Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Voices (Annals of the Western Shore, #2)” as Want to Read:
Voices (Annals of the Western Shore, #2)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Voices (Annals of the Western Shore #2)

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  2,453 ratings  ·  239 reviews
Ansul, once a beautiful, peaceful city of traders and scholars, was conquered seventeen years ago by the Alds—men of the desert who believe reading and writing to be evil acts, punishable by death. They also believe the Oracle House, where the last few undestroyed books are hidden, is seething with demons. But to seventeen-year-old Memer, the house is a blessed refuge, a p...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 234 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Harcourt (first published 2006)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Voices, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Voices

The Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz ZafónThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane SetterfieldFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
Stories For Book Lovers
177th out of 866 books — 2,536 voters
The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsOn Basilisk Station by David WeberA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'EngleStarshine by G.S. JennsenThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Best Sci Fi Books with Female Main Characters
102nd out of 506 books — 618 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Moira Russell
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...more
Mar 02, 2011 Robert rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All LeGuin fans. Anybody who finds much modern literature bland and pointless.
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Lynn Crow for

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...more
Drew Nelson
May 14, 2008 Drew Nelson rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People I secretly hate
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...more
Feb 20, 2009 Wealhtheow rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Julian, think_galactic
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...more
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...more
When Ansul was first sacked by the Alds, the soldiers pillaged, raped and destroyed all the books they could find. 9 months later, Memer is born to the house Galva, the once glorious Oracle House, which is home to a secret library, where the people of Ansul hide the few books they could safe.

The lord of the house, The Waylord, was held captive and tortured by the Alds for years, and when he is finally released both his body and spirit are broken. Memer and the Waylord bond over the books that we...more
Jul 17, 2013 Karen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: audio, ya
I read/listened to this book on audio. Great narrator, excellent ability to evoke place and feeling. Not a lot of different character voices for characters, but that fit because the story is told in first person and so it's all filtered through Memer's head.

I found the story a bit on the slower paced end of things. The main character is central to a lot of action but doesn't actually do a lot. Trigger warning: she is the product of a wartime rape and this is discussed in several occasions in th...more
When comparing Voices to Gifts, the first book of the series, in terms of the themes described, Voices is certainly the better book. This is a book about the loss of a cultured civilization through colonization. The colonizers consider the ability to read and write a demonic ability… books as evil entities that must be destroyed at all costs, with no lives spared. Seventeen years after the war, we’re faced with a lost civilization, or a Dark Age, with a new generation of “half-castes” who no lon...more
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...more
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...more
Sarah Bringhurst
I wasn't crazy about the first book (Gifts) in this newest series by Ursula le Guin. But this second book is lyrical, beautiful, and understated.

I can never resist a story about the ruins of a secret, legendary library. But le Guin isn't just pulling the heart-strings of bibliophiles with the plot device of the ruined library. There is much food for thought about politics, philosophy, religion, and individual responsibility in her carefully crafted, deceptively simple plot. And the characters--a...more
I particularly love Le Guin's creation of the pantheon of this world. he god of Luck is deaf so "when you have nothing to pray for that's when he hears you." The god who guides the soul at death "from darkness into light" is a black cat or a lion when you need protection (very Egyptian.) Her shrine is an empty niche with paw prints.

As I said in reviewing book one, this is more a fable than S&S fantasy. The story starts with one-god, fanatics who view writing and in particular books, as the w...more
Maree  ♫ Light's Shadow ♪
In the beginning, I didn't actually realize that Memer was a girl, funnily enough. But I loved how even from the beginning, the words in this book took on a kind of life of their own. When most growing up are now illiterate because invaders have forbidden the evil of books, Memer knows some of her letters, thanks to the hidey hole that saved her life and that of her mother's when the invasion first came. And though the hidden books are beautiful to look at, Memer has no idea what they're about u...more
“Gifts” explored the nature of inner creation and finding one’s place in life in the midst of uneasy relationships among differing tribes. “Voices” takes that on a larger scale. Where Orrec was once involved in feudal clan warfare, now he is embroiled in a larger war between an enslaved nation and a conquering race.

The drama is incredible as Orrec and Gry are drawn helplessly into a tense situation that, at every opportunity, has the potential to explode into disaster. The urge for retribution,...more
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...more
Este es el primer libro de Ursula Le Guin que leo, y me gustó, pero en verdad esperaba más... La trama es interesante y original, pero creo que no llegué a conectar con los personajes (tal vez debí leer el primer libro de la saga antes que este jaja). De todos modos fue una lectura lenta, rica y entretenida.

Lo que más me gustó fue la trama, centrada en una realidad que básicamente sería mi peor pesadilla: los libros están prohibidos. Cualquier forma de escritura es destruida por ser considerada...more
Gabriel H.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
The book following Gifts, set in a society where books and the ability to read are considered evil acts. A small group of people living under captivity manage to share their gifts and guard the books, and a young girl finds that she might have something to offer.
Though the story progresses slowly, the language used ambles along helping the reader become a part of the scene, observing and feeling the air of the city.

A passage I found to be poignant:
"[Referring to the Oracle, Memer says,] 'It doesn't speak to me! It uses me! It wasn't even my voice--was it? I don't know! I don't understand it. I'm ashamed, I'm afraid! I don't ever want to go into that darkness again.'
[The Waylord] said nothing for a long time, and finally spoke gently. 'They use us, yes,...more
This is one of those Le Guin books that failed to engage me because of its theme. I just don't care.
It sometimes read a little too much like a history book, I think. The culture as interesting, the characters were engaging. I just wanted more... To be able to see Memer actively involved in the plot instead of passively writing about it. It read a little bit like: and then this happened, and then this happened. Which. Was dry. It was a book that I only finished because I was interested, really, in the way they interacted with their gods. It as the religious aspect that held me. Without it, I do...more
Memer is a siege brat, a child born out of rape and devastation of her beloved city, Ansul. In her life, she has only known their regime; one in which women aren’t able to go out of their houses without fearing being raped, and books are completely forbidden.

But in her house, Memer can get books, which are in a hidden room. The Master of the house, the Waylord of Ansul (a democratic title, mind you) teaches her to read in that place. So Memer grows up between her books and her incursions to the...more
Tresa da BookNerdette
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cathy Douglas
This book is about a society of peaceful people who value learning and other cultural pursuits, who have been invaded by violent religious fanatics with a strong army.

There, you can pretty much guess the whole plot from that.

The characters, while not boring, inhabit the role they play in their world. That is to say, once you know the characters' starting positions, they will present very few surprises.

For example Orrec, who was the MC of the previous volume, comes back here larger than life. Th...more
Read this some time ago.. Still, not too late to write what I thought:

Much, much better than I anticipated. Even better than Gifts, the first book. And no, you don't need to read the first book to enjoy this one.

I especially loves the language, the style the author use throughout the book. A rather slow read, but really worth it. The story unfolds nicely, with beautiful writing, excellent character development (I feel like I've known Memer all my life; she's not perfect, she's real, sometimes ir...more
Brief premise: The peace country of Ansul was invaded by the Alds, a savage and hard race. The country/city succumbed to the harsh treatment of the Alds, as they banned the people of Ansul from dancing, from worshipping their many deities, destroyed books and libraries... torturing and imprisoning them if found in the possession of a book, to be dancing, or worshipping any gods. Death is more often than not the most likely of punishment.^^^^Memer, a \child of rape\", Orrec (whose gift is realise...more
La Coccinelle
It's funny that I chose to read this book right after Pearl North's Libyrinth, as both books deal with an oppressive invading force that views the written word as evil. But while Libyrinth was a mish-mash of ideas, loose plotting, and weak character development, Voices was an engaging study in character development and world building.

Beginning with the maps at the beginning of the book (something which Libyrinth, annoyingly, lacked), Le Guin colourfully paints the world of the Western Shore. Thi...more
Voices is the second book in the Annals of the Western Shore series. It is not strictly a sequel to Gifts, but should be read following that one. It does not take place in the Uplands or with gifted clans, but rather in a city called Ansul. Ansul had been known as a great center for learning, with huge libraries and learned people, a fantastic university, and beauty everywhere. Then, a warring people came across the desert and conquered Ansul. Their religion teaches that writing and reading is s...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Shadow Speaker
  • The Bird of the River
  • Angel Isle (The Ropemaker, #2)
  • Firebirds: An Anthology of Original Fantasy and Science Fiction
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: The Complete Series
  • The Folded World (A Dirge for Prester John, #2)
  • Earth Logic (Elemental Logic, #2)
  • The Night Wanderer: A Native Gothic Novel
  • Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness (Moribito, #2)
  • Toning The Sweep
  • The Tricksters
  • The Bell at Sealey Head
  • The Magic Mirror of the Mermaid Queen (Changeling, #2)
  • The Beggar Queen (Westmark, #3)
  • The Final Key (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #11; The Triad, #2)
  • Night Flying
  • Celine
  • When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune
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)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“I always wondered why the makers leave housekeeping and cooking out of their tales. Isn't it what all the great wars and battles are fought for -- so that at day's end a family may eat together in a peaceful house?” 24 likes
“Having one king, one god, one belief, they can act single-mindedly.” 9 likes
More quotes…