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Rocannon's World by Ursula LeGuinn
Published by St. Martin's Press
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
Rocannon's World is the very first book Ursula LeGuin ever published. It is a fascinating combination of science fiction with motifs of the fairy story. On Fomalhaut II there are a number of different species. The Liuar are almost human and have a society that strongly resembles Europe in the Middle Ages. However they ride winged felines called windsteeds instead of horses. They share their planet with another species that has developed into two subspecies, the elvish Fiar and the cave-dwelling, dwarvish Gdemiar.
In the beginning of the novel a high lady of the Liuar enters a Gdemiar dwelling in order to retrieve an ancient heirloom of her people and returns to find that nine years have passed while she perceived only a night and a day. This hearkens back to the stories of people dancing with faries and coming back to find their friends grown old, but has a scientific explanation. The Gdemiar failed to explain to her that she would be travelling at relativistic speeds to visit another solar system where the heirloom was kept, and that Lorenz contraction would cause her to perceive only a short time passing while years passed on her homeworld.
By the time the main action of the novel happens, that incident is many years in the past and has become a legend. Rocannon of the title of the book is a scientist who has come to make a study of the world. While he is there the distant enemy finally attacks, leaving him stranded. He must then rally the people of this world to resist the invaders and drive them forth from their world. However that will come at a price.
Rocannon's World has been reprinted as part of an omnibus, Worlds of Exile along with Planet of Exiles and City of Illusion
Click to buy Worlds of Exile
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This review posted May 23, 1999
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