“Light is the left hand of darkness
and darkness the right hand of light.”
Title: The Left Hand of Darkness
Author: Ursula K. Le Guin
Why you should read this book: Because it’s set in space and it’s about aliens with very peculiar characteristics!
Do I recommend it? Yes, it can be a little complex but overall it’s a very nice and interesting book.
Read the summary and add this book on Goodreads: here
I wanted to give this book 5 stars only because of Estraven but I can’t. The book is beautiful, well written and extremely fascinating BUT the stereotypes about men and women from our main character bothered me a little too much. So, it’s 5+ stars for Estraven, 4 real stars for the whole book! Maybe 4- when Genly starts complaining about Estraven being too feminine and that scares the hell out of him. Why?
I have to admit that the names and different language was a little difficult to read and pronounce in my head but after a bit I got used to it and enjoyed trying to figure out how where they pronounce. I still think I have mispronounced EVERYTHING!!
I have always loved a sci-fi book with a story, occasionally adventurous, in a faraway planet and aliens. Who doesn’t? This didn’t disappoint in all of what I was expecting and I got a lot more than I was bargaining for. It doesn’t have forbidden love, and it doesn’t have a traditional love story. There is love and there are feelings. No spoilers here, it’s in the synopsis.
“Light, dark. Fear, courage. Cold, warmth. Female, male. It is yourself, Therem. Both and one. A shadow on snow.”
We have an Envoy of a faraway planet on a planet inhabited by genderless humanoids aliens. These aliens go in kemmer once a month (kemmer is like being “in heat”) and randomly they become male or female and mate with one another resulting often in a pregnancy. This fact can be overwhelming but for our dear Genly it was almost the worst thing that could ever existed in the universe. He is really close-minded and I was annoyed by his remarks most of the times. Other times he was ok.
“It is strange. I am the only man in all Gethen that has trusted you entirely, and I am the only man in Gethen that you have refused to trust.”
The best thing about this book came in the shape of a tiny dark-skinned genderless alien with a soft and round body called Therem Harth rem ir Estraven. Yep, that’s his whole glorious name. His parts of the story were my favorite; parts in which we could read his journal. He is a very methodical person and has a clear opinion of certain facts. I can only describe him as sweet and peculiar. I was very angry at Genly every time he was rude to him. Estraven is nothing but a doll and you better realize is soon or I’ll slap you real hard! Estraven makes me emotional.
“The best food I’ve eaten on Gethen has always been in your company, Estraven.”
I have read only the Earthsea books by Ursula K. Le Guin and I loved them. I fell in love with the story, the magic, the dragons (of course) and in particular I fell in love with Ged. Ged is the main character of the first book and a recurrent character in the others. I love him! There is something in these characters she writes that get to your soul. They are not perfect. These characters are not heroes like the ones you are used to read about. They have a quiet personality and they are so much more than what they seem from the outside. It’s hard to understand but while reading about Estraven I had the same feelings I had while reading about Ged. I thought: “This is one hell of a character I’m going to treasure!”. Yeah, he went right inside my “favorite characters” treasure chest and he will stay there forever.
I haven’t really explained the book because it’s not easy. Months and months pass, sometimes the story felt rushed. A lot of things happen and some news maybe you wanted to know more about where explained in one or two lines. This is a must read if you love sci-fi. It’s surely a must read if you love Mrs. Le Guin. Beware that there may be lots of stereotypes because it’s an old book written by a mind of that time. They may bother you but I think these issues don’t ruin the story in its wholesome. I’ll give it a try!
“What does a man die of but his death?”