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Review of Rocannon’s World by Ursula K. Le Guin

Rocannon's World Rocannon’s World by Ursula K. Le Guin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At some point in the reading I began to suspect that this may have been one of Le Guin’s earliest books. I loved much of the prose, but the pacing felt off. More alarming, many of the characters lacked the depth I’ve come to love and expect from Le Guin. In fact, not only was it an early book, Wikipedia tells me it was her first book. Well then, what an outstanding first novel. Perhaps because I’ve one of my own, I grade first books more softly. I don’t know if that’s fair, but it’s true.

There are two ways to view the main humanoid races in Rocannon’s World. On one hand, they’re mostly just science-fiction adaptations of stock fantasy races. In the other, you have evidence of a great writer who could not permit herself to present anything second-hand. It was almost as if she set out to write a run of the mill fantasy and then absolutely refused, thereby steering her craft towards a lifetime of ingenuity.

In any case, it’s a fine story. I look forward to reading the next book in the Hainish Cycle.

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