Annals of the Western Shore

Annals of the Western Shore, sometimes called Chronicles of the Western Shore,[1][2] is a young adult series by Ursula K. Le Guin. It consists of three books: Gifts (2004), Voices (2006), and Powers (2007). Each book has different main characters and settings, but the books are linked by some recurring characters and locations. Gifts won the PEN Center USA 2005 Children's literature award.[3] Powers won the 2008 Nebula Award for Best Novel.[4]

Annals of the Western Shore
Gifts (2004)
Voices (2006)
Powers (2007)
AuthorUrsula K. Le Guin
CountryUnited States
GenreFantasy, young adult
Published2004 – 2007
Media typePrint
No. of books3


The books in the trilogy share the same imaginary world; their plots are set among small city states and independent polities, in a fertile region on the western shore of a continental land mass, in an otherwise unspecified world. The culture is at a generally medieval level, with traditional crafts but no advanced technology. The three books share some characters; the protagonists in Gifts reappear as supporting or minor characters in the later books.

Gifts centers on two young people, Gry and Orrec, who struggle to come to terms with inherent psychic abilities. They live in a poor, mountainous, and culturally backward region, famous for its "witches" and wonder-workers. Gry is a girl who can communicate with animals; she refuses to use her gift to aid hunters, which sets her apart from many in her culture, including her own mother. Orrec is a boy whose supposed gift of "unmaking" is apparently so dangerous that he voluntarily goes through life blindfolded, to avoid causing destruction. The story reveals how Orrec and Gry cope with their gifts, and eventually leave their mountainous home for the wider world.

Voices tells the story of Memer, a girl who lives in an occupied country. Her home, Ansul, has been conquered by the Alds, a desert people from the east, who are now its brutal and superstitious occupiers. Memer secretly learns of a world of suppressed books and writings, and falls in love with her people's ancient literature; she meets Gry and Orrec, who come to Ansul as travelling storytellers. Together, their entwined fates play out against the outcome of the political struggle of Ansul and the Alds.

In Powers, Gavir is a slave who develops a gift for precognition. He is trained to serve as a teacher for a noble family in the city of Etra; but personal tragedy drives him into the life of a hunted wanderer. He endures adventures, challenges, and suffering. Eventually he escapes to a new and happy life that he shares with Memer, Gry, and Orrec.


The main religion of the Western Shore follows three main deities: Ennu (Ennu-Amba to the Marsh People), who is portrayed as a Lion and is said to guide souls into the after life; Luck, who rides across the sky in a chariot pulling the sun (like the Greek god Apollo); and Sampa the Destroyer. People in the city states pray to their ancestors.

The second main religion is the one followed by the Desert Alds, who believe that there is only one true god, Atth the god of fire, and that those who survive burns are holy. Their religion led them to invade Ansul because they thought that the Anti-Atth resided around that area; they believed themselves right when they found the great Library of Ansul, because they believe that demons hide within script. They threw all the books and their owners into the harbour because they burn only holy things.


  1. ^ "Ursula K. Le Guin - Online Radio Interview with the Author". November 12, 2009. Archived from the original on February 26, 2010. Retrieved December 16, 2015.
  2. ^ Le Guin, Ursula K. "Gifts #1 by Ursula K Le Guin". Archived from the original on July 2, 2013. Retrieved December 16, 2015. (Subscription required (help)).
  3. ^ "2005 Literary Awards Winners". PEN Center USA. Archived from the original on November 7, 2005. Retrieved January 26, 2008.
  4. ^ "2009 Nebula Winners". Locus Publications. Archived from the original on September 25, 2009. Retrieved September 5, 2012.

External links


An ansible is a category of fictional device or technology capable of near-instantaneous or superluminal communication. It can send and receive messages to and from a corresponding device over any distance or obstacle whatsoever with no delay, even between star systems. As a name for such a device, the word "ansible" first appeared in a 1966 novel by Ursula K. Le Guin. Since that time, the term has been broadly used in the works of numerous science fiction authors, across a variety of settings and continuities.


Catwings is a series of four American children's picture books written by Ursula K. Le Guin, illustrated by S. D. Schindler, and originally published by Scholastic from 1988 to 1999. It follows the adventures of kittens who were born with wings. Catwings is also the title of the first book in the series. The series is in print from Scholastic as of August 2015.In Britain the series was published in two omnibus volumes as Tales of Catwings and More Tales of the Catwings (Puffin/Penguin, 1999 and 2000). In America the 2003 editions were available in a boxed set of four with slipcase title The Catwings Collection (Orchard/Scholastic), listed as Catwings Set by Powell's Books.Scholastic classifies the Catwings books as fantasy and classifies the first two by "interest level" as "grades 2–5", the last two as "grades preK–3" (children of ages about 7–11 and 4–9 respectively). The series is covered by the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, which classifies the volumes as short fiction and as chapbooks.Scholastic Book Guides, a series for schoolteachers, includes one Catwings volume.In 2002 and 2003 as Catwings 5 and Catwings 6, Le Guin published online editions of picture books "by Mrs. Katz's First Grade Class".Ten years after their last Catwings volume, Le Guin and Schindler created another picture book featuring a cat: Cat Dreams (Orchard/Scholastic, 2009), with "easy rhyming text" and "realistic, full-bleed watercolor illustrations".

Gifts (novel)

Gifts (2004) is a young adult fantasy novel by Ursula K. Le Guin. It is the first book in the Annals of the Western Shore trilogy, and is followed in the series by Voices.

The story is set in a fictional world, in a barren and poverty-stricken region called the Uplands, some of whose inhabitants have hereditary magical gifts. The story follows the narrator Orrec, son of the leader of the domain of Caspromant, whose hereditary gift is the ability to "unmake", and Gry, the daughter of a neighboring domain, who can communicate with animals. Orrec's gift manifests late, and seems uncontrollable, and so he is blindfolded. Their families are caught up in the cycle of violent feuds and retribution that characterize Upland society in which the children are trying to find their place.

The novel explores themes of violence and the abuse of power, as well as of coming of age. The protagonists have a recurring struggle to make choices they are comfortable with. Their moral development takes place within the harshness of the Upland culture, contrasted with examples of kindness and altruism. It has been described as sharing themes of dreamworlds and choices with a number of other works by Le Guin, such as the Earthsea cycle, The Beginning Place, and "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas". It also shares similarities with Maurice Sendak's book Where the Wild Things Are, while Orrec's transformation in the novel has been compared to the biblical story of Jonah.

Gifts won the PEN Center USA 2005 Children's literature award. It was very well received by critics, who praised the characterization of Orrec and Gry as "unique, thoughtful young rebels". The writing of the book was also praised as being lyrical or poetic, while the themes of misused power and coming of age were also described positively.

List of children's literature writers

These writers are notable authors of children's literature with some of their most famous works.

List of high fantasy fiction

This list contains a variety of examples of high fantasy fiction. The list is ordered alphabetically by author or originator's last name.

Powers (novel)

Powers (2007) is the third book in the trilogy Annals of the Western Shore, sometimes called Chronicles of the Western Shore, a young adult series by Ursula K. Le Guin. It is preceded in the series by Voices.

Powers won the 2008 Nebula Award for Best Novel.

Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin (; October 21, 1929 – January 22, 2018) was an American novelist. She worked mainly in the genres of fantasy and science fiction, and authored children's books, short stories, poetry, and essays. Her writing was first published in the 1960s and often depicted futuristic or imaginary alternative worlds in politics, the natural environment, gender, religion, sexuality, and ethnography. In 2016, The New York Times described her as "America's greatest living science fiction writer", although she said that she would prefer to be known as an "American novelist".She influenced Booker Prize winners and other writers, such as Salman Rushdie and David Mitchell, and science fiction and fantasy writers including Neil Gaiman and Iain Banks. She won the Hugo Award, Nebula Award, Locus Award, and World Fantasy Award, each more than once. In 2014, she was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In 2003, she was made a Grandmaster of Science Fiction, one of a few women writers to take the top honor in the genre.

Ursula K. Le Guin bibliography

Ursula K. Le Guin was an American author of speculative fiction, realistic fiction, non-fiction, screenplays, librettos, essays, poetry, speeches, translations, literary critiques, chapbooks, and children's fiction. She was primarily known for her works of speculative fiction. These include works set in the fictional world of Earthsea, stories in the Hainish Cycle, standalone novels and short stories. Though frequently referred to as an author of science fiction, critics have described her work as being difficult to classify.Le Guin came to critical attention with the publication of A Wizard of Earthsea in 1968, and The Left Hand of Darkness in 1969. The Earthsea books, of which A Wizard of Earthsea was the first, have been described as Le Guin's best work by several commentators, while scholar Charlotte Spivack described The Left Hand of Darkness as having established Le Guin's reputation as a writer of science fiction. Literary critic Harold Bloom referred to the books as Le Guin's masterpieces. Several scholars have called the Earthsea books Le Guin's best work. Her work has received intense critical attention. As of 1999, ten volumes of literary criticism and forty dissertations had been written about her work: she was referred to by scholar Donna White as a "major figure in American letters". Her awards include the National Book Award, the Newbery Medal, and multiple Hugo and Nebula Awards. Feminist critiques of her writing were particularly influential upon Le Guin's later work.Le Guin's first published work was the poem "Folksong from the Montayna Province" in 1959, while her first short story was "An die Musik", in 1961; both were set in her fictional country of Orsinia. Her first professional publication was the short story "April in Paris" in 1962, while her first published novel was Rocannon's World, released by Ace Books in 1966. Her last publication was a 2018 collection of non-fiction, titled Dreams Must Explain Themselves and Other Essays 1972–2004. This bibliography includes all of Le Guin's published novels, short fiction, translations, edited volumes, and all collections that include material not previously published in book form, as well as any works mentioned in commentary about Le Guin's writings.

Voices (Le Guin novel)

Voices (2006) is the second book in the trilogy Annals of the Western Shore, a young adult fantasy series by Ursula K. Le Guin. It is preceded in the series by Gifts (2004) and followed by Powers (2007). The story is set in the fictional city of Ansul, once famed as a center of learning, but invaded and subjugated by the Alds, a desert people who believe the written word to be evil. The protagonist, Memer Galva, is the child of a woman raped by an Ald soldier. She lives in the house of the Waylord Sulter Galva, who teaches her to read after finding she can enter the house's hidden library. When Memer is seventeen the city is visited by Gry and Orrec, the protagonists of Gifts; Orrec is now a famous poet, invited to perform by the Alds. Their arrival catalyzes an uprising against the Alds, while Memer tries to come to terms with her ability to interpret the Oracle that resides in her house.

Voices examines the cultural and religious strife between the monotheistic beliefs of the Alds and the polytheistic practices of the citizens of Ansul. Described as a "plea for cultural relativity", the novel also juxtaposes violent and non-violent means of ending a conflict. As with the other stories of Annals of the Western Shore, Voices examines enslavement and the treatment of women, and the theme of justice. The story traces Memer's coming of age, and the power of words, stories, and writing is a recurring theme. The book received acclaim from critics, who praised its nuanced portrayal of religion and cultural conflict, the characterization of Memer, and Le Guin's writing and detailed world building. Multiple reviewers compared it to Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, also prominently featuring the destruction of books. Voices was a finalist for a Locus Award in 2007. Scholar Elizabeth Anderson wrote that the book "[encouraged] young adult readers to imaginatively approach their own encounters with religious difference."

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