Voices is a pleasure to read. It’s beautifully written, the characters are fascinating, and the world they inhabit sucks you in, to the point where it’s almost painful to put it down once the ending comes.
And what a world it is! LeGuin has always had a talent for making her own worlds, and Voices (part of a trilogy) has allowed her to flex her imaginative muscles to full capacity. There are unique places and peoples and species here, but none of it feels like she’s showing off, rather, it’s as if you always knew this world existed, but just were not paying attention.
The story is strong as well, and rather perfect for Banned Books Week. In this world, the conquering Alds have taken away the books of the local populace. Rather than being burned (Fire is sacred to the Alds, it would be improper to use it to dispose of sorcery/demon work) they are buried in the sea or the mud.
But the books have a secret power, and the protagonist of the story unknowingly holds the key to it from the very beginning. It takes the coaxing of a Storyteller/public orator, her literate mentor, and the collapse of Ald rule for her to discover it, but when she does, the message is that even in books, the messages aren’t always spelled out clearly.
That’s what I loved most about Voices, the magic element. It wasn’t a matter of saying Spell A to get Wish B or perform Task X. The magic often ended up creating more questions than answers, and that’s the beauty of Voices itself: It’s meant not to offer clear-cut answers. It’s meant to provoke thought in the reader.
There are two other books to accompany Voices, which I am grateful for. I can’t just leave behind what’s been created here. There was a spark of creation in it that’s unparalleled.