City of Illusion, Ursula K. LeGuin (Ace 1967) {Blackstone Audio 2007, Narrator: Stefan Rudniki}

Grade: B — Fantastic book within the genre, probably worth reading regardless of which genre’s you like, but has a setting or style that may not appeal to individuals who are not fans of a given genre. 

 In brief:

This Sci-Fi classic is book three of the Hainish Series, but reads beautifully as a stand alone.  What is more, it in no way gives away anything that happens in the other books, a sign of a truly gifted author.  In brief (which I suppose is what this section of the review is for), it follows the tale of a fully grown man who wakes up in a forest with no memories at all. He does not even know how to speak.  His only clue to his identity is his complete difference to those who found him.  You see, they are human while his cat-like yellow eyes show he is clearly not.  This is a wonderful tale told brilliantly, and in the case of the audio version I listened to, narrated with true skill. 


Earth in the distant future.  Set in the Hainish cycle.

In Depth:

A man stumbles out of the woods into a small forest community in what seems to be a post-apocalyptic future.  His eyes are as yellow as a cat’s, but otherwise he seems like any normal human. Yet, he has no memory, not even the ability to speak.  As the tale progresses, we slowly learn not only about him, but about the world he has found himself on… Earth in the far future.

City of Illusion reads with the easy and poetic flow of language that I have come to expect from Ursula K. LeGuin.  Her writing remains as remarkable today as it was when this was first published. One is drawn into this story by both its premise and style, and even though there have been many copies of this book since its publication, it remains fresh in a way they do not. 

Notes on the Audio Edition:

Some books lend themselves better to audio versions than others, and this is definitely one of them.  Indeed, I have come to think that any of LeGuin’s works would make excellent audiobooks. Her style is well suited to tale telling of the classic form, and draws to mind the image of sitting around a campfire, listening to a master story teller in their element.

To that end, the narration delivered by Stefan Rudniki plays perfectly to LeGuin’s style. This is no mean feat, for delivering a tale in the voice of the author is never an easy task.  In this case, however, s/he delivers the story in a manner that pulls you in as readily as if you were reading the words on the page.  I highly recommend listening to this version.

About Thomas Evans

I'm a writer of mysteries, espionage, and speculative fiction. In my previous incarnation I was an archaeologist specializing in gender and identity in Iron and Bronze Age Europe. Mostly, however, I was known for my works with the use of geomatics, multiscalular spatial analysis and landscape theory within archaeology.
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5 Responses to City of Illusion, Ursula K. LeGuin (Ace 1967) {Blackstone Audio 2007, Narrator: Stefan Rudniki}

  1. Joachim Boaz says:

    Nice review! I loved this book….. And Ursula! Keep the classic sci-fi reviews coming please! tehehe….

  2. le0pard13 says:

    This sounds very intriguing. I’ll have to check it out (especially because it is Ursula K. LeGuin). I’ve enjoyed Stefan Rudniki’s narration in the past, but they’ve been non-fiction titles (btw, his reading of Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA and Deep Survival are excellent). Thanks for this.

    • Thomas Evans says:

      He is a superb narrator, and good narration is absolutely key to an audio book. Mind you, working with LeGuin’s material does make it just a bit easier. She is a marvellous writer.

  3. Joachim Boaz says:

    You really should submit these to!!! They are wonderful!

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