*This review is spoiler free*
The second book in the Hainish cycle (although you don’t have to read this series in order) The Word for World is Forest explores ideas of colonialism, war and revenge.
(Orion Publishing Group // Sci-fi // 128 pages)
I loved this book so much. I gave it five stars, it’s only the second book I rated that high this year. I couldn’t put it down. It was so beautifully written. Le Guin’s prose is spectacular; changing subtly to reflect each different narrator and tell their side of the story. I think a lot of people, including myself, have this idea that sci-fi novels are all ridiculous space pirate adventures with three eyed octopuses fighting starships but Le Guin has completely changed my mind.
The Word for World is Forest is a complex reflection on how defending itself in a war can affect and scar societies, inspired by the Vietnam war. Despite that being the case, reading Le Guin’s novel doesn’t feel like you’re being preached at. She explores every side of the argument is so much detail, without sugarcoating anything or excluding anything that goes against her argument for peace.
The Word for World is Forest follows the results of what happens when the once non-violent ‘Creetchie’ society seek revenge on the humans for enslaving them, raping their women, injecting them with hallucinogenics and cutting down their forest. And once the killing starts there’s no turning back.
I honestly want to recommend this book to everyone, not because of any political motive but just because of how well the plot was knitted together and how beautiful the writing was. This is a short book that is jam packed full of action and philosophical thoughts.
As soon as I get some spare time I’m going to run to the library, take out every Ursula Le Guin novel I can find and life in a beautiful, context book cocoon for a few weeks.
Have you read The Word for World is Forest? Let’s chat about it in the comments.