the story show that even the greatest of the ruling mages of Earthsea is fallible and prone to errors of judgment?

6. In what ways are the stories and essays in this collection a reinterpretation of the world of Earthsea as it was depicted in the first four novels?

Book 6: The Other Wind

About the Book

The sorcerer Alder fears sleep. He dreams of the land of death, of his wife who died young and longs to return to him so much that she kissed him across the low stone wall that separates our world from the Dry Land—where the grass is withered, the stars never move, and lovers pass without knowing each other. The dead are pulling Alder to them at night. Through him they may free themselves and invade Earthsea. Alder seeks advice from Ged, once Archmage. Ged tells him to go to Tenar, Tehanu, and the young king at Havnor. They are joined by amber-eyed Irian, a fierce dragon able to assume the shape of a woman. The threat can be confronted only in the Immanent Grove on Roke, the holiest place in the world, and there the king, hero, sage, wizard, and dragon make a last stand.

Discussion Questions

1. Why did the Lord Patterner send Alder to Sparrowhawk?

2. What is Alder's training and abilities in magic?

3. What demands are the dragons making of King Lebannen?

4. What are the emissaries of the High King of the Kargs asking of King Lebannen?

5. Why does Tehanu agree to accompany the King on a mission to parley with the dragons?

6. What is at the root of the unbalancing of Earthsea?

7. What does Tenar mean when she says Tehanu is "the child of many and none"?

8. How is Tehanu freed from the burden of her childhood injury?

9. How is the spell that created the Dry Land broken?

10. In what ways is a new world order born in Earthsea?

11. How would you describe the roles of Sparrowhawk and Tenar in this story?

12. What do you think will become of Tehanu?

13. Identify examples of how the theme of reconciliation is addressed in this story.

Print Resources

Bernardo, Susan M. and Graham J. Murphy. Ursula K. Le Guin: A Critical Companion. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2006.

Cadden, Mike. Ursula K. Le Guin Beyond Genre: Fiction for Children and Adults. New York, NY: Routledge, 2005.

Web Resources

Coyote's Song: The Teaching Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin, Richard D. Erlich, SFRA, 2007. http://www.sfra.org/Coyote/CoyoteHome.htm

Ursula K. Le Guin’s Web Site
http://www.ursulakleguin.com/

Earthsea Website
www.earthseaseries.com

This guide was written by Edward T. Sullivan, a librarian and writer.

This guide has been provided by Simon & Schuster for classroom, library, and reading group use. It may be reproduced in its entirety or excerpted for these purposes.

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The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Series #2) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a tale about a young girl named Tenar and her survival in the bleak and surturnine world of the Tombs of Atuan. However, the experinced mage named SparrowHawk/Ged goes there to try to find a lost art and to free Tenar from the groping madness of the ANCIENT ONES. I think that this has a mysterious plot because you never really know what will happen next in this story. I found this extremely satisfying and i recommend this for people 13 and over. I give this book FIVE STARS OUT OF FIVE.
extreme-reader08 More than 1 year ago
Wow, I wasn't expecting a story like this. The beginning doesn't relate at all to the previous book. I was thinking of returning it because I wasn't familiar with any of the characters. But the first book was so good, that I just continued to plow through. It was an interesting read I have to say. Not what I expected at all, which is a good thing from a critic's point of view. But to my disappointment none of the characters from the first book, except for Ged himself, make any second appearances. I was especially disappointed that Ogion didn't make a second appearance, he and Estarriol are my absolute favorites. But if your looking for an interesting read, this is the book your looking for.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It's a beautiful love story and so much more. I read it before the Wizard of Earthsea and I think it made it even better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It starts off a little slow, but gets better when Ged comes into the story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This series has been a favorite for over 30 years!
ben_a on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Re-read while down at the Cape. A perfect place for it.
kthomp25 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book for my children's literature class because it is a Newbery Honor selection. It is the kind of book that would make think that any book with the Newbery medal ought to be avoided.I did not enjoy it. It was vague and without much explanation. The characters were somewhat flat. It is the second of a trilogy, but I will not be reading the others. I would not recommend it for children unless they avid fantasy readers.
RebeccaStevens on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the second in a series of stories about Earthsea. In this book, Arha is a priestess at a temple that worships spirits of the Old Power. The setting is a stark island with a temple, tombs, and a dark labyrinth that Arha is free to explore. In the tunnel, she meets Ged, a wizard from Earthsea. They become friends, and Ged helps Arha to overcome the evil influences of the Old Power and regain her true name.I read this book when I was in middle school, and although I found it a little dark, I identified with Arha's loneliness. It was a touching book that has remained one of my favorites. The book is deserving of the Newberry award, for it is an excellent fantasy book for young adults. The theme of the power of friendship to overcome dark influences is universal. As it is a part of a series, it is not a stand-alone book, and should be read after reading the first one.
bluesalamanders on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked that the main character was not the same as in A Wizard of Earthsea - although I usually don't like that in a series, but here it seems that each book has a different main character, but some recurring character(s). It also seems like they could be read out of order without much confusion, but also without the lengthy explanation that often accompanies such things (summarizing the first book at the beginning of the second, a practice I hate).
jasmyn9 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The second book of the Earthsea Cycle introduces us to Tenar, The Eaten One, or the high priestess of the Nameless Ones. Tenar was selected at birth to hold this position and she loves to do so until the wizard Ged appears.Ged is there to rob the secret vaults of the Nameless Ones to find a ring that is rumored to help restore peace. Tenar discovers Ged when he enters the underground tunnels she loves to be in.A nice second book to the series, and it also sets up the third (almost done with it) quite well. I wish we were able to see more of Ged's life inbetween the books, but the glimpses of his life that the books do show us are fascinating.
Diwanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Part 2 of the Earthsea Cycle. Follows the life of Arha, her purpose, her transformation, and a meeting with a familiar stranger. Excellent book.
MeditationesMartini on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Occasionally there's this difficulty in knowing how to rate things when they're parts of a whole and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. On its own, The Tombs of Atuan is a stunning, sombre little piece of fantasy--a Bildungsroman about a girl selected Dalai Lama-fashion to be high priestess of this death cult and raised cloistered and twisted, until a stranger comes into her life and teaches her how to walk away and start life anew. Gives her herself back. It's a parable about hate and healing and feeling guilty and broken and finding a way, not to love yourself, or not right away, but to start again even though you don't love yourself and move away from what happened, for which the fault was none of yours. It's a story that I can very easily imagine speaking to victims of sexual abuse, child soldiers, the innocent and damaged.

And then you slap it up against A Wizard of Earthsea, and it is certainly inventive in the ways that book is generic, and its characters are certainly psychologically real--Ged in particular seems as if he has stepped out of the pages of history or legend and come alive. But it doesn't have that mythic sweep--Wizard is a timeless story that you can imagine coming out of an unfamiliar mythology, but Tombs is decidedly and defiantly modern. In some ways it's an uneasy mix, and I wonder if Le Guin changed the way she wanted to go with the series--the first book is like a chronicle, the second one like a thriller, and the first one deals in dragons and gebbeths, whereas in this book the Nameless Ones are never directly seen--we feel them only through Tenar and Ged's reactions, and of course that plays up the fact that they are your own fears--as opposed to Ged's shadow in the first book, which is his dark ambition but also a beast with four taloned legs and no face. The indirectness is very, very effective, but it also plays up the genre clash, and I'm curious if/how Le Guin is going to resolve it in The Farthest Shore.

eenerd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The saga of the magical world of Earthsea continues in Le Guin's second installment. What I love about this one is that it comes from the point of view not of Ged but of the Priestess of the Tombs (Tenar), so it is fresh and new. The entrance of Ged enhances and pulls together the string of the tale. Wonderful reading for any age, I can't wait to start the next one!
garalgar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the second book of the earthsea cycle. The main character is not Ged the mage, but Tenar the first priestess of an old cult. It´s an uncomplicated story about human feelings. The magic is present all through it without any extraordinary manifestations, such believable is Le Guin's wizardry. It´s an easy reading that can be easily accomplished in a full day.
jonathon.hodge on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
MUCH better than book 1 - good story, believable lead character, interesting concept and neat world. Read the first one, only to get adequate background for the second
RBeffa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After being so impressed with "A Wizard of Earthsea" I moved right on to "The Tombs of Atuan", the second book in the original Earthsea trilogy by Ursula K. Le Guin. Atuan is a very different book. It is much slower paced and quite a sad and dark novel. The focus of the story is on a young girl Tenar who has been chosen sort of like the Dalai Lama as a reborn incarnation of the one true priestess Arha. Her old soul is "eaten" and she becomes the embodiment of a long line of Arha's. She serves the ancient nameless ones at the Tombs. She has a sad, dark and lonely life until the young wizard Ged (Sparrowhawk) arrives unexpectedly about a third of the way in. The slow pace of the novel picks up a bit then. After the careful set up of the initial portion of the story we start the slow process of Arha's rescue from the old powers.I liked the overall story quite a bit, but the narrow focus didn't enchant me as much as A Wizard of Earthsea did. I'll be moving on shortly to another in the world of Earthsea.
drbubbles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Much of the story is interesting and nicely told, even if the story itself is nothing special. The prologue and the two final chapters, however, have a rare grace to them. The prologue gives poignancy to the bulk of the story. The last two chapters offer expiation for what happens in the bulk of the story. Many books are satisfying; this one is rewarding. And to think I almost didn't read it....
briandarvell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was the second book of the Earthsea collection by Le Guin. It was a short novel that only took about 3 or 4 hours to read. The novel gets off quite slowly with a lot of description and introduction. The second half of the story however gets much more enjoyable and there are also many of the small wise snippets that are customary for a Le Guin story. The world of Earthsea remains creative, intriguing and fun! Overall the story was fairly good and I shall continue to read the Earthsea stories.
nesum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While not as good as A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA, this book brought me happily back to Ursula K. Le Guin's wonderful world. Tenar was a joy to follow for a time, and the shadows surrounding her simple life a worthy enemy. While we did not travel as much in this book, I still got a sense of the world, and want to return as soon as possible.
rayechu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Much more fun then the first Earthsea. Finally a female character! I plowed through this, and can't wait for the next one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This sequel to The Wizard of Earthsea took a while to get going. The first half or so almost feels like a summary of the main character's life up to the main portion of the story. The character, herself, is a little difficult to like until very near the end. Still, this second Earthsea book is just as beautifully written as the first. It feels less like a sequel and more like a seperate story in the same world with an appearence by the previous book's main character. You'll want to have read the first book before picking up this one, but you don't need to read then back-to-back like you do with a traditional fantasy series. Beautiful, just not quite as good as the first.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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