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Voices

(Annals of the Western Shore #2)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  4,379 ratings  ·  399 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 ...more
Hardcover, First Edition, 341 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Harcourt
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Average rating 3.88  · 
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Nikki
Jul 01, 2015 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,
...more
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
...more
Paul  Perry
Le Guin is rightly famed for her novels of the late 1960s and the 1970s such as the Earthsea books, The Dispossessed, The Left Hand of Darkness, but she has never let up and has been a force in science fiction, fantasy and indeed literature for almost 60 years now. This, the middle volume of the Annals of the Western Shore, shows just why; she writes prose as lucid and powerful as almost any writer I can think of, characters that walk the line between tale-tellers archetype and fully three ...more
Goran Lowie
Mar 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites-2019
In Voices, Le Guin somehow writes one of the best and most beautiful books of her entire career. Hidden away, as one of the last books of her career and stowed away in the "Young Adult" section, never before have her messages been so clear, so powerful, and so developed. An astounding work for all ages.
Eleanor
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book about a city under occupation, agents of change, and a way forward to a better future when each side is able to make concessions to the other. Time spent reading a book by Ursula Le Guin is always time well spent.
Robert
Aug 21, 2008 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 TeensReadToo.com

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,
...more
Tatiana
Jul 18, 2009 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
...more
Kristen Kieffer
Aug 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
THIS. This is what I have been waiting to read for so long. After a rough 2016 in terms of reading, it was so heartening to discover a novel that absolutely bewitched me.
Drew Nelson
May 14, 2008 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
...more
Wealhtheow
Feb 20, 2009 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
...more
Nikki
Aug 27, 2009 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
...more
Luke
Feb 07, 2014 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
...more
Justin
Dec 19, 2015 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
...more
Sarah
Aug 05, 2015 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.
Elaine
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This second entry in the Annals of the Western Shore series I found much more engaging and thought-provoking than the first. Whereas Gifts was a standard coming-of-age tale, Voices wrestles with the complications and mixed feelings of a nation regaining freedom through negotiation rather than war.

All of this is presented in beautiful prose through the eyes of a 17-year-old "reader" in a city that has been taken over by fundamentalists from a militaristic monotheistic nation that treats the
...more
Erin Elizabeth
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
I don't know what to think of this book. Though the characters were very likable, the book was very hard to understand in places. I felt like I was drifting through the last hundred pages, and when the problem had been resolved for their town, I felt little connection with their relief and excitement. Perhaps it was merely the vocabulary and the difficult names that made this novel difficult to enjoy, or maybe it was just badly written.
Like I said, I did enjoy the characters (the ones I could
...more
Kerry
Yet another lovely story from Ms. UKL, that reminds us her dad was an anthropologist.

It's about a peaceful people who are conquered and occupied by a patriarchal people who have banned books and literacy, thinking them the work of demons. It about goes how you'd expect, but takes an interesting way to get there. I dunno. Like Vonnegut, I love Le Guin SO MUCH and how she THINKS about things, that every story she writes is magic to me. I just agree with her personal philosophy so thoroughly, you
...more
Jason Powell
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Letting go of a thirst for vengeance, letting go of hatred is so difficult. Even better the book 1, but all the sweeter for the background generated by book 1. Read in order.
Nick
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
3.5 stars
Jed
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, speculative
This was my favorite of the trilogy, and stands alone well enough that I suspect I will end up recommending it on its own to several people. It's about ways to enact major social change, various forms of resistance against tyranny and the pros and cons of each, and also about intellectual stewardship and the transfer of knowledge. I think it would appeal to people who, like me, read a lot in childhood and were mocked or dismissed for it.
RilleneN6
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
The follow up to Le Guin's Gifts, Voices is the story of Memer Galva, a young woman trying to come to grips with her divided heritage and her special gift.

Orrec Caspro reappears in this book, now older and in full control of his re-made gift. While this is book two in the trilogy, it could be read as a stand alone story. He helps Memer and her mentor, the Waylord of Ansul, as their city overthrows the Aulds who concord the people some seventeen years earlier. Themes include coming to terms with
...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. ...more
Marija
Nov 11, 2010 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 ...more
Steve
Mar 18, 2015 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
...more
Jan
Oct 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, favorites, z-2010
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
...more
Anna Tan
Jan 18, 2016 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 ...more
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 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
...more
Res
Jul 28, 2007 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
...more
Karen
Jul 17, 2013 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
...more
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15,893 followers
Ursula K. Le Guin 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. She lived in Portland, ...more

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)
“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?” 50 likes
“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? The tale tells how the Lords of Manva hunted & gathered roots & cooked their suppers while they were camped in exile in the foothills of Sul, but it doesn't say what their wives & children were living on in their city left ruined & desolate by the enemy. They were finding food too, somehow, cleaning house & honoring the gods, the way we did in the siege & under the tyranny of the Alds. When the heroes came back from the mountain, they were welcomed with a feast. I'd like to know what the food was and how the women managed it.” 16 likes
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