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Ursula K. Le Guin: Worlds of Exile and Illusion: Three Complete Novels of the Hainish Series in One Volume (2016, Orb Books) 5 stars

Worlds of Exile and Illusion contains three novels in the Hainish Series from Ursula K. …

Interesting to see Le Guin as she's developing her craft.

4 stars

This collection of three early novels in Le Guin's Hainish series initially looks haphazard, as if they were only collected because of writing order and not being as well-known as her later works.

  • Rocannon's World is a serviceable fantasy quest wrapped in sci-fi trappings.
  • Planet of Exile is a tighter story of isolation and people forced together by an invasion.
  • City of Illusions involves a stranger seeking his identity in a post-apocalyptic Earth controlled by unseen alien masters.

But common threads tie them together. Not just her frequent themes like culture clashes, critiquing colonization, challenging racial stereotypes (both in-world and real), and just getting people to communicate. The second and third novels form a thematic duology:

  • A single city of Earth colonists struggles to survive and adapt to a primitive world.
  • A single city of alien colonists controls a primitive Earth they've adapted to their own desires.

And you can watch her craft growing stronger over the course of the three novels.

I wouldn't recommend someone start reading Le Guin here, but I would recommend it to someone who's familiar with her work.