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zerok @zerok
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Good thing that the Reader Q&A on Goodreads answers the very first question I've had about this month's book for the : Yes, it sounds like this can be read without knowing the other entries in the series :D

goodreads.com/questions/5681-c

@zerok Honestly, I have trouble seeing the novels in the Hainish Cycle as being a series at all. The only other one I've read is The Dispossessed, but literally no connection I can see to LHoD except for also being sci-fi.

@zerok They exist in the same universe concept, and can reference each other from time to time, but that's really it.
Le Guin herself says, "The thing is, they aren't a cycle or a saga. They do not form a coherent history. There are some clear connections among them, yes, but also some extremely murky ones."