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GIFTS by Ursula K. Le Guin


by Ursula K. Le Guin

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-15-205123-6
Publisher: Harcourt

The Uplands are bleak and poor, separated into domains of the great lineages, each one defined by its gift. Gry’s family gift is the ability to call animals to the hunt, and Orrec’s family gift is the undoing—the ability to dissolve stone, or bone. Orrec tells his story as well as his family’s: how his father raided the lowlands for his beloved wife; how Orrec was born, and grew up with Gry, the daughter of his father’s best friend; how Orrec’s gift never developed normally, but came late, and wild, so his eyes had to be sealed lest he do great harm; how his mother failed, and died. Le Guin spins her tale in her customary way, slowly, and with an ear to the cadences of the sagas. Orrec’s journey of self-discovery is, when reduced, the familiar tale of the adolescent seeking to define himself rather than taking the definitions offered by circumstance, but the telling is so compelling that the ending almost takes the reader by surprise. If the end is a little tidy, the getting-there is not—and it’s the getting-there that provides this offering’s greatest reward. (Fiction. 12+)