Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Telling (Gollancz)” as Want to Read:
The Telling (Gollancz)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Telling (Hainish Cycle #9)

3.84  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,476 Ratings  ·  284 Reviews
Once a culturally rich world, the planet Aka has been utterly transformed by technology. Records of the past have been destroyed, and citizens are strictly monitored. But an official observer from Earth named Sutty has learned of a group of outcasts who live in the wilderness. They still believe in the ancient ways and still practice its lost religion - the Telling.

Published (first published January 1st 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Telling, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Telling

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
When reading Le Guin's books, I'm often fooled into thinking that the story is only reaching my brain. I realize too late that it's worked its way into my heart and will demand tears by the end.

Back when I did my 2015 wrap-up, I mentioned two seemingly unrelated categories of books that I had enjoyed: 1) science fiction by women, and 2) stories about self-reflection in the countryside. To my surprise, one of my first reads of 2016 was both of those things.

Sutty was born on a future Earth overr
Aug 06, 2015 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ursula K. LeGuin returns to her Hainsih cycle in The Telling but begins on dear old Terra.

First published in 2000, The Telling has as LeGuin’s outside-looking-in observer / narrator the Ekumen trained Sutty. In LeGuin’s Hainish universe, the Ekumen is an alliance of like-minded worlds who seek to re-unite humanity form the galaxy wide and eons old diaspora of the original Hain colonizers.

LeGuin first wrote about the Hain as the original source of humanity. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, pe

Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.

On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.

While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and became
I'm going to use an arguably banal and trite metaphor here: that of a love affair. Okay, maybe not so arguable. It is a banal and trite metaphor. But that’s okay, I think, because the “relationship” many of us experience with our books and our authors is like a love affair, is it not? So forget that the metaphor is worn or hackneyed, because it’s apt, and it’s something to which many of you will relate, and it’s the best way I can think of to communicate how this book affected me.

To be more prec
Dec 31, 2015 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-horror, scifi
At her best, Ursula K. Le Guin is one of the most inventive of writers. In The Telling, she writes about a world, called Aka, which has received fragmentary information from Earth and interpreted it the wrong way, creating a corporation state which attempted to create a Stalinist bureaucracy and destroy the old ways that prevailed before first contact.

Arriving on the scene is an Anglo-Indian representative, named Sutty, who task it is to investigate what remained of the old ways and report back
Nov 06, 2015 Siv30 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-and-fantasy
"בפעם הקודמת כשקראתי את ""מלאפרנה"", כבר כתבתי שאני לא מצליחה להתחבר לסגנון של לה גווין, ולמרות שהיא נחשבת לאחת הסופרות המוצלחות והמכובדות, הכתיבה שלה לטעמי פילוסופית מידי והעלילה לא מתפתחת בקצב הראוי. כשהתחלתי לקרוא את ""ההגדה"" היו לי ציפיות, הן נבעו בחלקן מההנחה שזה ספר חדש יחסית שפורסם בשנת 2000 ע""י הסופרת. מה שעוד יצר אצלי ציפיות מופרזות היה דיון על הסידרה ""ארץ ים"". כמה חבל שוב לחוש את אותה תחושה של אי מיצוי ואכזבה. העלילה בבסיסה פשוטה, סאטי משקיפה מטעם האוקמנים נשלחת לקאקא עולם שרק עתה ...more
Ivan Lutz
Svi koji me znaju, znaju da obožavam dva-tri pisca više od drugih. Jedna od te usamljene skupine je i božica osobno - Ursula le Guin. Osma knjiga Hainish ciklusa pisana 2000 godine i nije ponudila ništa šaroliko, lepršavo kao što su to ponudile ranije knjige iz ciklusa. Planet Aka je dobro osmišljen totalitaran svijet u kojemu se narod odriče prošlosti, spaljuje knjige i okreće se sadašnjem trenutku, te čuva svoja blaga kroz prepričavanje priča s koljena na koljeno. Ima tu dobrih ideja, dobrih r ...more
Dec 17, 2015 Margaret rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The Telling once more proves to me why UKL is one of my favorite writers. With themes concerning freedom of religion and the nature of religion, capitalism, cultural dissonance and appropriation, The Telling feels both absolutely contemporary and timeless.

Sutty crosses space to study Aka culture as an anthropologist, yet by the time she arrives (space travel takes decades), Aka culture has completely shifted from a literate society to an intentionally illiterate society of producer-consumers, w
Mar 20, 2013 Brigs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never wanted to review a book here before but for some reason this one makes me want to.

I should start by saying this is the only Ursula K. Le Guin novel I've read so I can't compare it to any others but I really really liked this novel. I bought it on a whim because it had a queer woman of colour as the main character and so many of the books I read about white straight men and I thought this would be a change. Which it definitely was. I thought the treatment of Sutty's relationships throu
Jul 27, 2015 Danijel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Ovo je priča o svijetu koji je napustio, potisnuo i izbrisao cjelokupnu svoju povijest i kulturu kako bi se svojim novim korporativnim uređenjem što više priklonio naprednim hainskim rasama koje su otkrile njihov svijet i kako bi ubrzao njihov Put ka zvijezdama. Mlada Promatračica Sutty, također dijete nasilja kako je naziva njezin nadređeni, dobiva zadatak istražiti u zabačenom dijelu svijeta Ake, ostatke ostataka nekadašnjeg vjerovanja, kulture i književnosti. Za razliku od nekadašnjeg unistič ...more
Joel  Werley
“I know who you are," she said. "You're my enemy. The true believer. The righteous man with the righteous mission. The one that jails people for reading and burns the books. That persecutes people who do exercises the wrong way. That dumps out the medicine and pisses on it. That pushes the button that sends the drones to drop the bombs. And hides behind a bunker and doesn't get hurt. Shielded by God. Or the state. Or whatever lie he uses to hide his envy and self-interest and cowardice and lust ...more
Oct 16, 2012 Sierra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Telling is situated in Ursula Le Guin's ingeniously imagined Hainish universe. Six novels and several short stories have previously chronicled the Hainish experience through the worlds they have touched The stories take place several hundred years into Earth's future, where we learn that humanity is the result of Hanish colonization of the habitable worlds in the universe. Le Guin gives each of the numerous Hain worlds, includingbEarth, a distinct society, ensuring herself of a plethora of c ...more
Jan 11, 2012 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sutty is a Terran envoy of the Ekumen to the world of Aka. The Aka have suppressed and criminalized their ancient “religion” (it isn’t, but that’s the most expedient way to describe it. Think Buddhist.) in order to become Consumer-Producers of the Corporation State and bring their technology up to date with that of Earth and Hain. Sutty’s mission is to learn and preserve The Telling, which is made difficult by the Monitors of the Corporation State (thought police).
I feel like LeGuin conceived of
Danni Green
Feb 18, 2016 Danni Green rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spaaaaaace
I've struggled through a few other of LeGuin's books and was debating whether I wanted to try to read any more of them. A friend of mine who is really into LeGuin recommended that I read this one, telling me that if I liked this one then I would probably like other books of hers, and that if I didn't, I should give it up. Well, my friend is very wise, and I liked this book a lot. The story has many layers, and each layer shone through with a richness that made it a very enjoyable read, emotional ...more
Michael Gray
May 19, 2014 Michael Gray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reading this excellent novel by Ursula LeGuin highlights a question about literary form. Why does the form of science fiction include so many profound explorations of what it means to be human, of what is fragile and at risk in the world in which we live, while raising our awareness of what is most worth preserving. Well, perhaps there are not that many profound works, but Ursula Leguin, as well as Stanislaw Lem and Philip Dick, come quickly to mind as writers who shine a light on the human expe ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
When I first started listening to The Telling, I didn't realize it was in the same universe as The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness, in fact I didn't know those two books were related either. So this story takes place in a loosely related world, but on a new planet. Sutty has been sent to collect the printed historical record, but arrives to discover most of it has been destroyed. Her own life on Terra was destroyed when her lover was killed by drones, and being sent to Aka may or may ...more
Oct 02, 2007 Brooke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Old blogging:

Ursula K. LeGuin never fails to amaze me with her writing and story-telling abilities. The back cover of the book said that it was a continuation of the Hainish cycle...which includes the Dispossessed (I gathered). However, either it has been too long since I read The Dispossessed to make the connection, or it is a very loose connection. The Telling wove an absorbing story of an Indo-Canadian woman in futuristic America/Canada during a time when the government has been overtaken by
A nicely narrated book with beautiful, memorable language and a fascinating protagonist, this tale suffers from having almost no action and very little plot. It isn't a long book but often felt like it was one. But for the central character and her opponent, it often felt as though the people populating it were replicants, too. I.e. if you like characters who resonate this isn't the novel for you. Two stars off for the s l o o o w pace and mostly flat characters.
Lex Larson
Jan 28, 2014 Lex Larson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
The interconnectedness of culture and language is an irresistible theme for me. Layered systems of meaning, political and philosophical intrigue with a competent female protagonist sealed the deal. Rich characters in a lushly imagined world. Intellectual without being aloof, emotional without being cloying. I was sad to see Sutty's story conclude.

I also appreciated this story didn't require me to read the previous books in the series.
This was a nice little thing. I guess it's set in the same universe/reality as The Dispossessed, which I read last year and which was my first Le Guin (this is my second.)

There isn't a whole lot of plot here; and (view spoiler) Basically it seems to be Le
Not my favourite Le Guin, nor even close - I tried to re-read this a few months back and couldn't get into it at all. I picked it up again, though, and enjoyed it a lot more the second time around. Nothing especially memorable, but... I do like Okzat-Ozkat, and Sutty's ambivalence around her own history, and the complexity of Dovsan society under the surface.
Renee Babcock
A prescient novel written in 2000, before things like 9/11 and much of what evangelicals have been doing in our culture. It's very much a relevant book today, almost feels as if it could have been written just in the last few years. It's set in LeGuin's Hainish universe and is about the dangers of fantaticism on a culture, esp as seen through the eyes of Sutty, the envoy to Aka. Sutty has escaped the dangers of fanaticism on earth and expects to find a freer, more repaxed society on Aka, or to d ...more
Aug 03, 2015 William rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A short, gentle, beautiful and poetic book that guides you through a narrative, encouraging you to ponder and question issues of culture, prejudice, spirituality and religion.

I loved it.
Amber Dunten
I have to confess first that I didn't finish The Telling. I quit about halfway through after struggling with what, to me, was an excruciatingly boring story that's barely a story at all, but really seems to be simply a vehicle for conveying ideas, and perhaps a moral message, about the preservation of culture and history. It's interesting to me that I read this book shortly after reading (and hating) A Canticle For Leibowitz because they seem so similar and yet opposite. Let's compare:

In A Cant
Jun 12, 2011 Mark rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For a book written so recent in her career, "The Telling" captures none of the endearing qualities of Ursula Le Guin's earlier work. I have for a long time appreciated and recommended to others her stellar novels "The Dispossessed" and "The Left Hand of Darkness," largely due to the self-reflective attitude they evoke after completion. Both are the kind of titles that force a careful evaluation of one's prejudices and at the least demand critical consideration.

"The Telling" is the unfortunate ex
Ed Holden
I wanted to like this book more, and am just on the cusp of a four star review, but there were some issues that made it less enjoyable than it should have been, and certainly less so than The Left Hand of Darkness, the classic Hainish Cycle novel that is most conceptually akin to this one.

My first gripe is that the opening of The Telling is a little confusing: I thought for a while that the novel takes place on an Earth that's gone horribly statist/fascist because there are a few scenes that are
Aug 08, 2011 Steven rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the most recent of LeGuin's novels in the Hainish Cycle (I think), and it seems the most closely tied to our recent history here on earth. It involves a Terran, from the near future, working as an Ekumen observer on a planet, Aka, that was first visited by outsiders only 70-something years earlier. Aka has advanced rapidly since then, but it has recently radically restructured it's social and political systems into a rigid, consumption-based society -- or it's trying to, anyway.

Sutty, t
Jul 23, 2009 J.M. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another awesome book by LeGuin. The main character, Sutty, is a lesbian from Earth visiting the planet Aka as an Observer. Her mission is to interact with a peaceful culture based on something known as the Telling. Unfortunately, in the time it took her to travel to Aka, the Telling has been banned and replaced by something akin to communism, which Sutty dealt with on Earth in the form of a fundamentalist religion called Unism.

In an effort to save the Aka's cultural heritage, Sutty journeys into
Dec 05, 2010 Tatiana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sciencefiction
I just reread this book, and I'm not sure what I think about it. I loved the story, and cried at the end, not because it was so sad, because it was a pretty happy ending, but I just felt so much for all the people in the story.

Overall it seemed to be an example of what it was about, and maybe it's what UKL is about, telling stories, the right stories. It was about an Ekumen observer's discovery of a culture that was all about The Telling. One character summed it up by saying that animals know w
Nov 23, 2014 Deb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up at library sale in Vermont. I didn't read it as a straight novel, exactly, but as an anthropologist looking at how Le Guin blended elements of different societies and various anthropological concerns. The Observers seem basically to be ethnographers, in a semi-colonial situation, in that they come from a technologically dominant interstellar organization and have some pull with the local government, as they attempt to understand the traditional culture, or what is left of it aft ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Does the midbook infodump ever end? 6 21 Feb 16, 2013 08:37PM  
  • Slow River
  • A Door Into Ocean
  • China Mountain Zhang
  • Brittle Innings
  • Alanya to Alanya
  • Carnival
  • Dreaming Metal
  • Brown Girl in the Ring
  • Bloodchild and Other Stories
  • He, She and It
  • Warm Worlds and Otherwise
  • Fire Logic (Elemental Logic, #1)
  • Thendara House (Darkover, #13)
  • After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall
  • On a Red Station, Drifting
  • Halfway Human
  • Ascension (Tangled Axon, #1)
  • The House of the Stag (Lord Ermenwyr, #2)
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
  • City of Illusions
  • The Left Hand of Darkness
  • Four Ways to Forgiveness

Share This Book

“Belief is the wound that knowledge heals.” 181 likes
“To learn a belief without the belief is to sing a song without the tune.” 33 likes
More quotes…