Friday, August 19, 2005

Gifts ****

LeGuin, Ursula K. Gifts. New York: Harcourt, 2004.

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that fantasy is not my cup of tea. I have to say, however, that I enjoyed this book more than I could have ever expected. Orrec and Gry live in the Uplands with their families. Each family there has a special Gift. Families try not to marry out of their line so that their gifts aren't lost. Gry's family gift is the call animals. Gry refuses to use her gift as her mother uses it-- to call animals to her so that hunters can slaughter them. Orrec's family can undo things. They can undo things as simple as undoing a knot, or they can undo a life-- from killing trees to animals to people. Orrec's gift doesn't seem to come on when it should, until he starts undoing things he doesn't mean to undo. He is told that his Gift is "wild", meaning he can't control what he undoes. He takes to wearing a blindfold so he doesn't undo anything by accident.

There is warring and feuding families in the novel, particularly between Orrec's land and the land next to their land, owned by Ogge. Ogge steals some of their cows but then tries to betroth his Granddaughter to Orrec. Ogge invites Orrec's family to their home for a period of time, to betroth them, but things go awry, leaving more discontent between the lands and families. Gry and Orrec don't know what to make of their gifts, and neither want to use them, although without using their gifts they are essentially useless to their respective families.

The novel comes to a satisfying conclusion, although not one that will surprise the reader. Recommended for anyone that enjoys fantasy novels.

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