I was excited to see a young adult book by Ursula LeGuin, but I was slightly disappointed. A warning: the first chapter seems like it's going to focus the book on a certain character who has run away and joined a new family. It's not. In fact, the rest of the book has nearly nothing to do with this one character. Just so you don't get confused like I did when the rest of the story went on without him. This is a story set in a fantasy medieval land in which certain people have certain powers. These powers, called Gifts, run in the family and perform a specific, subtle task, such as being able to communicate a little with animals or bend wills. The main character (who,again, is not the character introduced in the first chapter) is expected to have the gift of Unmaking (or something...I read this book months ago, sorry) and should be able to kill with just a controlled thought like his father can. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to show any signs of the Gift until he is startled on two different occasions and destroys whatever it is that scared him. Believing his powers to be out of his control, he follows the advice of his father and commits himself to being blindfolded. However, as time goes on, he questions the validity of his self-imposed blindness. This is an interesting story, because in the end it applauds mediocrity and mistrust in one's self. On the other hand, it undercuts the competitive aspect of our culture and questions what is expected of us. The ending strikes me as a metaphor to a gay son coming out to his his homophobic father. Actually, it's very parallel. I only wish the character was a little more confident in himself at the end, just to make it more cathartic.
Author: Ursula LeGuin
Labels: If you liked Mists of Avalon...