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VOICES by Ursula K. Le Guin



Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-15-205678-5
Publisher: Harcourt

For 17 years, the great trade city of Ansul has been occupied by the Ald invaders, the university destroyed, the library sacked. The Alds, mistrustful of print, carry out purges of books that have left the city bare of the written word—except for one secret room in the once-great house of Galva, to which only the crippled Lord of Galva and teenaged Memer can gain entry. Into the city come Orrec and Gry, older than they were in Gifts (2004), a storyteller and his animal-tamer wife come to seek out the lost books of Ansul. LeGuin spins a tale fraught with political tension, as Memer watches Orrec move back and forth between the Galvas and the Ald overlord of Ansul. The Alds are religious fanatics who deny Ansul’s many gods, view women as chattel and fear books as demons—parallels with 21st-century politics are clear, but the novel’s world-building is thorough enough not to bludgeon readers with allegory. LeGuin allows them, along with Memer, to see that there may be alternatives to violence and that the power of narrative, spoken or written, is not to be denied. (Fiction. 12 )