Four Ways to Forgiveness

Ursula K. Le Guin
Four Ways to Forgiveness Cover

Four Inter-Related Stories


Returning to her Hainish Universe, Le Guin gives us four inter-related stories that revolve around the planets of Werel and Yeowe. Yeowe was originally colonized by Werel in order to mine its resources using slave labor. At first, only male slaves were imported to work Yeowe. After the first 100 years, women slaves were also introduced. Several hundred years later, there is a rebellion and Yeowe wins its independence. All of these stories take place after that rebellion -- yet women on both worlds are still second-class citizens with few rights.

Betrayals: A short and poignant story that introduces us to life on Yeowe after the revolution. A disgraced leader of the revolt lives in exile, half-mad with grief and regret. A former slave woman befriends him and nurses him back to health. The bond they form is both tenuous and unexpected.

Forgiveness Day: During the annual 'Forgiveness Day' celebrations on Werel, the Ekumen's female envoy is kidnapped along with her male state-assigned bodyguard. This is a classic situation where two people who don't like each other are forced to co-exist. [SHOW SPOILER] Le Guin handles the telling beautifully and in a way that really puts you inside the character's heads.

A Man of the People: This story tells of the Ekumen's male Envoy to Yeowe and how he comes to help affect change for the people of that world. Especially for the women.

A Woman's Liberation: This is the most graphic story of the group. It follows the life of Rakam, a female slave on Werel, from childhood to old age. [SHOW SPOILER]

This is a highly recommended collection. Especially if you have read other Hainish Cycle stories.