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Voices (Annals of the Western Shore #2)

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,265 Ratings  ·  308 Reviews
Ansul was once a peaceful town filled with libraries, schools and temples. But that was long ago, before the Alds came. The Alds believe demons hide in words, and so they ban reading and writing, acts now punishable by death. What few books have survived are hidden in the Waylord's House for safekeeping, in the care of the Waylord, crippled by years of torture, and the dau ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 341 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Harcourt (first published 2006)
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Jul 27, 2015 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Voices is perhaps a more outwardly compelling book than the first, Gifts, partly because it features some of the same characters, and partly because it has more action. Memer is still pretty introspective, but the scale has changed: from a small mountain community, we’re now in a big city, and a city which is under the control of an occupying force.

Obviously the issues here are ones pretty close to my heart: reading and literacy, but also the way imperialism tries to break down local culture, fa
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
Jan 31, 2016 Justin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
This is a perfect book. Voices is geared for Young Adults but the concepts are big - focusing on the role of the occupier (in this case the Alds) and the occupied (Ansul), the double-edged sword of religion as a force of peace and war, and the value of storytelling to transform culture and individual lives.

Occupation clearly oppresses the occupied, but Le Guin does a fantastic job of demonstrating the nuance of occupation. It ultimately oppresses the occupier in important ways. Beyond religious
Mar 02, 2011 Robert rated it it was amazing
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
Drew Nelson
May 14, 2008 Drew Nelson rated it did not like it
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
Jul 19, 2009 Tatiana rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Feb 20, 2009 Wealhtheow rated it really liked it
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
Sep 03, 2009 Nikki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Kristen Kieffer
Aug 19, 2016 Kristen Kieffer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
THIS. This is what I have been waiting to read for so long. After a rough 2016 in terms of reading, it was such a blessing to discover a novel that bewitched me and left me in wonder and awe. With such beautiful characters and themes, and prose that sings at times and chants in other, swelling into its own orchestra, I can only wonder why I haven't already devoured everything Ursula Le Guin creates.
Aug 18, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
This is a sequel of sorts to Gifts. It features two of the same characters, but takes place at least eighteen years later. There's a new young protagonist, a new setting, a new question about the nature and use of power. The book makes commentary on a number of large themes, among them education, war, forgiveness, books, responsibility, honor, religion, and loyalty, all hung on an earnest teenager named Memer.
Anna Tan
Jan 18, 2016 Anna Tan rated it really liked it
Memer is a siege brat - one of the many children born of Ansul women raped by the invading Alds. The arrival of the maker Orrec, his wife Gry and their halflion Shetar creates a stir in Ansul - and the fires of rebellion are stoked. His song, Liberty, is being sung, there is growing unrest in the city, and everyone is looking to Galvamand - the Oracle House - for guidance only to find none. The Waylord of Galva has been broken by torture and although he can provide council, it is not the kind th ...more
Mar 18, 2015 Steve rated it liked it
LeGuin always creates interesting worlds. In this young adult novel, the city of Ansul on the Western Shore is under the dominion of the Alds. The Alds are aggressive, warlike and religiously intolerant of any religion and any god other than their one god Atth - a god who forbids books and the written word in any form. The people of Ald on the other hand are more passive, focused on commerce and scholarship with a complex set of daily observed rituals to their plethora of gods.

For seventeen year
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
Feb 14, 2014 Luke rated it it was ok
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
Oct 24, 2010 Jan rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, z-2010, favorites
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
Althea Ann
Mar 02, 2013 Althea Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a companion book to LeGuin's earlier, "Gifts," but it also
works as a stand-alone novel. It takes place about 20 years later. The two main characters from "Gifts" do appear, but are not the main characters here.
The story takes place in an occupied and defeated country. The
invaders, distrusting and fearing the written word as a form of
demonic magic, have sought out all books to destroy them. But young Memer has grown up in a household that still secretly houses a forbidden library... and a
Jul 17, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it
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
Dec 13, 2010 Marija rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-mg, fantasy-sci-fi
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
Sep 08, 2007 Res rated it really liked it
Shelves: sff, locus_poll
The one where Memer grows up in an occupied city where reading is considered demonic -- in a house with a library that can only be found by magic.

I really liked this. I loved Memer, and the Waylord, and the house with its hidden library, and what the books were and meant, and the role Memer grew into. I was with Memer; I shared her thirst for vengeance on the occupiers, and her disquiet when compromise was offered instead. I admit that some part of me still feels that the Alds deserved to have v
Jan Priddy
Feb 18, 2016 Jan Priddy rated it really liked it
VOICES is the middle volume of a YA series. Le Guin's anthropological understanding of culture shows clearly in this story, a beautiful story of a young woman who was born as a result of war rape and comes to understand her value to both her household and her culture. I enjoyed it very much—YA, but it is Le Guin—and can imagine this is a mainland story to The Wizard of Earthsea's archipelago. I will look for the other two volumes in this series.
Melekser Bayraktar
Böyle kitaplara yorum yapmak imkansızlaşıyor.Hürriyet,özgürlük vb kavramlara farklı bir anlam yüklüyor yazar.Görüşlerini çok hoş bir evrende vermiş bize.Karakterler öyle güzel anlatılmış ki sanki sizde orada birisi gibi oluyorsunuz.Lütfen okuyun .
Mar 03, 2016 Soorya rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Voices takes place in an invaded, enslaved city, and is about the aftermath of war, distrust and revenge. As in Gifts, Le Guin’s anthropological background shows: she paints an very interesting picture of the invaders’ and the occupied people’s culture and religion. It’s been so long since the invasion that their history has become rumor, and any magic almost forgotten.

I wish there'd been more of the magic; and after the intensity of book 1, the story here seems quite mellow. But in many ways I
Sep 09, 2015 Kate rated it liked it
I had never read any Ursula Le Guin books. People rave about her! The concept of this book was compelling and the plot is interesting. The characters are rather bland and flat. I wanted to LOVE this book, but I've struggled to get through it.

**The constant references to the Ald's "sheep hair" is troubling. It seemed slightly racist to me. I say slightly because of course, there are all types of hair, but the invaders -- the Alds -- specifically have "sheep hair" and that's how you know who they
Apr 10, 2016 Adam rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, kindle, culture
Another excellent book by Le Guin. I say the same thing basically every time, but the great thing about Le Guin's writing is the subtlety in the characters and how well they mirror real life. Yet they're not banal or trite, instead they deal realistically with the most important things in life. And thus every time you read a Le Guin novel like this, it's a way of remembering the best way to deal with life, in all its subtle complexities and mixed motivations.

This particular book had a very diffe
Feb 06, 2016 Janelle rated it it was amazing
I listened to this whole series (Gifts, Powers, Voices) back to back, and thought it was a good way to go about it. The worldview builds in complexity and the problems the characters face become larger and bleaker. A couple of the characters appear in more than one book, and it's nice to see them grow.
They're all marketed as Young Adult, but they definitely don't have the feel of young adult fantasies - the protagonists are children, or in their teens, but it's a medieval world, and very unflinc
Courtney H.
Aug 27, 2015 Courtney H. rated it really liked it
You have to appreciate Ursula le Guin's commitment to world creation (or don't; but if you don't, this book is not for you). It trumps even plot, which sometimes helps and sometimes hinders this trilogy. The main characters and town featured in Gifts barely show up; two become helpful secondary players, but the story shifts to a new narrator and a vastly different kingdom. The third book does the same again--with the most success of the three, I think. And only at the very, very end do all the c ...more
Jun 01, 2015 Janice rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scribd, 2015
What a splendid book this is!

We meet again with Orrec and Gry from "Gifts", the first book of the series. Orrec the maker (i.e., poet) and his wife Gry, who has a way with animals, come to the city of Ansul. Ansul was conquered by the Alds 17 years ago. They meet Memer, a daughter of the house Galvamand. In the conquered city where books and writing are forbidden, the Waylord of Galvamand has a hidden library. In it, he taught Memer to read. Memer learns she is the heir to the house, the Reader
Apr 24, 2015 travelgirlut rated it really liked it
This book is very different from the first in the series. Where the first was a bit slow and plodding, the story in this one moved right along. It has a different main character than Gifts. Orrec and Gry do take part in this story, but it takes place a good 18 years or so after the first book. You could very easily read this book without ever having read the first, and I'm guessing there are quite a few people who read the first and never moved onto this one, which is a shame.

The writing in thi
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Annals of the Western Shore (3 books)
  • Gifts (Annals of the Western Shore, #1)
  • Powers (Annals of the Western Shore, #3)

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“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?” 27 likes
“Having one king, one god, one belief, they can act single-mindedly.” 13 likes
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