Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Le Guin, Ursula. 2004. Gifts.

Gifts had me practically at hello. "He was lost when he came to us, and I fear the silver spoons he stole from us didn't save him when he ran away and went up into the high domains. Yet in the end the lost man, the runaway man was our guide." (1) If the first chapter didn't hook me (which it did) then the second would have certainly, "To see that your life is a story while you're in the middle of living it may be a help to living it well. It's unwise, though, to think you know how it's going to go, or how it's going to end. That's to be known only when it's over." (15) I hope that gives you a small glimpse of just how magical this fantasy can be.

Here is how the jacket describes it, "Scattered among poor, desolate farms, the families 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 cruelty of power, of how hard it is to grow up, and how much harder still it is to find, in the world's darkness, gifts of light."

Gifts is the story of Orrec and Gry and the outsider, Emmon, that unknowingly showed them the way out. I loved the story; I loved the characters. Highly recommended. It is a story beautifully and powerfully told. It's not quite your typical framework of storytelling. But it works. It really works.

"Grieving, like being blind, is a strange business; you have to learn how to do it. We seek company in mourning, but after the early bursts of tears, after the praises have been spoken, and the good days remembered, and the lament cried, and the grave closed, there is no company in grief. It is a burden borne alone. How you bear it is up to you. Or so it seems to me." (202)

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


chrisa511 said...

I'm so glad that you liked it as much as me, Becky. This one really brought me back to le Guin. I had sort of disowned her work for awhile, but I learned that she really is a talented writer, just not all of her stuff is for me. Seems like a lot of people feel that way about her. Doesn't the description of the book sound like this could be the biggest rip off of the Tales of Alvin Maker? lol...I thought it would be when I first heard about it, but it wasn't at all. Totally different kind of story. Loved it!

Stephanie said...

Sheesh. This challenge is so killing me!! All the great reviews! This book sounds wonderful!

DesLily said...

my wish list and tbr list just keeps on growing!!!! argh! LOL thanks Becky.. i think lol

Unknown said...

I do really want to read this series. I enjoyed the first four Earthsea books and would like to read more of her writing. Sounds like this is an excellent next stop!

Ana S. said...

I'm so happy that you liked this one, Becky! I also loved that quote you posted from chapter two. I really recommend the rest of the series - it's just as good, if not better!