The Tombs of Atuan, Ursula Le Guin
This always used to be my favourite of the series, both for sheer atmosphere and because it featured a female-centred world, in complete contrast to the first book. It’s almost the opposite, in that way: Ged isn’t the POV character anymore, and instead we follow Arha/Tenar, seeing her experience in a different land, seeing Ged as an outsider. That latter is especially fun, because though he talks about not learning Ogion’s lessons, it seems that he really has. And there was always an attraction for the dark rituals, Arha’s dance in front of the Empty Throne, the drums struck softly at heart-pace. Le Guin didn’t just blindly throw together a bunch of superstitions and fake rituals: it hangs together as a cohesive whole, and the fact that even the characters find the rituals meaningless, strange, the significances lost in time… that also works for me.
One image that always sticks with me is that of Ged asleep on the ground, the small thistle by his hand. That image somehow epitomises the book for me: his serenity and trust, his link to the world around him, and also the way Tenar sees him, truly sees him, alive and in the world and not at all a part of the dark existence she led before… it’s hard to put into words, but that image does it.