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In this beautifully crafted novel, the first of the Annals of the Western Shore trilogy, 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. Scattered among poor, desolate farms, the clans of the Uplands possess gifts. Wondrous the ability—with a glance, a gesture, a word—to summon animals, bring forth fire, move the land. Fearsome 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. Two young people, friends since childhood, decide not to use their gifts. One, a girl, refuses to bring animals to their death in the hunt. The other, a boy, wears a blindfold lest his eyes and his anger kill. “A brilliant exploration of the power and responsibility of gifts.” — Publishers Weekly ( starred review) "As always, Le Guin has delivered a story that captivates and draws the reader in. Anyone who enjoyed her  Earthsea  trilogy will relish this new work and fans of dark fantasy, such as Philip Pullman's  The Golden Compass , will want to check out this title as well." — BookPage "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, The Oregonian “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." — Lynn Crow , TeensReadToo The Annals of the Western Shore Trilogy

286 pages, Paperback

First published September 1, 2004

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About the author

Ursula K. Le Guin

937 books24.4k followers
Ursula K. Le Guin published twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received many awards: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc. Her recent publications include the novel Lavinia, an essay collection, Cheek by Jowl, and The Wild Girls. She lived in Portland, Oregon.

She was known for her treatment of gender (The Left Hand of Darkness, The Matter of Seggri), political systems (The Telling, The Dispossessed) and difference/otherness in any other form. Her interest in non-Western philosophies was reflected in works such as "Solitude" and The Telling but even more interesting are her imagined societies, often mixing traits extracted from her profound knowledge of anthropology acquired from growing up with her father, the famous anthropologist, Alfred Kroeber. The Hainish Cycle reflects the anthropologist's experience of immersing themselves in new strange cultures since most of their main characters and narrators (Le Guin favoured the first-person narration) are envoys from a humanitarian organization, the Ekumen, sent to investigate or ally themselves with the people of a different world and learn their ways.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 963 reviews
Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,713 followers
February 25, 2015
Dear Ursula Le Guin,

You've given me many gifts over the years, and I cherish them all, so it is fitting that your most recent gift is a book of the same name. I know it is not the favourite of many of my friends who love your work too, and I don't know if I can even call it a favourite, but I accepted Gifts from you at the perfect time, much as I've accepted your other works.

When all my fantasy worlds were filled with too obvious expressions of god vs. evil, and I was struggling with the binary world view I was being fed, you gave me Sparrowhawk, showing me a manifestation of the contradictions I felt in myself. Sparrowhawk was neither good nor evil. He was. And there was no character like Sparrowhawk or book like A Wizard of Earthsea that I could find when I accepted your gift.

When I was struggling with my sexuality and fighting off indoctrinated prejudices that betrayed my core and made me a homophobe despite my bisexuality, you painted a picture of gender I couldn't have imagined until you revealed it to me on the cold landscapes of Gethen, teaching me a tolerance on an ice planet so like my own. And I learned that tolerance not just for others, but above all for myself.

When I needed to aspire to something better, you gave me the only character in literature I wished (and still wish) I could be. Yes, many would pick Jesus, or Buddha or Muhammed, but for me the character was(is) Shevek. I can imagine a future where the only surviving book is The Dispossessed and a new religion forms around the scientist from Annares. But before that happens I will simply strive to live as Shevek lived, strive to be like Shevek was. I will approach our world with eyes open to its inequities and refuse to be silenced -- even when no one can hear my voice for the din.

Those gifts you bestowed are more than I could ever hope to gain from any author, and here you've given me another. Gifts may be the most emotionally satisfying gift you've given me, Ursula. It didn't make me cry, or reduce me to deep depression, or lift me to places of unfettered joy, or fill me with spiritual uplift, but it was a place of quiet peace, wherein Orrec's telling of his story was perfectly suited to the simplicity of the betrayals and sacrifices that shaped his life -- deep and personal and true and satisfying. I have heard that Voices is even better, but I find that hard to believe because I have not read a better book than Gifts in a good, long time.

So thank you, Ursula, for being the author of my heart. I hope I get to stand in your presence some day. You are one of my heroes, and I love you.

Accepter of your gifts,
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,882 reviews16.6k followers
February 8, 2017
After reading several books by Ursula K. Le Guin and a little more about her and her writing, I think that she may not be capable of writing a bad story, perhaps not capable of writing a bad sentence.

Gifts, her 1999 novel, has tone and imagery reminiscent of Anne McCaffery or Robert Silverberg. The gifts she described, powerful spell-like traits associated with a family or lineage call to mind the knacks Orson Scott Card invents in his Alvin Maker series – though those powers seem to appear sporadically and without trend, like mutations – the gifts from this Western Shores series are passed from father to son and mother to daughter, and may be distinctly associated with the family in question.

This is an excellent story and a very Good Read.

Profile Image for Anthony.
Author 4 books1,895 followers
July 1, 2023
I will never lose my awe of the late, great Ursula K. Le Guin’s immense talents. Her precision, her depth of feeling, her abiding subtlety, her facility of grappling with profound questions of what it means to be human, her regard for the inherent mysteries involved in being human, her love of language and of the power of storytelling, are all on beautiful display in this, one of her later works.

I look forward to continuing this trilogy.
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,406 reviews11.7k followers
June 14, 2011
Gifts is a hard sell as a teen fantasy novel. Why not market it in the same vein as A Wizard of Earthsea I wonder?

As all Le Guin's books, Gifts is deeply philosophical and introspective. It is preoccupied with exploring what it means for a person to have a dangerous, potentially lethal ability. To give some frame of reference, think Graceling with Katsa's constant fretting about her killing Grace minus action, angsty teen romance and pseudo-feminist propaganda plus more depth and better knowledge of human nature - and you will get Gifts.

The story is set in Uplands, an isolated place where several farming families that possess various gifts feud and fight for dominance. These gifts range from fairly innocuous (calling animals) to horrifying (abilities to twist limbs or to put a slow-killing curse on an enemy).

The protagonist's, Orrec's, family seems to have the most powerful gift of all - the gift of undoing (killing). You would think that such a gift is a guarantee that this family would be feared and revered, but, of course, Le Guin is too smart to write something so obvious. You can have an ability to kill with your gaze, but what if someone sneaks behind your back and curses your child or wife to slowly die? What if your neighbor who you are oppressing, refuses to use his gift of animal calling during a hungry winter? The novel is about the politics within a small community of families where each one has a strong leverage. And about Orrec's journey to understanding and managing his power.

Very clever and profound, as all Ursula K. Le Guin's works are.
Profile Image for Robert.
817 reviews44 followers
March 2, 2011
With the recent publication of the third volume of the Annals of the Western Shore, I decided to go back to the start and re-read the first two and follow it up with the latest.

Gifts is the first book. It is narrated by Orrec Caspro son of his clan's leader. The clans of the uplands have uncanny powers, Gifts, at least if the family blood runs true, but Orrec's mother is not of the clan or even of the Uplands where the clans lead their isolated impoverished existence, feuding and farming. Orrec's Gift has gone awry, apparently uncontrollable, and it is the Gift of Unmaking - destructive, deadly and a threat to the neighbouring clans. Orrec goes blindfolded to protect those around him, for the Gift cannot operate without looking at that which is to be Unmade. Meanwhile his friend, Gry, whose clan Gift is that of calling animals, finds that she is Gifted indeed - but she cannot bring herself to call animals to the hunt. Training horses and dogs is useful but it is calling to the hunt that really provides income to her family.

Orrec and Gry grow up together and find themselves increasingly at odds with their families and the whole Uplands way of life, which brings tragedy to Orrec.

Gifts examines the relationship between parents and their children with particular regard to parents' expectations: It concludes that it would be better to support and encourage the talents that a child manifests, not those the parents have or want their child to have - which may be absent altogether. Trying to force parental will on the child might lead to total estrangement....

Another theme is the relationship between the Gifts as used by the clans and the clan way of life, which is full of poverty and fear. Gry suggests that there might be a link between the two - that there might be more constructive ways to use the Gifts that would in turn make life more peaceful and fulfilling.

It is no great leap (though it had to be suggested to me before I noticed) to believe that LeGuin is using the Gifts as an analogy with the general talents shown by humanity - engineering can be used for warmaking or peaceful purposes, the arts can be used to propagandise or enlighten. LeGuin would prefer we chose the constructive use of our talents.

As usual with LeGuin, one is left with plenty to think about, but as sometimes happens with her books, plot is almost an afterthought and the languid prose does not provide much drive either, so I cannot consider this volume to be top-notch by the exceptionally high standards she has set with books such as A Wizard of Earthsea, The Farthest Shore or The Left Hand of Darkness (among others). Nevertheless second-rate LeGuin is a goal most authors can strive for but never obtain.
Profile Image for Ivan.
435 reviews284 followers
November 15, 2016
I am maybe a bit disappointed but that is more of my fault than Ursula's.Since it's fantasy coming of age story I expected something along the line of Wizard of Earthsea and Gifts isn't that nor is it trying to be.There isn't much of a plot line or world building in this book instead it's focus is on Orrec's growing up and on politics and struggles within small community. It's not flashy or philosophical book but it's small piece of world is well fleshed out.It's warm, unpretentious and very satisfying book
far from Usrula's best but still above most other similar themed books.
Profile Image for aPriL does feral sometimes .
1,931 reviews439 followers
July 20, 2017
Ursula LeGuin's book 'Gifts' is written with exceptional intelligence and a parable-like lyricism. If it wasn't for the subject matter, it would be as musical as dreamy poetry in prose form. It is a coming-of-age story beautifully rendered.

'Gifts' is about a patriarchal society, isolated and under the dying suns of inbreeding, tribalism and island culture. No one can read or write except the captured lowland women and children used as slaves and wives. When permitted, they teach the mountain folk who are interested, but otherwise, literacy is not a prized skill. What is prized is 'gifts' which run in families, passed down from father to son, mother to daughter. Given that each family is driven by a pack leader, the Father, the 'gifts' are used for war and destruction, and are valued for this.

The story is told in first person narrative by a teenager boy, unaware of the underlying truths he is revealing. Orrec loves his parents, his mountains and a neighbor girl, Gry. As the novel opens, Gry and Orrec are discussing what, who they call 'the runaway man', a man from the Lowlands, has told them about his life. They do not quite believe in what he has explained, but Orrec knows that it tends to corroborate his Lowland mother's stories. (These names remind me of the comic, 'Alley Oop' cavemen stories). This information will be crucial after Orrec's eyes are opened, literally, as the subterranean currents flowing from his culture begin to reveal themselves as he grows from a child to a man. He is aware that the Lowland man will not live long because he does not believe in the Gifts, so despite Gry's and Orrec's warnings, he eventually leaves for more adventuring in the Uplands. However, Orrec is given a lifeline to other options because of the man's stories when the delusions of his life are exposed.

The book is a meandering creek of storytelling and world creation. It is not a thriller, but a literary read. The 'Gifts' put the book superficially in the science fiction genre bin, but I think the gifts are a red herring.

Robert's review is better than mine:


He says EVERYTHING there is to understand - at least, how I understood the book, too.

Novels like this always have me grinding my teeth. I was raised in a patriarchal family and I was expected to be an obedient, barefoot and pregnant wife when I grew up. I disappointed the parents when I turned out to be college ready at high school graduation. To be fair, I had a roof over my head, food on the table and clothes on my back. But, to quote my father when I approached him to co-sign my college loan papers, "No man will want you!", spoken in utter horror and shocked tones.

He's dead now. No condolences necessary.

Certain books automatically enrage me. This is one of them. As I read, I must beat down my aroused dislike and firmly tie on my critic's hat.

Patriarchal societies fill me with loathing. Nothing good can come from such a society when it has defined social spaces based on a single power-mad, authoritarian male leader's whims. Fortunately, many such societies have nooks and crannies where children and women are allowed an individual life.

Self-delusions, such as religion, Stockholm Syndrome loyalty, martyring oneself in the name of *fill the blank here* as designated by society, and love in the face of grinding cruelty, poverty, senseless socially imposed barriers and punishments - all of these permit the victims to feel they have a great life anyway, as in, oh joy! I made my master/father/boss/husband/leader proud by burying my needs and wants completely under utterly insane dictates, his selfish desires, and soul-destroying rules of behavior! I'm so delighted to crush myself in order to further the Patriarch's joy and power at my expense! At least, that's how it appears to me.

Unfortunately, I have never had these 'gifts' to delude myself. I always knew when a demand was made of me to give up a personal need, want or desire to increase the other's power over me, even if it was a dictate given with the Authority of religious or social custom.

When I was able to read, the first thing I did was explore why was I expected to crush myself at my expense in order to increase the wealth and power of 'The Man'. So I studied history, philosophy, religion, etc.

Education truly is powerful. Maybe it can't free people of society's expectations, but it gives you the ability to find a way around the dictators, like seeping water. Under patriarchism, everyone is bent, including men who would be different and democratic, if they were allowed. Everyone in an educated society knows this is why such patriarchal societies discourage reading, writing, education and books.

Understanding that parents sometimes sacrifice their children for their own aggrandizement and enrichment is a powerful moment for every child under the thumb of a narcissistic parent, especially.

Would matriarchal societies be soul-destroying and enslaving? Who knows since so far, it hasn't happened. However, ancient verbal stories of record indicate NO.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,015 followers
June 6, 2015
Gifts is a quiet story, in the way that Ursula Le Guin can do really well: those moments of silence, introspection, contemplation. It isn’t my favourite of her books, but I love the things she explores here: the longing of parents to see their children succeed; love within families; grieving and loss; trying to choose the lesser evil… Orrec’s voluntary blindness and the way it affects the world around him, his fears and his wants, are beautiful; Canoc is a wonderful portrait of a difficult man: difficult to love, impossible to hate.

The whole feel of the book is really epitomised by Gry, for me; her quiet loyalty and determination, her love of Orrec which is undemanding and completely rock-solid. Their friendship and later the love between them is perfect.

I’m looking forward to rereading the rest of this trilogy; as I recall, the other two books feature more suspense and tension, and less of the solid quietness of this book. All of them have their own loveliness, though: it’s Le Guin, so how not?

Originally posted here.
Profile Image for Zeren.
165 reviews168 followers
July 3, 2019
Okuma konsantrasyonum bir süredir yerlerde. Güney Ege sıcakları, artı yazın yoğun iş temposu beni kötü etkiliyor. Böyle zamanlarda çok sevilen eski dostlara sarılmak, özellikle de kendi gerçekliğimden çıkıp âsalı, cadılı, üstün güçlerle, büyük marifetlerle dolu dünyalara dalmak iyi geliyor bana. Nitekim iki günde bitiriverdim Marifetler’i.

Metis’in ilk bastığı yıllarda okumuştum bu seriyi ilk. Yani 2006-8 yılları arasına denk geliyor. Hikayeye giriş romanı Marifetler, okuduğum andan itibaren özellikle bir sebepten ötürü benim için unutulmaz oldu. Gry. Hayvanlarla iletişim kurabildiği muazzam marifetini, onları avcılara kolay yem etmek için kullanmayı reddeden Roddmant’ın, asiliğini sükunetinden alan kızı.

Yıllardır Ursula külliyatına giriş yapmak isteyenlere de tavsiye ettiğim ilk seridir bu. Sırada Sesler, sonrasında ise ennnn sevdiğim Güçler var.
Profile Image for Oleksandr Zholud.
1,118 reviews112 followers
January 16, 2022
This is the first volume of the trilogy Annals of the Western Shore, which was published in 2004 and was Locus Award Nominee for Best Fantasy Novel in 2005. I read it because the final volume is a part of monthly reading for January 2022 at Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels group.

The story starts with the protagonist, a young man Orrec, together with his girlfriend (from what we can guess) Gry, telling stories about local Upland magic (Gifts) and its bearers to a man from the more civilized (in the sense of having cities) Lowlands. The man assumes that all these talks are just superstitions of local backward peasants. These Gifts are usually follow the family line and both Orrec and Gry are from these lines. Gry’s talent is in taking to animals, but Orrec’s is much more dangerous – undoing. It is so dangerous that he doesn’t even want to speak about it. Moreover, we find out that he is blinded to prevent accident damage by his Gift and his own father did it. What follows is the story of Orrec and Gry from their childhood (and even the story of boy’s parents) to the present day, how their Gifts first appeared (if appeared at all) and how they struggle with society expectations.

Beautiful prose, flowing story.
Profile Image for Joseph.
34 reviews3,425 followers
April 16, 2019
If you like Ursula K. Le Guin’s ‘Earthsea’ novels you will probably like these three books, which form the ‘Chronicles of the Western Shore’: ‘Gifts’, ‘Voices’ and ‘Powers’.
The magic differs from the world of the Earthsea wizards. The first book, ‘Gifts’ is about a
number of isolated communities each led by a person who has one of the gifts, which they wield to
protect their communities. One gift is called ‘Unmaking’ and it literally kills people by destroying
their internal organs or bursting them open. And not all the people who have these gifts are benign!
The story is that of a boy who is waiting for his gift to develop while the threats from others
increase. I like the book because it is different and a good twist on the usual magic found in
One word of warning though. Books two and three do not simply pick up where the previous
story ended but some characters do feature in all three books.
I enjoyed all three books in the trilogy but my favourite is the first one.
Profile Image for J. Aleksandr Wootton.
Author 8 books147 followers
February 26, 2021
Le Guin is one of the few authors I'll always look up at a used-book store; that's how I found Gifts.

Solid, quiet fantasy, excellently written, though told at some distance of time and emotion. Edges rather toward parable than lifelikeness. Good and Important, but not Great; yet still Recommended, for the parable - about the pressures that cultures of inheritance place on upcoming generations - is a strong one that stays with you.

None of us can choose the circumstances of our birth or upbringing, but sooner or later we develop the ability to choose our response to them. Getting perspective on that choice is not easy, even - perhaps especially - when you're born with Gifts.
Profile Image for Aslıhan Çelik Tufan.
646 reviews168 followers
February 21, 2020
Seriye bu kitapla başlamış olsaydım mutlaka devam etmek ister ve belki de üzülürdüm çünkü serinin devamı bu kitap kadar nası desem şahane değil!
Fantastik okumaları hiç sevmesem de bu seri beni çok mutlu etti.
Yazarımızla tanışma serisi yapabilirsiniz.
Mutlaka okunmalı!
Profile Image for Ian.
125 reviews490 followers
December 22, 2011
Wonderful. Beautiful. UKL's use of the English language is without equal or parallel. Not a word wasted. Not an idea wasted. Simple, efficient, and yet touching and thoughtful. I don't know how she does it.

How fortunate that I read Gifts during the Christmas season, when we in western culture are too often focused on the wrong "gifts" in our lives. Gifts is not a book about Christmas or the Christmas season, but the parallels are unmistakable. Of course the other themes are all there ... a parent's expectations, worlds colliding, the struggle through our ignorance of the adult world as we grow up ... but this book definately has something to say about the Christmas season, whether it was intended or not.
Profile Image for Berfin Kanat.
395 reviews156 followers
June 28, 2020
Tekrar okudum, seriyi baştan sona tekrar okuyacağım, şu sıralar çok sevdiğim bir şeye geri dönme ihtiyacım var. Yazardan okuduğum en akıcı kitaplardan biri. Çok rahat okunuyor, çok da keyifli, dolu dolu aynı zamanda. Konusu, karakterler, kullanılan dil vs. hepsi zaten klasik Ursula, şahane yani. Doğaüstü yetenekleri olan insanlar yalın ama huzurlu dünyalarında yaşıyorlar. Havanın soğuk olduğu bir gün, şehir merkezlerinden uzak bir evde ateş yanarken oturup sohbet etmenin huzuru var bu kitapta. Basit, sade ama doğayla uyumlu, dolayısıyla ruha değiyor.
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,233 reviews1,046 followers
September 27, 2013
I was a little bit disappointed when I had heard that this recent book from LeGuin was a ‘children's book' – but I needn't have worried. It's just another one of those publishers' marketing ploys. This is definitely a story that can be appreciated by readers of any age.

It's a very bleak story, in many ways. It tells of two young people in a remote, backwards society. Life is harsh, they're dirt-poor, inbred, always violently feuding over the slightest of pretexts – and to make things worse, each of the tiny clans of this backcountry has a ‘supernatural' ‘gift' – each of which can be used for violence and ill. To avoid using a destructive force, the young man Orrec voluntarily gives up sight, while his best friend Gry flatly refuses to use her ability to ‘call' animals to have them be slaughtered at the hunt.
However, there seems to be little chance for the compassionate aspects of their natures to grow, considering the world that surrounds them, and the demands and sacrifices that their families ask for.
LeGuin, here, succeeds brilliantly at portraying the narrow, barren life of these Upland ‘tribes;' how the people themselves are not all evil, but how completely their way of life informs and circumscribes their existence – while at the same time letting the reader know that more exists in their world, just beyond these people's ability to comprehend. We see both the values and priorities of their daily life – but can also see how, from another perspective, those priorities are not merely pathetic but incredibly sad.
The book is dark, but insightful, and not wholly without hope.
Profile Image for Kristen.
4 reviews7 followers
April 22, 2010
What was I supposed to think when I picked this up? I hardly ever actually look inside the book and read the first page or first chapter. It's always the cover and blurb on the back of the book that makes me want to read it.

Maybe I should start reading the first page or chapter from now on?

It's written by Orrec's point of view, and when I say written, I pretty much mean exactly that. It's like an autobiography. Orrec, to me, comes across as a bit of an emo person. The way he talks about his life--of trying to learn his power, blindfolding himself for the safety of the ones he loves, listening to his mother read him stories--seems so droll. Like there's absolutely no enthusiasm in him. Ever. He's pretty much like his dad, I guess.

In fact, almost none of the characters come across as very three-dimensional beings, and maybe that's because Orrec is a blindfolded boy, unable to see anything, but able to hear what's around him. Okay, I can see (no pun intended) that, but what about before he was blindfolded? He got to know people. He knew his dad. He knew Gry. Her parents. Etc. There was still a clear lacking in the characterization department.

Um, for anyone else who'd read this, can you tell me what the plot was again? I don't think I ever caught onto that one either. Orrec never fit in, and that's what the book was supposed to be about, right? How he fit in with people who had their own powers?

The ending was just...as bland as the rest of the book.
Profile Image for Gabi.
698 reviews123 followers
April 30, 2021
It took me a bit to get back into UKLG's slow pace where plot is second to philosophical thoughts and beautiful prose. Once I got the right mind-set I thoroughly enjoyed this coming of age story of a boy who probably has the gift of undoing (which is a more poetic term for killing) but is too afraid of what this could do to himself to practise it.

A very thoughtful story about what we expect of ourselves and what others expect of us and how we try to shape our life between those two forces.
Profile Image for Maria Teresa.
763 reviews136 followers
October 31, 2022
La reseña completa en https://inthenevernever.blogspot.com/...

«Procedía de muy lejos al sur, más allá de Algalanda, donde las historias de las Tierras Altas son solo eso: historias, viejos rumores de las lejanas tierras del norte, donde vivían brujos malvados en montañas heladas y hacían cosas imposibles».

¿Qué ocurriría si tuvieras un poder que no puedes controlar? ¿Cómo sería tener un don y no querer utilizarlo para hacer daño, aunque todos esperen a que lo hagas? ¿Qué implicaría crecer en unas tierras en conflicto constante con sus vecinos? ¿Vivir temiendo los poderes que los demás dominios puedan usar sobre ti y los tuyos? Para terminar con mis reseñas del #LeoAutorasOct de este año nada mejor que volver a leer a una de mis autoras favoritas. Hoy quiero recomendarles Los dones, de Ursula K. Le Guin, el primer libro de la trilogía de fantasía Anales de la Costa Occidental.
Profile Image for Lost Planet Airman.
1,250 reviews73 followers
June 12, 2020
A coming-of-age tale in a land reminiscent of Scotland with mystic powers. Orrec and Gry come from Upland families with powers, but cannot, or will not, use theirs.

Monopoly move as a YA book; contributes to B-ward readings by UKLG.
Profile Image for Wealhtheow.
2,448 reviews548 followers
February 26, 2009
Orrec is born into a Gifted family in the Uplands. Although his family controls a fey and unsettling Gift, they are nevertheless barely able to eke out a life from their sparse and rocky land. The Gifted families raid each other for the few resources that remain: livestock, wood, serfs. Cut off from the rest of the world by a combination of shunning and pride, the people of the Uplands grow more stunted and inbred with every generation.
Unable to find a wife among his own people, Orrec's father rode into Lowlands village (he had never seen so many people) and kidnapped a young woman. Lovely and cultured, she instilled a love of stories and reading in Orrec. But her kindess and memories of art and civilization can only do so much--Orrec is still trapped in a claustrophobic society with no choices and no hope.
Profile Image for Juho Pohjalainen.
Author 5 books282 followers
July 20, 2020
Witch-clans being passive-aggressive and occasionally active-aggressive at one another. It's a mellow, low-stakes story about a single life or two - I liked it fine when I read it, but I suspect it was a little unremarkable in the end since I can't seem to be able to find many things to talk about it after the fact.
Profile Image for Antonio TL.
244 reviews29 followers
June 1, 2022
Orrec y Gry son adolescentes en un mundo en el que ciertas familias están dotadas de dones o habilidades especiales que se transmiten de generación en generación. El don de Orrec es Deshacer, lo que significa que los miembros de su familia pueden destruir con una mirada y una palabra, mientras que la habilidad de Gry es la comunicación con los animales, que se espera que use para ayudar en las cacerías. Su mundo está gobernado por el temor constante de que los clanes enemigos ataquen usándo sus dones, porque los dones se utilizan tanto como armas como amenazas. Dentro de esta sociedad, Orrec y Gry toman la decisión de no usar sus dones y ambos se enfrentan las consecuencias de sus decisiones.
La historia principal es muy buena, y entretenida pero también me encantó por los temas subyacentes: las dificultades de crecer con ideas que difieren de las tradiciones de tu familia, la carga del gobierno y las decisiones difíciles que lo acompañan, y el peligro del orgullo y la ira. Definitivamente recomendado
Profile Image for Oguz Eren.
73 reviews9 followers
June 20, 2021
Marifetler, LeGuin'in Batı Sahili Yıllıkları serisinin ilk romanı. Young Adult diye kategorize edilmiş; ancak bence Yerdeniz Büyücüsü genç yaştaki okurlara daha uygun. Bunda da uygunuz bir şey yok hani; ama dili, hikaye temposu daha ağır.

Dağlık bir bölgede yaşayan, her birinin de Allah vergisi "maifetleri" olan, bu marifetlerini genellikle soylarını korumak, diğer soylarla olan kan davalarında galip gelmek için kullanan bir halk hakkında, vatan sevgisi ve kahramanlık, siyasi ayak oyunları hakkında bir masal.

Orrec'in öyküsü, aklıma kazınan bir iki sahnesiyle, Ursula ne yazsa okumak lazım diye düşündürttü.

Profile Image for Ezgi Şenel.
Author 2 books25 followers
April 24, 2020
Ursula K. Le Guin'in dünyayı yorumlama şekline hayranlığım her geçen gün artıyor. Kendisi benim için ansızın kalemine dair bir açlık çekmeye başlayacak kadar ihtiyaca dönüşen bir yazar. Üretken oluşunu da bu sebeple ekstra seviyorum. Marifetler'i okuma hikayem de böyle başladı. Hayatımıza çöreklenip zihnimizi ele geçiren virüs ve kaygılarından arınmak için okumak şarttı. Ursula ise biraz daha lüks bir ihtiyaçtı. Elimde hiçbir kitabı olmadığını düşündüğüm sırada arkadaşımdan ödünç aldığım kitaplardan birini ona vermeyi unuttuğumu fark etmemle epey mutlu olmam bir oldu tabii. Hikaye kısmını anlatma sebebim kitabın birkaç günlüğüne de olsa dönem içerisinde başıma gelen en iyi şeylerden biri olması ve hissettiklerimi unutmak istememem.

Kitaba gelirsek, marifetler uzun soluklu masal tadında bir eser. Anlatıcımız Orrec bu konuda hayli güzel bir dile sahip, kaygılarını, sevinçlerini, sorularını, mutluluklarını okura ve dinleyene kendi efsunlu marifetiyle aktarıyor. Yaşadığımız dünyanın bir benzerinde geçen kurgu babadan oğula ve anneden kıza aktarılan marifetlerin etrafında şekillenecek gibi dursa da aslında yazarın genelde yaptığı gibi derin bir sorgulama sürecine dönüşüyor. Ben de bu sorgunun sonucunda Gry, Melle, Brantor Canoc ve Orrec üzerinden düşlediklerimi ve düşündüklerimi dile getireceğim.

Gücün temsil edilişi, kullanılışı, insanlarda bıraktığı etki hepsi gerçek hayatın içinde marifetsiz de bulabileceğimiz işlerdi. İrsî olarak kim bilir ne gibi güçlerle donanıyoruz? Güç aslında zafiyeti de doğuran bir unsur. Kitapta bunu sıkça görüyoruz. Bedelsiz bir imtiyazın olmadığı aslında yazarımızın birçok kitabında yer alıyor. Hayatın kendisini de niteleyen bir gerçek bu.

Kurgu içerisinde bir çocuğun büyüme telaşesinde kendine ait gücü keşfetmesini okuyoruz. Beklenin dışında babasına ait olan marifeti yankılamasa da onun neye sahip olduğunu anlama süreci, bu dönemde gücün varlığının/yokluğunun kişide yarattığı çatışma en sonunda da mahrumiyetine tanıklık ediyoruz. İnsanlığın temelinde yatan hırslar olmayan birçok şeye inanmamızı onlardan korkmamızı sağlıyor. Bu konuda sürpizbozan vermeden detaya inmek zor. Lakin yine hissettiklerime yoğunlaşacak olursam varlığımızın derinlerinde kurallardan, söylentilerden, bizi sığdırdıkları kalıplardan bağımsız bir öz var. İşte orasını dinlediğimizde zamanın ötesindeki kimliğimize ulaşma şansını yakalıyoruz. Birilerinin peşi sıra gittiğimizde kendi yanılgılarımıza düşme fırsatını toptan kaçırmış oluyoruz. Bu kişi ne kadar yakınımızdaysa o kadar can yakıcı oluyor her şey.

Kitabın içeriğinden devam etmek gerekirse ebeveyn – çocuk çatışması her cinsiyet için olabilecek en iyi şekillerde aktarılmıştı. Yetişkinlere rağmen ve onlarla birlikte varoluş çabası diyebiliriz bu kısma da. Dağlıların, marifet kullanıcıların dünyalarından uzak bir ovalı olan Melle karakterini çokça sevdim. Her türlü rüzgara karşı direnebilecek bir ruhu vardı. Nitekim Brantor Ogge’un fesatlığı onun bu nazik direnişinden kaynaklıdır. Korkutamadığına karşı daha da kinlenen haset dolu zihinleri tanırız. Bizlerin yaşamında da her adım başı sokakları bekler bu tipler.

Canoc bir baba, bir eş, bir çocuk, bir brantor olarak defalarca yeniden tanıştığımız biriydi. Bu tabir aslında değişen ve dönüşen herkes için geçerli olabilir. Orrec’in anlattığı hikayelerde aslında bir insanın katmanlarıyla tanışıyorsunuz. Hepimizin geçtiği bu devranda neye dönüştüğümüzü bilmeden ilerlediğimizi düşünürsek bir es vermek iyidir. Bana bu duraksamayı sağlayan bir kitap oldu. Her şeyin sonunda bizlerden beklenilenden arındığımız, yaslarımızı yüreğimize tutturduğumuz, gözlerimizdeki bağı kaldırıp attığımız bir evrene doğru yürüme kararını vermek ne gariptir kim bilsin. Marifet gözle, elle, nefesle ve iradeyle güçlerden bağımsız kendi rotamızı bulup yaşamaktadır belki de.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,015 followers
May 25, 2011
I love Ursula Le Guin's writing a lot. Gifts is a YA book, technically, but it doesn't have to be just for young people. It's a lovely story, like a fairy tale, and it's very easy to read, but that doesn't mean it's not worth reading for people who are older. The main character is a young boy, but the emotions of other characters, like Orrec's father, are there and it's important to understand them and try to identify with them. And Ursula Le Guin's writing is simple and lovely, easy to read but also bewitching. I love her Earthsea books more than I liked Gifts, but Gifts is something different -- no epic quest, mostly just a boy coming to understand himself, and to some extent, his father.

I like the way the chosen blindness is explored. I love reading about blindness in fiction and this is something that's maybe more interesting -- voluntary blindness. I like the character of Gry, perhaps even more so because when Orrec wanders around with his eyes blindfolded, she blindfolds herself for a day to try and understand him. And the friendship between her and Orrec is left to grow quietly -- I don't feel like Le Guin intrudes and forces them together, only that it seems natural when they do get together.

The descriptions of Orrec's mother's death are painfully real. The metaphor of the sandstorm not being able to pick him up and whirl him past that part of the story, and the way he withdraws... Sometimes I felt he was just a little too inactive to be really, really interesting, and I liked Gry for trying to push him out of a it a little, but it's also understandable considering his circumstances.

The end feels abrupt, but then, it ends on a quietly lovely note, and I assume that the next book picks up on at least some of the threads from Gifts. I'm looking forward to finally reading the rest of the trilogy -- I first read Gifts when it was first out, I think, and didn't rush to get hold of Voices and Powers.

As for what the book explores -- since Ursula Le Guin usually seems to have something in mind to explore... it's not as obvious as in some of her books. Family relationships are important, and expectations, and I like the idea that someone else mentioned, that the gifts they have, unmaking or calling animals or whatever, are an analogy for things like engineering and aspects of science that get misused. The fact that the gifts grew out of healing and working with animals, and the way Gry refuses to use hers wrongly, might be another of Ursula Le Guin's lessons. Either way, her 'agenda' is subtle in this book -- you can read it just as a story, if you wish.
Profile Image for Paul H..
819 reviews311 followers
June 30, 2022
If, like me, you’re a huge fan of Earthsea and have searched in vain for anything similar . . . well, you'll still be searching, but this is a pretty good late-career substitute. Ursula wrote her own fan fiction, in essence; this trilogy takes place in what is functionally a hidden corner of Earthsea, using the same metaphysics/magic, and with similar themes. The prose is intentionally YA (rather than accidentally YA, as in Earthsea), the plotting is weak, but the first and third books in the trilogy technically have just enough of ye olde Earthsea magic that I can somewhat recommend them.
Profile Image for Kat  Hooper.
1,584 reviews403 followers
March 31, 2009
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Usually I love an Ursula Le Guin novel, but I just couldn't get into Gifts. The writing is beautiful, as we expect from Le Guin (therefore 4 stars), but I found this novel too dull for me.

Most of the story is told by Orrec as it happened in the past (a technique I just couldn't appreciate), and he relates several stories that his mother told him. Orrec and his best friend Gry live in a culture where magical gifts are used for destructive purposes and they are pressured by their parents to develop these powers. They refuse, and Orrec even blindfolds himself so he won't be able to destroy anything. This makes for a lovely philosophy, but not much action, and even fewer happy moments. I guess I was in the mood for something else. But, there's a lot of interesting potential in the culture of The Annals of the Western Shore, and I may decide to try the next one.

BTW, I listened to this on audio; it was well done.
Read more Ursula Le Guin book reviews at Fantasy literature.
Profile Image for Rachel Leonard.
16 reviews5 followers
September 21, 2009
I didn't find this book compelling, maybe I should have read Voices first. Reading the premise at the library, I was interested.

"Scattered among poor, desolate farms, the clans of the Uplands possess gifts. Wondrous gifts: the ability--with a glance, a gesture, a word--to summon animals, bring forth fire, move the land. 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. Two young people, friends since childhood, decide not to use their gifts. One, a girl, refuses to bring animals to their death in the hunt. The other, a boy, wears a blindfold lest his eyes and his anger kill."

I thought it would be more use of these people gifts, I guessed I expected more action using these gifts. This book seemed like the background for future books, I wasn't entertained enough to decide to read the rest.

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