Gifts
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Gifts (Annals of the Western Shore #1)

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  4,474 ratings  ·  463 reviews
Scattered among poor, desolate farms, the clans of the Uplands possess gifts. Wondrous gifts: the ability--with a glance, a gesture, a word--to summon animals, bring forth fire, move the land. Fearsome gifts: They can twist a limb, chain a mind, inflict a wasting illness. The Uplanders live in constant fear that one family might unleash its gift against another. Two young...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published April 1st 2006 by Harcourt Brace and Company (first published 2005)
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Tatiana
Jun 14, 2011 Tatiana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tatiana by: Marija
Shelves: 2011, fantasy, ya
Gifts is a hard sell as a teen fantasy novel. Why not market it in the same vein as A Wizard of Earthsea I wonder?

As all Le Guin's books, Gifts is deeply philosophical and introspective. It is preoccupied with exploring what it means for a person to have a dangerous, potentially lethal ability. To give some frame of reference, think Graceling with Katsa's constant fretting about her killing Grace minus action, angsty teen romance and pseudo-feminist propaganda plus more depth and better knowled...more
Robert
Mar 02, 2011 Robert rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All LeGuin fans/Everybody who thinks Fantasy is stupid.
Shelves: fantasy
With the recent publication of the third volume of the Annals of the Western Shore, I decided to go back to the start and re-read the first two and follow it up with the latest.

Gifts is the first book. It is narrated by Orrec Caspro son of his clan's leader. The clans of the uplands have uncanny powers, Gifts, at least if the family blood runs true, but Orrec's mother is not of the clan or even of the Uplands where the clans lead their isolated impoverished existence, feuding and farming. Orrec'...more
Kristen
What was I supposed to think when I picked this up? I hardly ever actually look inside the book and read the first page or first chapter. It's always the cover and blurb on the back of the book that makes me want to read it.

Maybe I should start reading the first page or chapter from now on?

It's written by Orrec's point of view, and when I say written, I pretty much mean exactly that. It's like an autobiography. Orrec, to me, comes across as a bit of an emo person. The way he talks about his life...more
Wealhtheow
Orrec is born into a Gifted family in the Uplands. Although his family controls a fey and unsettling Gift, they are nevertheless barely able to eke out a life from their sparse and rocky land. The Gifted families raid each other for the few resources that remain: livestock, wood, serfs. Cut off from the rest of the world by a combination of shunning and pride, the people of the Uplands grow more stunted and inbred with every generation.
Unable to find a wife among his own people, Orrec's father...more
Ian
Wonderful. Beautiful. UKL's use of the English language is without equal or parallel. Not a word wasted. Not an idea wasted. Simple, efficient, and yet touching and thoughtful. I don't know how she does it.

How fortunate that I read Gifts during the Christmas season, when we in western culture are too often focused on the wrong "gifts" in our lives. Gifts is not a book about Christmas or the Christmas season, but the parallels are unmistakable. Of course the other themes are all there ... a paren...more
victoria.p
I enjoyed this, found it interesting and compelling reading, and quite moving at certain points. LeGuin's prose is as lucid and sharp as ever, though I think to get the full impact of Orrec's story, you need to read Voices as well.
Nikki
I love Ursula Le Guin's writing a lot. Gifts is a YA book, technically, but it doesn't have to be just for young people. It's a lovely story, like a fairy tale, and it's very easy to read, but that doesn't mean it's not worth reading for people who are older. The main character is a young boy, but the emotions of other characters, like Orrec's father, are there and it's important to understand them and try to identify with them. And Ursula Le Guin's writing is simple and lovely, easy to read but...more
Rachel
I didn't find this book compelling, maybe I should have read Voices first. Reading the premise at the library, I was interested.

"Scattered among poor, desolate farms, the clans of the Uplands possess gifts. Wondrous gifts: the ability--with a glance, a gesture, a word--to summon animals, bring forth fire, move the land. Fearsome gifts: They can twist a limb, chain a mind, inflict a wasting illness. The Uplanders live in constant fear that one family might unleash its gift against another. Two y...more
Paul
2009.0521-2009.0529
2.5 Stars
In first person past tense we see 'through the eyes' of a young man, Orrec, who's heterogeneous blood line may have given him the unstable gift of great power?
In standard Le Guiniean fashion Gifts started out slow and slightly obtuse. It followed the normal, rambling (almost flow of consciousness) pattern I have grown to expect in books by Le Guin (note that my sample set is relativity small but 3 points do define a line :P). It was as though she needed to gain steam...more
Robin
Life is harsh in the northern uplands where Orrec Caspro grows up. The climate is cold. The farmers and serfs scratch an uneasy living out of indifferent soil. The land-owning families that lead them are divided by vicious feuds. And the most powerful among them, honored with the title Brantor, wield terrible powers. One family's gift is calling to animals, which can be helpful when you're training a horse or a dog, but is oftener used to deadly effect—in the hunt. And that's one of the milder g...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
A new YA book that seems to start a new series(?) - the second book is Voices, which I'm reading next. In the Uplands, all families pass down certain gifts to their children. Some are positive, some are destructive. Two good friends choose not to use their gifts, and have to try to find a way to live in the society without them. It seems like a commentary on violence as well as an interesting story. I found myself seeing it vividly in my mind, which doesn't happen all of the time.
Ben Nash
This one has a slow start, making me wonder how well it'll work for young adults. In the beginning we're introduced to Orrec as a boy made blind by his father. As the book progresses, we see vignettes over the course of his early years, preparing him for the development of his gift.

Having just finished I Am Number Four, Gifts made a good contrast. I Am Number Four is more fast-paced, but there are so many little holes and a general lack of attention to detail. With Le Guin, we get a fully develo...more
Carolyn
Disappointingly slow and bland. Much repeating of the same information. Weird shift in the story narration - starts with visitor, goes back several years, then back further, then to visitor again, then continues on. Place names and people/clan names confusing - has a detailed map in front of the book, but almost none of the places mentioned in the book are on it - a bit annoyed to find this.
Nathan
Fantasy Review Barn

Starting at the beginning because that is usually the best place to start. A drifter from thelowlands finds himself entertained by the tales two young people are telling; tales of clans ran by people with specific gifts that make them a bit more than people. Gifts that run through family lines, always in danger of being watered down when new blood joins, but with wonderful/terrible possibilities. The young lady, Gry, claims to be able to call animals at will. The mysterious bo...more
Qing
Brief premise: Orrec's lineage possesses the gift of undoing, which basically destroys life and things, but he hasn't shown any glimmerings of the ability to undo.

However, after he seemingly killed an adder, his dog, and razed a hillside without him realising that he was doing so, his father deemed his gift to be wild/uncontrollable. Orrec's eyes has to be sealed lest he accidentally undo stuff with catastrophic consequences.

The blindfold, which basically is a huge banner on his head saying "err...more
Ash
I think the highlight of this novel for me was the way in which the story was told. The narrative was truly beautiful. The narrator basically told stories, more like wove stories/threads together until in the end it came together in one fascinating tapestry. Its also so well-rounded! I love stories that are like the old image of the snake eating its tale, stories that start at one place and end relatively near there. Coming full circle basically.

As for the characters...I wanted more from Gry, th...more
Marija
Gifts is written in the same vein as Kristin Cashore’s Graceling, trilogy, in terms of the concept of the gifts—inherited skills or abilities with fearsome power. But that’s also where the similarity ends. Le Guin’s novel is much more sophisticated in terms of the themes conveyed. It’s very much a novel of development. Viewing the story in this light, it reminded me of Pip’s identity crisis in Great Expectations. Here, Orrec is looking back, recounting and analyzing the events that lead him on h...more
Gill
Although it does depend a bit on what is going on in my life, the time I take to read a book often says a lot about how gripping I found it. I'm not sure 'gripping' is the word to describe 'Gifts', as it is not a book full of suspense and action, but Ursula le Guin's prose is so easy and flowing to read that I found myself at the end of the book and wanting more in just a couple of days.
It is a story with messages and truths to be told about the nature of power and of the dual nature of having...more
Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Usually I love an Ursula Le Guin novel, but I just couldn't get into Gifts. The writing is beautiful, as we expect from Le Guin (therefore 4 stars), but I found this novel too dull for me.

Most of the story is told by Orrec as it happened in the past (a technique I just couldn't appreciate), and he relates several stories that his mother told him. Orrec and his best friend Gry live in a culture where magical gifts are used for destructive purposes and they...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Lynn Crow for TeensReadToo.com

In Ursula K. Le Guin's GIFTS, the gifts in question bring more trouble than happiness to the novel's main character, sixteen-year-old Orrec. Orrec lives in the Uplands, a rough landscape where small clans squabble amongst themselves to maintain their land holdings and cattle herds. The leader of each clan has a specific gift: a mystical power that allows them to call animals or twist human bodies with the force of their mind. Orrec is the next in line to...more
Natasja
I'm still trying to decide how I feel about this book. I gave it a 3, because I enjoyed the actually writing of it very much. Le Guin definitely has a mastery of the English language. Plot-building, however? Maybe not so much...

I guess my problem with the book is that I read the entire thing wondering when the story would actually start. The beginning was awkward in conjunction with the rest of it. I didn't really get what Emmon's usefulness was, other than to suggest that Gry and Orrec go to th...more
Robin
What if you have the power to kill with your mind? Kill trees, kill animals, kill people? But what others also had powers, powers to curse someone you love with a slow death, powers to call or send away animals, or to make or unmake fire? How would people live together, bearing such "gifts"? This is the world LeGuin invites us to explore.

The Lowlanders have no gifts and lead what appears to be simple, nearly medieval, agrarian lives. But in the Upland area, each family has a gift. Some families...more
Lowed
After reading her highly regarded Earthsea series, I tried to amass my collection of books written by the woman. After months of trying (that included impaling another person who got hold of her Always Coming Home book first), I started reading Gifts. And know what? I was disappointed.

A Direct Copy Paste from Wikipedia:
Gifts centers on two young people, Gry and Orrec, who struggle to come to terms with inherent psychic abilities. They live in a poor, mountainous, and culturally backward region,...more
Valery Tzvetanov
Le Guin did it again. New fantasy world with another original magic system. Judging only by the first book, this series is not at the same level as Earthsea cycle. However, it is another unique fantasy unlike any other. Le Guin focuses again on the single point of view and how this person feels the world and the changes that occur in it. Her writing style and language is always a pleasure for me to read it. Every world is used carefully and her style is very touching and thoughtful.
The story is...more
Brian
It's a long time since Ursula Le Guin produced a book for young people so I was looking forward to reading this new novel from the author of the Earthsea trilogy. Unfortunately, despite lavish praise from critics, Gifts sorely disappointed me. I've seen it described as a 'compelling' tale but it's anything but. It's an austere story, monolithic in structure (there's absolutely no sub-plot) about a boy growing up in a community whose leaders possess strange, fierce gifts like his father's power t...more
Tatiana
Ursula K. Le Guin is a fantastic writer. She's one of my very favorite writers of all time. If you haven't read The Lathe of Heaven, or the Earthsea books, or The Left Hand of Darkness, I highly recommend them. This book is billed as young adult fiction but there's nothing dumbed-down about it. The story is one that has a universal appeal, I think.

It's set among a rural people who have genetic abilities to call animals, or to unmake things, or to give someone a wasting disease, etc. Each lineag...more
Kris Sellgren
I had forgotten just how *well* Ursula Le Guin writes! This is the first in a young adult fantasy trilogy. The narrator finds he has appallingly destructive mental abilities (gifts) -- which can keep his family's land safe against attackers -- but he has no control. He thus chooses to blindfold himself for the years it may take to get control over who and what he destroys. The ending surprised me. I will go out and immediately find copies of the other two novels.
Drew Nelson
May 14, 2008 Drew Nelson rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Not a single living human being.
If I could give this 0 stars, I would. Let this be a warning to all who consider reading anything by this author:
"Le Guin was born and raised in Berkeley, California...Her writing often makes use of unusual alien cultures to convey a message about human culture in general, for example, the exploration of sexual identity through the hermaphroditic race in The Left Hand of Darkness. Such themes place her work in the canon of feminist science fiction. Her works are also often concerned with ecologi...more
Abby
I thought the book was a little slow but it definately set up a lot for the other two books. Sometimes the first book in a trillogy needs to establish everything. I thought it was interesting how Orrec was willing to sacrifice his sense of sight to keep his family safe from his "gift." I do not really think that it is a gift to be able to undo something. I am interested to see if Gry's theory is correct, that the gifts were once used for peace and have been corrupted by war and violence. There w...more
Res
The one where Orrec grows up in a culture where each family has its own deadly, terrifying gift.

I read the books out of order, Voices first and this one second, and I didn't love this one the way I loved the other one; Orrec's Uplands culture is interesting but harsh, cruel, and kind of stupid, while Memer's port city is one that I'd love to live in (minus the occupying army and all). I guess, too, that I was hoping that Orrec would help to break down the destructive aspects of his culture, th...more
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Class of 2015: Gifts 1 3 Mar 26, 2014 09:44PM  
Blind YA fantasy? 3 13 Dec 16, 2013 01:54AM  
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As of 2013, Ursula K. Le Guin has published twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received many awards: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc. Her recent publications include the novel Lavinia, an essay collection, Cheek by Jowl, and The Wild Girls. Forthcoming...more
More about Ursula K. Le Guin...
A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1) The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle, #2) The Farthest Shore (Earthsea Cycle, #3) The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle, #4) The Dispossessed (Hainish Cycle, #5)

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