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City of Illusions (Hainish Cycle #5)

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  2,919 Ratings  ·  213 Reviews
He was a fully grown man, alone in dense forest, with no trail to show where he had come from and no memory to tell who — or what — he was.
His eyes were not the eyes of a human.
The forest people took him in and raised him almost as a child, teaching him to speak, training him in forest lore, giving him all the knowledge they had. But they could not solve the riddle of his
Published 1967 by Harper & Row (NY)
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Aug 26, 2016 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
City of Illusions by Ursula K. Le Guin is a part of her Hainish cycle of books.

This work involves an alien traveler who has arrived in a forest region of what was once the eastern United States with amnesia. His journey across the continent allows Le Guin to describe a dystopian landscape that could compliment the future as described by Walter M. Miller, Jr’s A Canticle for Leibowitz.

The book is highlighted by Le Guin’s remarkable imagination and her sparse but descriptive prose. The subject m
J.G. Keely
Like the rest of the early books in the Hainish series, this one has a very familiar tone and plot. We have our isolated, alienated protagonist on his quest for one single goal through an unpredictable world which he cannot comprehend, making strangely disconnected romantic liaisons on the way, and constantly lost in thought about how human relationships are supposed to work.

But of all the series, this book uses these recurrent themes in the most interesting and naturalistic ways. The first half
Oct 16, 2015 Zanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Parth and her family live in a comfortable house in the forest, in a timeless tranquility. Suddenly, a man with yellow eyes and no mind stumbles into the sunny clearing where she sits weaving. How's that for an alien encounter scene?

This book takes place on a mysteriously depopulated future Earth. For some reason, perhaps because it's so far from the reality of the tamed landscape of this isle, I've had recurring dreams and fantasies of the land covered in forest 'thick with deer' with only occa
Jan 25, 2016 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm reading this for the "Evolution of SF" group

I always feel as if I should like LeGuin more, especially the Hannish Cycle, of which this is #3, the one before The Left Hand of Darkness which is supposed to be a true classic. While I did like the original EarthSea trilogy & The Lathe of Heaven, these books are just OK yet most seem to think they have great messages & are fantastically written. I don't understand it. The idea of a race that changes
Davut Cikrikci
Sep 18, 2016 Davut Cikrikci rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oldukça sürükleyici, her seferinde beklediğimi aldığım, alıştığım LeGuin tarzı bir hikaye daha. Werelli Ramarrenin Dünyalı Falka dönüşümü ve sonunda Falk-Ramarren olarak Werele dönüşü. Sıkılmadan okudum.
Se jugaba entero a esta creencia: que un hombre honesto no puede ser engañado, que la verdad, si el juego se jugaba hasta las últimas consecuencias conduciría a la verdad.

Un hombre con los ojos amarillos con pupilas semejantes a un gato sale del Bosque sin memoria, una comunidad lo cuida, le enseña su lengua, y después de unos años Falk-como le han llamado- decide ir en busca de respuestas y quienes probablemente le dejaron asi: los Shing.

Durante su jornada se muestra una Tierra post-apocalipt
Sep 22, 2011 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A man wanders out of the forest with a severe case of amnesia. The locals take him in and try to teach him their ways, as it is obvious that he is not of their world. When he has learned all he can from them, he must set out across the vast continent toward the city of Es Toch, hopefully to figure out where he came from, why he is there and what happened to his memory. The most important lesson imparted to him from the forest people is to trust no one, particularly the Shing.
Three quarters of t
Charles Dee Mitchell
Other reviewers emphasize that there is no need to read La Guin's Hainish series in any particular order. But I do not know what I would have made of City of Illusions had I not read Planet of Exile first. When this novel came out, there had been three Hainish novels published in two years, and so readers did not have the eight novels we have now to choose from. It's more likely that readers came to this work with the first two under their readers' belts. Writing about City of Illusions opens up ...more
A decent book. Great imagination of imagery, surroundings and ideas; loved this part the most. Liked the first half more than the other. Bleak dystopian landscape. Various factions of Terrans displaying different expert abilities, was nice. Interesting ideas, like Mindspeech, Talking animals (a slightly disturbing idea), lying and mind-lies, etc. Overall story was okay/good. The journey of the Quest was interesting. Perhaps not amongst one of Le Guin's finest books.

A one-time-read certainly reco
Arax Miltiadous
Dec 21, 2012 Arax Miltiadous rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
" στα χρόνια που ταξίδευαν ανάμεσα στα αστέρια,
ποιος ήταν ο ονειρευόμενος και πιο το όνειρο?"

Πολύ μου άρεσε το βιβλίο αυτό. Οι περιγραφές της Le Guin τόσο πλούσιες και περίτεχνες που με βάλανε εντελώς μέσα στο βιβλίο. Δηλαδή πραγματικά, έβλεπα τα κίτρινα γατίσια μάτια του Φαλκ να με ακολουθούν παντού και νόμιζα πως όλοι μου λέγανε ψέματα.
Τι είναι ψευδαίσθηση τελικά αν όχι η παρερμήνευση της πραγματικότητας?
Συνιστώ ανεπιφύλακτα.
Aug 19, 2015 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ursula Le Guin sure is interested in putting people from an advanced civilizations into primitive ones and seeing how they deal with a radically new set of customs. But she's such a fantastic writer, and is exceptionally good at using these situations to examine multiple cultures at once.

City of Illusions changes things up a bit from the first two books in there is also something of a mystery element: our protagonist actually may or may not be from an advanced civilization. We don't know, and n
May 16, 2012 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Le Guin is a master at taking a workaday story of a protagonist suffering from acute amnesia (sound familiar?) and turning it into a focused think-piece on self awareness and discovery of who we really are. It took a long time in the narrative to get to the core premise, but when it was revealed, it made me put the book down for a minute to really contemplate Le Guin's theme.

In one of Joan Didion's essays she opines, "We are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be - w
Kat  Hooper
Dec 12, 2012 Kat Hooper rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Originally published at FanLit

“You go to the place of the lie to find out the truth?”

Ursula K. Le Guin’s HAINISH CYCLE continues with City of Illusions, which I liked better than its predecessors, Rocannon’s World and Planet of Exile. City of Illusions takes place on Earth sometimes in the far future after an alien invasion has killed off most of the people and has completely changed the Earth’s ecology, infrastructure, and geopolitical arrangement. There’
Samantha Waxman
Aug 13, 2013 Samantha Waxman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
City of Illusions was my favorite of the trilogy (Rocannon's World and Planet of Exile.) Like the others, it's about a journey of sorts, and starts off slow and gradually builds in intensity. But to me it was also the most mature work of the three, dealing with themes of illusion, dissolution, and dystopia.

We begin with a madman, or child-man, in the woods who has no memory of his past, and who is taken in and cared for by a forest family. After he recuperates, the patriarch of the family has a
Aug 07, 2013 Panagiotis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book ''City of Illusions'' was a really nice surprise for me.Small in size,very easy to read and with a very interesting main character,the book has a really good pace and a lot of suspense.

The fact that the Shing race' domination on Earth was based not in weapons but in their extremelly unique ability to play mind games and lie,made the main hero's task extremely difficult.

However once more Le Guin's ability to make her heroes outreach their problems and triupmh,not through violence but mos
Sirius Scientist
"Imagine Darkness."

"In the darkness that faces outward from the sun a mute spirit woke. Wholly involved in chaos he knew no pattern. He had no language, and did not know the darkness to be night"

Talk about an opening paragraph! Even if this hadn't been a gift, I would have purchased the book for that opening scene alone. This book is the 5th book in the Hainish Cycle, but can be read as a stand alone. The man in the opening lines is adrift with all his memories taken. He is left with only a ring
Grace Troxel
Jan 24, 2015 Grace Troxel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review originally appeared on my blog, Books Without Any Pictures:

City of Illusions is the story of an alien who awakens on earth with amnesia. He doesn’t know who he is or why he’s there, but a group of earthlings take him in, and he takes the name Falk. From these people, Falk learns Earth’s history. It was a technologically advanced society, but then the Shing invaded. The Shing are kind of like parasites; they rule the world, but they don’t build
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Buck Ward
Ursula K Le Guin wrote city of Illusions in 1967, the third book in the Hainish Cycle, the one before The Left Hand of Darkness. Unlike The Left Hand of Darkness, City of Illusions didn't win awards and it is not on lists of books one should read. What a great oversight that is. This is a terrific book. I enjoyed it immensely.

Our protagonist stumbles out of the forest, knowing nothing, remembering nothing, naked, amnesiac. He is taken in by a clan of forest people who nurture him, teach him, and
Nov 08, 2014 Charles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hainish-series
Fantastic and wonderful. Much more cerebral than Left Hand of Darkness, at least towards the middle-to-end. So far I am loving the Hainish series of books, how they all share one vast over-arching SciFi setting but yet aren't bogged down with telling some huge impersonal epic. Each installment is a single examination of a new world, new and very unique characters with unique conflicts with different stakes and subtext - it makes the setting more interesting to me than say Isamov's Foundation ser ...more
Joe Santoro
Jun 13, 2014 Joe Santoro rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: soft_sf
Plot: The League of Worlds has fallen, and Earth has been reduced to a small smattering of pre-industrial villages that hang on to the the small bits of high technology that still work. The alien Shing use a campaign of lies, spies, and technology to make sure they don't rediscover what was lost. One man with yellow eyes and no memory might be the savior of Earth, or the last straw for humanity.

Analysis: It's been a while since I read them, but I really don't see much connection between this and
Fulfilment of my desire to read all of Ursula le Guin's work continues apace, but this did not actually move me towards my goal... since as soon as I opened it I realised that I had read it before (in a double with Rocannon's World). However, my memory being what it is, I couldn't remember details, so I just kept on reading.

City kinda fits into the Hainish cycle, but doesn't really. It's set on an Earth that has been a part of the League of All Worlds - the general background for the Hainish no
Haralambi Markov
“City Of Illusions” is the third book in the Hainish cycle, which I had happened to stumble on, before I reached “The Left Hand of Darkness” and I wasn’t left disappointed. From the three so far I enjoyed this book the most.

The story this time is set on Earth, our Earth referred to as Terra in the distant future and well we pretty much find it in ruins in a state after a major apocalypse, but not the way most people think. Terra has healed all wounds, has overgrown all the cities, know humans ar
Michael B Tager
Jan 28, 2016 Michael B Tager rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm so glad I went back to read Le Guin's old stuff as part of my Diverse Reading challenge. The first two books in the trilogy - Planet of Exile and Rocannon's World - were fine but nothing special. But this one is something else. Exciting, interesting, thoughtful. While it doesn't have the sociological "zing" that later books have (notably Left Hand), it still explores humanity and the self and what it means to be human.
Jun 27, 2013 Adriana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book really surprised me. Firstly, it was a lot shorter than I anticipated. I enjoyed the story so much and was totally caught up in the main character that I felt a bit left behind at the end. I was listening to the audiobook and felt a bit of sadness when it ended. I could feel it was a conclusion, but I wish I knew what happened to Falk.

Secondly, the story is a lot older than I imagined. It reminded me a lot of Orson Scott Card's Ender series. Upon further inspection I found out that Cit
Zara Rahman
Apr 24, 2016 Zara Rahman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classic UKLG, this book is wonderful. Relatively short (I was disappointed - I could read her writing all day long) - but dazzling as ever.
Oct 19, 2016 Ilya rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
An amnesiac man with the body of a 25-year-old and the mind of a one-year-old is discovered in a forest in the future Eastern North America, naked save for a ring on his finger. He is adopted by a tribelet living in the forest; like the rest of the humanity, it uses a curious mixture of low-tech and future-tech: mules and laser guns. By sequencing the man's DNA, his hosts discover that he is not human but an alien humanoid, but cannot tell where specifically he came from. They teach him a langua ...more
Chris Rigby
Dec 16, 2014 Chris Rigby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine an Earth so far in the future that the Age Of Cities, of interplanetary exploration and the League of Worlds, is more than a thousand years in the past. Imagine an Earth where mankind lives in the spreading forests, plains and wildernesses, in small communities that have no way of communicating with each other. Now imagine a man - with yellow eyes : non-human? - who arrives at a Forest settlement, with no memory of his past or origins. Brought back to life and educated in the ways of the ...more
Aug 07, 2014 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-horror, scifi
With his odd yellow cat's eyes, Falk appears suddenly -- naked and without any memory of his origins -- in the Eastern Forests of the planet called Earth. He is brought up by kindly forest people, but decides to travel by himself to the "City of Liars," Es Toch, from which the Shing rule the planet. For most of City of Illusions, we follow Falk who is treated with welcome or with cruelty by the various peoples he meets on his way. Eventually, he hooks up with a woman named Estrel while they are ...more
"Les mondes habités, leurs races d'hommes et leurs animaux, les constellations de leurs ciels, leurs cités, leurs chansons, leurs usages, tout cela est perdu, aussi irrémédiablement perdu pour nous que pour toi ton enfance. Que savons-nous de certain sur le temps de notre grandeur ? Les noms de quelques mondes et de quelques héros, un fatras de faits dont nous avons essayé de coudre les morceaux pour en faire une histoire. La loi des Shings interdit le meurtre, mais ils ont tué le savoir, ils on ...more
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The Evolution of ...: January 2016 group read- City of Illusions 29 39 Jan 28, 2016 08:32PM  
  • The Last Starship from Earth
  • City of the Chasch (Planet of Adventure, #1)
  • The Age of the Pussyfoot
  • Warm Worlds and Otherwise
  • Tower of Glass
  • Vulcan's Hammer
  • Empire Star
  • Times Without Number
  • A Choice of Gods
  • Dreamsnake
  • The Peregrine
  • Pilgrimage: The Book of the People (The People)
  • The Battle Of Forever
  • This Star Shall Abide (Children of the Star, #1)
  • The Left Hand of the Electron
As of 2013, Ursula K. Le Guin has published twenty-two novels, eleven volumes of short stories, four collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry and four of translation, and has received many awards: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc. Her recent publications include the novel Lavinia, an essay collection, Cheek by Jowl, and The Wild Girls. Forthcoming ...more
More about Ursula K. Le Guin...

Other Books in the Series

Hainish Cycle (8 books)
  • The Dispossessed
  • The Word for World is Forest
  • Rocannon's World
  • Planet of Exile
  • The Left Hand of Darkness
  • Four Ways to Forgiveness
  • The Telling (Hainish Cycle #8)

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“I am no more lonely than the loon on the pond that laughs so loud.” 11 likes
“Fish and visitors stink after three days.” 6 likes
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