Voices by UrsulaK. Le Guin As is happens this is the Second Book of the Western Shore. I mistakenly picked it up before the first book: Gifts. Luckily for me, this book didn't seem to require the first. I will be reading that one soon.
Le Guin is a master of creating worlds (as anyone who's read The Left Hand of Darkness knows) and she's also well-known for her fantasy. As expected, I really enjoyed this book. I love how Le Guin can create these other cultures so well -- down to minor customs & religious beliefs. The story was engaging; I don't want to discuss the plot too much, lest I give things away.
This world was really interesting. It was about a town that had been invaded by the Alds 17 years previously and was still dealing with the aftermath. The Alds have a different religion -- a harsher religion that doesn't treat women as equals and fears writing. They are difficult rulers and have forced the people to give up many of their old customs.
The story is told by Memer, a girl whose mother was raped by a soldier during the invasion. She lives in the House of the Oracle, although at the start of the book that is just a name to her. She is very intelligent and has special powers (she can enter a "secret room"). The book deals with her conflict over how to treat the Alds -- she hates them and wants them out of the city, but attack may not be the best way to accomplish her goal. She is helped by her mentor, a poet, a lion tamer -- and the lead Ald.