Small Update, and a Review of Three Hainish Novels

Since the last few posts have been reviews of other people’s work, and that isn’t what my blog is meant to be about, I thought I’d give a quick update before posting my latest review.

I’ve finished the second draft of my latest manuscript, a scifi/cyberpunk-ish novel called The Foreland. Thanks to the wonderful people at QueryTracker’s forums, I think my query letter is ready to go. I’m not querying agents yet (though I am making a list of them); I’m worried my manuscript might be a little too short. I’m currently exploring ways to lengthen the story without adding fluff or nonsense. I only need to add a few thousand words to get it to the “ideal word count” I’ve read about on so many other blogs, but if I can’t do it well, I won’t do it at all. I think I’d rather have a good story be a little short than have a fluffy story be the ideal length.

I am, as always, working on writing my next big project. I have a few ideas in the works, but few far enough along to talk about right now.

I’ve also picked up an older project for another round of editing, this one more likely to be self-published. Depending on how much of that I get done in the next few weeks, you’ll probably hear a lot more about it very soon.

On to the review:

Three Hainish Novels is, as the title suggests, a collection of three of Ursula K. Le Guin’s books, these ones set in her science fiction Hainish Cycle.

Rocannon’s World is Le Guin’s first novel, and the first in this collection. A lovely tale, science fiction at its finest, and wonderfully told. Some of the paragraphs run on a little long and the story begins to feel exhausted toward the end, but it doesn’t wear itself out and instead comes to a clean, beautiful close. 4/5 stars.

I’m not usually a fan of flowery prose, but in Planet of Exile it’s done so well and in such moderation that it only adds to the story. The story and the writing are both beautiful. Le Guin perfectly captures imagery and poetry in prose form, and this builds up to some moments later that gave me chills and could put most of the horror novels I’ve read to shame. The first few chapters were slow but very much enjoyable, and once I got to the last third or so of the book, I couldn’t put it down. 5/5

The final book, City of Illusions, is the longest, though still not a very long book. I had a little bit more trouble with this one; it’s very wordy, and I had to read over a few sentences a few times to get their meaning, especially when they were full of mythos and things from other Hainish Cycle books that weren’t immediately clear to me. Just as it begins to feel like it’s dragging on, the story takes a sharp turn, and all of that journey leading up to that point becomes clearer, more important. The moral dilemma faced by the main character, Falk, is astounding; page after page I dreaded what would become of him.

This is possibly the first of the three books in which it becomes clear that while the stories in the Hainish cycle take place billions of miles and hundreds of years apart, they are very much a part of one story. It was interesting to see a pebble cast by a character in one book lead to ripples the size of species in another, and there was a very strong thread of emotion connecting characters hundreds of years apart, never knowing each other or their stories, but somehow working toward the same end.

Each book in the Hainish Cycle is like a snapshot, a capture of one moment, one story, only a glimmer of the whole, expansive tale of mankind throughout the millenia. It excites me that there are more Hainish Cycle books to get to, and I can’t wait to see how they fit in. The series being written in one order and taking place in another means that once I’ve finished reading them in the order they were written, I can go back and read them in the order in which they take place, and start to see things new again.

Overall: 4/5 stars. Be sure to check out more reviews on my Goodreads page.

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