Thursday, February 15, 2007

"In a little voice like a disconsolate quail"

Gifts (Annals of the Western Shore) by Ursula K. LeGuin

This is the book whose sequel (Voices) I accidentally read first. It turns out that it does have a lot of the same characters, but they are grown up in the second book. So it was like I was learning about the past lives of people I'd already met, which was quite cool.

The story takes place in the Uplands. The people (some of them, anyway) in this region have strange powers. Just by looking at someone they can "unmake" someone or blind them or control them. Each family has a different power.

Orrec's family has the gift of unmaking, but his doesn't work correctly. Rather than hurt anyone unintentionally, he has deliberately blinded himself. His best friend, Gry, has the power to call animals, but she is also wary about using her powers. She would rather train animals than call them to be killed. The novel is about Orrec learning to deal with his blindness and also his feelings about his powers.

It's a wonderful story; I think I prefer it to the sequel. Ursula K. LeGuin is just so good at creating other cultures. It's a bit hard to tell from the picture, but the cover of this book is also gorgeously illustrated.

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