Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Voices by Ursula K. Le Guin

Once, Ansul was a light of reason and education on the Western Shore. But, for the past seventeen years, it's been occupied by the Alds of the western desert. They, believing that all writing is a sin and a form of devil-worship, destroyed Ansul's library and university. The occupied population has resorted to hiding their remaining books, often finding ways to bring them secretly to the house of Arcamand, where the old Waylord of Ansul resides. Memer is a resident of the house of Arcamand. Since she was a small child, she's had the secret ability to enter a hidden room in the house, and enjoyed nothing more than spending time with the books there. When the Waylord discovers her ability to enter the room, he begins to teach her to read and write, and to appreciate the written word in all its forms. But trouble is brewing in Ansul, and subterranean whispers for liberty break the surface when Orrec Caspro, the great poet and orator, arrives in Ansul, seeking the lost books of the old university.

Ursula K. Le Guin continues her musings on the nature of freedom in the second book of the Annals of the Western Shore, Voices. In this book, Memer is confronted with the xenophobia of the illiterate Alds, and her own complacency to their occupation. However, this book (like its predecessor) is as much about the value of writing as it is freedom, and how the former informs the latter.

Le Guin is still one of my all-time favourite authors, and for good reason. I know I say this about all her books, but it's true: she makes the narrative sing. Her ability to use narrative to create tension and move scenes is practically unparalleled. And her books (this one included) always contain a intricate subtext that is a joy to unravel.

Pick up this book if you like Le Guin, if you like fantasy, and if you like books about revolution. Le Guin's portrayal of revolution may surprise you.

View my suggested books by Ursula K. Le Guin

Genre: young adult fantasy
Format: e-book
Copy source: personal library

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