The Telling – By Ursula K Le Guin

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Goodreads Synopsis: Sutty, an Observer from Earth for the interstellar Ekumen, has been assigned to a new world-a world in the grips of a stern monolithic state, the Corporation. Embracing the sophisticated technology brought by other worlds and desiring to advance even faster into the future, the Akans recently outlawed the past, the old calligraphy, certain words, all ancient beliefs and ways; every citizen must now be a producer-consumer. Their state, not unlike the China of the Cultural Revolution, is one of secular terrorism. Traveling from city to small town, from loudspeakers to bleating cattle, Sutty discovers the remnants of a banned religion, a hidden culture. As she moves deeper into the countryside and the desolate mountains, she learns more about the Telling-the old faith of the Akans-and more about herself. With her intricate creation of an alien world, Ursula K. Le Guin compels us to reflect on our own recent history.

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This story really touched me on a personal level as I related to the main character Sutty a lot.

In this story Sutty is a woman who is leaving earth to escape religious extremists, partly because of her own different religion and also partly because of her sexuality. I related to both of these reasons a lot. She trains with the Ekumen to become an Observer and moves to a new planet which turns out to be far different than she expected. This world, though it does not have a major religion anymore is just as extreme, and the longer she lives there, the more she finds herself drawn to it’s almost lost banned religion.

The Telling is absolutely fascinating, both its worlds and its characters and possibly one of Le Guin’s strongest books.  I say that because Sutty is one of Le Guin’s strongest characters, also one of her few main characters who is not male. Sutty struggles between her own beliefs and what she has been trained to do. She struggles with life and death and change on such a real level that I felt deeply in my heart.

In the end I gave this book 5 stars and I hope to own it one day.


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