Young Gav can remember the page of a book after seeing it once, and, inexplicably, he sometimes “remembers” things that are going to happen in the future. As a loyal slave, he must keep these powers secret, but when a terrible tragedy occurs, Gav, blinded by grief, flees the only world he has ever known. And in what becomes a treacherous journey for freedom, Gav’s greatest test of all is facing his powers so that he can come to understand himself and finally find a true home.
|Publisher:||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|
|Series:||Annals of the Western Shore Series , #3|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||4.90(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.30(d)|
|Lexile:||950L (what's this?)|
|Age Range:||12 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Ursula K. Le Guin was born in Berkeley, California, in 1929. Among her honors are a National Book Award, five Hugo and five Nebula Awards, the Kafka Award, a Pushcart Prize, and the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Portland, Oregon. www.ursulakleguin.com
Date of Birth:October 21, 1929
Place of Birth:Berkeley, California
Education:B.A., Radcliffe College; M.A., Columbia University, 1952
Read an Excerpt
“Don’t talk about it,” Sallo tells me.
“But what if it’s going to happen? Like when I saw the snow?”
“That’s why not to talk about it.”
My sister puts her arm around me and rocks us sideways, left and right, as we sit on the schoolroom bench. The warmth and the hug and the rocking ease my mind and I rock back against Sallo, bumping her a little. But I can’t keep from remembering what I saw, the dreadful excitement of it, and pretty soon I burst out, “But I ought to tell them! It was an invasion! They could warn the soldiers to be ready!”
“And they’d say—when?”
That stumps me. “Well, just ready.”
“But what if it doesn’t happen for a long time? They’d be angry at you for giving a false alarm. And then if an army did invade the city, they’d want to know how you knew.”
“I’d tell them I remembered it!”
“No,” Sallo says. “Don’t ever tell them about remembering the way you do. They’ll say you have a power. And they don’t like people to have powers.”
“But I don’t! Just sometimes I remember things that are going to happen!”
“I know. But Gavir, listen, truly, you mustn’t talk about it to anybody. Not anybody but me.”
When Sallo says my name in her soft voice, when she says, “Listen, truly,” I do truly listen to her. Even though I argue.
“Not even Tib?”
“Not even Tib.” Her round, brown face and dark eyes are quiet and serious.
“Because only you and I are Marsh people.”
“So was Gammy!”
“It was Gammy that told me what I’m telling you. That Marsh people have powers, and the city people are afraid of them. So we never talk about anything we can do that they can’t. It would be dangerous. Really dangerous. Promise, Gav.”
She puts up her hand, palm out. I fit my grubby paw against it to make the vow. “I promise,” I say as she says, “I hear.”
In her other hand she’s holding the little Ennu-Mé she wears on a cord around her neck.
She kisses the top of my head and then bumps me so hard I nearly fall off the end of the bench. But I won’t laugh; I’m so full of what I remembered, it was so awful and so frightening, I want to talk about it, to tell everybody, to say, “Look out, look out! Soldiers are coming, enemies, with a green flag, setting the city on fire!” I sit swinging my legs, sullen and mournful.
“Tell me about it again,” Sallo says. “Tell all the bits you left out.”
That’s what I need. And I tell her again my memory of the soldiers coming up the street.
Sometimes what I remember has a secret feeling about it, as if it belongs to me, like a gift that I can keep and take out and look at when I’m by myself, like the eagle feather Yaven-dí gave me. The first thing I ever remembered, the place with the reeds and the water, is like that. I’ve never told anybody about it, not even Sallo. There’s nothing to tell; just the silvery-blue water, and reeds in the wind, and sunlight, and a blue hill way off. Lately I have a new remembering: the man in the high room in shadows who turns around and says my name. I haven’t told anybody that. I don’t need to.
But there’s the other kind of remembering, or seeing, or whatever it is, like when I remembered seeing the Father come home from Pagadi, and his horse was lame; only he hadn’t come home yet and didn’t until next summer, and then he came just as I remembered, on the lame horse. And once I remembered all the streets of the city turning white, and the roofs turning white, and the air full of tiny white birds all whirling and flying downward. I wanted to tell everybody about that, it was so amazing, and I did. Most of them didn’t listen. I was only four or five then. But it snowed, later that winter. Everybody ran outside to see the snowfall, a thing that happens in Etra maybe once in a hundred years, so that we children didn’t even know what it was called. Gammy asked me, “Is this what you saw? Was it like this?” And I told her and all of them it was just what I’d seen, and she and Tib and Sallo believed me. That must have been when Gammy told Sallo what Sallo had just told me, not to talk about things I remembered that way. Gammy was old and sick then, and she died in the spring after the snowfall.
Since then I’d only had the secret rememberings, until this morning.
I was by myself early in the morning, sweeping the hall outside the nursery rooms, when I began remembering. At first I just remembered looking down a city street and seeing fire leap up from a house roof and hearing shouts. The shouts got louder, and I recognised Long Street, running north from the square behind the Forefathers’ Shrine. At the far end of the street smoke was billowing out in big greasy clouds with red flames inside them. People were running past me, all over the square, women and men, most of them running towards the Senate Square, shouting and calling out, but city guards ran by in the other direction with their swords drawn. Then I could see soldiers at the far end of Long Street under a green banner; they had long lances, and the ones on horseback had swords. The guards met with them, and there was deep shouting, and ringing and clashing like a smithy, and the whole crowd of men, a great writhing knot of armor and helmets and bare arms and swords, came closer and closer. A horse broke from it, galloping up the street straight at me, riderless, lathered with white sweat streaked red, blood running from where its eye should be. The horse was screaming. I dodged back from it. And then I was in the hall with a broom in my hand, remembering it. I was still terrified. It was so clear I couldn’t forget it at all. I kept seeing it again, and seeing more. I had to tell somebody.
So when Sallo and I went to get the schoolroom ready and were there alone, I told her. And now I told her all over again, and telling it made me remember it again, and I could see and tell it better. Sallo listened intently and shivered when I described the horse.
“What kind of helmets did they have?”
I looked at the memory of the men fighting in the street.
“Black, mostly. One of them had a black crest, like a horse’s tail.”
“Do you think they were from Osc?”
“They didn’t have those long wood shields like the Oscan captives in the parade. It was like all their armor was metal—bronze or iron—it made this huge clanging sound when they were fighting with the guards with swords. I think they came from Morva.”
“Who came from Morva, Gav?” said a pleasant voice behind us, and we both jumped like puppets on strings. It was Yaven. Intent on my story, neither of us had heard him, and we had no idea how long he’d been listening. We reverenced him quickly and Sallo said, “Gav was telling me one of his stories, Yaven-dí.”
“Sounds like a good one,” Yaven said. “Troops from Morva would march with a black-and-white banner, though.”
“Who has green?” I asked.
“Casicar.” He sat down on the front bench, stretching out his long legs. Yaven Altanter Arca was seventeen, the eldest son of the Father of our House. He was an officer in training of the Etran army, and away on duty much of the time now, but when he was home he came to the schoolroom for lessons just as he used to. We loved having him there because, being grown up, he made us all feel grown up, and because he was always good-natured, and because he knew how to get Everra, our teacher, to let us read stories and poems instead of doing grammar and logic exercises.
The girls were coming in now, and Torm ran in with Tib and Hoby from the ball court, sweating, and finally Everra entered, tall and grave in his grey robe. We all reverenced the teacher and sat down on the benches. There were eleven of us, four children of the Family and seven children of the House.
Yaven and Torm were the sons of the Arca Family, Astano was the daughter, and Sotur was their cousin.
Among the house slaves, Tib and Hoby were boys of twelve and thirteen, I was eleven, and Ris and my sister Sallo were thirteen. Oco and her little brother Miv were much younger, just learning their letters.
Copyright © 2007 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.
What People are Saying About This
"Le Guin's storytelling prowress transforms small moments into beautiful, poignantly narrated events . . . Fantasy readers seeking an intricate and thoughtful examination of a life that is as much endured as enjoyed will find Gavir to be unforgettable and his gorgeous but dangerous surroundings engaging."The Bulletin star "With compelling themes about the soul-crushing effects of slavery, and a journey plotline that showcasese Le Guin's gift for creating a convincing array of cultures, this follow-up to Gifts and Voices may be the series' best installment."Booklist (starred)
* “Le Guin uses her own prodigious power as a writer to craft lyrical, precise sentences, evoking a palpable sense of place and believable characters. This distinguished novel belongs with its predecessors in all young adult collections.” (starred review)
* “This followup to Gifts (2004) and Voices (2006) may be the series’ best installment. . . . . Told with shimmering lyricism, this coming-of-age saga will leave readers as transformed by the power of words as is Gav himself. . . . Le Guin’s fans have ample reason to hope that the author may be building toward a fantasy cycle as ambitious in scope as her beloved chronicles of Earthsea.” (starred review)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I kept glancing back at the cover when I started reading Ursula K. Le Guin's POWERS. It sounded so different from the EARTHSEA series that it didn't even seem like the same author. It was much longer and more personal than anything I had ever read from her before. But, as I read on, a lot of what I loved from older books, like the descriptions and the colorful characters, gradually surfaced here.
Set in a world much like Ancient Rome or Greece, this five-hundred page epic follows Gavir, a bright young boy who was stolen as a baby and sold into slavery. Unlike most slaves, Gav is comfortable and happy. He lives with a wealthy family along with his older sister, Sallo. Despite hearing rebellious talk from other slaves and seeing hints of cruelty from freemen, Gav is fiercely loyal to his house and city. His impeccable memory makes him the perfect candidate to be a future teacher for his house. He also has another remarkable ability, the power to see snippets of the future and the past. Unfortunately, his gift does not warn him of the tragedy that is to come. His trust in his masters is betrayed and, mad with grief, he flees home. As always, Ursula K. Le Guin tackles hard subjects such as slavery, culture clashes, and the definition of freedom in this coming-of-age novel.
Though it starts slowly initially, once it picks up POWERS will have readers engrossed. Magic takes a backseat in this fantasy. Here the adversaries are not magical, rarely evil, and purely human. One of the strongest points in this novel is that all characters big and small are well thought through and carefully drawn. The kind and brave aristocratic son Yaven, the hermit Cuga, and the charismatic rebel slave Barna are just a few.
Ursula K. Le Guin has delivered yet another thought-provoking and engaging novel. While not packed with duels and dragons, the latest edition to the ANNALS OF THE WESTERN SHORE series has its own share of adventure and heartache.
Gavir, protagonist of Powers, is a young slave, content enough in his ordered life, knowing he's part of something he can be proud of. Gavir trusts his Father/owner, loves his sister, and navigates the world of power-hungry leaders and bullying followers with confident aplomb, through war and peace, until one day his world is turned on its end and he runs away. What follows is a journey through different civilizations of the author's imaginary world, and through concepts of our own. Freedom, rebellion, individual choice, commitment, command and hope; a following after rules; a longing for family; and again, as in Gifts, the first book of the series, a young man learning to be true to himself. Favorite characters from the other books appear, as they must; this is their world. But the story stands alone as a masterpiece, powerfully told with vivid emotions, deep questions, and a character whose coming-of-age has lessons for us all. Disclosure: I bought it 'cause I had to keep reading. I just hope there are more in the series.
The third book in the Annals of the Western Shore series, after Gifts and Voices. This one tells the story of a slave boy who, well-treated and educated, grows up content with his lot until tragedy forces him to confront the injustice of his life. It's a good book, much longer and more complex than Gifts, but while it is sometimes rather moving and occasionally suspenseful, I didn't find it quite as compelling as Voices.It occurs to me, by the way, that "Powers" might have made an equally good title for the series as a whole, as he trilogy really is an extended exploration of various kinds of power, although never a simplistic or didactic one. I do love Le Guin's ability to blend deep themes and plain good storytelling so perfectly.
Though I didn't personally like it, Powers is a strongly written 500 page epic telling the tale of Gavir, a boy sold into slavery. Unlike most people in his postion, Gavir is content enough with his life until he realizes he has the power to see into the future. This coming of age story is a suitable for readers who like fantasy books where the characters further develop through self awareness. This is the third of the Annals of the Western Shore series.
God of War