The Left Hand of Darkness
by Urusla K. Le Guin


An envoy’s expedition to a faraway planet takes him to places he never would’ve expected.

I’ve been meaning to read this famous book by Le Guin. It definitely deserves praise for smooth-rolling prose and exploring the societal ramifications of alien biology. It was interesting how the protagonist’s bias was slowly revealed. At first he seemed respectful and gregarious, but his inner thoughts grew judgy until his life was put in danger.

Link to Goodreads page

Winter is an inimical world; its punishment for doing things wrong is sure and prompt: death from cold or death from hunger. No margin, no reprieve. A man can trust his luck, but a society can’t; and cultural change, like random mutation, may make things chancier. So they have gone very slowly. At any one point in their history a hasty observer would say that all technological progress and diffusion had ceased. Yet it never has. Compare the torrent and the glacier. Both get where they are going.

The landscape and scenery, although beautifully written, is drawn out too long, and I skimmed over a few paragraphs at a time. Maybe in the 70s a lengthy recount of the environment was expected, but in 2022 it’s a bit much, especially the parts where a man on an Artic expedition writes scrumpulous details in a diary, which he wouldn’t be if the trip was as taxing as described, and an oral culture as strong as it revered.

Perhaps by describing the cold so often, this book makes you want to curl up in blankets.

Verdict: 5 / 5

Fun Stats

Word Count: 92996
Average Readability (US Grade Level): 8.88
Percent dialogue: 17.47%

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