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Four Ways to Forgiveness

(Hainish Cycle #7)

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  3,352 ratings  ·  278 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 January 1st 1994)
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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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.

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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 Sn
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Jan 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Four (actually five now, in the edition I read) interlocking novellas by Ursula Le Guin, exploring the history of two planets, Werel and Yeowe, with an entrenched culture of slavery based largely on race. Here it's the black race that has enslaved the whites, although after a few thousand years of slaves being used and raped, many of the slaves are as dark-skinned as their masters.

When the Hainish spacefaring race rediscovers Werel, which they populated millions of years ago, the interactions b
Sep 17, 2010 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
Four Ways to Forgiveness: Slavery, oppression, revolution, and redemption
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature

Ursula K. Le Guin is hardly afraid to tackle difficult topics. In fact, she delves into them with a fearless but controlled approach that forces us to look at painful subjects we may prefer not to. This time she is going straight for the jugular, exploring the sensitive subjects of freedom, slavery, oppression, sexual politics, and revolution. In the wrong hands this could easily becom
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books from Ursula Le Guin I read which is sazing something since she has some prettz wonderful books.
Jun 03, 2010 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
Septimus Brown
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I already adored Ursula Le Guin, and yet this book raised her pedestal even higher for me. Four Ways to Forgiveness is a beautiful collections of stories that underscore her skill as a storyteller and a master of speculative fiction. These four tales are set on other worlds, but they are very simply about people and relationships. The SF locale isn't all laser guns and spaceships, but a mirror to our own contemporary realities and conflicts. Le Guin deals with themes of slavery, intergenerationa ...more
Sep 26, 2012 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 assholes. Luckily, none of the characters are n ...more
Four tales of in the Hainish 'cycle', of the planets Werel and Yeowe and the end of racial slavery there.

These stories are more along the lines of The Dispossessed, more character driven and less plot driven, and they have taken me forever to get through (just because they never truly gripped me).
Feb 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Along with Lathe of Heaven, one of my most favorite works by her.
Apr 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, united-states

Taking place on the twin planets Werel and Yeowe where slavery is ingrained deep in the fibre of the society, Four Ways to Forgiveness is a book about agency and reconciliation.

Out of all Hainish books I've read, I feel that this is Le Guin's most feminist book so far. While her older books focused on male heroes, this book follows more central female characters from different backgrounds with varying degrees of agency. And rather than exploring hard empirical science in a single story wit
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
Oct 07, 2009 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
Linda Robinson
Jul 19, 2014 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
Aug 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio, digital, space, sf
The esteemed author, will forgive me, but I found it to be a hard, solemn, disparaging read. This book is very touching though somewhat depressing throughout, with various similarities to Beloved by Toni Morrison and The handmaid's tale by Margaret Atwood. It addresses numerous topics of injustice varying from discrimination based on sex, gender, class, race, social standing to oppression, rape and various additional social norms that are composed to become the predominant elements of this body ...more
Dec 30, 2011 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
Josephine Ensign
Dec 22, 2014 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
Jeffrey E
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a reason Le Guin is considered one of the greats. This book is a shining example of how elegant and powerful her writing can be. Highly recommended.
Valentina Salvatierra
Four linked novellas revolving around the convoluted relationship between the planets Werel and Yeowe, in the 'Hainish universe'. Perhaps not the best way into the Hainish universe, these novellas constitute an intriguing development of it for someone who is already somewhat familiar with Le Guin's work.

Werel is a slave-capitalist planet that colonised Yeowe through four private corporations and populated it with an overwhelming majority of light-skinned assets, the Werelian term for their slave
Dec 24, 2014 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
Silvio Curtis
Jan 28, 2009 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
Aug 08, 2009 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
Oct 15, 2016 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
Nuno R.
Aug 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully conceived book, allowing us to dive into the culture of these twin planets of Werel and Yeowe along the pages of four different novellas. Ursula K. Le Guin is in her best when it comes to her storytelling skills and to using sci-fi as a means to reflect the most important aspects of humankind. Even if all her Hainish Cycle books work independently, this can maybe be even better apreciated after one or two novels of that cycle.
May 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Note: I had given this book 4 stars, coz the Left Hand of Darkness & Dispossessed were 5.
Yet I'm compelled to change my grading to 5, because (for me) it's far superior to other books I've graded with 4.
And well, to be honest, all Le Guin's books are, in fact, 1000 stars out of 5.
Characters: 4/5
Writing Style: 4/5
World: 3/5
Resonance: 3/5

The Identify-This-Book Challenge

bucolic setting
foreigner to a new land viewpoint
free-love advocacy
cautionary, pro-environment lesson
villainous capitalist plunderers
inclusive treatment of sexual identity
oppressor/oppressed class conflict
violent sexual assault as weapon of antagonist
pro-democracy message

Answer (Hold computer monitor up to mirror): elcyC hsiniaH eht fo koob yrevE

If Hainish Cycle fans finish this thinking they've encount
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've been putting off writing this review for a week. It's not that I didn't like it. I loved it. But what to say about a Le Guin novel set in the same universe as The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed? Okay, actually I have a lot to say, but everything I say feels shallow compared to the depths of Le Guin's work.

Let me make a few inadequate remarks, anyway.

This is one of Le Guin's later Hainish books, written after she made a more explicit turn toward feminism. While the earlier storie
Debbie Notkin
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I must have read this book before, because it was on shelves no book should get to without being read. However, I only remember one of the four stories ("Forgiveness Day"). All four stories are set on the planets of Werel and Yeowe, which orbit the same sun, around the time that the nations on those planets are considering joining the Ekumen.

Werel and Yeowe both have entrenched histories of slavery, taking somewhat different forms on the two planets. The slaves ("assets") on Yeowe, which was col
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Did Ursula K. Le Guin ever write something not worth reading? Perhaps her earlier work, but one of the joys of my adulthood has been discovering more and more of her work to read.
The one listed here is four interconnected novellas that deal with a slave society that has begun throwing off the chains of slavery, taking place over two worlds.
Le Guin isn’t a safe writer, and that’s what makes her a powerful writer. It’s her empathy and grasp of social structures that elevated her work over most oth
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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, Orego ...more

Other books in the series

Hainish Cycle (6 books)
  • Rocannon's World (Hainish Cycle, #1)
  • Planet of Exile (Hainish Cycle, #2)
  • City of Illusions (Hainish Cycle, #3)
  • The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle, #4)
  • The Word for World is Forest (Hainish Cycle, #5)
  • The Dispossessed (Hainish Cycle, #6)

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