My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read Ursula K. Le Guin’s classic fantasy, A Wizard of EarthSea about a year ago. It was actually during the same 6 hour long upcountry journey by bus from Kampala to Gulu which I just took. Back then as now, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Le Guin’s oh-so-wise afterword as much as the book itself. To have highly-acclaimed author tell you her thought process as she wrote a fantasy series 50 years ago is something special. She puts so much soul into her craft, so much thought into her characters, what they stand for, how they look and she was a rebel in her time who worked towards diversity in her literary universe.
The Tombs of Atuan is the second book in the Earthsea Cycle series. Our main character is the Eaten One, who starts out as an innocent 5 year old village girl, Tenar who becomes Arha, the High Priestess of some dark insidous power known as the Nameless One. To be quite honest with myself, the first few chapters were rather dull. There isn’t much for the High Priestess to do other than stalk the dark chambers. The story picks up when she traps a tomb raider and instead of having him killed on the spot, she shows him leniency at great personal risk. What she does not realise is that that is Ged/Sparrowhawk, one of the greatest wizards.
The Tombs of Atuan is brazen in its portrayal of the Earthsea alternate universe where dragons talk, wizards abound and dark terrible forces of darkness walk the earth. In the afterword, Le Guin talks about how her heroins are not actual fearsome head-bashing men with boobs masquerading as women and neither are they damsels in distress. Her aim was to have her characters meet each other halfway. And yes, I sort of like that idea