Goodreads Summary: Scattered among poor, desolate farms, the clans of the Uplands possess gifts. Wondrous gifts: the ability--with a glance, a gesture, a word--to summon animals, bring forth fire, move the land. Fearsome gifts: They can twist a limb, chain a mind, inflict a wasting illness. The Uplanders live in constant fear that one family might unleash its gift against another. Two young people, friends since childhood, decide not to use their gifts. One, a girl, refuses to bring animals to their death in the hunt. The other, a boy, wears a blindfold lest his eyes and his anger kill.I think the highlight of this novel for me was the way in which the story was told. The narrative was truly beautiful. The narrator basically told stories, more like wove stories/threads together until in the end it came together in one fascinating tapestry. Its also so well-rounded! I love stories that are like the old image of the snake eating its tale, stories that start at one place and end relatively near there. Coming full circle basically.
In this beautifully crafted story, Ursula K. Le Guin writes of the proud cruelty of power, of how hard it is to grow up, and of how much harder still it is to find, in the world's darkness, gifts of light.
As for the characters...I wanted more from Gry, the girl who refuses to bring animals to death in the hunt. Her character, what we see of her through Orrec's storytelling, captivated my interest from the beginning. Unfortunately aside from her helping Orrec you don't see overly much of her. You get bits and pieces, scraps really, of her story because Orrec is really thoroughly lost in his own tale. Basically he's a wee bit self-absorbed. Can't blame him overly much though because his life is pretty much Chaos.
The structure of the "magic" and how it was used/not-used was great. I actually wouldn't have minded learning more about how the gifts worked for the characters who had them particularly if the Gifts took any thing out of them physically. You know, what the wear and tear of having these sorts of incredible powers were. Limitations really. But that is probably just the writer in me [I'm a fantasy girl] wanting to poke and prod at a set-up until I can replicate the process myself. xD
Overall I think Gifts was a pretty solid fantasy read, the start of a series I'd really like to finish, and Le Guin an author I want to collect more books from.