To be honest, it’s been a few years since I read A Wizard of Earthsea—we had it in at work for once, I’d never read it, I’ve should have read because I’ve never really read any Ursula K. LeGuin and how have I never read her before. And I remembered that I liked it…but it didn’t blow my mind. And unfortunately, I haven’t gotten a chance to revisit the first book. So I knew going into The Tombs of Atuan that it was a follow-up to A Wizard of Earthsea, and I remembered a good chunk of what happened at the end of the first book, so I figured that I was fine. I think that whenever I get more time to actively read series, I would need the Earthsea cycle in its entirety. Not that I didn’t get was going on in this in relationship to the other books, I just think that maybe if I had more context, I’d like it better. (I know, I know; I don’t have to love something that’s universally loved by everyone else, but I do feel like I’ve missed something and it bothers me.) I liked the concept. I really liked the whole set-up of the Undying Priestess and the Gods of Atuan. (I am a huge fan of the “Dark is not evil” concept; especially when you get into death deities and the like.) I loved the descriptions of the eponymous Tombs and the Labyrinth contained within. Add in that LeGuin is essentially relying on describing what all the passages feel like and not using any other sense description, that was fantastic. I really enjoyed Tenar/Arha’s training and learning how to navigate the Tombs and the secrets within, and how to wield her position as the Guardian of the Tombs. And I liked Tenar in general—I felt like that even with her unease of what the Ancient Ones do to the people who trespass the Tombs, she’s willing to serve justice and what is right. I really liked her growing curiosity toward Ged, and how she willing keeps him alive to extract more information about life outside of the islands and his purposes there.The problem is that once Ged shows up, the plot immediately suffers. It’s suddenly revealed that Kossil is evil, because she doesn’t believe in the Ancient Ones and just wants to serve her king! I’m sorry, what? It’s made very clear that she doesn’t like Arha/Tenar…but there’s really nothing to serve her as the villain of the piece. And then Ged tells Tenar that the Ancient Ones are evil and she serves a dark purpose and she flat-out believes him. I’m sorry, but given that Tenar has spent most of her life being told what her purpose is—and even though she wants to see the rest of the world, it’s really not a major conflict for her to be the Guardian of the Tombs—and yet she just automatically believes Ged’s word? (Again, it’s been years since I’ve read A Wizard of Earthsea, maybe there’s just something I’ve forgotten in the meantime.) There’s no conflict. No showdown. This is why I think I need to read all the books in one go, because even while I liked The Tombs of Atuan (mainly the concepts), there’s something that I’m not getting. Maybe it’s because it’s been about five years since I’ve read the respective books, or maybe it’s just that I don’t love the Earthsea cycle as much as everyone else does.