Ursula K. Le Guin was one of the greatest science fiction writers and many times the winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards. Her career as a novelist was launched by the three novels contained in Worlds of Exile and Illusion. These novels, Rocannon's world, Planet of Exile, and City of Illusions, are set in the same universe as Le Guin's groundbreaking classic, The Left hand of Darkness.
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About the Author
Ursula K. Le Guin (1929-2018) was the author of more than three dozen books for children and adults, including her groundbreaking novels The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, both honored with Nebula and Hugo awards for best novel. She was also awarded a Newbury Honor for the second volume of the Earthsea Cycle, The Tombs of Atuan, and among her many other distinctions are the Margaret A. Edwards Award, a National Book Award, and additional Nebula and Hugo awards. Her other books include The Eye of the Heron, The Word for World is Forest, and the Hainish series. In 2014, Le Guin was named the Medalist for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by the National Book Foundation.
Date of Birth:October 21, 1929
Place of Birth:Berkeley, California
Education:B.A., Radcliffe College; M.A., Columbia University, 1952
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Worlds of Exile and IllusionThree Complete Novels of the Hainish Series in One Volume--Rocannon's World; Planet of Exile; City of Illusions
By Le Guin, Ursula K.
Orb BooksCopyright © 1996 Le Guin, Ursula K.
All right reserved.
PART ONE: The Starlord
So ends the first part of the legend; and all of it is true. Now for some facts, which are equally true, from the League Handbook for Galactic Area Eight.
* * *
Number 62: FOMALHAUT II.
Type AE--Carbon Life. An iron-core planet, diameter 6600 miles, with heavy oxygen-rich atmosphere. Revolution: 800 Earthdays 8 hrs. 11 min. 42 sec. Rotation: 29 hrs. 51 min. 02 sec. Mean distance from sun 3.2 AU, orbital eccentricity slight. Obliquity of ecliptic 27° 20' 20" causing marked seasonal change. Gravity .86 Standard.
Four major landmasses, Northwest, Southwest, East and Antarctic Continents, occupy 38% of planetary surface.
Four satellites (types Perner, Loklik, R-2 and Phobos). The Companion of Fomalhaut is visible as a superbright star.
Nearest League World: New South Georgia, capital Kerguelen (7.88 lt. yrs.).
History: The planet was charted by the Elieson Expedition in 202, robot-probed in 218.
First Geographical Survey, 235-6. Director: J. Kiolaf. The major landmasses were surveyed by air (see maps 3114-a, b, c, 3115-a, b.). Landings, geological and biological studies and HILF contacts were made only onEast and Northwest Continents (see description of intelligent species below).
Technological Enhancement Mission to Species I-A, 252-4. Director: J. Kiolaf (Northwest Continent only.)
Control and Taxation Missions to Species I-A and II were carried out under auspices of the Area Foundation in Kerguelen, N.S.Ga., in 254, 258, 262, 266, 270; in 275 the planet was placed under Interdict by the Allworld HILF Authority, pending more adequate study of its intelligent species.
First Ethnographic Survey, 321. Director: G. Rocannon.
* * *
A high tree of blinding white grew quickly, soundlessly up the sky from behind South Ridge. Guards on the towers of Hallan Castle cried out, striking bronze on bronze. Their small voices and clangor of warning were swallowed by the roar of sound, the hammerstroke of wind, the staggering of the forest.
Mogien of Hallan met his guest the Starlord on the run, heading for the flightcourt of the castle. "Was your ship behind South Ridge, Starlord?"
Very white in the face, but quiet-voiced as usual, the other said, "It was."
"Come with me." Mogien took his guest on the postillion saddle of the windsteed that waited ready saddled in the flightcourt. Down the thousand steps, across the Chasmbridge, off over the sloping forests of the domain of Hallan the steed flew like a gray leaf on the wind.
As it crossed over South Ridge the riders saw smoke rise blue through the level gold lances of the first sunlight. A forest fire was fizzling out among damp, cool thickets in the streambed of the mountainside.
Suddenly beneath them a hole dropped away in the side of the hills, a black pit filled with smoking black dust. At the edge of the wide circle of annihilation lay trees burnt to long smears of charcoal, all pointing their fallen tops away from the pit of blackness.
The young Lord of Hallan held his gray steed steady on the updraft from the wrecked valley and stared down, saying nothing. There were old tales from his grandfather's and great-grandfather's time of the first coming of the Starlords, how they had burnt away hills and made the sea boil with their terrible weapons, and with the threat of those weapons had forced all the Lords of Angien to pledge them fealty and tribute. For the first time now Mogien believed those tales. His breath was stuck in his throat for a second. "Your ship was..."
"The ship was here. I was to meet the others here, today. Lord Mogien, tell your people to avoid this place. For a while. Till after the rains, next coldyear."
"A poison. Rain will rid the land of it." The Starlord's voice was still quiet, but he was looking down, and all at once he began to speak again, not to Mogien but to that black pit beneath them, now striped with the bright early sunlight. Mogien understood no word he said, for he spoke in his own tongue, the speech of the Starlords; and there was no man now in Angien or all the world who spoke that tongue.
The young Angya checked his nervous mount. Behind him the Starlord drew a deep breath and said, "Let's go back to Hallan. There is nothing here...."
The steed wheeled over the smoking slopes. "Lord Rokanan, if your people are at war now among the stars, I pledge in your defense the swords of Hallan!"
"I thank you, Lord Mogien," said the Starlord, clinging to the saddle, the wind of their flight whipping at his bowed graying head.
The long day passed. The night wind gusted at the casements of his room in the tower of Hallan Castle, making the fire in the wide hearth flicker. Coldyear was nearly over; the restlessness of spring was in the wind. When he raised his head he smelled the sweet musty fragrance of grass tapestries hung on the walls and the sweet fresh fragrance of night in the forests outside. He spoke into his transmitter once more: "Rocannon here. This is Rocannon. Can you answer?" He listened to the silence of the receiver a long time, then once more tried ship frequency: "Rocannon here..." When he noticed how low he was speaking, almost whispering, he stopped and cut off the set. They were dead, all fourteen of them, his companions and his friends. They had all been on Fomalhaut II for half one of the planet's long years, and it had been time for them to confer and compare notes. So Smate and his crew had come around from East Continent, and picked up the Antarctic crew on the way, and ended up back here to meet with Rocannon, the Director of the First Ethnographic Survey, the man who had brought them all here. And now they were dead.
And their work--all their notes, pictures, tapes, all that would have justified their death to them--that was all gone too, blown to dust with them, wasted with them.
Rocannon turned on his radio again to Emergency frequency; but he did not pick up the transmitter. To call was only to tell the enemy that there was a survivor. He sat still. When a resounding knock came at his door he said in the strange tongue he would have to speak from now on, "Come in!"
In strode the young Lord of Hallan, Mogien, who had been his best informant for the culture and mores of Species II, and who now controlled his fate. Mogien was very tall, like all his people, bright-haired and dark-skinned, his handsome face schooled to a stern calm through which sometimes broke the lightning of powerful emotions: anger, ambition, joy. He was followed by his Olgyior servant Raho, who set down a yellow flask and two cups on a chest, poured the cups full, and withdrew. The heir of Hallan spoke: "I would drink with you, Starlord."
"And my kin with yours and our sons together, Lord," replied the ethnologist, who had not lived on nine different exotic planets without learning the value of good manners. He and Mogien raised their wooden cups bound with silver and drank.
"The wordbox," Mogien said, looking at the radio, "it will not speak again?"
"Not with my friends' voices."
Mogien's walnut-dark face showed no feeling, but he said, "Lord Rokanan, the weapon that killed them, this is beyond all imagining."
"The League of All Worlds keeps such weapons for use in the War To Come. Not against our own worlds."
"Is this the War, then?"
"I think not. Yaddam, whom you knew, was staying with the ship; he would have heard news of that on the ansible in the ship, and radioed me at once. There would have been warning. This must be a rebellion against the League. There was rebellion brewing on a world called Faraday when I left Kerguelen, and by sun's time that was nine years ago."
"This little wordbox cannot speak to the City Kerguelen?"
"No; and even if it did, it would take the words eight years to go there, and the answer eight years to come back to me." Rocannon spoke with his usual grave and simple politeness, but his voice was a little dull as he explained his exile. "You remember the ansible, the machine I showed you in the ship, which can speak instantly to other worlds, with no loss of years--it was that that they were after, I expect. It was only bad luck that my friends were all at the ship with it. Without it I can do nothing."
"But if your kinfolk, your friends, in the City Kerguelen, call you on the ansible, and there is no answer, will they not come to see--" Mogien saw the answer as Rocannon said it:
"In eight years...."
When he had shown Mogien over the Survey ship, and shown him the instantaneous transmitter, the ansible, Rocannon had told him also about the new kind of ship that could go from one star to another in no time at all.
"Was the ship that killed your friends an FTL?" inquired the Angyar warlord.
"No. It was manned. There are enemies here, on this world, now."
This became clear to Mogien when he recalled that Rocannon had told him that living creatures could not ride the FTL ships and live; they were used only as robot-bombers, weapons that could appear and strike and vanish all within a moment. It was a queer story, but no queerer than the story Mogien knew to be true: that, though the kind of ship Rocannon had come here on took years and years to ride the night between the worlds, those years to the men in the ship seemed only a few hours. In the City Kerguelen on the star Forrosul this man Rocannon had spoken to Semley of Hallan and given her the jewel Eye of the Sea, nearly half a hundred years ago. Semley who had lived sixteen years in one night was long dead, her daughter Haldre was an old woman, her grandson Mogien a grown man; yet here sat Rocannon, who was not old. Those years had passed, for him, in riding between the stars. It was very strange, but there were other tales stranger yet.
"When my mother's mother Semley rode across the night..." Mogien began, and paused.
"There was never so fair a lady in all the worlds," said the Starlord, his face less sorrowful for a moment.
"The lord who befriended her is welcome among her kinfolk," said Mogien. "But I meant to ask, Lord, what ship she rode. Was it ever taken from the Clayfolk? Does it have the ansible on it, so you could tell your kinfolk of this enemy?"
For a second Rocannon looked thunderstruck, then he calmed down. "No," he said, "it doesn't. It was given to the Clayfolk seventy years ago; there was no instantaneous transmission then. And it would not have been installed recently, because the planet's been under Interdict for forty-five years now. Due to me. Because I interfered. Because, after I met Lady Semley, I went to my people and said, what are we doing on this world we don't know anything about? Why are we taking their money and pushing them about? What right have we? But if I'd left the situation alone at least there'd be someone coming here every couple of years; you wouldn't be completely at the mercy of this invader--"
"What does an invader want with us?" Mogien inquired, not modestly, but curiously.
"He wants your planet, I suppose. Your world. Your earth. Perhaps yourselves as slaves. I don't know."
"If the Clayfolk still have that ship, Rokanan, and if the ship goes to the City, you could go, and rejoin your people."
The Starlord looked at him a minute. "I suppose I could," he said. His tone was dull again. There was silence between them for a minute longer, and then Rocannon spoke with passion: "I left you people open to this. I brought my own people into it and they're dead. I'm not going to run off eight years into the future and find out what happened next! Listen, Lord Mogien, if you could help me get south to the Clayfolk, I might get the ship and use it here on the planet, scout about with it. At least, if I can't change its automatic drive, I can send it off to Kerguelen with a message. But I'll stay here."
"Semley found it, the tale tells, in the caves of the Gdemiar near the Kiriensea."
"Will you lend me a windsteed, Lord Mogien?"
"And my company, if you will."
"The Clayfolk are bad hosts to lone guests," said Mogien, looking pleased. Not even the thought of that ghastly black hole blown in the mountainside could quell the itch in the two long swords hitched to Mogien's belt. It had been a long time since the last foray.
"May our enemy die without sons," the Angya said gravely, raising his refilled cup.
Rocannon, whose friends had been killed without warning in an unarmed ship, did not hesitate. "May they die without sons," he said, and drank with Mogien, there in the yellow light of rushlights and double moon, in the High Tower of Hallan.
Rocannon's World copyright 1966 by Ace Books, Inc., 1994 by Ursula K. Le Guin.
Excerpted from Worlds of Exile and Illusion by Le Guin, Ursula K. Copyright © 1996 by Le Guin, Ursula K.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Prologue: The Necklace,
Part One: The Starlord,
Part Two: The Wanderer,
Planet of Exile,
1. A Handful of Darkness,
2. In the Red Tent,
3. The True Name of the Sun,
4. The Tall Young Men,
5. Twilight in the Woods,
7. The Southing,
8. In the Alien City,
9. The Guerillas,
10. The Old Chief,
11. The Siege of the City,
12. The Siege of the Square,
13. The Last Day,
14. The First Day,
City of Illusions,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
These are the three backbone novels of Ursula K. Le Guin's Hainish Series, and sweet jeebis they're pleasant to read! In each one Le Guin serves up a little bit of the shooting of the lazer guns, a little bit of the falling in love and getting busy, and a bucket full of the existential crisis of figuring out what it means to be human and how can people from different planets all be human together. I like feeling like I'm thinking about something important while I read about spaceships that can melt planets. I blame the paint chips. There are also baddass winged cats. And marauding barbarians. Le Guin is my hero.
This is an omnibus of Le Guin's first three novels. All three are very short -- the first two even by the standards of the time -- and the three together are not overlong for a modern novel.These are only loosely connected (especially the first to the other two), and while there's no particular reason to read them out of order (in this case, chronological and publication orders coincide, and are the order in which the books appear), if you should happen to come across individually published volumes, or if one of the three looks especially interesting, there's no reason you have to read them in order, either.The first novel, Rocannon's World, is a fairly straightforward quest narrative -- a journey to far-off lands, with companions of various races, to seek an important object. Of course, the various races are different intelligent species on a planet around Fomalhaut (except for Rocannon himself, an anthropologist from another world), and the object of the quest is an ansible with which to send a warning back to other worlds, but that doesn't change the shape of the story any. This isn't one of LeGuin's stronger works, but completists will want to read it, and if you're buying the omnibus anyway you might as well -- it's very short. At least read the prologue, if you haven't already read it as "Semley's Necklace" in The Wind's Twelve Quarters, where it was published separately.The second novel, Planet of Exile, is the strongest of the three. An abandoned colony on a world with a year as long as a lifetime (predating the Helliconia series by 15 years; I don't know whether this was the first use of the "very long year" idea in SF), slowly losing technology and hope of recontacting the League of All Worlds, allies itself with a group of natives against invading barbarians. This novel is thoughtful and individually focused, with a sense of resignation -- in making this alliance the group is choosing the least bad of a set of options, but the future remains bleak. The alliance is personal as well as political, with a colonist falling in love with a native, despite the prejudices on both sides, against the low-tech natives by the colonists and against a marriage that is assumed to be necessarily childless by the natives.City of Illusion, the third and longest of the three novels, is set on a far-future Earth, in the aftermath of a war; it seems that the Enemy alluded to in the previous novels, who the colonists in Planet of Exile blame for their abandonment, attacked long ago, and broke up the League of All Worlds. Most of the novel concerns the journey of a (not entirely human) man called Falk. Falk has had his memory wiped and been left in the wilderness; after being found by a small human settlement, he makes a journey across the continent to the alien city of Es Toch (the only city left on the planet) to regain his memory. After a disconnected and episodic journey, Falk reaches Es Toch, where he learns that to regain his old self and old memories, he must irrevokably lose the last six years of his life, since being left in the forest; in effect, he must commit suicide so that his old self can live again. This interesting dilemma is not satisfactorily dealt with, and once Falk makes his decision the book takes a radically different turn.Overall, these definitely aren't the place to start with LeGuin; they're decidedly minor, and would leave a reader wondering what all the fuss is about. But they're interesting (though Planet of Exile is the only one I'd bother picking up as a separate volume), and definitely worthwhile for LeGuin fans. Seeds of some of her key themes of isolation and being surrounded by strangeness run through all three, and I think the reason I like Planet of Exile the best is that it balances both sides of the strangeness the best of the three; neither the landscape nor the protagonist is set apart as being strange, but there are two sides that are
I purchased this collection of three novellas after having read Leguin's outstanding novel, The Left Hand of Darkness. These works are ostensibly related to LHoD, dealing with formation and history of the Hainish League. The first novella, Rocannon's World, has virtually nothing to do with science fiction, instead being almost entirely a work of fantasy, and not particularly good fantasy at that. Rocannon is something of an anthropological surveyor on behalf of the Hainish League, attempting to establish technologically advanced civilizations in order to present a line of defense against an anticipated invasion from outside the galaxy. The story presents a collection of life forms which are strikingly similar to Tolkien's elves, dwarves and even classes of men. Again, not particularly original and not very captivating. Two and a half stars. The final two novellas, Planet of Exile and City of Illusions, are really neither fantasy nor science fiction. Each is more about the interaction between intelligent hominid species, and though I was expecting science fiction, I enjoyed these two stories significantly more than the first. In Planet of Exile, we have three vastly different cultures interacting against a highly unusual planetary climate pattern (unusual from our perspective). The World of Werel contains two native hominid species, the Tevarans, of roughly Iron Age technological proficiency, and the Gaal, more Stone Age in sophistication. Add to these, the Farborn, a much more technologically advanced species (from Earth, as it turns out), which has been on Werel for roughly 600 years. Part of an advance party from the Hainish League, they have ostensibly been exiled, supposedly as a result of a successful galactic invasion by the Shing. The planet of Werel has a moon phase of 400 days, and an elliptical orbit of 60 moon phases. Thus, each "season" lasts roughly 15-20 years. Our story is set at the onset of Winter and the seasonal migration of the Gaal through Tevaran lands. Always warlike, the Gaal have organized this Winter and are a very real threat to the civilizations of the Tevar and the Farborn. Prejudice, jealousy and distrust mark the relationship between the two species as they attempt to cooperate against their much more numerous and savage opponents. Four stars. The final novella, City of Illusion, finally introduces us to the Shing, the galactic invaders who threaten the Hainish League. In fact, the setting for this story is the Earth, far in the future, following its conquest by the Shing. We are introduced to Falk, a non-human hominid who finds himself stranded in a forested region of the United States (seemingly near Kentucky), without any memory of his past, only a desire to travel West to the Shing city of Es Toch, where he hopes to learn of his identity and past. Falk undergoes much hardship and experiences many adventures during his travels through the virtually deserted and depopulated United Sates, which eventually lead to Es Toch (located in southern Utah or northern Arizona). The experiences of Falk upon reaching Es Toch neatly tie up all the loose ends, binding the three novellas together. Four and a half stars. These final two novellas should be required reading for college level Anthropology majors.
Excellant. Le Guin in storytelling mode without all the obvious social commentry that intrudes on the later books.This trilogy is the opening three books of her Hain cycle universe - which contains some of her most famous works, which I've read. These earlier books are far better stories. The gently interlinking themes mark the grand scale of a space opera, but the writing is much more fantasy than some technology based SF.Rocannon's World open's the trilogy and explains briefly how mankind has spread amoung the stars - many of which are inhabited by huamnoids. This is perhaps the only jarring note in the universe, it's never explained why this should be. the great Law of the League of Worlds is that of Cultural Embargo - civilisations should not be influenced by external technology, and at most can be gently influenced to progress. Hence on an unnamed world around the star Formalhut, the Emissory finds reports of helicopters amidst the traditional pastoral fantasy flying horses and knights somewhat disturbing. When his starship (and only ansible link to the rest of the universe) is destroyed he begisn to wonder whether he has found the Enemy's secret base. A trek through the countryside follows.World of Exile is set somewhat later, following the war with the Enemy, Werel is cutoff from the greater universe. And it's 24000 day Year means most humans see only a season or two. When Winter falls, savages fleeing the Ice attack. The League of Worlds expedition again barred from high technology tries to teach the natives how to survive, and a romance develops between the people. The shortest but perhaps most poignent story of the three.The last City of Illusions is an odd tale, and perhaps comes the closet to the more explict social commentry of the later works. It is set on Earth many thousands of years in the future of the other tales. the war with the Enemy is over, and mankind lives subjucated but free, the great law has been replaced with Do Not Kill. There is no League of Worlds, but the survivors of Werel have reinvented spaceflight, and return to earth, but an accident on re-entry leaves our hero berefit of memories and he must find his own way in the strangely segregated new human communities.Really well written enjoyable tales. Simple problems of humanity isolated but through strength of character overcoming different challenges. Read them...................................................................................If you wish to discuss or comment on this review, you can do so via my profile, or on a thread in the Review Discussions group
Ursula Le Guin's first novels are, in my opinion, among her very best. Rocannon's World follows on from the short story 'Semley's Necklace' published in 'The Wind's Twelve Quarters' - a story that still haunts me today. What I loved about Rocannon's world was the mixture of classic Tolkienesque fantasy and then science fiction, the interplay is really clever, and the ending is absolutely spectacular.Planet of Exile is probably the weakest of the three - it is an enjoyable read however, and sets up the thrid book:-City of Illusion is one of the best sci-fi stories I have ever read. Enjoyable and clever, with some of Le Guin's most exquisite prose, it follows a man who knows nothing about himself, on a sparsely populated earth, trying to find out who he is and what happened to him. Again the conclusion is wonderful and beautifully executed.I would recommend these stories wholeheartedly. Borrow my copy - they're wonderful!
The City of Illusions was the book that made me love Science Fiction. Reading it was like taking a journey into another world. A journey into the world so strange and beautiful that made me want to come back for more. I just had to read Planet of Exile, and City of Illusions. I read it knowing very little of the author. Very soon, however Ursula K. Le Guin, three time Nebula Award winner, became my favorite. Her books are not a typical Science Fiction. They are so much more than that. You will find the story come alive in front of your eyes. You will find love, mystery, and drama within the plot of each of her books. Most of all Worlds of Exile and Illusion are great stories, that will fascinate you with its complexity and detail. They are just amazing.