The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin

Snapshot of me reading:

Still refusing to get out of bed during my first day of Christmas break.

The book:

The second book in the Earthsea Quartet, this novel has a narrator who is a bad-ass priestess with absolute control over a very small piece of underground turf.  She describes everything in black-and-white terms, because everything in her world is black and white.  The underground darkness is her “kingdom,” and daylight aboveground is where everyone else leads unfathomable lives.  As she starts to question her position and her worldviews, more light starts creeping into the absolute darkness of her underground realm, and her views of the world become more nuanced.  The Tombs of Atuan ended up being my favorite in the Earthsea Quartet.

On a side note, as I was trying to find a good cover image to go along with this blog post, I came across a million ridiculous covers.  (The version I read was just one part of the Earthsea Quartet, which has this cover, which is kind-of boring to put on the reviews of four separate books):

But then, all I could find online were dumb covers like this:

OMG I’m a girl so I must clutch your arm so you can save me, O Brave Wizard.

Must! hold! hands!  Because, you know, any story with two young protagonists MUST illustrate them clutching each other at one point, even though the actual in-story hand holding had NOTHING to do with *luuuuuurve*


This book has been re-published a million different times, which speaks to its lasting legacy, but why can’t publishers put the bad-ass version of the priestess on the cover, instead of the one where she’s all help me help me I’m gormless?  The book is, after all, about her.  Some of the covers didn’t even have her on it:

Wizard to the rescue. At least this cover gets points for artsiness.

Wizard to the rescue, take two. And there’s a dragon just for kicks, even though a dragon NEVER EVER APPEARED in the book EVER.

And then there are the covers that don’t focus on the rescuer-wizard, but still ignore the fact that the best part of the book is the awesome narrator.

So Symbolic.

In case you [blog reader] didn’t notice, yes, the narrator does get rescued (by the wizard) and so, *spoiler* she sails away at the end of the book. So this did actually happen in the plot, and this illustration does beautifully show how forlorn the experience of completely leaving one life behind would be, but STILL, a cover of a sad girl is NOT THE SAME as a cover of an awesome girl.

I guess the last cover is as good as I’m going to get, so congratulations, sad girl!  You are now the poster girl for this beautiful book.  7 out of 10.


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