The Annals of the Western Shore

Cover for GIFTS by Ursula K. Le Guin Cover for Voices, by Ursula K. Le Guin Cover for Powers, by Ursula K. Le Guin


PEN/USA award to Gifts

Sept. 4, 2005

The Judges say: "Gifts confirms Ursula Le Guin's ability to invent a country where the natural and supernatural seem both harrowing and mundane. In the Uplands, families fear one another because of their inherited gifts: the power to destroy both enemies and kin with 'a glance, a gesture, a word.' The book asks a question of great moral weight:..."



"Gifts is an excellent read for teens of all interests. Fans of fantasy will be particularly drawn to it, but the world is grounded enough in earthly reality that it should appeal even to those who usually avoid the fantastical. Thought-provoking and suspenseful, with a dollop of action and romance, a novel like this is a gift to its readers." [complete review]

— Lynn Crow

"...a brilliant exploration of the power and responsibility of gifts.... " [continued]

— Publishers Weekly

"What a pleasure it is to read a well-crafted story told by a master!... highly recommended."

Children's Literature

"A new novel from SFWA Grandmaster Ursula K. Le Guin is always welcome..." [continued]

— Rich Horton

Le Guin's 'Gifts' unwraps questions about the control or misuse of power

"In this moment in history, as well as in the current political climate, perhaps it's impossible not to see commentary behind every character in a young adult fantasy novel. But Le Guin's detailing of the consequences of greed, bullying and misused power is timeless as well as timely, and has the deep, lasting ring of truth that makes for well-loved, enduring young adult literature."

— Erin Ergenbright
Portland Oregonian
Sunday, August 29, 2004

Read an Excerpt

"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...."


Harcourt Children's Books
September 1, 2004
ISBN: 0152051236

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Locus Award nomination, April 2007

New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age 2007. [3Mb pdf]

Read an Excerpt

"What do we have to do?" I asked.

He stood up. He picked up the small lantern he had brought. "First the darkness," he said. I followed him.


Reviews & Comments

"...her tales are universally readable..."

— Magda Healey
The Bookbag
[complete review]

Striking a fantastic blow on behalf of the magic of words

"As cultural icons go, libraries have had it tough. When they're not being razed, like the great library in Alexandria, Egypt, or sacked, like the ancient one in Baghdad by the Mongols, they're beset by prudish people who'd pick the shelves clean of whatever offends them this week. Pity the poor children in whose name these battles are often waged.

"Ursula K. Le Guin aims straight for the gut of this latter group — particularly the sort of bookish teen apt to read fantasies — by setting her latest young adult novel, "Voices," in a ruined household with a secret library, one that the city's oafish conquerors are frantic to find and destroy.

"Barbarians-versus-brainiacs may be well-trod turf, but Le Guin sure-footedly makes it new. She creates a protagonist with obvious appeal to her intended audience: a geeky girl with bad hair but a quick intelligence, who nurses a seething contempt for the illiterate thugs who run everything." [complete review]

— Anne Boles Levy
Special to The Times

"In Voices, Ursula Le Guin does something I wouldn't have thought possible: she takes nearly every trope of the fantasy genre and deliberately sets them aside. Vows are broken, what seems magic becomes mundane, the mundane reveals itself as magical..."[continued]

— Lisa Goldstein
Strange Horizons

Mystical, magical worlds worth visiting again and again

"Although part of a larger sequence, Voices stands nicely on its own. The stakes of the plot are high, but Le Guin keeps her prose calm and free of melodrama. Magic plays a part in the resolution of the narrative's central conflict, but the true theme of the book is the art of diplomacy, how the correctly chosen words can bring understanding in the midst of strife. Le Guin delivers this timely message with a sure hand." [complete review]

— Michael Berry
San Francisco Chronicle

" always, Le Guin's language is airy and sensuous as her concerns are weighty and abstract, every sentence as precise as a spade cut or the 'strange clear light' of the room where little Memer first stumbles upon books."

— Elizabeth Ward
Washington Post Book World
3 Sept 2006

"Le Guin's crystalline prose and her ability to dramatise political and spiritual issues of our time are unequalled."

— Amanda Craig
The London Times
27 May 06

"...effortlessly at the top of her game. Voices... is a marvelously thoughtful and intelligent piece of fiction.... Le Guin's writing is spare and humane, her imagination forceful and dramatic, and her book is transparently the pick... of the summer."

— Tim Martin
The Independent
Sunday, 9 July 06

1 September 2006
Harcourt's Voices website
ISBN: 0152056785

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Nebula Award® for Best Novel, 2008.

Powers was shortlisted for the Locus Award for best Young Adult Book and for the 2008 Endeavour Award.

Powers has been named one of the New York Public Library's 2008 Books for the Teen Age

Read an excerpt

"Don't talk about it," Sallo tells me.

"But what if it's going to happen? Like when I saw the snow?"

"That's why not to talk about it.



"In her facility in world-making and her interest in human nature, Le Guin stands above almost all of what's out there. Her exploration of identity and power, of social structures and the meaning of freedom, can only enrich her readers. Gav's vulnerability and his slow recognition of his real gifts make him both familiar and admirable, like any child who struggles to know one's strengths and place in the world. This is a good, long trek of a fantasy." [continued]

— Deirdre Baker
Toronto Star
16 December 2007
[complete review]

"The series is also concerned with power — or rather, the giving up of power. It's an unusual theme in a genre that sometimes seems to be only about military or magical power: getting it, fighting to hold onto it..." [continued]

— Lisa Goldstein
Strange Horizons
19 October 2007

"With compelling themes about the soul-crushing effects of slavery, and a journey plotline that showcases Le Guin's gift for creating a convincing array of cultures, this follow-up to Gifts (2004) and Voices (2006) may be the series' best installment."

— Jennifer Mattson
Booklist Online
1 October 2007
[complete review]

"So, let's play. What if there were a writer who exhibited all the inventiveness of genre fantasy but played out the action with a cast of nuanced, gritty, convincing characters in a prose style that was as lean, distilled and rhythmical as poetry? What if there were a writer who could invite all those readers who duck at the mention of dragons into a fantasy world that was as compelling and familiar as any in realistic fiction? Speculate no more. That writer is Ursula K. Le Guin. [. . .]

"Le Guin constructs Gav's [. . .] adventures like a ship in a bottle, intricate and elegant. Peer as you might, you can't quite see how she does it. Events from the past reappear, the future is foreshadowed and every incident is deeply rooted in character."

— Sarah Ellis
The Globe and Mail
8 September 2007
[complete review]


Harcourt Children's Books
ISBN13: 9780152057701
ISBN10: 0152057706

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Updated Tuesday, 18-Jun-2019 10:14:34 EDT