The Tombs of Atuan

Dark brown cover of The Tombs of Atuan with a silver ring carved with waves and broken in two.
Cover by Dominic Harman. Click to read an excerpt!

Title: The Tombs of Atuan

Author: Ursula K. LeGuin

Nutshell: Arha is not her name, it is her title. When she was a child, she was dedicated as the priestess to the Nameless Ones, and they ate everything that remained about her but that role. She is their only priestess, the ruler of her very small domain: the tombs of the Nameless Ones, their labyrinth, and their treasure rooms. She commands a handful of servants, acts out her duties during the festivals and sacrifices, and prowls the corridors of the labyrinth. Until the quiet sanctity of her tombs is broken by the most unexpected person: a barbarian sorcerer from across the sea.

Readalikes: It’s been a long time since I read anything in this vein. I cannot recall any titles. Portions of it reminded me of the second Chrestomanci book by Dianna Wynne Jones, but only vaguely.Read More »

A Wizard of Earthsea

Cover of A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin. Cover of a falcon stooping at the viewer by Dominic Harman.
Art by Dominic Harman. Click to read an excerpt!

Title: A Wizard of Earthsea

Author: Ursula K. LeGuin

Nutshell: Even as a lad, Duny, who would become the great wizard Ged, was powerful. His wizardry protected his village of farmers from the raiding army of the Kargs, though he was nearly dead by the end of it. Ogion, the silent mage, came then and took him as apprentice, but Duny’s heart yearned for quick power, for admiration and fame. In Ogion’s quiet abode, alone in the mountains, was none of that. So Ogion sent him to Roke, to the great school of wizards, and there Duny began indeed to win fame and power. Yet the desire for power, untempered by wisdom, can be a danger, and so it was with Duny. He allowed his power to be governed by his black temper, and woke something which had no name, something over which there could be no mastery.

Readalikes: Patricia McKillip’s books, especially Od Magic and The Riddle-Master of Hed. Diana Wynne Jone’s The Islands of Chaldea, The Name of the Wind, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader are also very similar, rooted in the same traditions.Read More »