“Lavinia” by Ursula LeGuin

Ursula Leguin is described as an author who is “hard to categorize”. True! I’ve probably, in my random fashion, read about 25% of her works, often without realizing they originated from the same author.

My favorite of her books is The Dispossessed which is about a colony of anarchists shipped from earth to an uninhabited but (with hard work) livable planet. The main character is a scientist who cannot find intellectual peers among the struggling population of his native planet.

Lavinia was a disappointment. It is a retelling of Virgil’s Aenead, from the viewpoint of a character so minor she never speaks. I understand the desire to “own” a story by retelling it (hence the existence of fan fiction). In this case, the result is relatively lifeless.

But I still admire LeGuin! The Left Hand of Darkness is another very fine fantasy novel of hers. So if you haven’t checked out this author, you should do so, especially if you are in the mood for intelligent fantasy.


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