Voices is the second book in the Annals of the Western Shore series. It is not strictly a sequel to Gifts, but should be read following that one. It does not take place in the Uplands or with gifted clans, but rather in a city called Ansul. Ansul had been known as a great center for learning, with huge libraries and learned people, a fantastic university, and beauty everywhere. Then, a warring people came across the desert and conquered Ansul. Their religion teaches that writing and reading is sacrilegious and they destroy all the books in Ansul and forbid writing, reading, and teaching of same.
Memer is 17, a child born of a mother from Ansul who was raped during the conquest of the city. Her mother is now dead, and Memer lives as a servant in the home of a local leader, the Oracle House. She knows of a secret room where her mother protected her during subsequent battles and raids. The secret room has shelves and shelves of books in it, including many which people brought to the Oracle House for safekeeping. None may enter the secret room without knowing of its existence, and none who know may speak of its existence. Inexplicable magic is the best kind sometimes. Memer has learned to read, of course, in secret in the secret room.
And then a famous poet, Orrec Caspro, comes to town. Same guy from Gifts. With his wife Gry. Neat. They stay in the Oracle House, and Gry and Memer become close friends. Their arrival is the beginning of the end of Ansul’s occupation as slaves to the desert folk. Each character has his or her own role, though Memer’s is arguably the most important and the most surprising. Voices is really a stand-alone story, though reading Gifts first is highly recommended both because it’s a good story and because it’ll give you some background information that is worth knowing.