One of the first books LeGuin wrote. The daughter of a famous anthropologist, LeGuin put a different spin on her sci fi world buidling. She described worlds as if an anthropologist were visiting: how are gender roles determined, what are the valued personal characteristics, how does the society deal with the "other," with war, with dissidents....This very early novel takes an Norse myth and builds on it. The beautiful, young queen/damsel/girl/goddess takes a walk alone in the forest on a sunny day and comes upon some dwarves with a beautiful necklace...with the most beautiful stone she's ever seen. The dwarves offer her the necklace if she will but visit their cave for an evening and tell them stories/sing songs/share a meal. She is hesitant, (in fact, she thinks they're pretty icky) but is talked into it, with the caveat that she has to get back to her...whomever soon. They agree yes, yes, and take her hand and lead her down to their home, where what they had described is (almost) exactly what happens. It's the "almost" that makes the myth, and LeGuin spins the myth further by turning the necklace into an exhibit in a museum of the worlds written about in The League Handbook for Galactic Area Eight.