Get a free audiobook

$14.95/month + applicable taxes after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

A bold young wizard enters the labyrinth of the sacred Tombs of Atuan to steal the magical ring of Erreth-Akbe. Instead, he finds an unhappy priestess in need of a hero to save her.
©1970 Ursula K. Le Guin (P)1994 Recorded Books, LLC

What the critics say

  • Winner, Newbery Honor, 1972

What listeners say about The Tombs of Atuan

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    37
  • 4 Stars
    15
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    32
  • 4 Stars
    14
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    30
  • 4 Stars
    16
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Surprisingly Mature

Ursula K. LeGuin's 'Earthsea' novels are often compared to Tolkien and C.S. Lewis - and the comparisons are apt - but the themes in this installment are much darker than a journey with singing dwarves or adventures with talking animals. LeGuin works her plot around a young girl "kidnapped" from her family to serve as Priestess for 'The Nameless Ones' - a cult of the Kargish. Sparrowhawk/Ged is eventually introduced.. captured and threatened with a gruesome death.. on a mission to the pitch-black Tombs in search of a magical artifact. The Priestess Arha realizes she needs to resist her fate, resumes her identity as the peasant Tenar, and helps Ged to escape the Labyrinth - fighting evil demons on the way out. The mood is notably dark, the writing is consequently subdued, and the imagery is sombre and occultish.
That isn't to say this novel isn't suitable for children.. in the end, good triumphs (and LeGuin expounds on life-lesson moral messages suitable for little ones).. but I was pleasantly surprised by the author's courageous decision to trust her audience to handle a more weighty Fantasy tale.
The biggest drawbacks to the book are that the pacing is off (too much time is spent on background development - yielding a plodding first third of the novel), there is very little actual action, and the book is too short (the climax is revealed too quickly and resolved with little satisfaction).

Rob Inglis is a brilliant narrator, but makes a couple of uncharacteristic errors in this recording: his voice-acting for Ged is too grave, and his reading rate is too slow (I had to set the playback speed at 1.15X). Still, he turns in an above-average performance.

Due to small mistakes in the writing and slightly subpar delivery from a legendary narrator, this book is inferior to the first in the series. I have never read these books before - so there is no nostalgia factor in my rating - but as an adult fan of epic Fantasy, I can say I was impressed with this entry. It easily warrants 7.5 stars out of 10.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Not bad

An interesting female perspective in an extremely male-dominated culture, but I felt like this could have been a little more in depth.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

succeeds as a sequel and a story

a really good sequel, I love how emersive these books are. Very good as a sequel because it expands on the world in a satisfying way.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Second in a Series, But First in my Heart

I adore The Tombs of Atuan. You can honestly read this as a stand-alone without having read the first series. The main character grows up from a normal small child, is taken into a temple, and grows up as the High Priestess. If you read the book, it comes with a map of her domain: the Dark Labyrinth. I love the details of this story and her mind's evolution as the story progresses. Definitely give it a listen. #Audible1

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Pure enjoyment!

I am revisiting a fabulous story of the struggle between good and evil and the great power of kindness. Masterfully crafted by one of the best!

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Matthew Kamibayashi
  • 2017-10-04

Narrative > Narrator

Rob Inglis's imperfect telling of "Tombs of Atuan" doesn't do justice to what is fundamentally a perfect story. Inglis's vocal range is not particularly strong, and it ignores nuances within the characters he represents. Ged, for instance, is no longer the youngster he was in "Wizard of Earthsea," but he's certainly not the elderly sage he sounds in Inglis's performance of "Tombs." Part of the problem is associative: Inglis uses precisely the same deep tone for Ged's voice in "Tombs" as he does for Ogion's in "Wizard." While this narrative decision does underscore the subtle parallels between the more mature Ged and his aged master (for instance, the way he controls the earthquake while underground), it mischaracterizes the age gap between Ged and Arha, which is not as great as Inglis makes it sound. Ged's voice is certainly deep, as the story explicitly states, but Inglis's rendition makes him sound ancient.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Troy
  • 2014-06-22

In Some Ways, the Best of the Original Trilogy

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

If you liked The Wizard of Earthsea, this is a must-read sequel. I love how LeGuin pulls on a few threads from the first novel but mostly departs into a completely different tale ... in tone, structure, plot, and even in geography. Marginalizing Ged as a character until halfway through is a brilliant stroke and gives us a new character to care about in the form of a young girl, chosen one of the old powers of the Earth. The result is powerful ... lyrical, dusky, narrow in scope. Wow. It probably works best for young adults, as a coming of age story for girls. But it has a universal appeal.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nothing really matters
  • 2016-07-22

Best. Fantasy. Series. Ever.

I purchased, downloaded and began reading this book the moment I finished the Wizard of Earthsea. And I did the same for the next book the moment I finished this one.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • G. Parish
  • 2015-04-30

A tale of a Priestess

This is more the tale of the priestess than it is that of the Wizard. With that in mind though, it is a solid tale well worth listening to.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Erin Ainsworth
  • 2019-07-27

The Tombs of Atuan

I read this and A Wizard of Earthsea after watching the TV adaption. As I stated in my review of the previous book, I was not expecting such a well written and engaging book as this one is.
This book follows Tenar, who is a priestess dedicated to vengeful and dark gods called the Nameless Ones. She starts out as a cruel and hard girl who grows into a cruel and hard young woman. Then Ged shows up and the story becomes quite redemptive. Since this is considered a YA novel, I wasn’t expecting good character arcs, but this book surprised me! I thoroughly enjoyed both the characters and their stories, and the well written world they lived in. Le Guin knows excellent prose and character development and these books have proven it. I am looking forward to the third one!
I will say, if you are looking for something resembling the TV mini series, you won’t find it here. The dialogue is not childish, the descriptions are brief but effective, and the story is darker than expected. Read this when you are needing a break from less accomplished authors!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Darwin8u
  • 2019-04-14

Alone, no one wins freedom.

"Alone, no one wins freedom."
- The Tombs of Atuan

I adore Le Guin's voice and her soul. I hate fantasy. Or, rather, I have told that to SO many people I believe it is true. But, I make exceptions. Le Guin could have writen self-help and business books and I'd gladly read them. She was a feminist, but unafraid to write a book both with a female lead, and a female lead who is helped by a man/wizard. She is interested in power, in evil, in humanity, in big questions and nuanced answers. Her prose is very good, but her characters are amazing. She recognized, I believe, that the secret to writing about strength is to write about weakness. Just like the secret to writing about light is to write about darkness. This isn't one of her GREAT novels, but I might even change my mind about that, if the ideas in this book are still pounding around in the labrynths of my brain in a couple weeks. I might need to give this book 5-stars just to escape it.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • D. Berzack
  • 2017-01-10

Dull and dreary compared with the first book

This book generally takes place in a dungeon setting, with a weak protagonist. This isn't inherently bad, but it's a significant departure from the vast landscape and dynamically powerful hero of the first book. I found it generally dreary and unsatisfying, but I'm still hooked on Le Guin's sage writing style and jumping right into the next book.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Charles Christiansen
  • 2021-05-27

Ursula Le Guin is almost irritatingly good

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.

Something of an inverted repeat of A Wizard of Earthsea, this story is not that of a peasant boy from the archipelago-lands who learns to become a powerful wizard, but instead follows one of the pale-skinned Kargs - those raiders who featured very briefly yet importantly in the beginning of the first book. This Karg is the child priestess of an ancient cult dedicated to the dark gods of the Kargish peoples, chosen from birth as the reincarnation of her predecessor. The story follows how she processes her identity, being at once imbued with great cultural prestige and power, yet from a personal angle being less than powerless. It is a coming-of-age type narrative far more compelling and unique than any of the thousands of YA novels you will find out there, despite being just 4 hours long.

Of course, what's really engrossing is Le Guin's style. She is a master of her craft. Upsettingly so. While I am personally a fan of great, beautiful descriptions and fantastical purple prose (in good measure), Le Guin is able to convey so much feeling and content in but a handful of words. She takes up no more space than she needs to, and every sentence spoken by any character is a compelling little quote that still manages to not feel unnatural or out of place. At times this can come across as simple, a bit basic or over-quick, but given the fairy-tale and highly mystical nature of the world of Earthsea, it in no way detracts from the overall themes and aesthetics, and if anything bolsters them. Of note is the surrealness of the book. It channels a feeling of emptiness and mystique which is never actually followed up on. This is compelling. It feels the way the world did when you were a child. There is very little outright magic in this book, compared to A Wizard of Earthsea, and the lands of Atuan are grim and unchanging - yet this makes the whole story seem much more bizarre and mysterious, making you wonder just what is real and what is imagined for the main character.

I will be continuing this series in due time.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Josh Angel
  • 2020-05-21

A slow start, but another great Earthsea installment

This second installment of the Earthsea series had a very slow start, but once Sparrowhawk arrives, the story picks up. Featuring a female teenage protagonist and a coming of age story, I was surprised that this story deals with her losing her faith in religion when she is faced with the truth, and it is handled very well. This book doesn’t have an aggressive agenda, something I can’t say for some other major Fantasy series intended for younger audiences *cough* Narnia *cough*

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.

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.

Interestingly, this story also flips the LOTR conception of a “ring of power” on its head. Sparrowhawks’ mission to find a certain ring of power that will restore peace is in stark contrast to the One Rings ability to increase the power of the user. This books ring is like the anti-One Ring.

The relationship between Sparrowhawk and Arha is well developed in such a short story, and it’s interesting to see the further development of Sparrowhawk through the eyes of a different character. He has clearly learned much since the first book, and has become both more powerful and more wise. The character or Arha was a bit annoying early on, but by the end her hero’s journey is as believable as it was nuanced.

The narrator, the same guy who reads the LOTR books, is great.

All in all, I am very much enjoying this series.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bill Crain
  • 2020-05-09

Transcendent, brilliant, perfect!

The story and characters are mythic! There truly are no adequate words to describe how amazing this book and the earthsea series really is. No disrespect to the Lord of the rings, Harry Potter, and even The Golden compass, but wizard of Earthsea is in a class by itself!

1 person found this helpful