Kate's Reviews > Rocannon's World

Rocannon's World by Ursula K. Le Guin
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's review
Mar 28, 13

bookshelves: fantasy, sf
Read in August, 2009

Fantastically imagined there is a bronze age world with multiple intelligent species and flying cats -- big enough to carry men. A daring young woman goes one night to find a lost heirloom. Returning she find sixteen years have passed. On her journey a young scientist meets her and is so taken with her beauty that he follows her to this unknown world and this is his story. An intergalactic war has come and the enemy is building a secret outpost on this backwater planet. Thinking his crew has come to find them out, the entire crew is blown up and only Rocannon survives.

It's a melancholy story where the beautiful Semley -- a queen, and the besotted Rocannon lose much. Semley chasing after an heirloom that will mean wealth for her family -- mostly in the form of prestige -- but a wealth that when it comes brings her insanity. Rocannon loses his research team, comes too late to meet Semley who has died by the time he arrives and then must find the enemy in order to be able to warn his people of the danger and endures a great deal of hardship on this journey losing most of his companions. And he never learns that the world has been named in his honor. For that comes too late as well. It's bittersweet and sad and a little haunting.

It's Le Guin's first novel and in places it seems like she's struggling to pack as much creativity into the novel as possible in case it's the only one she ever gets out. There are fairies, gnomes, two castes of men, disturbing angel-vampires; there are flying cats and sword fights and mountain adventures; there's even an ocean voyage with the accompanying adventuresomeness. And the novel is framed in two love stories though the first is far from conventional since Semley barely seems to even notice Rocannon beyond the goal of getting her necklace back. But even here in a novel that is by an author obviously still finding her footing, her voice is beautiful. Her word choice and sentence structure never fail to amaze me.
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