In a world where all humankind is divided into 'assets' and 'owners', where tradition and liberation are at war, and women are the slaves of slaves, freedom takes many forms. It can be learning. It can be love. It can be compassion, or courage. It can be created with a touch, or killed with a blow. Though it may seem small, it is the key that opens the great door to understanding. It is the one noble thing. In this stunning new collection of four intimately interconnected novellas, linked by character and setting, Ursula K. Le Guin returns to the great themes that have made her one of America's most honored and respected authors, in or out of the field of science fiction.