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Memer is a child of rape; when the Alds took the beautiful city of Ansul, they descecrated or destroyed everything of beauty. The Waylord they imprisoned and tortured for years until finally he is freed to return to his home. Though crippled, he is not destroyed. His life still has purpose. Memer is the daughter of his House, the daughter of his heart. The Alds, a people who love war, cannot and will not read: they believe that in words lie demons that will destroy the world. All the city's libraries, the great treasure trove of knowledge of ages past, are burned, except for those few volumes secreted inthe Waylord's hidden room. But times are changing. Gry Barre of Roddmant and Orrec Caspro of Caspromant have arrived in the city. Orrec is a story-teller, the most famous of all: he has the gift of making. His wife Gry's gift is that of calling; she walks with a halflion who both frightens and fascinates the Alds. This is Memer's story, and Gry's and Orrec's, and it is the story of a conquered people craving freedom.
"Le Guin's superior narrative voice and storytelling power make even small moments ring with truth, and often with beauty."-Beth Wright, School Library Journal
"For 17 years, the great trade city of Ansul has been occupied by the Ald invaders, the university destroyed, the library sacked. The Alds, mistrustful of print, carry out purges of books that have left the city bare of the written word-except for one secret room in the once-great house of Galva, to which only the crippled Lord of Galva and teenaged Memer can gain entry. Into the city come Orrec and Gry, older than they were in Gifts (2004), a storyteller and his animal-tamer wife come to seek out the lost books of Ansul. LeGuin spins a tale fraught with political tension, as Memer watches Orrec move back and forth between the Galvas and the Ald overlord of Ansul. The Alds are religious fanatics who deny Ansul's many gods, view women as chattel and fear books as demons-parallels with 21st-century politics are clear, but the novel's world-building is thorough enough not to bludgeon readers with allegory. LeGuin allows them, along with Memer, to see that there may be alternatives to violence and that the power of narrative, spoken or written, is not to be denied." Kirkus Reviews
"Ursula K. Le Guin's luxurious prose is effortless and elegant in Voices, the companion to her Gifts, a PW Best Book. Orrec, now a famous poet, arrives at the home of 17-year-old Memer, where the family has hidden books forbidden by the occupying Alds. Memer's reverence for the written word, equal parts loving and fearful of its power, will resonate long after the story's end." Publishers Weekly
Ursula K. Le Guin has won many Nebula and Hugo Awards, as well as a National Book Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Newbery Honor and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement.