Back in Junior High I had a substitute teacher who told me there are two criteria you should use to judge a book by: if by page 40 the story hasn’t progressed or if there are more than 5 words on a page that you don’t understand, than you should stop reading it. I don’t typically follow that criteria, and indeed this is the first time I even remembered that advice, but if The Tombs of Atuan was not a required reading for my Children’s Literature course, I definitely would have stopped reading it already; the action did not pick up until page 66. I haven’t read book 1 of the Earthsea series, so I can’t really comment on whether all this “background” information was necessary. All I know is reading this as the first and very likely only book in the series, that first 66 pages was quite boring.
While I’m at it complaining, I might as well complain about how the particular version the University sent me is absolute trash; this particular print is paperback, which I actually prefer usually, but it is combined with no margins to speak of. I don’t even have the words to describe how crappy and hard it is to read.
The one, and maybe only, thing I like about this book is Le Guin’s phrasing. The way the author puts words together is quite marvelous. Here is an example
The dead silence closed in upon her whisper, ate it.
Actually not her best sentence, but I didn’t think of copying any of the earlier good ones and this sentence happens to be where I am in the book.
Despite the mastery of the language by the author, the book honestly had the feel of a cheesy romance novel. Only instead of a spiteful father or a loveless marriage, the main characters have to overcome a difference in culture and religion (not uncommon themes).
As I said, maybe my opinion of this book would be different if I read book 1 first, but I don’t have that luxury and can only base my opinion on this particular book of the series I read.