The premise is that an off-planet representative comes to the planet of Gethen (aka Winter) to see if they will join an interplanetary trading networkThe premise is that an off-planet representative comes to the planet of Gethen (aka Winter) to see if they will join an interplanetary trading network.
But the real attraction of this books is that the Gethen residents are all neither male or female; it is only when they enter a period of kemmer (kinda like menstruation, I guess), that they will undergo physical changes of either male or female type in order to be sexually attracted to other Gethenians and/or procreate. The off-planet visitor is branded a Pervert because he is constantly in kemmer (which means, in Earthspeak, that he's permanently male).
I loved this because it spoke to my interest in gender and queer studies. Considering LeGuin wrote this more than 40 years ago (and it was quite popular back then), I find this authorial feat astonishing.
There were only a few things I found irritating (i.e. LeGiun's inability to play with pronouns - the Gethenians were all "he" by default), but all forgivable....more
I was very pleasantly surprised - Eldest laughs in the face of the so-called sophomore-slump curse.
While I liked Eragon enough to give it five stars dI was very pleasantly surprised - Eldest laughs in the face of the so-called sophomore-slump curse.
While I liked Eragon enough to give it five stars despite the weird feeling that it was a mediation between Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, it was kind of slim in several places, character- and plot-wise.
Not so in Eldest. Finally, some real meat to the relationships between characters, the government of Alagaesia, and the drive toward battle. My empathy was tested every time I was irritated over Eragon's infatuation with Arya, and I whispered along every time someone cast a spell in the ancient language. Finally getting to see Ellesmera, the land of the elves, I sympathized with Eragon as he found his niche there and then felt torn when it came time for him to leave.