A year ago, I binge read the first three books in the Earthsea Cycle. A Wizard of Earthsea came in a three-way tie for my favorite read of 2018. Tombs of Atuan was my least favorite of the three. I felt like it was too fascinated with the labyrinthian tombs and the ending took too much of the lead character’s agency that she had built.
Anyway, I decided to go back to the Cycle and read Tehanu, which is book four. When I discovered it would include the lead from this book along with Ged, I decided Tombs of Atuan deserved a re-read. The rich imagery of the book had stuck with me, even if I wasn’t always a fan of the execution. So I was excited to give it another try.
I’m glad I did. I wanted to like it more than I actually did but it’s still a solid entry into this rich, beautiful series. The imagery remains vivid; it didn’t feel the least bit stale on a second read. And I came to appreciate Arha’s journey to its end more than I did last time. I still think the end steals some of her agency but I understand more now why Le Guin had her take the path she did. And I appreciate it.
Also, I can’t think of another work of fiction that explores the depths of faith and doubt better than this. The second half of the book when she’s going back-and-forth with Ged on her religious views and her doubts is incredible and I still ponder those scenes.
I’m much more excited to read <i>Tehanu</i> now.