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