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Voices (2006)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Annals of the Western Shore (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,0194215,601 (4)53
Young Memer takes on a pivotal role in freeing her war-torn homeland from its oppressive captors.
  1. 10
    The Dubious Hills by Pamela Dean (Aquila)
  2. 00
    The Riddle by Alison Croggon (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: Second in a another fantasy series based on a west-facing continent, and involving a young protagonist gifted with supernatural powers.
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» See also 53 mentions

English (41)  German (1)  All languages (42)
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
In the second volume of The Annals of the Western Shore, LeGuin takes us a long way south from the Uplands of the first volume, to the conquered coastal city of Ansul. She also provides a map of the Western Shore not printed in the first or third volumes. One of the regions on the map, Sessery, sounds very much like it should be an island of Earthsea.
Memer narrates the story of her young life, growing up in a city conquered by an invading army from the desert to the east - indeed she is a product of that invasion, her mother being forced by a soldier from the invading army.
The hated Alds - the invaders - bring their religious beliefs with them and Atth, their one God, hates the written word.
Ansul was a University city and had a great and famed library. The aftermath of conquest saw it destroyed, along with its contents, any other books discovered by the army and all discovered harbouring the written word.
Memer grows up hating the occupying Alds, though she looks like them, and learning history and poetry from the cache of books held in a room with no doors. Little changes until the arrival of Orrec Caspro and Gry Barr in the city, summoned by the Alds' chief political figure. Then change comes more swiftly than she could have believed possible - and she finds herself at the centre of it.

LeGuin gives more to think about in this book than any dozen documentaries on the religious conflicts of this world...and that is what she is writing about, though any one analogy with a real modern conflict doesn't quite fit, much to her credit, in my view. LeGuin intends her readers not to make easy comparisons but to have to think seriously about the motivations, merits and de-merits of all parties involved in her imagined occupied city and hence be forced to do so with regard to the world we see around us. She uses Memer's awakening to a complicated political situation and enforced close up view of her enemies to suggest that seeing our enemies as human is much of the way to finding a way to live with them. Without ever unrealistically simplifying matters she promotes talking (politics) as a solution, perhaps the only solution, though not necessarily an ideal one.

LeGuin tells a gripping, intricate, carefully crafted story of immediate and yet depressingly timeless relevance in an intelligent and perceptive way. LeGuin is rarely less than profound but does not always give sufficient attention to providing her readers with a compelling narrative. That fault cannot be observed in this novel, making this the best fantasy work she has written since The Farthest Shore and putting it on a parr with her very best work in any genre. ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
Le Guin is rightly famed for her novels of the late 1960s and the 1970s such as the [b:Earthsea |68041|The Earthsea Quartet (Earthsea Cycle, #1-4)|Ursula K. Le Guin|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1330196610s/68041.jpg|1112741] books, [b:The Dispossessed|13651|The Dispossessed|Ursula K. Le Guin|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1353467455s/13651.jpg|2684122], [b:The Left Hand of Darkness|18423|The Left Hand of Darkness|Ursula K. Le Guin|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1488213612s/18423.jpg|817527], but she has never let up and has been a force in science fiction, fantasy and indeed literature for almost 60 years now. This, the middle volume of the Annals of the Western Shore, shows just why; she writes prose as lucid and powerful as almost any writer I can think of, characters that walk the line between tale-tellers archetype and fully three dimensional human beings, and infuses the whole with a humanity and relevance that is breathtaking. She writes great stories that are made epic by the inclusion of a meaning that is apparent but never heavy handed, that never overwhelms the tale but lifts it.


Voices finds a great, ancient city of learning that has been subjugated for seventeen years by a foreign power whose singular god considers any other deities to be demons and any books or writing blasphemy, and a girl - child of a violation during the invasion - who has grown up tending the remains of a secret library and is witness to, and instrumental in, a great change.


As wonderful as the first volume, [b:Gifts|13648|Gifts (Annals of the Western Shore, #1)|Ursula K. Le Guin|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1441129920s/13648.jpg|1257800], leaving me a little sad that there is only one book remaining. ( )
  Pezski | Jun 21, 2020 |
Here's the thing about [a:Ursula LeGuin|14011221|Ursula LeGuin|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/user/u_50x66-632230dc9882b4352d753eedf9396530.png] that completely mystifies me: her science fiction books are, one and all, the best books I have ever read in my life. They move me, they shake me, they make me dream in colors I'd never imagined before. Her fantasy books, however, universally have my brain collapsing in on itself in boredom within twenty pages. I got about a quarter of the way into this book and still nothing has actually happened. Goodbye, Voices. I will go wander off in search of one of LeGuin's Hainish Cycle books, where everything will be beautiful and nothing will hurt. ( )
  dreamweaversunited | Apr 27, 2020 |
Like the first volume of the trilogy, this novel is melancholy and wistful in tone. Characters from the first book are prominent, but the narrator is a teenage girl who has grown up in a brutally occupied city - in fact she is a child of violence from the first invasion. The current ruler is a relatively reasonable man, but if his violent and fanatical son inherited the role things would become much worse. The book explores the costs and benefits of fighting for freedom. It took me a long time to read because it made me feel sad every time I picked it up. ( )
  Griffin22 | Nov 18, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ursula K. Le Guinprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lee, WillCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Martinez, MelanieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rostant, LarryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyatt, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Caspro's Hymn
As in the dark of winter night
Our eyes seek dawn,
As in the bonds of bitter cold
The heart craves sun,
So blinded and so bound, the soul
Cries out to thee:
Be our light, our fire, our life,
Liberty!
Dedication
N/A
First words
The first thing I remember clearly is writing the way into the secret room.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Young Memer takes on a pivotal role in freeing her war-torn homeland from its oppressive captors.

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