Years ago in elementary school, I read a young adult's fantasy novel. The story was about a young girl training to be a sacred priestess of some kind with a monk (?) in a holy sacred caverns that had to be kept dark. She and the monk who I think was blind were the only ones allowed in. There were some books or relics in the caverns. She was either blindfolded or in complete darkness for some time. The main characters were the young woman and the (blind?) monk attending her.

I want to say the cave was part of a monastery or some religious building. Eventually, her training is interrupted, and they catch someone in the caves, or she is 'rescued' from the caves.

The majority of the first chapters of the book went into detail about her training, being in the dark in the caves, and the monk who followed her. She may or may not have been an orphan but the idea was a priestess of this sacred cave was trained from childhood to become 'the' priestess of it and keeper of the relics in it I suppose.


1 Answer 1


This sounds like The Tombs of Atuan, by Ursula LeGuin. Arha (originally named Tenar) is selected as high priestess of the dark powers of the Tombs. She is trained, mostly by other priestesses, but there are also monks, in the lore of the great underground labyrinth into which only she is allowed to go. Before the entrance to the labyrinth proper is a lesser maze where the other priestesses are allowed, but no light is permitted.

The first half of the book covers Arha's life and training around the Tombs. The second half deals with her relationship with Sparrowhawk, the titular Wizard of Earthsea. He has come for the treasure immured at the end of the labyrinth, in which Arha initially traps him. Eventually, he convinces her to change sides and aid him.

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    FINALLY! That is it! Manan is what I was thinking of who is not a blind monk but a eunuch. Fascinating. I never read the rest of the Earthsea books but of course know of them. I am stunned I did not find this out sooner!
    – Seanchaí
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 12:27
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    super question and super answer!
    – Fattie
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 17:00
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    Tenar's story continues in Tehanu (the 4th book in the series, of which The Tombs of Atuan is the 2nd). But Tehanu was published much later (1990 vs 1970). Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 18:02
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    +1! A great book, one of my favourites... I still reread it 40 years later, "young adult" book or no!
    – AAT
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 10:59
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    @AAT Well, it's not really "young adult" so no need to worry...
    – Mithoron
    Commented Oct 24, 2017 at 15:01

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