Voices (Annals of the Western Shore Series #2)

Voices (Annals of the Western Shore Series #2)

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Voices (Annals of the Western Shore Series #2) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
A companion novel to Le Guin's GIFTS, VOICES looks in on the life of a teen growing up in a city controlled by an enemy people. Memer has never known a life when hostile soldiers didn't patrol the streets and the possession of a book was not a crime punishable by death. The invading army believes that written words are evil, and that the city of Ansul is full of demons. But Memer knows that the Waylord, the man who raised her after her mother's death, has a hidden library in his house. There, he teaches her to read, and then, to use her understanding to help the city face its greatest crisis.

For a novel that has a lot to do with story-telling and reading, VOICES has more action and excitement than readers might expect. The arrival of Orrec, a great storyteller (and the narrator of GIFTS), rekindles the courage of Ansul's people, and they attempt to rebel against their oppressors. Memer finds herself caught in the middle, torn between her loyalty to the Waylord, who wishes to find a peaceful solution, and her hatred for the soldiers who destroyed so many things that she treasured. With many twists and turns along the way, VOICES delivers a conclusion that is both satisfying and unpredictable.

Perhaps the strongest element of the novel, however, is the way it moves from black and white to shades of gray. Orrec believes that all people have some good in them, and as Memer is forced to get to know the invaders she despises, she realizes that they are not all terrible and cruel. Some of them are simply different, and unable to understand her way of life. The message seems to be that it is far better to reach an understanding with others, even if you dislike them, than to take revenge. In a time when cultural and religious clashes make news almost every day, this should hit home with many readers.

VOICES is not a perfect book. It slows down a little more than I'd have liked before reaching its conclusion, and Memer was not as active in those events as I expect from a main character. But those flaws are minor compared to everything else about the novel: the distinctive setting and culture, the vivid language and personalities, and a voice that suggests, softly, without preaching, that there is more than one way to win a war.
devilish2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I didn't realise that this was a sequel. It didn't read like one. I loved the depth to this, ostensibly, children's novel. There is a deep message about peace and respect for religion that I found not at all intrusive or didactic, just entirely natural in the story.
Raven on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am never sure what to think of Le Guin's fantasy; I love Earthsea, but find myself in the odd position of agreeing with Le Guin's own criticisms of her fantasy world, but disliking how she addressed them in Tehanu and The Other Wind. So I was a little wary coming into this, her first young adult fantasy in some time.But Voices is truly excellent. It's beautifully written, it's engaging, it's clear-eyed and above all, it brings a woman to centre stage and shows off her strength. This is how I want to see the women in my fantasy novels - ordinary women with ordinary strength and courage, who are heroes because sometimes some people have to be.The novel is set in a standard fantasy world, in a city called Ansul, famous for its university and libraries and learning, until it was invaded by the Alds, a race of people who fear reading and writing, and destroy all books they come across. The last books in the city are in the care of its former ruler, the Waylord Sulter Galva, and the daughter of his house, Memer. And then a poet arrives, with his wife and their lion(!) and the rebellion begins. The first time I read it, I think I made the mistake of thinking this was a story about that rebellion, and being consequently disappointed by the pacing of it, and how the conflict mostly happens offstage. It made much more sense on the re-read, however, to read it as a coming-of-age story set against that heavy political backdrop, which gives it meaning, but doesn't take up the primary plot. And unlike poor, useless Tehanu, Memer Galva shines as a protagonist - it is her story, and her growing into her inheritance, that carry the novel, and she does it with aplomb. Le Guin fills it with lovely, unexpected grace notes: details, such as the fact, mentioned in passing, that the Waylord is not a typical fantasy-novel feudal lord - he's democratically elected - and Memer's own musings about how, in epic stories about wayfarers in troubled lands, the characters all find extra food for their visitors to eat with no trouble at all. It's the little touches that suggest a mature, practiced and very good writer.I am told that the poet, Orrec Caspro, has a novel of his own in this series, and that the other two, Powers and Gifts are also set in this world of the Western Shore - but having read neither of them, I still think this is a beautiful, flawless stand-alone piece, and definitely worth reading even if you don't happen to be in the young adult demographic.
alice443 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this story more engaging than Gifts, possibly because it is longer and I had the time to slow down and really absorb the story.
nkmunn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
a city under occupation must learn to live without books and becomes increasingly illiterate until special circumstances arise. I loved the portrayal of how learning to read empowers individuals and how the preservation of the written word can help a culuture survive oppression.
omphalos02 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Inspired and intoxicating writing from Le Guin in this second book of the "Annals of the Western Shore" series. Memer is a young woman living in a city occupied for 17 years (her entire life) by a force of illiterate, book-hating warriors whom are now somewhat bored with the apparent pointlessness of their occupation. Gry and Orrec from the first book ("Gifts") appear in the city and are a catalyst to change. Deftly written on a number of levels, this is an extremely satifying and moving read.
mattsya on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Leguin is one of the best science fiction/fantasy authors in the genre's history and she demonstrates her skill in this YA series. Voices is the second of the Annals of the Western Shore saga, but works as a stand-alone volume. Here is a fantasy world where books are outlawed and are kept hidden from an oppressive ruling society. Le Guin, by making books a near-magical item, and by writing with near-magical prose demonstrates the power books can hold. Unlike other fantasy series such as Golden Compass and Tamora Pierce, the story is not bogged down by esoteric jargon. Fantasy fans and non-fans will be able to appreciate this.
yarmando on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought that the core of this story would be the hope represented by a growing understanding and friendship between Memer, daughter of an occupied people, and Simme, the son of the repressive Alds. It was more subtle than that, and Le Guin even manages to keep this story from settling into easy "reading good, illiteracy bad" themes.
Emibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Pretty good book. A little slow at times. Memer is a strong female character. It also examines war and how two warring people came come to a peaceful solution.
srcsmgrl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In Voices, LeGuin picks up the story of Orrec and Gry many years later. They have left their upland home and traveled to many far off places, collecting learning and lore. Orrec has found that his gift is not of unmaking, but of making and has created many stories and poems of his own and won renown as performer and scholar.In Voices, Orrec and his wife Gry travel to Ansul at the request of the Ald Gand, the ruler of that conquered land. Once there, Orrec hopes to gain access to the books of legend and learn from their pages. Unfortunately, in the invasion and the subsequent occupation, most books were destroyed. Those that were not are hidden away to protect them from the invading forces. Soon Orrec and Gry find themselves in the middle of a revolution against the Ald's with Memer, a young local woman who has taken them into her home and heart.Voices deals with hard issues in its fantasy theme, some of which parallel today's world. Memer is a young woman in an occupied country where the invaders think that women should be hidden and that women found in public are asking to be raped. In fact, that is how Memer came to be. During the initial invasion, Memer's mother was found out in the open and raped by a soldier. Memer is a half-cast, born of both invader and invaded, but it is easy to see where her loyalties lie. Foreign customs, censorship and limited freedoms remind one of what peoples in an occupied lands must experience.I recommend this book for ages 10 and up, based mostly on difficulty. While rape is mentioned, there are no details. This is an adventure of high order. Younger children might have a harder time getting through the first book to get to the second, but it is definitely worth the work. The book is set up perfectly to continue the story of Memer, Orrec and Gry, so expect a third book in this series.
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
Struggling to survive after war and destruction, keeping those she loves safe, and keeping secrets all her own, Memer finds Voices hidden in the words of books, long-forbidden by the desert-dwelling conquerors of her land. Her enemies know the one true god, while Memer's world is loved by many shapes and seasons of god. Mistrust and accidental misrule combine to lay the seeds of rebellion. But what are the weapons of a lover of words, and where does the poet Orrec fit in? Another coming-of-age tale set in Le Guin's wondrously imagined mystical world, Voices beautifully evokes that seeking for truth as childhood turns to adulthood. Disclosure: I bought it 'cause I had to keep reading.
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