In the legends of Earthsea, it is said that the wizard and king Erreth-Akbe was defeated by the high priest of the Kargad lands, and his amulet of power, bearing the rune of bonding, was broken and was lost.
Now, in the second book of Earthsea, the wizard Sparrowhawk enters the menacing labyrinth of the Tombs of Atuan to regain the amulet, and restore the rune which will bring peace to all of the islands of Earthsea.
Yet the labyrinth has a guardian, a young princess called Arha, whose life is dedicated to the the dark spirits who inhabit the tombs. She is determined that Sparrowhawk will meet the fate the befell Erreth-Akbe long ago.
The Tombs of Atuan follows on from A Wizard of Earthsea but there is a distinctly different feel to the story. Featuring a predominantly female cast and set mainly in the location of the Tombs it is a departure from its predecessor. Those expecting simply more of Sparrowhawk and his voyages will be in for a surprise. Ursula Le Guin again shows the power of names introduced in A Wizard of Earthsea, and the themes of light and shadow, good and evil are again evident. It is a courageous and compelling sequel.
Karen Archer’s narration is first-rate and her pacing and delivery are once again perfect.
About the reader
To all of her performances, Karen Archer brings a seamless fluidity and humanity combined with precision and attention to detail. These qualities have made her a familiar voice in the many documentaries she has recorded for National Geographic and Discovery Channel. Karen has made numerous broadcasts for BBC Radio, twice being a member of BBC Radio Drama Company. Her work in the theatre includes classics such as Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan, Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts and contemporary roles such as Annie Wilkes in an adaptation of Steven King’s novel Misery. Her extensive television work has included Assistant Chief Constable Anne Stewart in the police drama series The Chief and Queen Elizabeth I in David Starkey’s acclaimed historical series, Elizabeth.
Karen has read a biography of Queen Elizabeth I for Naxos Audio Books. For Craftsman, she has also recorded the complete Snow-Walker trilogy by renowned fantasy author Catherine Fisher and the critically-acclaimed recording of Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea. Karen says of its sequel, The Tombs of Atuan:
“Ursula Le Guin’s evocation of atmosphere and place is quite breathtaking. But it is her overriding belief in the enduring goodness of one human spirit in the face of evil that is at the core of this book, connecting Earthsea to the here-and-now.’’
About the author
Ursula K. Le Guin was born Ursula Kroeber in 1929 in Berkeley, California. Her mother was a writer and her father an anthropologist. Her childhood was spent in a household filled with talk, argument and discussion surrounded by books, music and story-telling. As the only daughter in her family, the absence of her 3 elder brothers during World War Two made the summers at home lonely ones. Yet she considers those long days as a teenager, wandering the hills, of great importance: ‘I think I started making my soul then’ Ursula says. With a love of languages, she studied French and Italian literature at Radcliffe College. In 1953, in Paris, she married the historian Charles A. Le Guin. A very private person, Ursula Le Guin has three children, three grandchildren and lives in Portland, Oregon.
She has published six books of poetry, twenty novels, over a hundred short stories, four collections of essays, eleven books for children, and four volumes of translation and says of the work of authorship: “Writing is my craft. I honour it deeply. To have a craft, to be able to work at it, is to be honoured by it.”
The books in the Earthsea cycle were first published to great acclaim in 1968 with A Wizard of Earthsea. Millions of copies have subsequently been sold and the books have been translated into 16 languages. Ursula says:
“Exploring the Archipelago, discovering the rules of magic and what happens when you break them, the things I learned in Earthsea and the people I met there – that’s been a great part of my life for nearly forty years. And a great part of the joy of it is knowing that I share it with my readers.”