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Gifts (Annals of the Western Shore) Paperback – April 1, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
The backstory is pretty simple--families living in the Uplands have hereditary magical abilities or "gifts" (one type to a family) that can and usually are employed to harm: gifts of "unmaking" (killing/destroying), of "calling" (calling animals--used to call them to be killed), of "twisting" (maiming things and people), of "wasting" (cursing with a slowly fatal illness). The clans feud back and forth over land, cattle, etc. yet must also stay on terms to keep interbreeding as the gifts are strongest when bred true through the family. The description of the clans reminded me of old Celtic tales of cattle-thieving etc. Fans of Irish/Scottish old tales of Lloyd Alexander's Prydain series might see some similarities).
Into this world come two youths raised as friends since childhood. Orrec's family has the gift of unmaking (using the eyes and hands) and there is a lot of pressure on him early when his gift takes its time to manifest itself, possibly because his mother is an ungifted "lowlander" who left the lowlands to wed his father after a raid. When his gift does appear, it seems to be "wild", uncontrollable and a danger to those around him. At his own urging, Orrec is blindfolded to protect those he loves.Read more ›
Le Guin's anthropological background shines in this story as well. The setting has echoes of Scotland, but the fabric of the fantasy setting is woven so tightly that you never truly see our world through it. The culture the characters live in is fully realized and the actions of the characters within the setting reflect this. These are not modern people in fancy dress, strutting through some generic fantasy world; they live and breath on the pages, acting in ways that are wholly consistant with their imagined background. The result is a novel that is so envoloping that you quickly get lost in it. Read the exerpt here on amazon.com and then curse me, for you will be wanting to turn to the next page at the end of it and will end up paying for overnight shipping just so you can continue the story as soon as possible.
In addition to enjoying the story, I marvelled at the craft of this novel. The way the story is bookended by chapters that bring the story full-circle is beautiful in its elegance. Le Guin's careful revelations through the course of the plot show her mastery of pacing and presentation.
In summary, we are fortunate to have a living master of her art and craft like Le Guin turning out novels of this quality. At a time when fantasy seems to be measured more by bulk than quality, it is refreshing to read a novel in which every word is vital to the story. Take the opportunity to read a story told by someone in the full maturity of their talent and buy this book today.
I love reading LeGuin because she really understands the human condition and her characters, even in short stories, are always three-dimensional, fully-realized, living, breathing people. Her imagination is overflowing and you can sense the love she's put into imagining all the details of each world she creates, its customs and folkways, religion, language, history, dress; everything is there.
But more than that, where she really shines is in showing us the beauty and pain of our relationships with each other. The small kindness that breaks the heart, the well-meaning betrayal, the yearning to understand another, the void of loneliness, and the quiet strength of the spirit. Everything that is good and true about people, she captures.
I can recommend this to everyone. It's very quiet and slow-moving and understated but it's the stuff of true poetry; beautiful, tragic, but ultimately hopeful.
I also highly recommend her short story 'A Fisherman of the Inland Sea'. It's probably the best love story I've ever read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Second part of a series of three that promises to be as good as the first. LeGuin develops strong settings and cultures, characters and plots, and this book is no exception. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Gifts is set among primitive mountain tribes whose strange, wild magic pervades every aspect of their life. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Bartimaeus
Great book, a little bit slow in the beginning but completely engaging by the end.Published 9 months ago by LORENA I. ARANDA L.
The story itself is 4 stars. A great tale by leGuin, if not as magnificent as Wizard of Earthsea. But like so many ebooks, it's full of typos, and even completely wrong words as... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
Was a great book,read in one day could not wait to read the 2nd book :)Published 10 months ago by ayhan ulker
I have liked other books I've read by Le Guin in the past, so I don't know if my tastes have changed or that this book just wasn't up to par with her other stories. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Debra
We all know about superpowers. We’ve probably all read books about superpowers, too. So will one more book about superpowers really be that interesting? The answer is yes. Read morePublished 11 months ago by E.J. Jones
GIFTS is a novel about learning what your gifts really are and about using them in your own way, and not as society or your significant Other wishes. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Terence Blake
While I really enjoyed the book, this Kindle edition has many punctuation errors, misspellings, and even word omissions. Sometimes it was hard to read.Published 12 months ago by Mary Alice Alvarez