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Stephen Smith
Jan 23, 2017




Powers (Annals of the Western Shore #3)

by Ursula K. Le Guin


  • Difficulty Level : Young Adult
  • Length :502pages ( roughly 3 days)
  • Type: Fantasy Fiction
  • My Rating: *****


Young Gav can remember the page of a book after seeing it once, and, inexplicably, he sometimes “remembers” things that are going to happen in the future. As a loyal slave, he must keep these powers secret, but when a terrible tragedy occurs, Gav, blinded by grief, flees the only world he has ever known.

In what becomes a treacherous journey for freedom, Gav’s greatest test of all is facing his powers so that he can come to understand himself and finally find a true home.

Book Review:

This book is not constructed in those epic manner ( single hero, born of tragedy, learnt many skills, kill the dragon and become the hero ) , instead it is a journey of how a slave named Gav find his direction in life through many trials.

Instead, the author truly took effort to plot a detailed description of the many different “worlds” the Gav move to. In a way, i feel it is a progression from the second book whereby we talk about forced oppression, this book is about caged mentality.

This book is about perception, example, how do you know it is right? Just because someone is nice or good to you? It is right? But due to the lack of opportunities ( or exposure or knowledge ) you will just accept things as it is.

Just a few examples from the book, Gav and his teacher Everra were brought up as slaves, in their world, they were taught that their masters were law,they were taught they have to sacrifice everything for their masters and to trust everything they say. The concept of disobedience was non-existent.

When he ran over to Barna, he wanted a society of Free Men, a place with no slavery however the hypocrisy is that Barna has everything and everybody have to listen to him.

I don’t know whether the younger generation will appreciate her way of story telling. I personally find that her metaphor are interchangeable, slavery to me is a form of abuse. There are many incidents whereby spouses (typically men) will physically abuse their other half. They will find excuses like children or their other half have done something wrong or they were drunk. Of course family structure is very complex in nature and everybody have to decide how they wish to lead their life.

This is one book i will re-read again after a few years.


Voices (Annals of the Western Shore #2)

by Ursula K. Le Guin


  • Difficulty Level : Young Adult
  • Length : 341 pages ( roughly 4 hours )
  • Type: Fantasy Fiction
  • My Rating: *****


Ansul was once a peaceful town filled with libraries, schools and temples. But that was long ago, before the Alds came. The Alds believe demons hide in words, and so they ban reading and writing, acts now punishable by death. What few books have survived are hidden in the Waylord’s House for safekeeping, in the care of the Waylord, crippled by years of torture, and the daughter of his heart, Memer.

And now times are changing. The Uplands poet Orrec Caspro and his wife Gry have arrived, and in his voice is a clarion call, awakening a conquered people.

The second book of the Annals of the Western Shore, Voices is a haunting and gripping coming-of-age story set against a backdrop of violence, intolerance and magic.

Book Review:

I thought the first book was ok but this second one is insanely good. I am truly impressed with the way she is able to compose so many ideas into a novel and make it so good. It is a good novel that managed to combine topics on conflicts, religion, revolution, culture and oppression in a readable manner.

Through the character of Memer, the half Alds and Ansul, the result of the war on the city, it tackle how the society views woman in that era. It shows the identity issues and how an oppressed woman felt and how she manages.

The relationship between the Alds and the Ansul, is really like an analogy about religious conflicts in the modern world. Through the weaving of the story, like how we always pre-judge or jump to conclusion about the other person without trying to understand them. ( either as a person or their culture )

In the end we are actually just human, we are just the same. I think in a blatant sense, she is also trying to highlight that education is Key, not necessarily to enlightenment but at least to Knowledge. At least you wont be afraid of the Unknown.

Gif(Annals of the Western Shore #1)

by Ursula K. Le Guin


  • Difficulty Level : Young Adult
  • Length : 286pages ( roughly 4 hours )
  • Type: Fantasy Fiction
  • My Rating: ***


Scattered among poor, desolate farms, the clans of the Uplands possess gifts. Wondrous gifts: the ability–with a glance, a gesture, a word–to summon animals, bring forth fire, move the land. Fearsome gifts: They can twist a limb, chain a mind, inflict a wasting illness. The Uplanders live in constant fear that one family might unleash its gift against another. Two young people, friends since childhood, decide not to use their gifts. One, a girl, refuses to bring animals to their death in the hunt. The other, a boy, wears a blindfold lest his eyes and his anger kill.

In this beautifully crafted story, Ursula K. Le Guin writes of the proud cruelty of power, of how hard it is to grow up, and of how much harder still it is to find, in the world’s darkness, gifts of light.

Book Review:

This is the first book of Annals of the Western Shore series, each crafted in a different manner, Gifts has philosophical meaning using the analogy that powers or talents can be used for good or bad things . It focus on exploring what it means for a person to have a potentially lethal ability and the how one will choose.

It also touches on Parents’ expectation on their children on how the children need to conform to either family traditions. Questions whether to groom and nurture their talent or to leave it absent.

better knowledge of human nature – and you will get Gifts.