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Rocannon's World / Planet of Exile / City of Illusions / The Left Hand of Darkness

(Hainish Cycle #1-4)

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  426 ratings  ·  31 reviews
Ace paperbacks boxed set of the first four novels by Ursula K. Le Guin in her Hainish series: Rocannon's World, Planet of Exile, City of Illusions, and The Left Hand of Darkness. Print dates are 1976 - 1977. Ace mass paperbacks, cover art by Alex Ebel and uncredited (Rocannon's World), 12mo (6 7/8" x 4.25") Hainish series #1 - #4, followed by The Word for World is Forest, ...more
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Mekiah Johnson I am currently first starting on The Left Hand of Darkness. The author said that the stories are not truly interlinked to each other like a trilogy or…moreI am currently first starting on The Left Hand of Darkness. The author said that the stories are not truly interlinked to each other like a trilogy or series would. She said the order you read them does not matter, as the spanning of the entirety of all the worlds here in this series of books is just so large and not even she can fully count or detail them all. There is a lot of terminology and words that might be hard to understand, and I think that is how it is with all the other Hainish books, although I cannot be quite sure, but the more you read on with The Left Hand of Darkness, the more sense certain terminology starts to make and you start to feel more grounded in the world. I almost stopped a few pages in because I thought everything was just so confusing, but about 30-40 pages in, this confusion starts to dim down. (less)

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Jun 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I was captivated by this book when I read it years ago.

Even if you "don't like" science fiction, consider it. A male space traveler lands on a planet where gender is chosen (and often changed back and forth) so does not have the proscribed notions of what male and female must be/can be.

Haralambi Markov
Feb 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
“The Left Hand of Darkness” by Ursula Le Guin is one of the most famous of her Hainish cycle with a Nebula Award for Best Books and rightly so. In the 300 or so, I accounted quite the plot and themes cramped inside with an ease. Just for that trait alone the book deserves its prize and praise, but once accounted with the depth of the world-building and characters, you can hardly deny that this is one of the greatest books ever written.

The setting this time is the planet Gethen, referred to
AdultFiction Teton County Library
TCL Call#: Science Fiction LeGuin

Madeleine - 3 stars
Considered by most to be quintessential Science Fiction, this is the second time I've read this book. This first was when it was recommended to me by one of my most trusted library book suggestors - Mark. I struggled with it then as I struggled with it now.
It's just not my kind of sci-fi. It takes place on a planet so alien that it seems like 2/3 of the book is description: geography, flora and fauna, biology, meterology, etc. Everything is
Tod Langley
Oct 17, 2009 rated it liked it
This was a difficult book to pick up and just start reading, but once I got into it I really enjoyed the world Le Guin developed and the conflict that developed among the characters. I also enjoyed the world-building and background story that the writer had to develop to properly set the tone for the plot. Keep in mind that this book was written decades before some of the more current Sci Fi books dealing with federated planets and colonization. Ursula Le Guin was ahead of her time when she ...more
Henok Solomon
it almost killed me but i managed to finish this tedious book. as much as i tried i just couldn't keep my mind from wandering. very disappointing!
Born before 1930, Ms LeGuin attended Radcliffe, learned multiple languages and graduated in 1951, wrote farsighted, insightful tales of our future...and lived into the year 2018. Her passage, on Jan. 22 2018 was in Portland, OR. Oregon was at first, a summer scene for her and then, her beloved home. This woman was my mother's role model (my mom met LeGuin's father, Alfred Kroeber at the university). This set of science fiction novels includes the award winner Left Hand of Darkness.
Left Hand,
Frank Jacobs
Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it
So I finally made it to Gethen, the freezing planet home to a race of hermaphrodite humanoids. Reputationally a classic of the sci-fi canon, Left Hand left me rather mèh. Too much snow and ice keep the reader at a frustrating distance from the reality of the alien world.
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
These novels are all part of Ursula Le Guin's Hainish cycle and are among her first novels. Rocannon's World , her first novel, seemed too much like Tolkien's Middle Earth overlayed with space opera. In clever ways, but still pretty derivative. The second, Planet of Exile , was still rather conventional, but it was one where the planet's cosmology did do more to drive the plot: this is a planet with a year sixty times longer than our earth about to enter a winter that will last 15 of our ...more
Jan 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
I read about this author in an article on about ground-breaking authors in science fiction who may have been forgotten. I was intrigued that the author was a woman and ahead of her time writing science fiction since this genre is dominated by men more so in 1969 when this book was published.

The science in the story is not all that out there. It's a basic tale of a man from another planet visiting a new planet in hopes of getting them to join their "league of planets" so to speak. He has
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]One of Le Guin's early books, which I had not previously heard of; I thought it was rather impressive, though. Set in a far future depopulated American continent, the protagonist, Falk, has appeared out of nowhere with no memory and goes on a quest to recover / discover his identity. The first half of the (short) book is an Odyssey-style journey across the continent, the second half, after his arrival in Es Toch (the city of illusions in the ...more
Devyn Kennedy
May 13, 2014 marked it as to-read
I've taken the time to think about this book and, having done so, can see some of the greatness in it. Le Guin still has he moments where she can be tough to read. Honestly, there is some detail that feels completely crazy. That being said, the world is sprawling. It is beautiful. There is the subtle string of the puppet master being gentle tugged throughout as you are in a setting in which each day may be the last of our characters. Besides that, there are some really forward thinking ideas in ...more
May 21, 2014 rated it it was ok
After reading Wizard of Earthsea (which I read because of the 2004 Syfy mini series Earthsea), I thought I could claim LeGuin as a staple in my go to sci fi writers. But this book was SO DENSE and honestly for no reason. I loved the plot and concept itself, but there were too many roundabout subplots I just got bored (to the point where I feel asleep on the Chicago El train reading it without realizing it).

I just couldn't bring myself to read it and so it's just hanging out. On my dining room
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Rocannon's world, was not my favorite, I remember liking the other 3, especially city of illusions, the left hand of darkness, because the characters seemed more fully developed and interesting. I felt like I knew them and was able to identify with many of them better. Still none in the series so far has compared to The Dispossessed- Which comes next in the chronology but I read first. I am looking forward to getting back to this series. But felt like I needed a break.
Oct 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, scifi, sexuality
As usual for LeGuin, this was rich in ideas, poor in plot. I had to push myself to get through the 100-some-odd pages they spent on the Ice. But the way Ai's mission becomes more about personal relationships than interplanetary politics was lovely. I'm not sure I would read it again (I already traded it in to the used book store), but I'm definitely glad I read it.
Nov 21, 2013 added it
Very thought-provoking. It was one of those books that I had to sit and ruminate on, which made reading it last a lot longer than most novels I read. It crafted a world around me and kept me pondering the deeper implications. A great sci-fi/fantasy read, but moreso an analysis of "human" nature and the volatility we all battle with.
May 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I picked up this book after reading & loving The Earthsea Cycle. At first, I had to force myself to read the book. It felt very heavy, more like a history textbook than a novel. However, as pages passed, my interest grew, and soon I began to love reading this novel.

I will have to end this review for the present; my cat is stubbornly refusing to leave me alone.
Jun 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
My first hardcore Sci-Fi read. Only got through it because of book-club, but I'm glad I did. Not sure if I'm capable of leading a discussion on this one and will be really interested in what the group has to say about it.
I read it when I was a teenager. Ursula LeGuin persisted in writing science fiction when it was almost a totally male dominated field. The Left Hand of Darkness was & is groundbreaking; imagining living with a third gender
Jen Well-Steered
I'm not a big reader of science fiction, and so although the ideas are interesting - a race of humans that is gender-neutral most of the time and that can become either sex for a few days each year - I have a hard time adapting to the jargon.
Dec 03, 2014 rated it liked it
Apr 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
A good story with rich details, yet also an analysis of gender attitudes
Stephen Hampshire
Mar 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Just brilliant. Can't help wondering if Iain Banks read this before he started writing Culture novels!
Jun 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Finished this yesterday. Just in time to see the play tonight.
Anton T.
Dec 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed everything about this book. I wish I had discovered it earlier.
Oct 24, 2015 rated it it was ok
What a strange book. I didn't find the story that compelling.
Mar 26, 2014 rated it liked it
An extended meditation on the felt absence of a gender neutral singular pronoun in English by means a desolate tour through an alien landscape.
Pauline Griffith
Aug 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
So far so good.
Dec 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Gripping book with an interesting premise. The end makes sense but I wish it was perkier. Its always good to see early female authors in the sci fi world.
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Tied in my mind with _Dune_ as the greatest work of Science Fiction I have ever read.
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Ursula K. Le Guin 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. She lived in Portland, ...more

Other books in the series

Hainish Cycle (6 books)
  • Rocannon's World
  • Planet of Exile (Hainish Cycle #2)
  • City of Illusions
  • The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle #4)
  • The Word for World is Forest
  • The Dispossessed