I Recently Finished Reading: Powers

LeGuin-PowersThe concluding book of the Annals of the Western Shore was a bit of a letdown for me. I preferred the first two books to this one. Don’t get me wrong, the book is fine, but I didn’t get into the story the same way I did with the first two books.

The book’s a coming of age story, but the way it goes about it is very different from anything I’ve experienced before. The thing that makes Gavir unique is that his personality changes so dramatically based on the important moments in his life. The trauma that begins his journey literally wipes away his entire history and leaves him in the hands of fate. That was a tough shift to accept. Taking a character that had been growing and learning, then wiping him back to a blank slate broke me out of the narrative. I started noticing all the fortuitous events that happened to Gavir, and though it was acknowledged that he was relying completely on luck, that didn’t alleviate the discomfort of seeing the author’s hand controlling the circumstances.

The world is the same as the previous two books, and is explored much more broadly than in previous books, yet somehow, it also felt smaller. I think part of that was because the sheer number of places and cultures in this book was so much larger than the previous stories. Because there were more places and people to explore, there wasn’t enough time to explore the cultures as thoroughly, so each place felt a little flat.

Overall, the biggest flaw I found was that the book was forgettable. I finished it earlier this week, and by the time I started writing this post, I had forgotten enough that I had to look up some details. I didn’t feel that way about the other two books, so this was a big disappointment.


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