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Voices by Ursula K. Le Guin Unabridged CD Audiobook

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Unabridged CD Audiobook .... 9 CDs / 10 hours long

30 review for Voices by Ursula K. Le Guin Unabridged CD Audiobook

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nicky

    Voices is perhaps a more outwardly compelling book than the first, Gifts, partly because it features some of the same characters, and partly because it has more action. Memer is still pretty introspective, but the scale has changed: from a small mountain community, we’re now in a big city, and a city which is under the control of an occupying force. Obviously the issues here are ones pretty close to my heart: reading and literacy, but also the way imperialism tries to break down local culture, fa Voices is perhaps a more outwardly compelling book than the first, Gifts, partly because it features some of the same characters, and partly because it has more action. Memer is still pretty introspective, but the scale has changed: from a small mountain community, we’re now in a big city, and a city which is under the control of an occupying force. Obviously the issues here are ones pretty close to my heart: reading and literacy, but also the way imperialism tries to break down local culture, failing to understand it or branding it primitive, even heretical, or just ignorant. With less heresy and supernatural stuff, and more “you stupid ignorant people”, that’s the relationship between Wales and England. (No, don’t chime in to tell me it’s not. I refer you to the Treachery of the Blue Books and the Welsh Not for just two examples.) Obviously the situations aren’t directly analogous, but it still resonated — particularly Memer’s initial inability to read, considering I still can’t read Welsh. I’m not sure if a single non-border English school offers Welsh classes on the curriculum, but mine definitely did not. Since this is Ursula Le Guin we’re talking about, it’s beautifully and meditatively written. If you’re looking for big epic battles in which two armies clash, you’re in entirely the wrong place, but if you want a blueprint for how people can interact, even when their cultures clash, then Le Guin’s got your back. Originally posted here.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Moira

    My favourite of the three - often the subject was unrelievedly painful to me (BURNING BOOKS OMG NO), but I really loved Memer's voice, utterly direct, plain, and believable, despite the sometimes heavy-handed Symbolism everywhere (her role in the book reminded me very much of Irena in Beginning Place). I heard someone call these books 'Earthsea lite' but that's really unfair - the language is simpler, less mannered and archaic, but the people more complex, the plots more political. (Melle is cer My favourite of the three - often the subject was unrelievedly painful to me (BURNING BOOKS OMG NO), but I really loved Memer's voice, utterly direct, plain, and believable, despite the sometimes heavy-handed Symbolism everywhere (her role in the book reminded me very much of Irena in Beginning Place). I heard someone call these books 'Earthsea lite' but that's really unfair - the language is simpler, less mannered and archaic, but the people more complex, the plots more political. (Melle is certainly an echo of Tehanu and Memer of Tenar/Arha....) This book is more like what The Telling should have been, gripping, dramatic, felt from the interior instead of observed from outside, and much much shorter. I kind of hated La Guin for making me like the barbarian king asshole in this book and the slave king asshole in the third book, but she's gotten a lot better at complex villains over the whole of her career (witness the father in the first book) which I have to admire. I loved Orrec and Beaky too, even if at times I wanted to roll my eyes at their magnificent emo manpain. I think Beaky's book was aesthetically the best, but my heart belongs to Memer and her mixing of epic heroism and marketing. There's also an emphasis on reading and telling, what books mean (not 'just' literacy) through the whole trilogy which I really liked. It's pretty amazing Le Guin can still write like this. I think the only other unread recent major work I have by her is Lavinia, which I'll be sad to finish.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paul Perry

    Le Guin is rightly famed for her novels of the late 1960s and the 1970s such as the Earthsea books, The Dispossessed, The Left Hand of Darkness, but she has never let up and has been a force in science fiction, fantasy and indeed literature for almost 60 years now. This, the middle volume of the Annals of the Western Shore, shows just why; she writes prose as lucid and powerful as almost any writer I can think of, characters that walk the line between tale-tellers archetype and fully three dime Le Guin is rightly famed for her novels of the late 1960s and the 1970s such as the Earthsea books, The Dispossessed, The Left Hand of Darkness, but she has never let up and has been a force in science fiction, fantasy and indeed literature for almost 60 years now. This, the middle volume of the Annals of the Western Shore, shows just why; she writes prose as lucid and powerful as almost any writer I can think of, characters that walk the line between tale-tellers archetype and fully three dimensional human beings, and infuses the whole with a humanity and relevance that is breathtaking. She writes great stories that are made epic by the inclusion of a meaning that is apparent but never heavy handed, that never overwhelms the tale but lifts it. Voices finds a great, ancient city of learning that has been subjugated for seventeen years by a foreign power whose singular god considers any other deities to be demons and any books or writing blasphemy, and a girl - child of a violation during the invasion - who has grown up tending the remains of a secret library and is witness to, and instrumental in, a great change. As wonderful as the first volume, Gifts, leaving me a little sad that there is only one book remaining.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Goran Lowie

    In Voices, Le Guin somehow writes one of the best and most beautiful books of her entire career. Hidden away, as one of the last books of her career and stowed away in the "Young Adult" section, never before have her messages been so clear, so powerful, and so developed. An astounding work for all ages. In Voices, Le Guin somehow writes one of the best and most beautiful books of her entire career. Hidden away, as one of the last books of her career and stowed away in the "Young Adult" section, never before have her messages been so clear, so powerful, and so developed. An astounding work for all ages.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Eleanor

    A book about a city under occupation, agents of change, and a way forward to a better future when each side is able to make concessions to the other. Time spent reading a book by Ursula Le Guin is always time well spent.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Kieffer

    THIS. This is what I have been waiting to read for so long. After a rough 2016 in terms of reading, it was so heartening to discover a novel that absolutely bewitched me.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Oleksandr Zholud

    This is the second volume of a YA fantasy trilogy by Ursula K. Le Guin. I read it because a part of monthly reading for January 2022 at Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels group is the third volume, Powers, which was nominated for Nebula for 2008. I plan to read the whole trilogy and starting not from the first book by my mistake. I can say that at least this novel works perfectly as a standalone. The story starts with the protagonist, Memer, a girl about 7 years old. She lives in an old mansion, o This is the second volume of a YA fantasy trilogy by Ursula K. Le Guin. I read it because a part of monthly reading for January 2022 at Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels group is the third volume, Powers, which was nominated for Nebula for 2008. I plan to read the whole trilogy and starting not from the first book by my mistake. I can say that at least this novel works perfectly as a standalone. The story starts with the protagonist, Memer, a girl about 7 years old. She lives in an old mansion, often spending time in a strange room, to which only she can enter by signing symbols on air. The room is filled with books and initially she hid there with her mother, when enemies, who occupied that city, Ansul, where on rampage of pillage and rape. Her mother’s name was Decalo Galva and she was head housekeeper for Sulter Galva, Waylord of Ansul, the owner of the mansion and an elected official of the city, whose main job before the occupation was making trade deals with other cities. This hasn’t the first time when enemies, Alds, the people of the deserts of Asudar, invaded the city – the previous attack was the reason Memer’s birth – her mother was raped by Ald soldier. Memer finds out that the Waylord is also able to enter the hidden room and he takes on himself her education. Time goes on and now she is seventeen, and a famous poet and his wife, able to speak with animals enter the occupied city. Together they should find a way to throw off the yoke… This is a nice YA with beautiful flowing prose. The fantasy elements are present but they are on background, the central stage given to the characters. The army of Alds, who are a mix of nomads, who love their horses and believers in a only real god of fire, assuming deities of other people as demons to fight with (some allusions to early Islam). Locals, lowered to second class citizens in own city, but who are historically more traders than warriors. The title, ‘Voices’ has multiple allusions – from the ability to speak with animals, to books speaking to reader, to a poet or agitator speaking to a crowd, affecting moods of the people.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. In the second volume of The Annals of the Western Shore, LeGuin takes us a long way south from the Uplands of the first volume, to the conquered coastal city of Ansul. She also provides a map of the Western Shore not printed in the first or third volumes. One of the regions on the map, Sessery, sounds very much like it should be an island of Earthsea. Memer narrates the story of her young life, growing up in a city conquered by an invading army from the desert to the east - indeed she is a produc In the second volume of The Annals of the Western Shore, LeGuin takes us a long way south from the Uplands of the first volume, to the conquered coastal city of Ansul. She also provides a map of the Western Shore not printed in the first or third volumes. One of the regions on the map, Sessery, sounds very much like it should be an island of Earthsea. Memer narrates the story of her young life, growing up in a city conquered by an invading army from the desert to the east - indeed she is a product of that invasion, her mother being forced by a soldier from the invading army. The hated Alds - the invaders - bring their religious beliefs with them and Atth, their one God, hates the written word. Ansul was a University city and had a great and famed library. The aftermath of conquest saw it destroyed, along with its contents, any other books discovered by the army and all discovered harbouring the written word. Memer grows up hating the occupying Alds, though she looks like them, and learning history and poetry from the cache of books held in a room with no doors. Little changes until the arrival of Orrec Caspro and Gry Barr in the city, summoned by the Alds' chief political figure. Then change comes more swiftly than she could have believed possible - and she finds herself at the centre of it. LeGuin gives more to think about in this book than any dozen documentaries on the religious conflicts of this world...and that is what she is writing about, though any one analogy with a real modern conflict doesn't quite fit, much to her credit, in my view. LeGuin intends her readers not to make easy comparisons but to have to think seriously about the motivations, merits and de-merits of all parties involved in her imagined occupied city and hence be forced to do so with regard to the world we see around us. She uses Memer's awakening to a complicated political situation and enforced close up view of her enemies to suggest that seeing our enemies as human is much of the way to finding a way to live with them. Without ever unrealistically simplifying matters she promotes talking (politics) as a solution, perhaps the only solution, though not necessarily an ideal one. LeGuin tells a gripping, intricate, carefully crafted story of immediate and yet depressingly timeless relevance in an intelligent and perceptive way. LeGuin is rarely less than profound but does not always give sufficient attention to providing her readers with a compelling narrative. That fault cannot be observed in this novel, making this the best fantasy work she has written since The Farthest Shore and putting it on a parr with her very best work in any genre.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

    This book was excellent, even better than the first book of this series, Gifts. The two main characters from the first book are seen again here playing important parts in the story, but the viewpoint character is someone new. Again, UKL's deft storytelling catches you up right away and pulls you into the action, thoughts, and feelings. In no way does this feel like Young Adult literature. Both of these books are awesome stories. There's nothing that's simplified here, or minor in any way. The sto This book was excellent, even better than the first book of this series, Gifts. The two main characters from the first book are seen again here playing important parts in the story, but the viewpoint character is someone new. Again, UKL's deft storytelling catches you up right away and pulls you into the action, thoughts, and feelings. In no way does this feel like Young Adult literature. Both of these books are awesome stories. There's nothing that's simplified here, or minor in any way. The story is set in a city which has been overrun and enslaved by foreign invaders for seventeen years past. The viewpoint character is a half-breed, born of the rape of a local woman by a foreign soldier. Her heart is not divided, though. She's a girl of her people, the beaten enslaved people of the city. The action starts when she meets Gry and Orrec from the first book. They're 20 years older now than when we met them. They travel around from town to village on the Western Shore. Orrec is a storyteller. He tells history and myth, fiction and nonfiction. Most of these are poetry, one imagines they're like Homer or Virgil, which he recites powerfully. They have a pet lion which Gry has trained. Their coming to the city sets in motion many things that result in great changes. The action is captivating, but as in all UKL tales, the action is less important than the people, the characters and what they feel and think, what they do and who they become. I highly recommend these books to anyone. I'm going to read the third one, Powers, next.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Drew Nelson

    Memer is a sheep-haired oppressed minority girl who is oppressed by a manly warrior society who thinks reading is evil. How does she fight the book burning Nazis? With the power of understanding. Oh, and there's some kind of crazy magic that no one understands that happens about once. Horrible, disgusting tripe. Paper dolls have more real personality than these characters. Example dialog (completely made up, but in character): Memer: I am very oppressed. It is because I am a minority who loves to Memer is a sheep-haired oppressed minority girl who is oppressed by a manly warrior society who thinks reading is evil. How does she fight the book burning Nazis? With the power of understanding. Oh, and there's some kind of crazy magic that no one understands that happens about once. Horrible, disgusting tripe. Paper dolls have more real personality than these characters. Example dialog (completely made up, but in character): Memer: I am very oppressed. It is because I am a minority who loves to learn and read. Why do you oppress me so? Oppressing oppressor: It is because I hate reading! Books are wicked tools of the great Satan! My religion blinds me to the goodness in others! (evil snarl!) Memer: I will strive to understand your culture that I might best you with the power of my knowledge, love, and understanding, though I greatly fear your power to oppress me even more than you already do. The only reason I finished this book was because I was on a road trip. I'm a little bit disappointed in myself for doing so, even so.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Wardrip

    Reviewed by Lynn Crow for TeensReadToo.com 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, ha Reviewed by Lynn Crow for TeensReadToo.com 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.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Smith

    Meh. A heavy-handed, often simplistic novel, perhaps because it's written for children or teens. The conflict is very neatly divided into black and white. The polytheistic city of Ansul was famed for its literary and scholarly culture, until the Alds of Asudar invaded, raping, murdering, and wrecking. The Alds are religious extremists who believe that the written world is evil. They destroy every book they can find, kill anyone in possession of written material, and make reading a crime. Sevente Meh. A heavy-handed, often simplistic novel, perhaps because it's written for children or teens. The conflict is very neatly divided into black and white. The polytheistic city of Ansul was famed for its literary and scholarly culture, until the Alds of Asudar invaded, raping, murdering, and wrecking. The Alds are religious extremists who believe that the written world is evil. They destroy every book they can find, kill anyone in possession of written material, and make reading a crime. Seventeen years later, their priests and soldiers occupy the city. Memer was conceived during the invasion, when her mother was raped by soldiers. She hates the Alds for all they have done - raping her mother, torturing the beloved Waylord of her home Galvamand, wrecking the estate, denying the gods she worships, etc. Galvamand was once a university, and now people bring any books they find to the house for safekeeping. They are kept in a secret room that only Memer and the Waylord can access with magic words. When a famous storyteller and his wife are invited to the city, it signals an opportunity for change. In this context, all books take on a grand, magical quality, and Memer and the Waylord become grand, liberating figures simply because they love to read and do so in secret. How many times have we seen the glorified reader rebelling against the book-burners (or in this case, book-drowners)? Obviously I'm on the readers' side, but it's an old, boring conflict. It doesn't make sense either. How is anyone supposed to run a business without writing things down? The Waylord actually suggests that business will suffer or collapse in future, but it's amazing that it hasn't already, or that the Alds have managed to thrive without writing of any kind. This is a quasi-medieval society, so there are no machines to do their record-keeping for them. Le Guin is taking things a bit too far with the Alds, as well as taking a cheap shot at Islam, on which their religion is based - it's strictly monotheistic although there is a devil, and the Alds touch their heads to the ground four times when they pray. It resembles the more fanatical versions of Islam in its gross intolerance, violence, and the oppressive treatment of women (in Asudar they're not allowed out of the house). Of course Islam is quite different in that it has a holy book, and the first word of the Quran is "Read", but on the other hand the Prophet Muhammad was supposedly illiterate, as all the Alds obviously are. In terms of narrative, it seemed a decent if bland coming-of-age story for a while. Memer's a strong character, and I still like the idea of a secret library, but as the conflict intensified it got thoroughly boring - too predictable, with too many easy, convenient resolutions. After being just as disappointed with A Wizard of Earthsea, I think I'll steer clear of Le Guin's YA and children's fiction from now on.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    A lot more seems to happen in Voices than in the first book of the trilogy, Gifts. It has more tension, more drive, and it feels more full. Ursula Le Guin has a habit of writing very beautiful books that aren't very immediate or exciting because they have very little by way of plot. I still like them, but plenty of people won't stop to read them. Voices isn't like that -- there's a plot, as well as compelling characters, beautiful writing and careful worldbuilding. Nothing slips, here. Gry and Or A lot more seems to happen in Voices than in the first book of the trilogy, Gifts. It has more tension, more drive, and it feels more full. Ursula Le Guin has a habit of writing very beautiful books that aren't very immediate or exciting because they have very little by way of plot. I still like them, but plenty of people won't stop to read them. Voices isn't like that -- there's a plot, as well as compelling characters, beautiful writing and careful worldbuilding. Nothing slips, here. Gry and Orrec, from the first book, are important in this book, too. Orrec, particularly, in terms of the plot, but in terms of the emotional part of the book, Gry is very important to the narrator, Memer. It's good to see these characters, good to see how they've grown. But then again, if you haven't read Gifts, it's actually okay, I think, just to read Voices. You're missing out, I think, but you could read Voices on its own. Le Guin's "agenda" is more obvious in this book. Parts of it -- the idea of the people of Ansul being peaceful people, and "set free to be free" -- remind me of The Eye of The Heron. For most of the book, there's a powerful, oppressive, occupying force, which has to be overturned. I really like that the people of Ansul remain relatively peaceful -- not unnaturally so, stretching belief only a little, but still, peaceful. There's food for thought about the nature of liberty, religious/cultural conflict, politics... Funny that I have rather less to say about this book, in which rather more happens than in Gifts. Perhaps that's because it's easier to let it speak for itself.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Luke

    Voices has been my constant companion on the daily commute to work for the last week or so. Sometimes, these can be my favourite moments of the day, with time, (relative) quiet and a good book to pass the time. Sadly, with Voices, this was not the case. I felt like it was a bit of a nothing book, well written but I had a decidedly 'meh' feeling upon finishing. The general concept of the Ald invasion and occupation of the city has potential, but the story never takes this anywhere interesting. A f Voices has been my constant companion on the daily commute to work for the last week or so. Sometimes, these can be my favourite moments of the day, with time, (relative) quiet and a good book to pass the time. Sadly, with Voices, this was not the case. I felt like it was a bit of a nothing book, well written but I had a decidedly 'meh' feeling upon finishing. The general concept of the Ald invasion and occupation of the city has potential, but the story never takes this anywhere interesting. A few moments where a bit of conflict and interest threaten to break out are swiftly replaced by convenient events that wrap everything up in a shiny silver bow. There is an underlying message that books are amazing and magical which I would call subtle but you do not use a hammer to apply subtlety. This extends to a key character who has a gift with words, speeches and stories. I also struggled to accept the superiority complex emanating from the pages. Granted, it is narrated by a young head-strong girl, but the book heavily implies that the Gods of Ansul are real and the God of the Alds is false. This, and smaller things like it, led me to find the book more frustrating than enjoyable. I can understand the narrator despising the invaders and feeling morally superior, but I'm not sure I can forgive the book for constantly implying their superiority. A large part of this is down to the choice of narrator, who I found quite frustrating. Overall, not a book I'll be looking to read again.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is a sequel of sorts to Gifts. It features two of the same characters, but takes place at least eighteen years later. There's a new young protagonist, a new setting, a new question about the nature and use of power. The book makes commentary on a number of large themes, among them education, war, forgiveness, books, responsibility, honor, religion, and loyalty, all hung on an earnest teenager named Memer. This is a sequel of sorts to Gifts. It features two of the same characters, but takes place at least eighteen years later. There's a new young protagonist, a new setting, a new question about the nature and use of power. The book makes commentary on a number of large themes, among them education, war, forgiveness, books, responsibility, honor, religion, and loyalty, all hung on an earnest teenager named Memer.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Adina

    A rich, imaginative book which would have worked better, I think, as a full adult fantasy and not a YA - the detailed world with its too-realistic and gritty plot contrasts steangely with the 1st person perspective of our young main character.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kat Hooper

    4.5 stars ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature. I'm happy to report that I enjoyed Voices much more than Gifts. In this story of the Western Shore, we meet Memer, a 17 year old girl -- a "siege-brat" -- who lives in the occupied land of Ansul, a city of people who used to be peaceful, prosperous, and educated but who were overtaken 17 years ago by the illiterate Alds who consider all writing to be demonic. All of the Ansul literature, history, and other books were drowned ... except for a small 4.5 stars ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature. I'm happy to report that I enjoyed Voices much more than Gifts. In this story of the Western Shore, we meet Memer, a 17 year old girl -- a "siege-brat" -- who lives in the occupied land of Ansul, a city of people who used to be peaceful, prosperous, and educated but who were overtaken 17 years ago by the illiterate Alds who consider all writing to be demonic. All of the Ansul literature, history, and other books were drowned ... except for a small collection of books that has been saved and hidden in a secret room in the house of Galvamand and can only be accessed by the last two people in the Galva household -- Sulter Galva (the Waylord) and Memer, whose mother was a Galva. One day, the Maker and orator Orrec, and his wife Gry, (from Gifts) come to town, stay at Galvamand, and recite to the people of Ansul and their Ald overlord, the Gand Ioratth. When Orrec recites ancient epics and poetry, including some of Ansul's own hymns, the Gand is moved, the Ansul people are stirred to revolution, and Ioratth's son and the Ald priests are stirred to wrath. The people of Ansul have to decide whether to revolt or to try to negotiate peacefully with the softening Gand. The situation brings up realistic (rather than fantastical) ideas about the nature of freedom, revolution, and whether it might sometimes be better to compromise, rather than fight to the death, with people who control your destiny. The pace of Voices is slow and the entire story takes place in approximately a one-mile radius so there's not much action but, as usual for an Ursula Le Guin novel, the power is in the writing -- it's moving and filled with insight into the human mind and our ideas of art, literature, culture, and patriotism. She doesn't just tell a story, but she gives us a full emotional experience and a lot to think about: "My mother's name was Decalo Galva. I want to tell of her, but I can't remember her. Or I do but the memory won't go into words. Being held tight, jostling, a good smell in the darkness of the bed, a rough red cloth, a voice which I can't hear but it's only just out of hearing. I used to think if I could hold still and listen hard enough, I'd hear her voice." "I wonder if men find it easier than women do to consider people not as bodies, as lives, but as numbers, figures, toys of the mind to be pushed about a battleground of the mind. This disembodiment gives pleasure, exciting them and freeing them to act for the sake of acting, for the sake of manipulating the figures, the game pieces. Love of country, or honor, or freedom, then, may be names they give that pleasure to justify it to the gods and to the people who suffer and kill and die in the game. So those words -- love, honor, freedom -- are degraded from their true sense. Then people may come to hold them in contempt as meaningless, and poets must struggle to give them back their truth." It was good to meet Orrec and Gry again and to see how Orrec was using his talents. It wasn't necessary to have read Gifts first, but it gave me greater enjoyment to understand Orrec's past. I listened to Voices on audiobook. The reader was flawless and added much energy and emotion to the telling. I recommend this format for Voices. Read more Ursula Le Guin book reviews at Fantasy literature.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    The peaceful merchant city of Ansul, famous for its university and learning, was invaded a generation ago by an army. The Alds believe that anything written is an abomination, the educated populace are dark wizards, and that they will find their religion's foretold final battleground in Ansul. They pillage, rape and torture their way through the citizens, destroying every book and shrine they can find. Seventeen years later, the Alds remain as uneasy masters in a slave-city. They still sleep in t The peaceful merchant city of Ansul, famous for its university and learning, was invaded a generation ago by an army. The Alds believe that anything written is an abomination, the educated populace are dark wizards, and that they will find their religion's foretold final battleground in Ansul. They pillage, rape and torture their way through the citizens, destroying every book and shrine they can find. Seventeen years later, the Alds remain as uneasy masters in a slave-city. They still sleep in tents, dress as though they still live in the desert, and have made absolutely no attempts to understand their new subjects. An entire generation of Ansul has grown up knowing freedom and their history only as rumors. Memer is luckier than most. Everyone is hungry and overworked, but through her mother's position in the Waylord's household she has access to the last library in Ansul. She is as hungry for knowledge as she is for revenge. A chance meeting with the famous storyteller Orrec and his animal-tamer wife, Gry (the main characters from Gifts, some twenty years later) is the catalyst for an explosion of revolution and social change. This was a great book. It feels like a YA treatment of the same issues as Laurie Marks's Fire Logic series. Clashing religions, races, cultures--invasion and enslavement--written words versus spoken. Le Guin's societies and individuals feel wholly real and independent of the reader. For every scene where a book or a speech is vital, there is another about creating a feast out of a fish and some greens. Neither form of knowledge is preferenced over the other. A miracle occurs, and Memer's friend the hostler says, "oh, look at that," and then goes back to work. Memer's by-mother is far more concerned with her daughter's upcoming wedding than the birth of a new government. Memer is both Ald and Ansul, but she's not upset about it, and it only comes up a few times (a refreshing change from the Tragic Caught-Between-Two-Worlds! trope). Bloody, dramatic vengeance is contrasted with a compromise that doesn't wholly satisfy anyone. Le Guin is clearly still a Grand Master of Fantasy.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    LeGuin always creates interesting worlds. In this young adult novel, the city of Ansul on the Western Shore is under the dominion of the Alds. The Alds are aggressive, warlike and religiously intolerant of any religion and any god other than their one god Atth - a god who forbids books and the written word in any form. The people of Ansul on the other hand are more passive, focused on commerce and scholarship with a complex set of daily observed rituals to their plethora of gods. For seventeen ye LeGuin always creates interesting worlds. In this young adult novel, the city of Ansul on the Western Shore is under the dominion of the Alds. The Alds are aggressive, warlike and religiously intolerant of any religion and any god other than their one god Atth - a god who forbids books and the written word in any form. The people of Ansul on the other hand are more passive, focused on commerce and scholarship with a complex set of daily observed rituals to their plethora of gods. For seventeen years since the Alds conquered and occupied Ansul, the people of Ansul have had their religious icons destroyed and books forbidden with deadly punishment to any caught with forbidden books. Ansul's citizens have bridled under this oppressive occupation and things come to a head when a talented "speaker," Orrec, comes to town. Orrec, his wife Gry, and the young woman Memer (half Ald and half of Ansul due to her rape conception seventeen years earlier when the Alds conquered Ansul), all play a part through their different talents in unleashing the town's simmering resentment into action. The result, however, is not the viscerally satisfying revenge and recapture of Ansul by its citizens but the working of a compromised, yet ultimately more satisfactory political compromise that restores most home rule to Ansul without the cost of the bloodshed and death of an outright war of rebellion. Quotations: "I wonder if men find it easier than women do to consider people not as bodies, as lives, but as numbers, figures, toys of the mind to be pushed about a battleground of the mind. This disembodiment gives pleasure, exciting them and freeing them to act for the sake of acting, for the sake of manipulating the figures, the game pieces. Love of country or honor, or freedom, then, may be names they give that pleasure to justify it to the gods and to the people who suffer and kill and die in the game. So those words - love, honor, freedom - are degraded from their true sense. Then people may come to hold them in contempt as meaningless, and poets must struggle to give them back their truth." "I had wanted to refuse patronisation, manipulation, compromise - politics. I had wanted to fling off every bond, to defy the tyrant. I had wanted to hate the Alds, drive them away, destroy them...my vow, my promise, made when I was eight years old, that I had sworn by all the gods and by my mother's soul. I had broken that promise. I had to break it."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Althea Ann

    This is a companion book to LeGuin's earlier, "Gifts," but it also works as a stand-alone novel. It takes place about 20 years later. The two main characters from "Gifts" do appear, but are not the main characters here. The story takes place in an occupied and defeated country. The invaders, distrusting and fearing the written word as a form of demonic magic, have sought out all books to destroy them. But young Memer has grown up in a household that still secretly houses a forbidden library... and a This is a companion book to LeGuin's earlier, "Gifts," but it also works as a stand-alone novel. It takes place about 20 years later. The two main characters from "Gifts" do appear, but are not the main characters here. The story takes place in an occupied and defeated country. The invaders, distrusting and fearing the written word as a form of demonic magic, have sought out all books to destroy them. But young Memer has grown up in a household that still secretly houses a forbidden library... and although she is a 'half-breed' child of rape, she may also be heir to powers and mysteries that the invaders would regard as their worst fears come to life. However, while "Voices" is an exciting, vivid and magic-filled fantasy story, it is also, like many of LeGuin's books, a serious political commentary. With their hatred of education and disrespect of women, the invaders of this story bear unavoidable parallels to fundamentalist extremists today. However, although her dislike of such extremism is more than clear, LeGuin makes a compelling and effective argument against violence and revenge, pointing instead to the historically proven economic and social benefits of compromise, cooperation, and a gradual understanding of each other's humanity by widely differing peoples. Both entertaining and relevant, the world would be a better place if everyone in it read this book, and heeded its message.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Justin

    This is a perfect book. Voices is geared for Young Adults but the concepts are big - focusing on the role of the occupier (in this case the Alds) and the occupied (Ansul), the double-edged sword of religion as a force of peace and war, and the value of storytelling to transform culture and individual lives. Occupation clearly oppresses the occupied, but Le Guin does a fantastic job of demonstrating the nuance of occupation. It ultimately oppresses the occupier in important ways. Beyond religious This is a perfect book. Voices is geared for Young Adults but the concepts are big - focusing on the role of the occupier (in this case the Alds) and the occupied (Ansul), the double-edged sword of religion as a force of peace and war, and the value of storytelling to transform culture and individual lives. Occupation clearly oppresses the occupied, but Le Guin does a fantastic job of demonstrating the nuance of occupation. It ultimately oppresses the occupier in important ways. Beyond religious zeal, many of the oppressors in this book come to realize that they really don't want to occupy others hundreds of miles from their homes, that they miss their families, their culture, and their ways of live. They wanted out just as much as the occupied want them out. Occupation brings out the worst in all of us. I came to love many of the characters in this book, oppressor and oppressed, and was left with a sense of the power of individual courage - the small voice that speaks up to rebuke injustice - and the power of commonality of a few to spark a social and political transformation. Ursula K Le Guin stands as a giant of American letters. Every time I read one of her books, I'm left with a sense of purpose and love for life that I rarely find anywhere else. What more could you ask for in literature?

  22. 4 out of 5

    Soorya

    Voices takes place in an invaded, enslaved city and is about the aftermath of war, distrust and revenge. As in Gifts, Le Guin’s anthropological background shows: she paints an interesting picture of the invaders’ and invadees’ culture and religion. It’s been so long since the invasion that their history has become rumor and magic almost forgotten. I wish there'd been more of the magic, and after the intensity of Gifts the story here seems quite mellow. But in many ways I think this book is deepe Voices takes place in an invaded, enslaved city and is about the aftermath of war, distrust and revenge. As in Gifts, Le Guin’s anthropological background shows: she paints an interesting picture of the invaders’ and invadees’ culture and religion. It’s been so long since the invasion that their history has become rumor and magic almost forgotten. I wish there'd been more of the magic, and after the intensity of Gifts the story here seems quite mellow. But in many ways I think this book is deeper; there's a lot of subtle social commentary in the background. "The tale tells how the lords hunted while camped in exile, but it doesn't say what their wives and children were living on in their city left ruined and desolate by the enemy. When the heroes came back from the mountain, they were welcomed with a feast. I'd like to know how the women managed it."It's also very 'impressionistic', with some striking, vivid images that will linger in my memory for quite some time.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Erin Elizabeth

    I don't know what to think of this book. Though the characters were very likable, the book was very hard to understand in places. I felt like I was drifting through the last hundred pages, and when the problem had been resolved for their town, I felt little connection with their relief and excitement. Perhaps it was merely the vocabulary and the difficult names that made this novel difficult to enjoy, or maybe it was just badly written. Like I said, I did enjoy the characters (the ones I could I don't know what to think of this book. Though the characters were very likable, the book was very hard to understand in places. I felt like I was drifting through the last hundred pages, and when the problem had been resolved for their town, I felt little connection with their relief and excitement. Perhaps it was merely the vocabulary and the difficult names that made this novel difficult to enjoy, or maybe it was just badly written. Like I said, I did enjoy the characters (the ones I could actually follow), and looked forward to hearing them speak to each other in powerful and unique dialogue. Overall, it's a quick read that I just wanted to get off of my book shelf, and I'm excited to move on to the next book on it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Just a reader

    "Fear breeds silence, and then the silence breeds fear, and I let it rule me. Even there, in that room, the only place in the world where I knew who I was, I wouldn’t let myself guess who I might become." “There is a voice here, and it must speak through one who can—who can ask, who can read. He taught me. He gave me that. He kept it for me and passed it to me. It’s not his to carry, but mine. And I have to come back to it. To stay here.” “So the Lion returned home to the desert and told the beast "Fear breeds silence, and then the silence breeds fear, and I let it rule me. Even there, in that room, the only place in the world where I knew who I was, I wouldn’t let myself guess who I might become." “There is a voice here, and it must speak through one who can—who can ask, who can read. He taught me. He gave me that. He kept it for me and passed it to me. It’s not his to carry, but mine. And I have to come back to it. To stay here.” “So the Lion returned home to the desert and told the beasts of the desert that the Mouse was the bravest of all creatures.”

  25. 4 out of 5

    gio

    3.5 I don't have much to say actually. I liked it but not as much as Gifts. I missed the old characters even if they had a role in this one and the plot wasn't as interesting as before. Still, a solid read. I'd recommend it if you enjoyed the first one, but it's not really necessary to read it. 3.5 I don't have much to say actually. I liked it but not as much as Gifts. I missed the old characters even if they had a role in this one and the plot wasn't as interesting as before. Still, a solid read. I'd recommend it if you enjoyed the first one, but it's not really necessary to read it.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dustin the wind Crazy little brown owl

    I enjoyed the first volume, but couldn't connect with this second story. I appreciated the emphasis on books, knowledge, wisdom, family legacy and misconceptions, but didn't care for the politics. Favorite Passages: CASPRO'S HYMN As in the dark of winter night Our eyes seek dawn, As in the bonds of bitter cold The heart craves sun, So blinded and so bound, the sou. Cries out to thee: Be our light, our fire, our life, Liberty! ________ . . . they drowned books and people, or took them to the mudflats by the I enjoyed the first volume, but couldn't connect with this second story. I appreciated the emphasis on books, knowledge, wisdom, family legacy and misconceptions, but didn't care for the politics. Favorite Passages: CASPRO'S HYMN As in the dark of winter night Our eyes seek dawn, As in the bonds of bitter cold The heart craves sun, So blinded and so bound, the sou. Cries out to thee: Be our light, our fire, our life, Liberty! ________ . . . they drowned books and people, or took them to the mudflats by the sea and pushed them in with shovels and poles and trampled them down until they suffocated, sunk in the deep wet mud. ________ "Your mother's shadow dwells here, with the shadows of our ancestors." ________ I let the book fall open. There were drops of blood oozing from the page. They were wet. ________ Fear breeds silence, and then the silence breeds fear, and I let it rule me. Even there, in that room, the only place in the world where I knew who I was, I wouldn't let myself guess who I might become. ________ . . . I want this book to be as truthful as it can be, to be of use in the records of the House of the Oracle, and to honor my mother Decalo, to whom I dedicate it. I'm trying to put the memories of all those years in order, because I want to get to where I can tell about meeting Gry the first time. But there wasn't much order in my mind and heart when I was sixteen and seventeen. It was all ignorance and passionate anger and love. What peace I had, what understanding I had, came from my love for the Waylord and his kindness to me, and from books. Books are at the heart of this book I'm writing. Books caused the danger we were in, the risks we ran, and books gave us our power. ________ "This is a day of the greatly unexpected." ________ "Nowadays all it is is cats. Cats everywhere." ________ "I hope Orrec Caspro brought no books with him." "No," she said, "he came to seek them." "'As well seek bonfires in the sea,'" he said. She came right back, "'Or milk a desert stone.'" ________ The Waylord said something in Aritan; I wasn't sure, but I thought it was about the sky having room enough for all the stars and gods. He looked at her to see if she understood the line. ________ I didn't always understand them, but I didn't stare at them as if they were crazy for knowing what they knew. Caspro said to me, "The Carrantages is our great mountain, as Sul is yours. The Uplands are all hill and stone, and the farmers poor. Some of them have powers, indeed; but wizardry is a dangerous word. We call them gifts." "Among the Alds, we called them nothing at all," said Gry in her dry, slightly teasing way. "Not wishing to be stoned to death for the sin of coming from a gifted people." ________ "But there are times - times I'm sick at heart, missing the rocks and bogs and the silence of the hills." ________ "My family's gift is the unmaking," he said, and involuntarily put both hands over his eyes for a moment - a strange moment. "But I was given the gift of making. By mistake." ________ But then, reading was a heavy word, in our city under the Alds. ________ The ancestors were awake, were listening - the souls, the shadows, and the guardians of sill and hearth. The One Who Looks Both Ways had opened the door. ________ "Heathen," they called us. A word we learned from them. If it meant anything, it meant people who don't know what's sacred. Are there any such people? "Heathen" is merely a word for somebody who knows a different sacredness than you know. ________ The best luck of all was an owl. The owl is the bird of the Deaf One. ________ "They speak of your coming as a sign, a portent that the great days of Ansul are about to return." "I'm not a portent, I'm a poet," Orrec said. ________ I sat and looked up at the great depths of stars. I thought that the stars were like all the souls who lived in former times in this city, this house, all the thousands of spirits, the forerunners, lives like distant flames, lights far and farther away in the great darkness of time. Lives past, lives to come. How could you tell one from the other? ________ An owl swooped past near us, and I said, "The good omen to you." "And to you," Gry said. "You know, in Trundlede they call owls back luck? They're a gloomy, downhearted lot there. Too much forest, too much rain." ________ ". . . if he can write, and read, and follow his own heart in silence, he's a happy man." ________ "If you must go into the dark, Memer, think, it's only a mother, a grandmother, trying to tell us something we don't yet understand. Speaking a language you don't yet know well, but it can be learned. So I told myself, when I had to enter there." ________ "There is a god in every leaf; you hold what is sacred in your open hand." ________ We were silent. I heard the faint sound of the water running in the dark. "Come," he said, "it's late, the dream senders are all around us. Let's let them have their way." I held the small lamp in my left hand and with my right hand wrote the bright letters on the air. We went through the door, and along the dark corridors.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

    This is one of those Le Guin books that failed to engage me because of its theme. I just don't care. This is one of those Le Guin books that failed to engage me because of its theme. I just don't care.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Aline

    I can't even rate this book. Is so annoying I can't even rate this book. Is so annoying

  29. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    This second entry in the Annals of the Western Shore series I found much more engaging and thought-provoking than the first. Whereas Gifts was a standard coming-of-age tale, Voices wrestles with the complications and mixed feelings of a nation regaining freedom through negotiation rather than war. All of this is presented in beautiful prose through the eyes of a 17-year-old "reader" in a city that has been taken over by fundamentalists from a militaristic monotheistic nation that treats the writ This second entry in the Annals of the Western Shore series I found much more engaging and thought-provoking than the first. Whereas Gifts was a standard coming-of-age tale, Voices wrestles with the complications and mixed feelings of a nation regaining freedom through negotiation rather than war. All of this is presented in beautiful prose through the eyes of a 17-year-old "reader" in a city that has been taken over by fundamentalists from a militaristic monotheistic nation that treats the written word as demonic. But what could have been a simple hero's revenge on the Big Bad Guys narrative instead gives depth to the "enemy" and shows a way in which cooler heads can prevail, even after subjugation and suffering. (Coincidentally, had been reading snippets of The Darkening Age by Catherine Nixey, which is basically a historical documentation of early Christianity's destruction of the ancient Western pagan world and the parallels are uncanny. Sadly for historical Alexandria, things didn't work out quite as well.)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

    Yet another lovely story from Ms. UKL, that reminds us her dad was an anthropologist. It's about a peaceful people who are conquered and occupied by a patriarchal people who have banned books and literacy, thinking them the work of demons. It about goes how you'd expect, but takes an interesting way to get there. I dunno. Like Vonnegut, I love Le Guin SO MUCH and how she THINKS about things, that every story she writes is magic to me. I just agree with her personal philosophy so thoroughly, you k Yet another lovely story from Ms. UKL, that reminds us her dad was an anthropologist. It's about a peaceful people who are conquered and occupied by a patriarchal people who have banned books and literacy, thinking them the work of demons. It about goes how you'd expect, but takes an interesting way to get there. I dunno. Like Vonnegut, I love Le Guin SO MUCH and how she THINKS about things, that every story she writes is magic to me. I just agree with her personal philosophy so thoroughly, you know? It's another perfect little story. I'm not sure if it's science fiction though, I mean it could be on another planet, you know? It probably is. Unless it's the Pacific coast again, I didn't study the map too hard. This is the first UKL I've read since we lost her. I miss her, you guys. I miss knowing she was out there.

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