Gifts (Annals of the Western Shore Series #1)

Gifts (Annals of the Western Shore Series #1)

by Ursula K. Le Guin

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780152051242
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 04/01/2006
Series: Annals of the Western Shore Series , #1
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 203,669
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.82(d)
Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 18 Years

About the Author

URSULA K. LE GUIN was born in Berkeley, California, in 1929, and passed away in Portland, Oregon, in 2018. She published over sixty books of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, children’s literature, and translation. She was the recipient of a National Book Award, six Hugo and five Nebula awards, and was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
 

Hometown:

Portland, Oregon

Date of Birth:

October 21, 1929

Place of Birth:

Berkeley, California

Education:

B.A., Radcliffe College; M.A., Columbia University, 1952

Read an Excerpt

He was lost when he came to us, and I fear the silver spoons he stole from us didn't save him when he ran away and went up into the high domains. Yet in the end the lost man, the runaway man was our guide.

Gry called him the runaway man. When he first came, she was sure he'd done some terrible thing, a murder or a betrayal, and was escaping vengeance. What else would bring a Lowlander here, among us?

"Ignorance," I said. "He knows nothing of us. He's not afraid of us."

"He said people down there warned him not to come up among the witches."

"But he knows nothing about the gifts," I said. "It's all just talk, to him. Legends, lies..."

We were both right, no doubt. Certainly Emmon was running away, if only from a well-earned reputation for thievery, or from boredom; he was as restless, as fearless and inquisitive and inconsequential as a hound puppy, trotting wherever his nose led him. Recalling the accent and turns of speech he had, I know now that he came from far in the south, farther than Algalanda, where tales of the Uplands were just that-tales: old rumors of the distant northland, where wicked witchfolk lived in icy mountains and did impossible things.

If he'd believed what they told him down in Danner, he'd never have come up to Caspromant. If he'd believed us, he never would have gone on higher in the mountains. He loved to hear stories, so he listened to ours, but he didn't believe them. He was a city man, he'd had some education, he'd travelled the length of the Lowlands. He knew the world. Who were we, me and Gry? What did we know, a blind boy and a grim girl, sixteen years old, stuck in the superstition and squalor of the desolate hill farms that we so grandly called our domains? He led us on, in his lazy kindness, to talk about the great powers we had, but while we talked he was seeing the bare, hard way we lived, the cruel poverty, the cripples and backward people of the farms, seeing our ignorance of everything outside these dark hills, and saying to himself, Oh yes, what great powers they have, poor brats!

Gry and I feared that when he left us he went to Geremant. It is hard to think he may still be there, alive but a slave, with legs twisted like corkscrews, or his face made monstrous for Erroy's amusement, or his eyes truly blinded, as mine were not. For Erroy wouldn't have suffered his careless airs, his insolence, for an hour.

I took some pains to keep him away from my father when his tongue was flapping, but only because Canoc's patience was short and his mood dark, not because I feared he'd ever use his gift without good cause. In any case he paid little heed to Emmon or anyone else. Since my mother's death his mind was all given to grief and rage and rancor. He huddled over his pain, his longing for vengeance. Gry, who knew all the nests and eyries for miles around, once saw a carrion eagle brooding his pair of silvery, grotesque eaglets in a nest up on the Sheer, after a shepherd killed the mother bird who hunted for them both. So my father brooded and starved.

To Gry and me, Emmon was a treasure, a bright creature come into our gloom. He fed our hunger. For we were starving too.

He would never tell us enough about the Lowlands. He'd give an answer of some kind to every question I asked, but often a joking answer, evasive or merely vague. There was probably a good deal about his past life that he didn't want us to know, and anyhow he wasn't a keen observer and clear reporter, as Gry was when she was my eyes. She could describe exactly how the new bull calf looked, his bluish coat and knobby legs and little furry hornbuds, so that I could all but see him. But if I asked Emmon to tell about the city of Derris Water, all he said was that it wasn't much of a city and the market was dull. Yet I knew, because my mother had told me, that Derris Water had tall red houses and deep streets, that steps of slate led up from the docks and moorages where the river traffic came and went, that there was a market of birds, and a market of fish, and a market of spices and incense and honey, a market for old clothes and a market for new ones, and the great pottery fairs to which people came from all up and down the Trond River, even from the far shores of the ocean.

Maybe Emmon had had bad luck with his thieving in Derris Water.

Whatever the reason, he preferred to ask us the questions and sit back at ease to listen to us-to me, mostly. I was always a talker, if there was anybody to listen. Gry had a long habit of silence and watchfulness, but Emmon could draw her out.

I doubt he knew how lucky he'd been in finding us two, but he appreciated our making him welcome and keeping him comfortable through a bitter, rainy winter. He was sorry for us. He was bored, no doubt. He was inquisitive.

"So what is it this fellow up at Geremant does that's so fearsome?" he'd ask, his tone just skeptical enough that I'd try as hard as I could to convince him of the truth of what I said. But these were matters that were not much talked about, even among people with the gift. It seemed unnatural to speak of them aloud.

"The gift of that lineage is called the twisting," I said at last.

"Twisting? Like a sort of dancing?"

"No." The words were hard to find, and hard to say. "Twisting people."

"Making them turn around?"

"No. Their arms, legs. Necks. Bodies." I twisted my own body a bit with discomfort at the subject. Finally I said, "You saw old Gonnen, that woodsman, up over Knob Hill. We passed him yesterday on the cart road. Gry told you who he was."

"All bent over like a nutcracker."

"Brantor Erroy did that to him."

"Doubled him up like that? What for?"

"A punishment. The brantor said he came on him picking up wood in Gere Forest."

After a little, Emmon said, "Rheumatism will do that to a man."

"Gonnen was a young man then."

"So you don't yourself recall it happening."

"No," I said, vexed by his airy incredulity. "But he does. And my father does. Gonnen told him. Gonnen said he wasn't in Geremant at all, but only near the borderline, in our woods. Brantor Erroy saw him and shouted, and Gonnen was scared, and started to run away with the load of wood on his back. He fell. When he tried to stand, his back was bent over and hunched, the way it is now. If he tries to stand up, his wife said, he screams with the pain."

"And how did the brantor do this to him?"

Emmon had learned the word from us; he said he'd never heard it in the Lowlands. A brantor is the master or mistress of a domain, which is to say the chief and most gifted of a lineage. My father was Brantor of Caspromant. Gry's mother was Brantor of the Barres of Roddmant and her father Brantor of the Rodds of that domain. We two were their heirs, their nestling eaglets.

I hesitated to answer Emmon's question. His tone had not been mocking, but I didn't know if I should say anything at all about the powers of the gift.

Gry answered him. "He'd have looked at the man," she said in her quiet voice. In my blindness her voice always brought to me a sense of light air moving in the leaves of a tree. "And pointed his left hand or finger at him, and maybe said his name. And then he'd have said a word, or two, or more. And it was done."

"What kind of words?"

Gry was silent; maybe she shrugged. "The Gere gift's not mine," she said at last. "We don't know its ways."

"Ways?"

"The way a gift acts."

"Well, how does your gift act, what does it do, then?" Emmon asked her, not teasing, alive with curiosity. "It's something to do with hunting?"

"The Barre gift is calling," Gry said.

"Calling? What do you call?"

"Animals."

Copyright © 2004 by Ursula K. Le Guin

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

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Gifts (Annals of the Western Shore Series #1) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
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 lead his clan, and his family's gift is one of the most terrible: the undoing. His father can kill a man with a word and a gesture, and it is expected that Orrec will come into the same power. However, when Orrec's power arrives, it is wild and uncontrollable, and he must stay blind-folded to avoid harming those he loves.

The best thing about this outstanding novel is its premise. Everyone has wished at one time or another for a secret power. GIFTS forces the question: what if your having such a gift caused harm to the people around you? It gives no easy answers, exploring the issue with depth and feeling. The society and culture of the Uplanders is detailed and realistic, making the conflicts that much more powerful. Readers will quickly feel as though they've lived in this wonderful and terrifying world themselves.

As narrator, Orrec is thoughtful and questioning, with a rhythmic voice that recalls traditional story-tellers. He handles the tragedies and disappointments in his life with honesty and good humor. Despite being from a somewhat alien world, his view is very human and teens will find it easy to see through his eyes. When he is finally able to face the most disappointing truth of all, readers will cheer even as they share his pain.

GIFTS is an excellent read for teens of all interests. Fans of fantasy will be particularly drawn to it, but the world is grounded enough in earthly reality that it should appeal even to those who usually avoid the fantastical. Thought-provoking and suspenseful, with a dollop of action and romance, a novel like this is a gift to its readers.
Honya More than 1 year ago
This story is about outcasts who are all given special powers, or "gifts." The main character, Orrec, looks forward to the day when he can use his to his full potential - but once it happens, realizes he doesn't want it quite so much after all. It's a unique fantasy story, which disturbingly believable characters. I enjoyed this book.
BluHawk More than 1 year ago
I had such high hopes for this book - the ideas and storyline sounded extremely compelling and interesting! I am sorry to say that I almost wish the same story had been written by a different author. The whole thing was told in an impartial reminiscent manner which made it extremely difficult to relate to the characters. I understood the emotion, but I didn't FEEL it. That said, the story was origional and entertaining and likely a lot of people will enjoy this series. If you enjoyed the "storytelling" writing style, you will probably also like "Once Upon a Winter's Night" by McKiernan, and "The Ill-Made Mute" by Dart-Thornton. Both had the same feel, and both were great books!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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 lead his clan, and his family's gift is one of the most terrible: the undoing. His father can kill a man with a word and a gesture, and it is expected that Orrec will come into the same power. However, when Orrec's power arrives, it is wild and uncontrollable, and he must stay blind- folded to avoid harming those he loves. The best thing about this outstanding novel is its premise. Everyone has wished at one time or another for a secret power. GIFTS forces the question: what if your having such a gift caused harm to the people around you? It gives no easy answers, exploring the issue with depth and feeling. The society and culture of the Uplanders is detailed and realistic, making the conflicts that much more powerful. Readers will quickly feel as though they've lived in this wonderful and terrifying world themselves. As narrator, Orrec is thoughtful and questioning, with a rhythmic voice that recalls traditional story-tellers. He handles the tragedies and disappointments in his life with honesty and good humor. Despite being from a somewhat alien world, his view is very human and teens will find it easy to see through his eyes. When he is finally able to face the most disappointing truth of all, readers will cheer even as they share his pain. GIFTS is an excellent read for teens of all interests. Fans of fantasy will be particularly drawn to it, but the world is grounded enough in earthly reality that it should appeal even to those who usually avoid the fantastical. Thought-provoking and suspenseful, with a dollop of action and romance, a novel like this is a gift to its readers. **Reviewed by: Lynn Crow
Guest More than 1 year ago
Overall, Gifts was an excellent book to read. The plot was fast moving, suspenseful, and has several exciting twists. The description in this book was amazing. It described everything in great detail, without being excessive and boring. The choice of words just made the Here is a quote showing the typical descriptions: ¿At last dismal little groups of boys and women came driven through the streets to the marketplace, two here and three there, weeping and pleading, some even crawling on their hands and knees, goaded forward by whips and kicks.¿ The author¿s phrasing in the book is also very good. She words sentences so that it is very easy to understand and read. Take this sentence as an example: ¿To Lowlanders, the Uplands are accursed, forgotten corn of a world they left behind long ago.¿ This could have been a very confusing statement, but Le Guin simplifies it without losing any effect. Like most authors, Le Guin uses foreshadowing. However, she does not use enough to ruin what is going to happen later in the book, it is just enough to make you want to keep reading. This is an example of her foreshadowing that Orrec does not have the gift: ¿The snake was unmade when I saw it,¿ Canoc said. `But you-¿ He frowned, though not in anger. `It was you that struck it,¿ he said.¿ Another thing that makes this book so good was feeling so close to the characters. When something was wrong with a character, I felt bad for them. This really humanized the story, not like some books where it is obvious you are just reading a book. This is an example of when I felt bad for Orrec and his father when his mother/wife passed away: ¿For him, there was no replacement the sweetness of his life was gone.¿ Those were just a few of the ways that this book was such a good read. I think that anyone who read this book would enjoy it, but some more than others. I would mainly focus on young adults, both boys and girls, as people who would especially enjoy this. The book deals with a lot of adolescence problems, like being accepted, and having boyfriends/girlfriends. I don¿t think younger readers would understand the more in-depth things happening in the plot, but they would get the main points. If there were any adults who really like fantasy, this would also be a good book for you. I would truly recommend this book knowing that anyone would like this book, and it would become an instant favorite.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book with a burning intensity and can't wait to read the second book. It was thrilling and well written
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was magnificent! Ursula K. Le Guin is one of my favorite authors and she hasn't let me down yet. IF you like Sci fi and fantasy put this on your reading list.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Though I have yet to read LeGuin's other books, I thought this one was really good. It took me about eight hours (food breaks alotted) to read it because I could not put it down (which was good during Hurricane Frances).
AlexDiaz727 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I'm a little conflicted when it comes to this book. On one hand I like the story of this book the basic plot and the story seemed to move along nicely (but that might be because I normally read longer books). On the other in the end it left me... well basically confused. The foreshadowing is blatant throughout the book and I almost feel as though the author is writing "down" a bit for younger readers. Frankly I hate it when authors do that.And though the story seems to develop at fair pace. The foreshadowing caused predictability through most of the book it almost seemed slow and boring at times.In the end there is a bit of a twist, but then the reader is left with what seems to be the inevitable ending and the twist is left unresolved. I'm still not sure if what the main character thought was true or if in his arrogance he just assumed it was. Even though this book is the first in a series I still feel it needed more of a conclusion. It left me feeling as though I read the first 300 pages of an unfinished story.
tuckerfrye on LibraryThing 8 months ago
OK I'll admit it. This book made me cry. Not a lot, but a single tear did leak out. I was totally surprised by this story since I usually don't like Ursula K. Le Guin's books besides the Earthsea series. The story is beautiful, the world and magic incredibly unique, and the characters simply breathtaking.
bragan on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The first book in a young adult trilogy, this novel is set among a culture of farmers and herders whose ruling families each have a single, often terrifyingly lethal, psychic gift. It tells the story of a young man who appears unable to control his own ability and thus has to deal with the horribly literal implications of the phrase "if looks could kill." It's a very simple story, but nicely written, with an intriguing setting, and it provokes some interesting thoughts about the nature and use of power without ever getting preachy on the subject. It's not remotely Le Guin's best -- it lacks the brilliance of the Earthsea books, for sure -- but it's a solid, decent YA tale.
AnnieHidalgo on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I think I like LeGuin's short stories more than any longer work she's ever published. There are a lot of interesting what-if scenarios in here - the best being a tale about a group of children who never sleep, and what happens to their brains as a result.
bfertig on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Solid. Boy struggles with coming of age, learning to use his inherited Gift or power and deal with family issues. The main character has a fair amount of introspection, for an adolescent male character, which makes it interesting. But there were times when the characterization sometimes felt a little flat, and the plotlines that followed from it felt a bit contrived.
sturlington on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This young adult fantasy is set in a pre-industrial land where different clans of people carry different genetic ¿gifts.¿ Some gifts have beneficial properties, such as the ability to communicate with animals. Others are more destructive, such as the gift of the narrator¿s people, to ¿unmake¿ any thing, living or inanimate.Orrec as a young boy is waiting for his gift to manifest. With it he is expected to protect his family¿s land, livestock and people from their aggressive neighbors. But when it does come, he cannot control when he uses it or who he uses it on, so he must blindfold himself to keep from turning it on the people he loves.Orrec tells his story to a visitor from the cities in the Lowlands, where they do not have the gifts and consider them to be folklore. This is a very readable fable, as we learn through Orrec¿s narrative more about the gifts and the land in which he lives. But perhaps because this was written for young adults, or because I just finished A Wizard of Earthsea (a very similar story), it all feels too familiar. This would be an excellent book to give a young reader, though, who is just starting to explore the fantasy genre.
tanisha364 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This is the first book I've read from Le Guin. I've heard that she's a great SciFi writer. Based on this book I would say that was a lie. Of course, as always, I will read another book by her to verify."Gifts" didn't seem to have any real plot. I felt like she was trying to introduce the characters, even up until the end. I had no real investment or care in any of the characters. I was more concerned for the animals (dogs, cows, horses) than the people. It moved very slowly and I kept waiting for something to happen, like an adventure. I'm still dumbfounded and not quite sure what the purpose was.There was such potential there!! The idea of these unique gifts could have really been exciting, but nothing was done with them. No feats were undertaken or shows of strength.I would NOT recommend reading this book.
cajela on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The first of what's currently a trilogy of young adult fantasy, this should appeal to lovers of the Earthsea cycle. It's a coming of age story, written softly and gently in LeGuin's inimitable prose style.The child Orrec lives in the uplands, harsh grazing and farming lands with a political landscape of clan-like family alliances and squabbles. Each clan has its own gifts, or magic, and Orrec's father has the dangerous art of Unmaking. With a look and the will, he can undo knots and fragment stone - applied to life, this kills. Others can call animals, or cause wasting deaths. Clan alliances are partly about sharing and breeding to keep these gifts. Will Orrec inherit his father's gift, and learn to control it?
vgnunez on LibraryThing 10 months ago
The story is slow but Le Guin's writing is elegant and lyrical. What I loved most about the book was not the characters or even the story but Le Guin's characterization of the world of stories and how they help heal the soul. Her passages that talk about stories and storytelling are poignant and beautiful.My favorite passages include:"I had no sense of the sacredness of a story, or rather they were all sacred to me, the wonderful word-beings which, so long as I was hearing or telling them, made a world I could enter seeing, free to act: a world I knew and understood, that had its own rules, yet was under my control as the world beyond the stories was not. In the boredom and inactivity of my blindness, I lived increasingly in these stories, remembering them, asking my mother to tell them, and going on with them myself, giving them form, speaking them into being as the Spirit did in Chaos." (188)"You have the gift, you have the gift of unmaking! I don't. I never did. You tricked me. Maybe you tricked yourself because you couldn't stand it that your son wasn't what you wanted. I don't know. I don't care. I know you can't use me any longer. My eyes or my blindness. They're not yours, they're mine. I won't let your lies cheat me any more I won't let your sham shame me any more. Find yourself another son, since this one's not good enough.... The book lay open, the book of the great poet, the treasure of joy and solace. But I could not read it. I had my eyes back, but what was I to do with them? What good were they, what good was I? Who are we now? Gry had ask. If I was not my father's son, who was I?" (258-259)
srcsmgrl on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Gifts, by Ursula K. LeGuin is the story of a brave young man that chooses to blindfold himself rather than use his wild gift of "unmaking" with the help of his childhood friend. Together they protect his land and people from his abilities and from outsiders that covet their land and livestock.As usual, LeGuin does a beautiful job of creating new cultures and worlds where the human characters express feelings as we know them, enabling the relation to our reality. The blindness and its necessity are situations we can feel even though the reason, the gift, is a new concept. The story flows well and gives an excitement and fondness for literature through the main character's own love of the written word, the gift of which was won late in life.
ezwicky on LibraryThing 10 months ago
A coming-of-age story about power; having it, not having it, using it. It is a fully imagined world, where we see one of a multitude of cultures, and people struggle to get by despite very strong psychic powers, and the hero's emotional life is well drawn. Nonetheless, I found it less satisfying than her best.
exist2serve More than 1 year ago
I haven't read the other books in the series yet, but this is a great opening and reminded me of how well fleshed out Earthsea was. The way the story is told is sort of ... odd, but in the end it works out well enough. There's also an odd twist, which I'll leave it up to you to decide whether or not it was acceptable. Much like her other books, Gifts is all about the characters, and you can't help but love (and hate) all of them. The main character is probably the only one where it's left to you to really decide if you like them or not. I'm anxious to read the next book, just hope it's a little longer.
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SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
A young boy strives to be like his father, to be worth his father's love. In his world this doesn't just mean following his father's career, but inheriting his magical skill (his Gifts) as well. Orrec strives so hard to be the perfect son, but learns there's more to life. "To thine own self be true" says the old, our-world adage. And "Love your neighbor as yourself." But Orrec must learn to love himself before he can be sure he won't be a danger to his neighbor: The first of Ursual Le Guin's Gifts series, and a really enjoyable book. Disclosure: I bought this one then I had to buy the rest of the series.
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