(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The Wind's Twelve Quarters was published in 1975, collecting into a retrospective Le Guin's short stories that had been published over the previous twelve years. The stories are: "Semley's Necklace," "April in Paris," "The Masters," "Darkness Box," "The Word of Unbinding," "The Rule of Names," "Winter's King," "The Good Trip," "Nine Lives," "Things," "A Trip to the Head," "Vaster Than Empires and More Slow," "The Stars Below," "The Field of Vision," "Direction of the Road," "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," and "The Day before the Revolution."

In "Semley's Necklace," Semley is a young noble of the planet Fomalhaut II, as poor in material goods as the noble husband who "loves no gold but the gold of her hair." Semley goes on a quest for the lost treasure of her family, among the Fiia and the Clayfolk and the Starlords. She makes a relativistic journey to the museum planet of the Starlords, a trip that takes her one long night but lasts seventeen years for the planet she returns to at last.

"April in Paris" brings together four lonely people on an island in Paris. Each is brought from a different century by a magic spell, finding what they need most in their new company.

"Darkness Box" is set in a sunless fantasy world, where gryphons fly and dead soldiers come alive again to follow their prince, until he opens a small box washed up by the sea, restoring time and daylight as well the darkness and mortality that his father the king had trapped in the box.

"The Word of Unbinding" tells of the struggles of the wizard Festin, imprisoned by an invading wizard who ruins islands and all that live there.

"The Rule of Names" shows that a comical, inept wizard may have a true name, showing him to be something far different from what his village neighbors expect.

In "Winter's King," the young King Argaven of Karhide on Gethen is kidnapped, drugged, and brainwashed so that she (the Gethenians are all androgynes) will, subconsciously, rule the country in a way so as to favor the fraction who kidnaped her. She escapes from this plot by traveling to another planet of the Hainish Ekumen, where her mind is restored. After an education as a diplomat of the Ekumen, she returns to Gethen. Her heir—an infant when she left, but now old due to Argaven's relativistic journey—is an incompetent ruler. So, backed by both the Ekumen and the Karhidish people, King Argaven resumes her reign.

"The Good Trip" is a story about a...

(The entire section is 1017 words.)