is written in the same vein as Kristin Cashore’s Graceling,
trilogy, in terms of the concept of the gifts—inherited skills or abilities with fearsome power. But that’s also where the similarity ends. Le Guin’s novel is much more sophisticated in terms of the themes conveyed. It’s very much a novel of development. Viewing the story in this light, it reminded me of Pip’s identity crisis in Great Expectations. Here, Orrec is looking back, recounting and analyzing the events that lead him on his current course in life.
I like that it’s personal; it adds an additional dimension to the story. Without it, I think the book could easily have been categorized as one of those stories about a rebellious teenager, going against the wishes of his father—not really willing to understand the father’s side of the situation. Orrec, looking back and considering the situation with a more mature outlook, is now able to grasp what his father was trying to do for him: “I could cry again; but not with the tears of shame and fury that I wept as I went down the stream valley from that place, that day.” Also part of Orrec’s shame and fury stems from his fear of identity—of what he could do and become. The blindfold he uses becomes an outlet for escape, instead of facing and dealing with his “true” fear.
The story contains a lot of layers, adding new aspects or readings of the themes described. One idea that I really liked was the theory concerning the gifts—that perhaps they weren’t initially intended for harm, but for good—which could show how human interference and manipulation can be used for exploitation.
Quite a few good elements make up this book. On to the next!