Ursula K. Le Guin, who died earlier this year, was known for her award-winning fantasy novels and short stories. Two paperbacks reissued by Tor Books this month, The Beginning Place and The Eye of the Heron, are prime examples of Le Guin’s authority in magical realism for both children and adults. Her characters face persecution that is still as prevalent today as it was in the late 1970s, when these two short novels were written ... it’s no coincidence that her heroines, Luz and Irene, flee abuse of power from men. Le Guin famously wove feminist issues into her science fiction stories, and pushed for equality with her characters. She builds fantasies as representations of human dreams, utopias that never quite materialize.
The Beginning Place and The Eye of the Heron are among the first of Ursula K. Le Guin novels to be re-released since her death in January 2018 ... The Eye of the Heron is on the more political end of the socio-political allegory ... In both books, characters struggle against history and inheritance, fighting to create a kinder and more gentle reality. And yet, while Le Guin at times wrote of easy answers, she never wrote of easy paths to realizing them.
It is hard for me to say I liked or disliked these novels, and not just because I, like so many other readers, am still mourning the loss of a hero and an architect of hope. The Beginning Place and The Eye of the Heron are not great, and I’d never recommend them to a first-time reader—but to those that miss Le Guin’s prose, and who want above all to be moved to a kind of hope in the dark, I’d recommend them.