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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too, 13 Jan 2007
By 
TeensReadToo "Eat. Drink. Read. Be Merrier." (All Over the US & Canada) - See all my reviews
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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.

Reviewed by: Lynn Crow
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Sequel, 6 Sep 2006
I read and deeply enjoyed Gifts - the first in a new cycle of novels by master Fantasy author LeGuin. Voices is its superb successor. Voices has deep concerns that are hugely relevant to, for instance, the current crisis in the Middle East. Her focus is often on the way people perceive 'the other' - the casual racism of societies of all sort and the hideous damage this wreaks upon ordinary lives. All of this could, of course, be deeply dispiriting, but LeGuin has a myth-maker's pen. Throughout all of her books she weaves a deep and powerful magic, compelling plots and a vivid power of description all delivered through sparse but highly effective prose. Interestingly some critics dislike her prose style (and her politics!) but I think she is a superb stylist - not a word wasted or misused... ever. I think this is best as a read for teens and adults - it's not really right for the 8-12 year old category, and is more akin to her final books from the Earthsea cycle, such as The Other Wind and Tehanu.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The power of words, 31 Aug 2007
By 
Mikko Saari (Tampere, Finland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Voices (Annals of the Western Shore) (Paperback)
This book is a return to the Western Shores, the setting of Gifts. While the main characters from Gifts make an important appearance, this is an independent story. Starting with Gifts is a good introduction to the world, however.

Voices is the story of Ansul, a city under the rule of oppressive enemies and Memer, a halfblood child born under the enemy rule. The Alds are cruel masters, who despise reading and books - not a good thing for the people of Ansul, known for their wisdom and their books. Memer learns dangerous secrets, when the arrival of storyteller Orrec Caspro sets big wheels in motion.

Le Guin portrays both the people of Ansul and the Alds rather well. The Alds are more than illiterate idiots. It's a very beautiful and touching story and I enjoyed it a lot. Voices may be written for young adults, but it won't disappoint an older reader either. Le Guin is a master of her trade.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atuan revisited, 1 Dec 2006
Firstly, this is a great book, in and of itself - elegant, simple writing, good storytelling, real issues.

It also interested me though as part of the process that reading Le Guin's books has been over the years. This has been watching and experiencing the author changing and developing in perceptions of society, particularly a deeper and more subtle appreciation of feminism. In her recent additions to Earthsea, Le Guin has been uncovering the prejudices she didn't realise she had in writing the original trilogy.

Voices revisits some of the elements of The Tombs of Atuan and inverts them. There is an ancient mysterious power existing in the dark underground and it is still terrifying but no longer evil. The young woman through whom the power acts is acclaimed and grows into this role rather than learning to repudiate it. Thus Le Guin reflects on how the earlier book encoded Cixous type divisions.

As I say however, it's a really good book anyway without reading psychoanalytic feminist literary theory into it :-)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the master storyteller, 20 Jun 2010
This review is from: Voices (Annals of the Western Shore) (Paperback)
Following on from Gifts, Voices begins in a land far from that of the first book and with different characters at first, but as the tale unfolds we are reintroduced to a couple of familiar faces, if older and wiser.

A land conquered for years where books are outlawed and the locals plot revolution - Le Guin conjours political and, as she does best and so well, personal tensions. As with all her finest works, the tale concerns real people and the effect that events have on them and those about them. She builds a distinctive world and gives it real depth and grit with a polished shine.

A very satisfying story all on its own, but a good follow-up nevertheless. It makes for interesting reading to see how the inbetween years have changed, or not changed, Orrec and Gry (from Gifts), without having to follow them step by step through all that has happened. Though i originally wanted the sequel to Gifts to follow their journey, it actually is satisfying to have left them to it, only to rejoin them at a time in their lives where an event of consequence is happening. And then to see them through another's eyes is clever, given the status they have gained in their years of travelling as storytellers of the highest regard.

Said eyes are those of a girl, Memer, in the house of the Waylord who was broken by the Alds when they conquered many years ago. The culture is given a voice here at the start of the tale through the girl and her fellows and we follow Memer about her life as she watches the tensions grow and strain and finally break. She is perfectly placed to both witness and experience the revolutionary events and face the aftermath of them. By following her instead of Orrec and Gry, we get a hands on feel for Memer's life and people, the country and the Alds who have taken it for their own. So it was a canny choice on the author's part to so tell the tale.

Very worthwhile - Le Guin remains a master storyteller.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!, 18 April 2010
By 
N. Kavanagh (China) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Voices (Annals of the Western Shore) (Paperback)
I've read all three books in this latest series by Ursula Le Guin. And as usual, they are wonderful in a beautifully written, well plotted, understated way. She engages with her characters and their world. No magic swords and sorcery, all entirely credible. Loved it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Voices, 2 May 2014
By 
penny davies "the song" (Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Voices (Annals of the Western Shore) (Paperback)
Ursula Le Guin has once again taken me on an unforgettable journey to a place I could scarcely have dreamed of.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Anything by Ursula Le Guin always rates 5 stars!, 25 Mar 2013
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This is a poetic, clever and unexpected book. While it doesn't rank among my favourite Ursula Le Guin's novels, I would still buy the rest of the series.
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Voices (Annals of the Western Shore)
Voices (Annals of the Western Shore) by Ursula K. Le Guin (Paperback - 3 May 2007)
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