Guin, Ursula K. le

Book 2.0 of Annals of the Western Shore

Language: English

Publisher: Orion Childrens

Published: May 3, 2007

Words: 72451
Pages: 294


Ansul was once a peaceful town filled with libraries, schools, and temples. But that was long ago, and the conquerors of this coastal city consider reading and writing to be acts punishable by death. And they believe the Oracle House, where the last few undestroyed books are hidden, is seething with demons. But to seventeen-year-old Memer, the house is the only place where she feels truly safe. Then an Uplands poet named Orrec and his wife, Gry, arrive, and everything in Memer's life begins to change. Will she and the people of Ansul at last be brave enough to rebel against their oppressors? ***     *** ***Includes an interview with the author and a teaser to the third book in the series, *Powers*.*** ** ### From School Library Journal *Starred Review.* Grade 7 Up–The year Memer was born, a foreign army overthrew her city's elected government, declared the written word demonic, and destroyed every book it could find. Seventeen years later, possession of books is still punishable by death, and Memer and her mentor, the Waylord, are the protectors of a hidden library and the intermediaries of an oracle within it. At the invitation of the head of the occupying forces, Orrec the poet and storyteller and his wife Gry visit the city, and their arrival catalyzes the end of the occupation and the renewed prominence of Memer's extended family. Some readers will recognize Orrec and Gry from Le Guin's *Gifts* (Harcourt, 2004), although *Voices* stands entirely on its own. Filled with thought-provoking parallels to our own world, this political saga adeptly shows some pragmatic reasons why a war might end: growing personal connections between an occupying army and a local populace, changes in leadership and dimming of religious fervor within an invading nation, the expense of maintaining a distant garrison, and the recognition by two parties of shared economic goals better served by cooperation than oppression. While her prose is simple and unadorned, Le Guin's superior narrative voice and storytelling power make even small moments ring with truth, and often with beauty.*–Beth Wright, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington, VT* Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. ### From Booklist Gr. 7-10. Le Guin's new book pairs organically with its companion novel *Gifts *(2004), echoing themes of revenge, family legacies, personal morality, and a humanistic magic redolent more of earthy mysteries than flashy sorcery. Seventeen-year-old Memer, a "siege brat" resentful of the invaders who raped her mother and left her hometown "a broken city of ruins, hunger, and fear," dreams of one day delivering vengeance. Then Orrec and Gry arrive--the same teens who fled the Uplands in *Gifts, *now worldly, grown up, and, in Orrec's case, renowned as a Maker of stories. Orrec's tale spinning begins to erode the boundaries between the conquered and the conquerors, confronting Memer with decisions that temper her childhood dogmatism and press her to a deeper understanding of her mystical birthright. Readers who look to fantasy for traditional epic quests may consider this novel too contained, but the relevance of the slowly festering conflict between occupying and occupied cultures cannot be missed, and the author's understated writing flows as unstintingly as ever. One final note: the photo-collage jacket portrait of a dark-skinned girl is to be applauded, celebrating the diversity long present in Le Guin's fantasy but too infrequently evident on the covers of her books. *Jennifer Mattson* *Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved*