In Virgil's Aeneid, Lavinia never utters a word; in LeGuin's tale, Lavinia breathes an entire culture to life. This is not some sort of hammer feminist re-imagining: Lavinia is no warrior daughter of Latinium, subduing Aeneus with flaming arrows and other male-fantasy ways. She is a woman of her place and time, pious (in the original sense of the word), free in the bondage of ritual, religion, work and life.
LaGuin is now 79, and her narrative has a watchful quality about it, reflexive. Lavinia is aware of her own fictionality, addresses the reader, is visited by Virgil as an oracle. It's a kind of story that is not often told, because it's boring: the life of women, the choices to bend, or break, or run away; to be driven mad by grief, or take the harder road of sanity in loss. Battles occur outside the walls of the city, and are only glimpsed in dead and dying sons, husbands and fathers. Honor is a choice among bad options.