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Powers (2007)

Powers (2007)

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3.89 of 5 Votes: 5
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0152057706 (ISBN13: 9780152057701)
hmh books for young readers

About book Powers (2007)

ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.Powers is the third and, in my opinion, the best of the Annals of the Western Shore novels. In this book, we meet Gavir, a slave in the City State of Etra. Gavir was born in the marshes but was stolen, along with his sister, by slavers and brought to Etra. He has the power to clearly remember things he has seen before and even some events that have not yet happened to him. This power is not uncommon in the marshes, but the people of Etra fear powers, so his sister tells him not to speak of it. His memory, however, is prized by the household who owns him and he is being trained to be the teacher of the households' children. He is well treated (except by another slave who holds a grudge against him), well educated, and happy.But things go awry and Gavir ends up on a journey in which he encounters different people, ideas, and cultures. And this is what Ursula Le Guin does so well. She makes us believe in these cultures, perhaps even admire them, and then, without explicitly telling us so, she show us that there are always negative sides to an apparently perfect society. And, without telling us to do it, she makes us think about such constructs as freedom, slavery, justice, leadership, work, loyalty, and education. We find ourselves asking some tough questions: What is the value of a slave's life? Is it better to be an educated, happy, and comfortable slave, or to be cold, hungry, ignorant, and free? Is true democracy possible? Or even desirable? What is the value of an education in a society or job that doesn't require it? Is ignorance bliss?Le Guin's Western Shore novels are books for those who want to think about our own world while they read. They're not escapist literature -- there aren't sword fights and dragons and quests for magic talismans. Instead, there are issues to think about and questions to ask .... but not necessarily answers. And this is all done, of course, in Le Guin's perfect polished prose.Each of the Western Shore novels stands alone, but the reader who reads them in order will appreciate them more because references are made to previously seen characters and societies. In some cases, we see characters and societies we experienced in one novel from a different perspective in another, and this adds to the complexity and depth of this world.I listened to this on audiobook and was impressed with the production. I recommend this format for the Western Shore novels. Read more Ursula Le Guin book reviews at Fantasy literature.

Reviewed by Natalie Tsang for TeensReadToo.comI 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.

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Ursula Le Guin doesn't just right science function or fantasy, she writes about the human condition and what could be possible. In this, the third book in the Western Shore Annals, we get slavery - positives and negatives, injustice, cruelty, war, alliances, freedom, a variety of cultures, and most of all the value of education and how it can transform a person. Though written as a YA novel, much as the Earthsea series was, this book is for adults as well, perhaps even more so. Though I'm sure t

Ursula Le Guin has long been a favorite author. Yet when I was halfway through this bookbit seemed like it wasn't moving. I wondered if I should finish it but was so glad that I did. The action began to roll and I rushed to the end. I liked Gavir, a very young but bright youngster who trusts everyone until something happens that undermines his trust. As a baby, he was stolen from his family and clan and raised as a slave. He wasn't alone. His sister who is slightly older is stolen with him. With no family they grow up together as close as siblings can be. When she dies in grief he leaves his masters and begins a life of roaming from place to place. Who is he? Who were his people? Why does he have this power of remembering everything he ever read and "remembering" the future? Seeking answers, he begins to understand who he is an what he must do. Good, good read.

This is the last book of the Annals of the Western Shore trilogy. And I’ll say a few things about the trilogy as a whole before getting into Powers in particular. I’m amazed by Le Guin’s ability to create a whole world. She created a lot of different worlds and cultures, and they all well developed and interesting. I’d love to visit the Western Shore. It’s a shame that other YA series get so much love, despite being everything but original, and this series doesn’t get much love. It shows young adults being empowered by knowledge and also that you don’t need a romantic relationship as part of the main plot to have a great story.The main character in this book is Gav, a young slave in the city of Etra (which resembles Ancient Rome/Greece in many senses, as the family organization and the role of the slaves within a family). He’s pretty happy as a slave when the novel begins, as he belongs to a wealthy family which takes decent care of their slaves. Gavir has food, education (he’s also being trained to become a tutor to the future children of the family) and friends. Despite being a slave, he thinks he has a happy childhood, running around with the children of the house (both owners and slaves), and having his sister, Sallo, around.As in the other books of this trilogy, in Powers one of the main themes is how knowledge can empower people. Gavir is at the very bottom of his society’s pyramid, but his learning allows him to realise all the things that go wrong in his city. It’s especially poignant after Sallo’s rape and death, when he’s finally able to see that he’s in a terrible position. So he runs away, trying to find a place in which he can be happy and safe.While in the previous book, Orrec Caspro (from Gifts) appears directly to help Mem in her own fight, in this book his presence is somewhat more subtle. Gavir constantly refers to him as one of the greatest modern poets, and Orrec’s poem “Liberty” has a great impact upon young Gav. (view spoiler)[In the end, after hiding and running away for years, Gavir finds his freedom and the place where he belongs in Orrec’s own house. I loved that, because it brings him to a full circle. Caspro’s words were the first that showed him he could be free, and living at his house, Gav will learn even more, besides being actually free. (hide spoiler)]

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