- Unknown Binding
- Publisher: Ace (1977)
- ASIN: B003VKP8P8
- Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.2 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (403 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,097,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Left Hand of Darkness
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Audio, Cassette, Unabridged, Audiobook
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Top Customer Reviews
Perhaps the most striking thing about it is the apparent ease with which legend is woven into the fabric of the story, so that the world and its people reveal themselves slowly and naturally to the reader. This many-threaded structure allows the reader to draw conclusions from mere hints, relating the obscure myths to the concrete story at hand. Much is implied without being stated outright, but this never obscures the story; if anything, it makes it stronger, clearer, and deeper.
Every book has the odd quirk, and "The Left Hand of Darkness" isn't without its own. Although thoroughly modern in sensibilty, it was written in 1969, and in one minor way, that does show. To the modern reader, the amount of attention afforded the "unisexual" society described here feels a little bit out of proportion. Obviously our comfort with gender ambivalence and androgyny has increased over the last three or four decades; at any rate, I found no difficulty in thinking of the characters as simultaneously male and female -- it's especially easy to do when the writing is so compelling.
As with many of Ursula Le Guin's other novels, the characters are a bit abstract. This is a result of the author's focus, rather than insufficient characterisation: Ursula Le Guin is definitely an ideas writer, and a language writer, rather than a character wrtiter.Read more ›
The Left Hand of Darkness is set on Gethen, or Winter, a planet that has arctic conditions most of the year. An envoy, Ai, from the Ekumen of Worlds is sent to explore whether Gethen would join the Ekumen and engage in intellectual exchange of ideas and technology. Gethen is also unique in that the people are unisexual, changing to female or male form on a monthly cycle called kemmer. How Le Guin handles a unisex race is one of the amazing parts of the book.
Ai sets out to live on Gethen, first in the country of Karhide. He attempts to convince the (somewhat mad) king of the value of joining the Ekumen, helped by a counselor of the King, Estraven. But Estraven is undermined by another court counselor and is banished, and Ai is in terrible danger and doesn't realize it. As Ai explores the rest of Gethen and its varied societies, he is helped again and again by Estraven, whom he at first mistrusts. Their heroic trek across the Ice of Gethen reads like the best arctic explorers adventure from Earth.
This is an exciting book, though the beginning is slow, as Ai begins to understand the strange society of Karhide and Gethen. As the adventure unfolds, you will not be able to put the book down. This is a classic that should be read by anyone who loves science fiction, and is a book that can be re-read many times with great enjoyment.
By the end everything makes sense...from the stuffy beginning to even the title of the book itself. This story is a true testament to the universality of human spirit (regardless of the most harsh nature of the environment). Likewise, it reinforces the notion that all people ARE people no matter how odd the culture or how "alien" the appearance. The world she has created feels so REAL even though it is so different!
This book is by no means among my favorites... However, I am glad that I did take the time to read it and that I didn't give-up in the beginning. I'd suggest it for the more patient reader and for people with a relatively mature mindset. This certainly is no action adventure afterall.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Le Guin has an extraordinary intellect, which is blended with an imagination second to none. She challenges our sense of what it is to be human and as a consequence we are wiser... Read morePublished 22 days ago by Mr Matthew C Brown
The writing is elegant, the world and the story are imaginative. The characters are decently done.
I am in no way disappointed I purchased and spent the time reading... Read more
Le Guin masterfully delves into socio-philosophical topics in an indirect yet clear manner, letting descriptions of culture, character development and short stories (some chapters... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Steve W. Heim
One of Le Guin's finest novels. It explores trust and traitor. Gender, and what it means to be human.Published 2 months ago by Deborah J. Harper
I know this is award winning science fiction from the height of the silver age- that's why I bought it. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mike Archcraft
I have read this every 10 years, about 4 times now. Each time I read it, it develops into another view of my reality and sometimes an entirely different plot. What a classic.Published 2 months ago by SamsNona
This book truly is a masterpiece. Impeccably written and profound. Should be valued as one of the most important pieces of literature of the century--as it's academic reviews... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Mia