Annals of the Western Shore

23 Nov

Just finished Ursula Le Guin’s newest trilogy; Gifts, Voices, Powers are the individual titles.  Like many of her books, they are to be found in the young adult section of the library.  Thank Heaven there are writers of her quality found in that genre.

Each book is about a character or two from a different geographical place, culture, and people group on the “Western Shore”.  Each main character is a young person, with different particulars but similar story arc, that of maturing, coming into one’s calling and gifts, facing reality, discerning what is true.  After the first book, there is some intertwining of characters.

The series points to the working of divine intervention in our lives.  Each book has a lot to say about the importance of belief, truth, morality.  In each culture imagined by Le Guin the observance of religious duties is a priority.  That different spirits interact with different people groups is presented as fact. Le Guin does not divorce action from belief.

That words, ideas and stories are potent, powerful, of worth, of value is the other main concept presented in these tales.  Books are important.  In her stories young persons who are able to memorize and share stories, songs and poems similar to those found in the Iliad, the Aeneid, and the Bible are presented as talented, gifted, special.  Their abilities make room for them.  Being literate and educated is always presented as the enviable best option.  Educated in her world means a firm grasp on literature and the written and spoken word.

There is not overt, but not disguised discussion about many ugly sides of human activity: slavery, revenge, rape, power used to hurt the powerless, torture.  Many different ideas and examples of how families and societies can be run, positive and negative.

Highly recommended for older teen on up.

2 Responses to “Annals of the Western Shore”

  1. origamifreak 23 November 2008 at 10:07 PM #

    Oh good. I was just about to ask what was up with all of those Le Guin quotes… 🙂

    Thanx for the enthusiastic birthday call, too!

  2. Herself 24 November 2008 at 10:48 AM #

    The series as a whole is also a kind of elegy or lament for our own Western world; the loss of importance in faith, the study of classical literature, in being literate.

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