September 2006

Protecting the power of books

By Ursula K. Le Guin
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The city of Ansul was once known as a place of learning, with its schools, libraries and temples to many gods, but that was before the Ald came out of the desert and conquered the city, destroying anything and anyone connected to books. Seventeen-year-old Memer despises the Ald, but she must be careful because the last cache of books is stashed in her house, hidden in a secret room only a few can enter.

The situation seems calm but hopeless until Orrec and his wife Gry arrive, along with their pet lion, to stay with Memer's family. Orrec has been invited to recite poetry a much revered talent before the court of the Gand, leader of the Ald. The son and priests of the Gand quickly demonstrate their dislike of anything not centered around their religion and their goal of destroying anything not of Ald. In contrast, the rebel forces in Ansul want Orrec to be their voice, to arouse the people to overthrow their oppressors and take back their city. Memer longs to join the rebels, but realizes this would put Orrec and Gry in danger and also could compromise the hidden books. As tensions rise in the city, Memer learns that something more than books lies hidden in the secret room, and that through her family, she is tied to this mysterious power.

In Voices, acclaimed science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin returns to the universe she created in the award-winning Gifts (2004), allowing teen readers to see Orrec and Gry 20 years later and also to explore another part of their world. In a fascinating novel that focuses on a clash between two cultures, readers will be absorbed as one young woman learns that life is rarely black and white, and that your enemy can become your friend.


Colleen R. Cahill works at the Library of Congress where she is recommending officer of science fiction and fantasy.

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By Ursula K. Le Guin
ISBN 9780152056780

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