Love, learning and liberty

city

Ursula Le Guin Powers
Orion Children’s Books 2008

Gifts, Voices and Powers, as well as being linked by shared geography and key characters, are together an exploration of what exactly constitutes magic and magical abilities. Gifts showed two individuals, Orrec and Gry, developing talents that could equally be regarded as non-magical in our own world, namely storytelling and poetry and empathy with animals. Voices focused on Memer, whose apparent gift of prophecy actually called into doubt that oracles, with their ambiguous messages, could actually foretell the future: were they not just a reflection of human attempts to make sense of gnomic utterances?

And now we come to Powers, the third and possibly the last of the Annals of the Western Shore. Continue reading “Love, learning and liberty”

Both foreign and familiar

split
Diocletian’s Palace, Split, Croatia

Ursula Le Guin Voices
Orion Childrens Books 2007

Le Guin has a magical gift of creating credible alternate universes peopled with characters so well drawn you feel you know them personally, suffusing them with a passionate humanism that both transforms and warms her worlds of SF and fantasy. Voices is part of another such world, set in the Lands of the Western Shore, and while linking the previous title Gifts and the sequel Powers exists equally well as a standalone novel. Continue reading “Both foreign and familiar”

A little gem

stones

Ursula Le Guin Gifts
Orion Childrens Books 2005

Gifts is the first of a series entitled the Annals of the Western Shore by the admirable Ursula Le Guin. Best known for her Earthsea fantasies, she is also outstanding in the fields of SF, short stories, poetry, articles and reviews. The three titles that make up her Annals sequence may not have achieved the same level of appreciation as the Earthsea books (and amateur reviews generally have demonstrated a perplexity that the Annals haven’t been as epic as those earlier tales) but my feeling is that they are every bit as thoughtful despite a superficially unambitious and inauspicious start. Continue reading “A little gem”