Review: The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I went through something of an arc with this book. I had heard of it forever, saw it admired by those I admire, and knew the Le Guin was a fine writer. When I finally got round to reading it I thought I was in for a guaranteed treat.

And so it starts. We are on a cold planet. There is some politics, there is a lot of observing and not quite understanding. There may be miscommunications, lies, madness even. There are musings on gender, war and many other big topics. The observations are intelligent and still relevant. And yet...I wasn't quite feeling those things, I was seeing them, admiring them. Like saying a joke is funny rather than laughing.

Then it starts to grow, a long way into the book now, nearer the end than the beginning. Le Guin lets slip the emotions and the clarity that she has kept at a distance and because of her skill and patience as a writer I feel what the characters feel. I struggle with them. The story is pared down and the ending is pummelling and powerful.

So, I got my treat, eventually.


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