This is the second book in the Annals of the Western Shore. The first was Gifts – featuring Orrec and Gry. They figure heavily into this story as well, but it’s more Memer’s story.
Memer is a siege brat in the city of Ansul – daughter of a woman of the city and one of the Ald soldiers that conquered them seventeen years ago. But even more than that, her mother was a member of the house of Galva, and they hold a secret. Ald invaded the city because their god hates the written word, and Ansul was the most learned city on the Western Shore. They destroyed all the books, or so they thought. Deep in the house of Galva is a hidden room full of books, and Memer is one of only two people alive who can access it.
Orrec and Gry come into this city seeking those books, not knowing that they’re in a city ready to shake off their oppressors, and they just need a spark to procede. This is some heavy stuff for a young adult book, but so beautifully done. I need to stop being surprised how much I love Le Guin’s work when I read it – I love it everytime. It should be no surprise at this point.