City of Illusions
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City of Illusions (Hainish Cycle #3)

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  1,810 ratings  ·  118 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...more
Published 1967 by Harper & Row (NY)
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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...more
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...more
Arax Miltiadous
" 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.
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
Kat  Hooper
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’...more
Samantha Waxman
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
City of Illusions by Ursula K. Le Guin is a part of her Hainish cycle of books. This one 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 Liebowitz. The book is highlighted by Le Guin’s remarkable imagination and her sparse but descriptive prose. The subject ma...more
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
Joe Santoro
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...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
I did not realize until reading other reviews, after I finished the book, that this was part of a series. I like that. I realized a couple of years ago that I had not read any books by Le Guin and decided that needed to be remedied, so I bought a couple. However, it still took a while before I actually read one -- too long.

Falk has no memory before he is discovered by the forest people. He doesn't look like them, in that he has very strange eyes. They take him in and teach him as a child. After...more
Joakim Ruud
Allow me to reminisce a little. I first read this book when I was 11 or 12, my grandmother had brought me into town, to a bookshop and told me I could have any book I wanted. My eyes fell on this strange, slim book. Its cover had no lasers or spaceships or monsters or knights in armour. Nothing that a pre-teen might find cool. Instead it was an eerie yellow-green room, with a person sitting on the floor with legs splayed, like a child, and two others in garish dress posed theatrically, and the w...more
Vitor Frazão
Talvez por ser o único dos livros da autora sobre a "Liga dos Mundos" em que a terra é o cenário e não apenas uma referência distante, a narrativa tem um teor mais pessoal, aumentado por ser igualmente o mais extenso dos três e aquele em que há mais investimento na construção psicológica do protagonista.
Bem narrado e com alguns reviravoltas interessante.
Mikey Gee
I always enjoy the "stranger in a strange land" sort of story where the innocent outsider proves stronger than the corrupt world they are trapped in. This one gains extra points for the complex uniqueness of the enemy and the lack of insight into their perspectives. It might seem strange to compliment Le Guine for not giving insight into the enemy's motivations but matches my experience of how we actually try to get by. The protagonist has guesses (reasonable guesses) about the motivations of th...more
With the exception of the Earthsea books (which I never managed to get more than a paragraph or two into), this is my least favorite LeGuin book. I have to say that I never took the threat from the Shing seriously. If they caught humanity up in nets of glamorie, I didn't see any particular harm in that. It seems to have been an attempt to render humans less dangerous by robbing of them of their dissatisfactions and ambitions. So what's wrong with that? It seems an elegant solution, rather remini...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jun 12, 2013 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Science Fiction Fans
This was Ursula Le Guin's third novel, one of the books in her Hainish series that includes the famous Left Hand of Darkness. While I wouldn't rank this with that book or the first three Earthsea books, classics in science fiction and fantasy, this was the first that impressed me as more than routine. With her first novel, Rocannon's World, you could see her authorial voice and themes beginning to develop. Her first book seemed too much like Tolkien's Middle Earth overlayed with space opera thou...more
Jan M
City of Illusions started out kinda weird, as is the LeGuin way, but evened out and was good. This is basically a journey book with the hero trying to find out who he is and what he is because he has no memory from before the book starts. The planet is earth and the humans have fallen to a medieval state with few cities but some knowledge of machines, computers and what is possible. When the hero, Falk, finally "finds" out who he is I was somewhat disappointed. He didn't have a very strong react...more
Odd things this novel. I have also read "The Lathe of Heaven" and "A Wizard of Earthsea" by Le Guin, just for comparisons sake. This one read much more like "Wizard". The book is strange, not a challenging read, no huge word building, strange vocabulary, or anything like that; just nuanced. The story basically reads like a travel narrative. Guy run around, meets native tribes, ends up on a path of self discovery.

Anyway, I don't have anything terribly insightful to say about this story. I get the...more
This third novella in the Hainish Cycle jumps, again, to several centuries after the previous tales of human visitors joining hands and hearts with natives of faraway planets. And now the tables are turned: for the planet where man meets alien is, in this case, Earth. Before you yawn and go looking for something a little more far-out, bear in mind that the Earth in this book is very different from the world you know. Indeed, it's so alien that at first you might not recognize it.

Time has not bee...more
A Daoist fantasy in SF guise featuring a mystery, post-apocalyptic themes and a social message.

I guess I'm in the minority about this book: I thought the villains were cleverly done and that ending was a strong payoff to what had been setup for most of the book.
Much of this book is quite ordinary (if pleasant, as you'd expect from the author) but the book is greater than the sum of its parts.
The author seems to have written an introduction to the book in which she berates her villains for being...more
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...more
This was my sixth book by Le Guin, and for the first time I didn't feel that feminine quality to her writing; this book was just too gritty (and a little gory) for that. It still definitely felt like one of her tales, but there was something different about it. Even without a love story, she's always had a certain romantic quality to her characters. That was definitely there in City of Illusions, but it took the form of our hero needing to find himself, trying to rediscover his lost memories and...more
Indy Kochte
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 past, and at last he had to set out on a perilous quest to Es Toch, the City of the Shing, the Liars of Earth, the Enemy of
by: Ursula K. LeGuin

This book is a bit of an odd bird. It goes from kinda boring post-apocalyptic travelogue to a PKD-esque examination of mindfuckery. I have to admit that I found the latter part much more enjoyable.

I thought this was my last stop along The Hainish Cycle, but I guess she wrote one more book in 2000, sweet!

So yeah this book kind of fills us in on how the original League of Worlds fell apart - we see the Shing, the agents of that destruction - as well as setting us on the path to...more
Mutlu Cankay
Uzak gelecek... Uzay çağının başlangıcından 2000 yıl sonra dünya içine kapanmış; kendi içinde ve dış gezegenlerle iletişimi kesilmiştir. Kıyamet sonrası dünyada bilinen medeniyet sonra ermiş, bilinmeyen bir ırkın komplosuyla bir paranoya ve durgunluk dönemi yaşamaktadır. Küçük komünlerden birine benliğini yitirmiş bir yabancı sığınır, küçük bir çocuğun becerilerine ve gelişmiş bir adamın bedenine sahip yabancı bu dünyaya ait değildir. Amber rengi gözleri, kedilerinki gibi olan irisleriyle bir uz...more
Bob Offer-Westort
City of Illusions was published very quickly after the first two novels in the Hainish Cycle written (Rocannon's World and Planet of Exile), which is surprising, as it stands out as a far better novel.

Like most of the Hainish tales, the story is at least partially a Bildungsroman, & the central character is an alien to the planet where the action occurs. In this case, however, the planet is Earth. The Earth of City of Illusions is excitingly original (though there may be traces of A Canticle...more
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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...
A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1) The Tombs of Atuan (Earthsea Cycle, #2) The Farthest Shore (Earthsea Cycle, #3) The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle, #4) The Dispossessed (Hainish Cycle, #5)

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