Reviewed by Natalie Tsang for TeensReadToo.com
I kept glancing back at the cover when I started reading Ursula K. Le Guin's POWERS. It sounded so different from the EARTHSEA series that it didn't even seem like the same author. It was much longer and more personal than anything I had ever read from her before. But, as I read on, a lot of what I loved from older books, like the descriptions and the colorful characters, gradually surfaced here.
Set in a world much like Ancient Rome or Greece, this five-hundred page epic follows Gavir, a bright young boy who was stolen as a baby and sold into slavery. Unlike most slaves, Gav is comfortable and happy. He lives with a wealthy family along with his older sister, Sallo. Despite hearing rebellious talk from other slaves and seeing hints of cruelty from freemen, Gav is fiercely loyal to his house and city. His impeccable memory makes him the perfect candidate to be a future teacher for his house. He also has another remarkable ability, the power to see snippets of the future and the past. Unfortunately, his gift does not warn him of the tragedy that is to come. His trust in his masters is betrayed and, mad with grief, he flees home. As always, Ursula K. Le Guin tackles hard subjects such as slavery, culture clashes, and the definition of freedom in this coming-of-age novel.
Though it starts slowly initially, once it picks up POWERS will have readers engrossed. Magic takes a backseat in this fantasy. Here the adversaries are not magical, rarely evil, and purely human. One of the strongest points in this novel is that all characters big and small are well thought through and carefully drawn. The kind and brave aristocratic son Yaven, the hermit Cuga, and the charismatic rebel slave Barna are just a few.
Ursula K. Le Guin has delivered yet another thought-provoking and engaging novel. While not packed with duels and dragons, the latest edition to the ANNALS OF THE WESTERN SHORE series has its own share of adventure and heartache.