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Powers (Annals of the Western Shore) Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 1, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
Powers is the third book in Ursula K. Le Guin's ongoing series of YA books, Annals of the Western Shore. These are set in fairly standard fantasy world, at a tech level a couple of centuries in arrears to that of our world. The three books so far (the others being Gifts and Voices) are loosely linked by a couple of common characters, Orrec and Gry Caspro: we meet them as children in the first book, where they are the protagonists; and they have much smaller roles as adults in the later books. The three books are set in geographically separate areas of the "Western Shore," and they concern characters with differing magical abilities. But in the end the magical abilities are less important than the social milieus of the characters. Indeed, after three books I can detect a common theme. In each book, the characters are first displayed in a society based in one way or another on slavery. And in each book, the eventual key to escaping slavery is not violent resistance but rather learning.
Powers is probably my favorite so far in this series. Gavir is a boy who was kidnapped from his home in the Marshes as a tiny baby, and taken to the City State called Etra to be a slave in the House Arcamand. The Father of the House of Arca is a relatively benign slaveowner, and Gavir, along with his sister Sallo, grows up fairly comfortably. Gavir does have a magical talent, apparently unique to people of the Marshes -- he occasionally "remembers" future events. But his sister urges him to conceal these visions.
Slaves in this House are educated, and Gavir in particular is a promising scholar, and he is trained to become a teacher.Read more ›
Set in a world much like Ancient Rome or Greece, this five-hundred page epic follows Gavir, a bright young boy who was stolen as a baby and sold into slavery. Unlike most slaves, Gav is comfortable and happy. He lives with a wealthy family along with his older sister, Sallo. Despite hearing rebellious talk from other slaves and seeing hints of cruelty from freemen, Gav is fiercely loyal to his house and city. His impeccable memory makes him the perfect candidate to be a future teacher for his house. He also has another remarkable ability, the power to see snippets of the future and the past. Unfortunately, his gift does not warn him of the tragedy that is to come. His trust in his masters is betrayed and, mad with grief, he flees home. As always, Ursula K. Le Guin tackles hard subjects such as slavery, culture clashes, and the definition of freedom in this coming-of-age novel.
Though it starts slowly initially, once it picks up POWERS will have readers engrossed. Magic takes a backseat in this fantasy. Here the adversaries are not magical, rarely evil, and purely human. One of the strongest points in this novel is that all characters big and small are well thought through and carefully drawn. The kind and brave aristocratic son Yaven, the hermit Cuga, and the charismatic rebel slave Barna are just a few.
Ursula K.Read more ›
What I loved about this book was that it showed Le Guin's mastery of her craft. As a "young adult" novel, its surface story is a quick read and is composed with a spareness that makes it seem simple. Nothing could be further from the truth. Each sentence is constructed for purpose and reading this novel is like eating a gourmet meal. The portions are not huge, but each element is in perfect balance and selected to complement the others.
The result is a book with intricate layers of meaning and theme. She touches on, as you might imagine, power but also explores themes of loyalty, slavery, education, politics and more. Each time I go back to a Le Guin novel, I find something new and this book will be no different. This book entertains you but also gives you something to think about and discuss with friends.
With the third book in this series, it seems that the setting is beginning to speak to Le Guin more. This book is longer than the others and also covers more ground, both thematically and geographically. More of the Western Shore setting is being revealed to us and becoming an interesting character in the series as well.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I’ll admit it: I’m starting to have my doubts about the great Ursula K. LeGuin. This series, Annals of the Western Shore, is the first experience I’ve had with her, meaning I... Read morePublished 1 month ago by E.J. Jones
Ursula Leguin is a great author! I really enjoy her books. Powers is another winner!Published 3 months ago by Subjectus
While moderately interesting and with classic language, the book is strongly targeted for younger teenage audience and is not really engaging for an adult. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Alexy
I loved this tale - loved following the characters through time and place and seeing them change as the story did. Can't wait to read another of her books. This was my first.Published 9 months ago by J. Hopper
A fitting conclusion to an engrossing trilogy. As usual, Le Guin has created living characters in a different world. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Sharon