The Tombs of Atuan - Analysis

Analysis

While the series' first book consisted of a coming of age process through an arduous voyage which would ultimately lead to Ged confronting his own issues, The Tombs Of Atuan works in a much more restricted, confined space, which reflects itself in the narrative's style and progression, Tenar's tale being more intimate and less epically inclined than the previous novel. Whereas Ged's quest led to his dramatic confrontation with himself and his own darkness, and ultimately, to his acknowledgment of his full identity and power, Tenar's triumph is that of coming to freedom.

Ged, while still a young man, is portrayed here as much wiser than in the first book. When Tenar asks him about the scar on his face, caused by the Shadow creature that he unleashed, he replies that it is the result of his foolishness in the past - his ambition has been tempered with experience. And it is his ambition and intelligence, combined with Tenar's budding wish for freedom and a wider world, that leads to their success.

Tenar reappears and plays a large role in the fourth book of the series, Tehanu.

The way in which Tenar becomes the Priestess of the Tomb - on the death of the previous Priestess, a child is located who is considered to be her reincarnation - is similar to the actual manner in which a Dalai Lama is chosen in Tibetan Buddhism.

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