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The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle, #4)
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Ursula K LeGuin Collection > The Left Hand of Darkness - NO Spoiler

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message 1: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bob | 4817 comments Mod
This thread is for background information and general discussion of our December 2018 New School Group Read selection, The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Please DO NOT post spoilers in this thread.


Carlo | 206 comments Looking forward to something different after a few Victorian novels recently.

I read the first novel in the Hainish cycle (Rocannon’s world) and didn’t like it at all, but I believe each book is pretty much stand alone and can be read independently.


Candi (candih) | 743 comments This was my first Le Guin novel and I was thoroughly impressed. I had a bit of trouble starting out, but after the first bit I was hooked. Very thought-provoking novel.


message 4: by Laurie (last edited Dec 02, 2018 06:09PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Laurie | 1594 comments I had a hard time getting started too. Actually I did not like this all that much until halfway through. After that point, I raced to the end. Even so, I recognize this is a great story, but sci-fi simply isn't my thing.


Pink | 6556 comments I've started listening, this will be the first book I've read by Le Guin. I'm don't often read sci-fi, but I enjoy the classics from this genre. This book is included on a few best of lists etc. so now it's a group read it's time I give it a try.


message 6: by Terris (last edited Dec 15, 2018 05:55PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Terris | 2375 comments This is my first book by Le Guin. I see that it is Book #4 in the series. Will that be a problem for me?


message 7: by siriusedward (new)

siriusedward (elenaraphael) | 2011 comments I don't think so.I remember reading somewhere that she did not write it as a series to be read/arranged in order but more as different standalones set in the same world.


Terris | 2375 comments siriusedward wrote: "I don't think so.I remember reading somewhere that she did not write it as a series to be read/arranged in order but more as different standalones set in the same world."

Great! Thanks :)


Candi (candih) | 743 comments siriusedward wrote: "I don't think so.I remember reading somewhere that she did not write it as a series to be read/arranged in order but more as different standalones set in the same world."

I've heard the same. I read this one but had not read the others and it was not a problem at all.


message 10: by Pink (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pink | 6556 comments I’m struggling with this. I’m almost 1/3 through, but I’m not very interested in the story and don’t feel the pull to pick it up. Should I ditch it and move on, or persevere with it?


Laurie | 1594 comments Pink wrote: "I’m struggling with this. I’m almost 1/3 through, but I’m not very interested in the story and don’t feel the pull to pick it up. Should I ditch it and move on, or persevere with it?"

It's hard to say. I did not like the first half but but found the second half rather compelling. There is a rather drastic difference between the two halves, so maybe if you persevere you will begin to feel the pull. If you make it to chapter 13, this is where the change begins.


message 12: by Pink (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pink | 6556 comments Thanks Laurie, I'm on chapter 10, so I'll read a little more today and see how I feel later.


message 13: by Pink (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pink | 6556 comments Finished! I’m glad I stuck with it. I see what people mean that the second half is different to the first, although I enjoyed them about equally.


Laurie | 1594 comments Pink wrote: "Finished! I’m glad I stuck with it. I see what people mean that the second half is different to the first, although I enjoyed them about equally."

I am glad you finished. One more read from our bookshelf.


message 15: by Lena (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lena | 301 comments I've been very interested in the use of shadow in this book, it seems to have deep and disparate meanings to the Karhide and the Orgoreyn.

Page 65 Estraven
I must learn to live without
shadows as they do in Orgoreyn; not to take offense; not to offend uselessly.


Page 70 Obsle
None of your damn shadowy Karhidish metaphors, now Estraven. I wave shifgrethor; I discard it.

Page 120/121 Genli Ai
yet each of them lacked some quality, some dimension of being; and they failed to convince. They were not quite solid. It was, I thought, as if they did not cast shadows.

It seems to imply a willfully absent depth of character in the people of Orgoreyn.

Page 200 Looks like shadows are a fundamental part of the Orgoreyn creation mythos.

Each of the children born to them had a piece of darkness the followed him about wherever he went by daylight. Edondurath said, "Why are my sons followed the spy darkness?" His kemmering said, "Because they were born in the house of flesh, therefore death follows at their heels. They are in the middle of time. In the beginning there was the son and the ice, and there was a shadow. In the end when we are done, the sun will devour itself and shadow will eat light, and there will be nothing left but the ice and the darkness."


Estraven and Genli Ai have both pointed out the Orgotha live without shadows.

Shifgrethor comes from the old word for shadow. Shifgrethor which is intrinsic to Karhide culture, the cautious game of pride, honor, manner, and esteem.

I’ve also heard it’s attributed to Taoism.

This book was cool deep water and I loved it!
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Michele | 1008 comments I'm envious of all of you who are coming to Le Guin for the first time. She's a real gem.


Richp | 27 comments Unfortunately, Le Guin no longer is but was a great author. RIP. About a year ago several of my favorite female authors went. C'est la vie, c'est le mort, it happens to all of us sooner or later.


message 18: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bob | 4817 comments Mod
I am 1/3 finished, exactly where Pink was in message #10. I was wondering if I had made a mistake. I glad she posted message #13, I feel much better about continuing.


Michele | 1008 comments Richp wrote: "Unfortunately, Le Guin no longer is but was a great author. RIP. About a year ago several of my favorite female authors went. C'est la vie, c'est le mort, it happens to all of us sooner or later."

As long as her books are around, she's "is" to me :)


message 20: by Pink (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pink | 6556 comments Good luck Bob!


Terris | 2375 comments I'm just starting Chapter 9 and liking it so far. But I'm glad to see some of the comments here, especially about the second half being better than the first. I'm looking forward to that!


Laurie | 1594 comments Terris wrote: "I'm just starting Chapter 9 and liking it so far. But I'm glad to see some of the comments here, especially about the second half being better than the first. I'm looking forward to that!"

I don't think everyone agrees that the second half is better, but since you like it so far I hope you will continue to enjoy the story. I look forward to your thoughts.


Terris | 2375 comments Laurie wrote: "Terris wrote: "I'm just starting Chapter 9 and liking it so far. But I'm glad to see some of the comments here, especially about the second half being better than the first. I'm looking forward to ..."

I'll let you know :)


Terris | 2375 comments I'm in the middle of Chapter 16 and there's certainly more action now than in the first part of the book. But I'm still not sure where all this is going, so I'm interested to see how it all comes out. I should finish by Saturday, if not before :)


message 25: by Erin (last edited Dec 22, 2018 06:04PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Erin (erinm31) | 609 comments I just started and am glad to hear that many of you liked the second half better as I am not crazy about it so far and really dislike the narrator. His definition of “feminine” qualities is insulting and tiresome (perhaps I should read less from the 1960’s...) but I have greatly enjoyed other books while disliking the narrator. Plus, I absolutely loved The Lathe of Heaven so I shall continue...


Terris | 2375 comments Erin wrote: "I just started and am glad to hear that many of you liked the second half better as I am not crazy about it so far and really dislike the narrator. His definition of “feminine” qualities is insulti..."

I just finished and enjoyed it overall. The second half does have more action, so it may pick up for you. As for the definitions of feminine qualities -- yes, it could be 1960's stuff, but surprisingly the author is a woman. Go figure....


message 27: by Phil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phil Jensen | 627 comments I'm a big fan of this book and UKL in general.

Lena wrote: "I’ve also heard it’s attributed to Taoism. "

UKL came from an anthropology background, and was steeped in Taoism. Taoism affects all of her work, and the concept of shadows is everywhere in her books, especially A Wizard of Earthsea.


message 28: by Phil (new) - rated it 5 stars

Phil Jensen | 627 comments Terris wrote: "As for the definitions of feminine qualities -- yes, it could be 1960's stuff, but surprisingly the author is a woman. Go figure.... "

In the afterward to The Tombs of Atuan, UKL explains that she didn't want to write about women doing traditionally male things because that was not the society she lived in. UKL felt that writing fiction that reflected the gender roles of her time was more relevant than the badass lady adventurer trope.

Ironically, I consider UKL to be a badass lady adventurer in her own way.


message 29: by Lena (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lena | 301 comments I think projecting reality is a valid perspective for change.


message 30: by Marilyn (new)

Marilyn | 699 comments This book is always checked out of my local library so it goes in the future TBR pile. I hate when that happens.


Jennifer (goodreadscomjenniferediting) | 34 comments Bob wrote: "I am 1/3 finished, exactly where Pink was in message #10. I was wondering if I had made a mistake. I glad she posted message #13, I feel much better about continuing."

Bob, I'm having the same experience you and Pink had with this book: I just can't get into it. I reached the halfway mark this morning and thought about giving up, but was encouraged to see everyone's comments. I'll definitely stick with it.


message 32: by Bob, Short Story Classics (new) - rated it 3 stars

Bob | 4817 comments Mod
Jennifer, I really enjoyed the second half of the book and I am glad I didn't quit. But it was at the halfway point I was no longer uncomfortable sticking with the story.


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