The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The three novels chronicle the beginning, middle, and end of a dark age for the League of All Worlds. An extragalactic invader destroys the League, not through superior firepower but by undermining bonds of trust and cooperation. Each novel dramatizes the evolution of telepathic skills that eventually will equip humanity and its ally HILFs (Higher Intelligence Life Forms) to repel the enemy’s attack on mind and culture.

In Rocannon’s World, the planet Formalhaut II, a League ally, comes under attack by a rebel group within the League. Rocannon sets off on a transcontinental quest to find the enemy, accompanied by local HILFs of different species.

Following a series of hardships and escapes, Rocannon, in a solitary meeting with a member of a cave-dwelling species previously unknown to the League, pays a large but unnamed price to acquire the gift-weapon of telepathy. Thus enabled to listen in on his enemies, he finds the means to direct a League attack that destroys the rebels. The price for victory includes the death of a traveling companion and the experience within his own body and mind of the deaths of a thousand rebels. Rocannon seals the bonds forged on his journey by marrying an Angyar princess.

Planet of Exile features the “farborns,” a League colony cut off by a six hundred-year silence. Carefully preserving League technology, including telepathy, they remain isolated from the native communities. The native Tevarians, for their part, regard the “farborns” as “witches” and “false-men.”

When Jakob Agat, a farborn leader, warns that the nomadic invasion that comes every winter will be far more severe than usual,...

(The entire section is 695 words.)