22 Following


I listen to a lot of audiobooks, read a lot of library books and e-books, still somehow never have enough room on my bookshelves.

Currently reading

The Radical King (King Legacy)
Martin Luther King Jr., Cornel West
Ancillary Justice
Ann Leckie

I remember this one best. (Aka: the one with girls in it)

The Tombs of Atuan - Ursula K. Le Guin, Rob Inglis

And even that as a series of images an brief scenes: Tenar being called home through the orchard, sitting with Penthe on the wall when the looms should be black with cloth, learning to catch thrown knives, peep holes under stones in the desert, no one knowing what a bracelet was. It's more than I have of the other two, and I think that's because Tenar was a girl, and it was easier to imagine being her. Alternately, this book is just more vividly imagined than the rest, but I don't think that's true.


Le Guin chose to continue her series about Ged and letting him get older, wiser and more powerful, while keeping the protagonist a teenager. This landed her with the pleasant challenge of making a point of view character who tortures the ever living hell out of the hero of the previous book, who we love, while still remaining sympathetic. We do not meet Ged until half way through the book, and we don't get his point of view at all, other than as filtered through the teenage high priestess of the evil chaos gods. Even still, we see him clearly: Kind, humorous, a little arrogant still, now unimaginably powerful, and having an incredibly bad week.


Tenar we get to know better, and she's always been my favourite. She's the first time I ran into the prototypical YA heroine, and I've liked the type ever since. She is raised in a place where feelings are absolutely a weakness that not only her evil chaos gods will jump on, but her political rivals will as well. The only person she can trust is her eunuch guard, (and she doesn't understand his value until too late), so she's essential on her own from age five to sixteen. All advice and offers of friendship must be weighed and checked for dangers, everyone and everything must be watched and figured out without help. If she slips up, she'll die, probably horribly.


We're given all this during the first half of the novel, and then she meets Ged. She immediately tries to murder him. The rest of the book is Tenar exploring her personhood in the same way she explores the black subterranean maze under her temple. There's a lot of stumbling, and a lot of feeling around, and this really, really isn't Ged's week, but watching Tenar figure it out is gorgeous.


I will say that I'm glad the novel didn't explicitly push the romance angle. I'd heard it said that it was Ged's big romance, and I profoundly wasn't feeling it because Tenar was so young and emotionally shattered. However, while there's a powerful bond between the two, anything sexual that may or may not happen, happens after the end of the book when Tenar is free. (Powerful wizards not sleeping with teenage priestesses is a trope that a few more books of the period could have benefited from.)