Reviewed date: 2007 Feb 23
Ursula Le Guin's first novel is part of her notable Hainish series. It tilts almost entirely toward the fantasy side of the spectrum. Rocannon, an ethnologist for the League of All Worlds, believes the League has interfered inappropriately in the development of the primitive planet Fomalhaut II.
While Rocannon is studying on Fomalhaut II, unknown invaders destroy his spacehip, his crew, and his ansible--thus cutting the planet off from communication with the League. The enemy are rebels, and have chosen to establish a secret base on Fomalhaut II, from which they plan to destroy the League. The native inhabitants of Fomalhaut II suffer greatly the indiscriminate violence of the rebels.
Rocannon must find a way to steal the rebels' ansible and send a warning message to the League. To aid him, he recruits some natives, and together they embark on a quest across the continent to the rebel base. It is a fantasy quest story, with Rocannon as the mysterious hero and wizard. He has an impermasuit that protects him from the cold, from fire, from arrows, from swords, from sharp blows--and this makes him seem a god to the locals. Everyone rides around on flying steeds. And to top things off, Rocannon meets a strange hermit on a mountaintop who gives him the secret of mind-reading, so Rocannon can read the minds of the rebels.
As a first novel, Rocannon's World shows promise, but it's not good enough to warrant a recommendation on its own strength. I give it a low score of two.
The world itself has become a grain of sand on the shore of night.