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Four Ways to Forgiveness (Hainish Cycle #7)

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  2,071 Ratings  ·  158 Reviews
At the far end of our universe, on the twin planets of Werel and Yeowe, all humankind is divided into "assets" and "owners," tradition and liberation are at war, and freedom takes many forms. Here is a society as complex and troubled as any on our world, peopled with unforgettable characters struggling to become fully human. For the disgraced revolutionary Abberkam, the ca ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 14th 2004 by Harper Perennial (first published 1994)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kat Kennedy
I think I may have found a new girl crush in Ursula K. Le Guin and her collection of four short stories, Four Ways To Forgiveness.

I never did like weak, insipid damsels in distress.

In fact, I think it is those very characteristics that cause me to pull away from and revile books like Fallen, Twilight and Hush Hush. It seems to me that in these books, nobody aspires to be anything more than Mrs. Cullen and to terrorize the local woodland creatures as some sort of gothic reverse of Snow White.

Oct 06, 2010 Tatiana rated it it was amazing
Writing this review is hard, simply because I don't think I am equipped to adequately relay Ursula K. Le Guin's genius. She is one of the cleverest writers I have ever come across and her anthropological science fiction never ceases to amaze and distress me.

Of course, at the core of every sci-fi novel lies an alien world. The one depicted in this collection of 4 interconnected novellas is particularly gruesome IMO. This collection of stories is about slavery, freedom, and women's liberation. But
Jun 03, 2010 Ryan rated it it was amazing
Quintessential Le Guin. It's apparently part of the Hainish cycle, which I have never read. This seems like the "Tales from Earthsea" of the Hainish cycle: it's a collection of short stories that easily stand alone, but are part of the same universe as other books, and it's, most likely, the best book in the lot. I've heard, anyway, that people don't get that excited about the Hainish books, so I assume this one may stand out.

It's four, tangential stories that surround a slave rebellion and a wa
Aug 13, 2015 Elena rated it really liked it
Four interconnected love stories between people from different and difficult backgrounds. All of them end up finding their way to -don't say forgiveness. don't...- to forgiveness, which clearly consists in an understanding partner and an useful occupation. It's settled in many planets, but it's mainly about one, Yeowe, that joins the narrative advantages of having just freed itself from a colonial, pro-slavery regime and being ruled by chauvinistic pigs. Luckily, none of the characters are nativ ...more
I am in awe of how Ursula K. le Guin captures the complexity of power based relations between people. Whether it's being stranded in the aftermath of a revolution or dealing with the imposition of ideas around freedom (or a sense of dislocation) – these 4 novellas tackle questions around power structures, choice and finding one's own feet in the aftermath.

I loved diving into each character’s shifting inner world of thoughts. There is a self-aware approach to each protagonist's reflective state o
Jun 11, 2016 Ken-ichi rated it really liked it
If you've ever thought, as I never have, that Ursula Le Guin would write fantastically wonderful romance, may I present this book. The four stories depict a society emerging from slavery and dealing with its initial political and sexual repercussions and reiterations, but the love stories at the heart of each are both hopeful and beautiful. That said, there's definitely a weird tension between Le Guin's artificial society of Werel and American slavery (or at least how it's been depicted in ficti ...more
Linda Robinson
Jul 19, 2014 Linda Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was on the list from the Worlds Beyond Worlds Symposium, must-reads or would love to see as a film. Didn't know 'til just now that it was a number in the Hainish cycle. Doesn't read that on the book, but it's in the universe. This is a collection of 4 novellas intertwined with characters and locations in the system that includes planet Yeowe and planet Werel. The titles are Betrayals, Forgiveness Day, A Man of the People, and A Woman's Liberation. These are fiction along with a keen st ...more
There is just no denying it: Ursula le Guin is one of the greatest writers of the last 50 years (at least), and I firmly believe that the only reason she does not get more recognition for her commentary on race, politics, and - especially - gender - is because she sets much of that discussion off world. But, as I've mentioned before, this makes the discussion both easier to read - it's not my society being critiqued! - and harder-hitting, because when we see our faults in aliens... it hurts more ...more
Jan 31, 2012 Emily rated it really liked it
Four Ways to Forgiveness contains four novella set on the planet Werel and its colony planet, Yoewe. Werel has a violent and oppressive history and although having become technologically quite advance, the practice of slavery is still the basis of their society.

The first story is set on Yeowe following their War of Liberation and features an old woman and her relationship with a former Chief of the revolution. This story seems mostly to serve as exposition and a commentary on how elders are trea
Aug 18, 2009 Darceylaine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I near the end of my quest to read every scrap of fiction LeGuin ever wrote, this one does not disappoint. 4 short stories about the same world in the midst of a revolution. I love that her first set of characters are old, and how quiet and personal that story is in contrast with the later stories. I also love her sense of particularity and how truth is local in "A Man of the People." My only criticism is that her stories are trying to cover whole lifetimes,so sometimes go in and out of focus ...more
Silvio Curtis
Feb 07, 2009 Silvio Curtis rated it it was amazing
Three worthwhile stories with a few boring or incohesive aspects, then "A Woman's Liberation", which is a real masterpiece. All the stories deal with the slavery-based culture of Werel (this is a different planet from the one in City of Illusions) and with its former colony Yeowe, which has expelled the owner race in a revolution but is still struggling to create a truly free society. In addition, the book contains a section of "notes" on the history and cultures of the two planets. A fifth good ...more
Jan 08, 2015 Heidi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novellit, sf
Le Guinin Hainilaistarinat ovat aarteita. Niin tämäkin. Näissä (ankeissa!) kansissa oli neljä ihanaa novellia erään planeettaparin mullistusten vuosista. Tarinan planeettojen yhteiskunta pohjautuu vuosisatoja kestäneelle julmalle orjuudelle ja sukupuolten räikeälle epätasa-arvolle. Kun orjien vapaustaistelu alkaa, se on pitkä ja vaikea, eikä voitosta alakaan ihana onnela. Itsenäiset mutta toisiinsa limittyvät novellit avaavat taustoja ja tapahtumia kukin hiukan eri kulmasta.

Le Guin on jälleen l
Oct 15, 2016 Pam rated it it was amazing
This is a collection of four novellas that revolve around one topic: liberation.

Liberation of a people from slavery, liberation of women from the equally oppressive thumb of sexism. It's also about the liberation of a mind from ignorance. Because of the subject it concerns, it is quite heartbreaking. But also very beautiful.

I can't explain (and I'm not even sure I understand) why Le Guin used "forgiveness" as the sort of secondary theme to hold the stories together. I won't try to. No amount o
Josephine Ensign
Dec 22, 2014 Josephine Ensign rated it it was amazing
This book completely sucked me in and I basically read it in one sitting. I had forgotten what an amazing writer Le Guin is, having read The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed during my early teenage 'sci-fi phase.' I stumbled into this book of hers by a happy mistake, ordering it up along with tons of other library books in my current research on forgiveness. She deals with complex issues of racism and sexism, power and oppression, forgiveness and anger in a mesmerizing, completely abso ...more
"What you select from, in order to tell your story, is nothing less than everything," he said, watching the branches of the old trees dark against the sky. "What you build up your world from, your local, intelligible, rational, coherent world is nothing less than everything. And so all selection is arbitrary. All knowledge is partial--infinitesimally partial. Reason is a net thrown out into an ocean. What truth it brings in is a fragment, a glimpse, a scintillation of the whole truth. All human ...more
Ryan Williams
Oct 19, 2014 Ryan Williams rated it really liked it
"But my people, she thought, know only how to deny. Born in the dark shadow of power misused, we set peace outside our world, a guiding and unattainable light. All we know to do is fight. Any peace one of us can make in our life is only a denial that the war is going on, a shadow of the shadow, a doubled unbelief."

"There are truths that are not useful. All knowledge is local, my friend has said. Is it true, where is it true, that that child had to die in that way? Is it true, where is it true, t
Nov 05, 2012 Kate rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2012, sci-fi
"At the far end of the universe, on the twin planets of Werel and Yeowe, all humankind is divided into 'assets' and 'owners', tradition and liberation are at war, and freedom takes many forms. Here is a society as complex and troubled as any on our world, peopled with unforgettable characters struggling to become fully human. For the disgraced revolutionary Abberkam, the callow 'space brat' Solly, the haughty soldier Teyeo, and the Ekuman historian and Hainish exile Havzhiva, freedom and duty bo ...more
Jul 21, 2010 Nikki rated it it was amazing
The first story, Betrayals, is pretty nice, in a quiet way. It's set on one of her Hainish worlds, Yeowe, but it's not really alien or sci-fi in any way other than that -- it could easily be a story about our world. Werel is a slave-owning planet, and Yeowe its colony, and for some time when the story is set, Yeowe has had freedom, but they're still all fighting among themselves. That isn't the focus of the story, though it's wound into the background: in the foreground is an old woman, Yoss, an ...more
Oct 21, 2016 Randal rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, feminism
New worlds with old patterns. Ursula K. Le Guin deftly examines the layered power dynamics among individuals and groups of people over time and, well, space. What systems of oppression will we reproduce once we've colonized the stars? How will people relearn liberation? Woven throughout each of the four main stories is real human feeling and yearning. In a way, the only sci-fi thing about it is the setting.
Davut Cikrikci
Dec 11, 2015 Davut Cikrikci rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Zaferle sonuclanan her özgürlük savaşı yeni bir özgürlük savaşının başlangıcı demektir."
Bu böyleyse, kazanılan özgürlük gercekten özgürlük müdür? Özgürlüğün tanımı nedir? Getirilen özgürlüğün devamını sağlamak için diktatörlük mu yapmak gerekir? Gerçekten demokrasi diye bir şey var mıdır?
Bu kitabın dört hikayesinde verilen cevaplara bu soruları buldum. İlk bakışta feminizm koksa da, aslında daha yukarıdan bakıldığında özgürlükler, anlamları ve bunların edinilme yöntemleri üzerine yazılmış hik
William Crosby
Dec 10, 2015 William Crosby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Four short stories with an addendum of "facts" about the planets and cultures involved. The backdrop of the stories are planets heavily into slavery, sexism, and racism (although the blacks are the owners and slaves are pale or dusty). Also included is capitalism and exploitation and environmental destruction. All of this will sound like Earth, but the alternative setting allows for a different story line and re-examination of the issues from a different perspective. Also adds material about rel ...more
Contando Dragones
Oct 05, 2015 Contando Dragones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Después de leer buena parte de la bibliografía de Ursula K. Le Guin (y decir que con cada libro mejora), ya debería tener claro qué tipo de ciencia ficción escribe. A mí modo de ver, en lo referente a tecnología y adaptación humana es bastante blanda, no se centra nunca en explicaciones complicadas y todo lo que aparece en sus historias es el fondo del mundo (en este libro ni siquiera se hace mención al ansible). En cuanto al tema central, insiste con diferentes órdenes sociales y antropológicos ...more
Oct 04, 2014 Kim rated it really liked it
The whole thing was great but I found the glimpse of Hain, in the setting of the scene for the third story of the book, a particularly interesting counterpoint to the more familiar settings of Werel and Yeowe. The vision and even the idea of a relatively stable society with hundreds of millennia of history is not a common one!

All four stories revolve around Werel and Yeowe, as they vie for membership of the Ekumen (a.k.a. galactic grown-ups' club). Werel is a planet with a single dominant empire
Feb 25, 2016 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
I ran through Four Ways to Forgiveness, even after reading its in-text line about reading books slowly rather than gulping them down like dog food. Le Guin's masterful prose in this book was deliciously simple and easy to digest, and I couldn't eat it fast enough. Excuse my manners.

She explores an uncommon topic that, thankfully, has become more common in scifi recently: women. Real (fictional--ha, ha) women, not exotic fancy space whores, not dangerous "dragon ladies," not even the less harmful
Jul 10, 2014 Lushr rated it really liked it
The thing about Ursula Le Guin is that she is exquisite with words. I went into this book with no idea what it was I was reading. It is four different stories set on two worlds of humans in our very distant future. These worlds have ended up with a caste system of owners and slaves. But this tells you almost nothing you need to prepare you for the first story. [edit: and according to the comment below, the rest of the series won't help either]

Story one.
Focuses on two very isolated lives and how
May 29, 2014 Panagiotis rated it really liked it
Forgiveness Day -Two different people, who represent two totally different civilizations and ways of thinking, are ''forced'' to come closer and in the end they discover that their differencies can not stop them from understanding or even love each other. (I wonder,do we all have to be locked in a room with someone totally different from us in order to open ourselves? Maybe it could work some times, since our intolerenace requires plenty of space to spread it's pointlessness.)

A man of the peopl
Feb 03, 2016 Ella rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, 2016-reads
This book was probably very good. I just found it a little boring. It had the type of introspective, man-vs-himself sort of plot, and I wasn't very interested in that sort of book when I picked this one up. It was a book of themes - slavery, sex and sexuality, and freedom. I didn't fully buy the fact that sexual intimacy is an all-fixer.

At one point, I thought that the slaves and the owners were both dark-skinned, that there was no racial difference - I thought that was interesting, and I wonder
Apr 20, 2014 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminism
A moving quartet of interrelated stories. With the first two stories, I was most impressed by how Le Guin went about in portraying diversity (of age, colour, sexuality, and politics) in what might otherwise be standard SF worlds populated by white men and their surrogates — SF so rarely grapples with any kind of diversity, even environmental — though the worlds of these stories (and any story) are still necessarily simpler than reality. With the third story, I also came to appreciate how Le Guin ...more
Kate Savage
Mar 04, 2014 Kate Savage rated it liked it
Ursula Le Guin reminds me of a sci-fi Alice Walker. Awesome sociopolitical analysis, a brain bursting with wisdom and love -- someone you would want as a best friend/mother/lover -- but that doesn't always mean you'll love the book.

Maybe it's that in her movement toward forgiveness in this book, Le Guin trips too quickly over the loss, and in the end I feel cheated by the happy ending. Or maybe it's that that the majority of people living in her difficult worlds don't end happily, and it seems
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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...

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
  • The Telling (Hainish Cycle #8)

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“I have told the story I was asked to tell. I have closed it, as so many stories close, with a joining of two people. What is one man's and one woman's love and desire, against the history of two worlds, the great revolutions of our lifetimes, the hope, the unending cruelty of our species? A little thing. But a key is a little thing, next to the door it opens. If you lose the key, the door may never be unlocked. It is in our bodies that we lose or begin our freedom, in our bodies that we accept or end our slavery. So I wrote this book for my friend, with whom I have lived and will die free.” 18 likes
“There are two kinds of knowledge, local and universal.” 14 likes
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