Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005
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by Ursula K. LeGuin

Reviewed February 5, 2005.
Harcourt, Orlando, 2004.  274 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2005 (#10, Young Adult Fantasy Fiction)

Any story told by Ursula K. LeGuin takes on a mythic quality, a sense of deep meaning, a feeling that here there is much truth to be found beyond the obvious surface meaning.

The ruling families of the Uplands have Gifts.  Orrec’s family has the gift of unmaking.  They can stretch out their hand, and with eye and hand and breath and will they can unmake a thing or even a person.  Those with a small gift can untie a knot.  Those with a stronger gift can turn a living thing into a disgusting sack of flesh.  Those with an even more powerful gift can turn a tract of land into chaos.

Other families have other gifts.  Orrec’s friend Gry has the gift of Calling.  Her mother uses the gift to Call animals to the Hunt, though Gry prefers to use hers to train horses.  The people of Drummant can cause a wasting disease.  Those of Geremant can twist a person’s limbs.  Those of Olmmant can set a fire from a distance.

With these fearsome gifts, the people live in fear of one another, needing a powerful Brantor with a strong gift to protect them from the other families.  Since Orrec is the last of his lineage, it’s important that Orrec should learn to use the Gift and be able to help his father Canoc.  But as he tries to do so, things begin to go wrong.

Gifts is a powerful story with overtones about the power of story itself.

Reviews of other books by Ursula K. LeGuin:
The Earthsea Books
The Other Wind
Changing Planes

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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