Ursula Le Guin is the grande dame of Sci Fi and her award winning and genre defining books have been celebrated around the world.

Gifts begins the trilogy with a backstory. We meet Orrec and Gry reflecting on the ‘runaway man’, Emmon who came to them from the Lowlands.

Orrec and Gry live in the Uplands, an area of poor, desolate farms where the clans each possess unique gifts. Some have the ability—with a glance, a gesture, a word—to summon animals, bring forth fire, move the land. Some have fearsome gifts: They can twist a limb, chain a mind, inflict a wasting illness.

The Uplanders live in constant fear that one family might unleash its gift against another. In this beautifully crafted story, Ursula K. Le Guin writes of the proud cruelty of power, of how hard it is to grow up, and of how much harder still it is to find, in the world’s darkness, gifts of light.

Book 1 in the series

Gifts is the first book of the Annals of the Western Shore trilogy. Orrec and Gry have been friends since childhood and are united in their decision not to use their gifts. Gry, who can command animals, refuses to bring them to their death in the hunt. Orrec’s gift is most feared – the ability to kill at sight. To save himself from accidently killing, he wears a blindfold.

Gifts serves as a brilliant exploration of the power and responsibility of gifts. Le Guin masterfully creates her world and crafts sentences and descriptions that you’ll find yourself re-reading. 

Who will enjoy it?

Le Guin is known to slowly build her story and this is no different. In fact, it’s probably one of her slowest builds I’ve read.  She takes time to develop the action and focuses on the descriptions, characters and world, so readers who want high speed action and adventure might not enjoy it. 

A young reader who likes to think of philosophical and moral questions and loves to  immerse themselves in another way of thinking will be hooked.

I love how Orrec gradually realises there is more than one way to misuse a gift.  Not using it could also be a betrayal. 

Find out more about Ursula Le Guin’s books here.

There’s a wonderful movie about her work called Worlds Of Ursula Le Guin. Watch it on Apple here.

Le Guin’s most famous series is the Earthsea books and they should be read too!



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