Ursula K. Le Guin
Gifts Cover

Gifts -- Just the beginning

Tar Daddoo

What is the Fantasy premise?

Gifts offers us a clan-based society in which the key members of the clan possess magical capabilities, or gifts. The exact nature of the gift varies from clan to clan. We learn the most about an ability to control/communicate with animals and an ability to "undo" things, which returns them to a disassembled state.

Where does the Fantasy premise come from and what governs its use?

We do not learn a great deal about where the gifts come from, though we do learn that they seem to run in families. There is more said about the limits of the gifts and how they should or should not be applied.

Is the impact of the premise on an individual explored?

A key aspect of the story is observing a boy coping with growing into his gift.

Is the impact of the premise on society explored?

The gifts are available to clans living in the Uplands. These clans are reminiscent of Scottish clans living in a world of clan-on-clan thievery and violence. The gifts are a key aspect of clan survival.

How well written is the story?

The story is quite well-written and very quick to read. It is aimed at a young adult audience, but I found it engaging.

My biggest complaint is that the story is mostly preparation for the rest of the trilogy. There is a complete story, but it is not as fulfilling as the premise portends. I think the full payoff comes in the later books.

Can I recommend the book?

With Gifts, I think that you should expect to be reading Voices and then Powers. If you are unwilling to make that kind of commitment, there are many other excellent books by Ursula LeGuin. While I have not yet read the later books, I have ordered Voices and look forward to continuing the story.

Tar Daddoo