Gifts – Ursula K. Le Guin



In the poor, isolated highlands, each family has a gift - sometimes a deadly one. Orrec, whose mother was a lowlander, takes time to develop his gift, while neighbouring clans scheme to steal the family's cattle or worse.


Unlike most of Le Guin’s work, and certainly her Earthsea books, this trilogy has flown under the radar, so far as I can tell. I don’t think I was even aware of it until several years ago. I picked up and read the first book at that time, and have re-read it just now.

If Gifts has been overlooked, to some extent it deserves to be. I liked i; it’s got Le Guin’s flowing prose, credible characters, interesting situations. etc. But, at the end of the day, it felt to me as if the book didn’t really go anywhere. There is a resolution, but this felt much more like a episode or even extended character sketch than a story of its own. I didn’t go into this expecting another Earthsea, but I did expect a little more to happen. While a short book, it feels long for what it offers. The reading is a pleasure, but I didn’t feel it offered much of a voyage. It’s not clear to me whether the sequels follow the same characters (in which case, perhaps this was the opening act) or different ones (in which case I assume more sketches are coming). Either way, I enjoyed this enough to look forward to and read them.

I did feel there was a Richard Llewellyn feel to the voice, which I enjoyed, but that may be just me.

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