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A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1979)

A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1979)
Rating
4.56 of 5 Votes: 2
ISBN
0440401585 (ISBN13: 9780440401582)
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English
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laurel-leaf books
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A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1979)
A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1979)

About book: My first ever oral book report was on A Swiftly Tilting Planet. I chose it because I had so much enjoyed the book. And, hey, it had a flying unicorn. I got an A on the written report; I didn't do so well on the oral presentation. I never let that happen again, though. It was what you call "a learning experience."Three books into reading (and re-reading) L'Engle's Time Quintent and I'm finally realizing what it is, exactly, that I don't like about them. The characters don't do anything. They spend their time being taken from place to place by various cosmic beings because they're so important but, in the end, they don't actually do anything to affect the outcome of the story. The closest we get to anyone doing anything is Meg in A Wrinkle in Time in which she says the magic words of "I love you" to her brother to break the spell he's under. A Swiftly Tilting Planet is the worst offender so far.There will be spoilers.The world is on the brink of a nuclear war and Charles Wallace is tasked to stop it. He has one day to do it. One day to figure out how to get the madman who is about to start the war to change his mind and not. A madman who is on a completely different continent.Luckily for Charles, a unicorn shows up to help him and his sister's mother-in-law gives him a magical poem to say. L'Engle relies a lot on magic words in these books. Just say the magic words at just the right time and the day is saved! That's what happens in Wrinkle, and that's what happens in this book. Every time anything bad is happening, the poem is recited and everything is better.But let's get back to Charles and the unicorn. The unicorn, as it turns out, has wings that come out of his sides. When Gaudior, the unicorn, is just standing around, he has no wings. It's probably a personal bias, but the whole thing with the wings just seems silly to me. The unicorn, by the way, uses his wings, mostly, to fly through time; he's no good at flying through space, according to him.To stop the madman, the unicorn takes Charles travelling through time. Now, you'd think that would be because Charles is supposed to change something to stop the madman, but, no, actually, Charles is just there to go "Within" different characters and observe. Maybe he'll learn something with which he can stop the crazy dude from blowing up the world. So that's what we spend the book doing, travelling through time learning the history of Crazy Dude's family.Now, the special, magic poem has been in the family for ages (Meg's mother-in-law is from the same family), so, mostly, we just watch people get into bad situations and recite the poem to fix everything. But, evidently, nuclear war is too big for a poem. We travel along until we get to the father of the madman. What we learn along the way is that he has the wrong father. Or grandfather? At any rate, the wrong man married the woman and, so, we get a madman that wants to blow up the world.It turns out that the wrong man married her, because he killed the other guy. The two men were fighting over the woman, and the bad guy stabbed the good guy and threw his body off a cliff. Charles Wallace ends up in the same time as the two guys who will fight over the woman, but is he put in a place to affect any kind of change over the outcome? No. He's put into a guy thousands of miles away. A guy who is dying of, probably, tuberculosis.So, when it comes to the point of the fight, the guy that Charles is in is in the middle of a fevered sleep, and Charles, making his first effort to affect change in the time he's in, keeps whispering in the guy's head, "Do something." The thing is, there's no way for either of them to know that the fight on the cliff is happening at that moment; they just do. But the sick guy can't wake up and they're thousands of miles away, so they do absolutely nothing. But the outcome of the fight changes anyway. The good guy turns to find the guy trying to stab him, knocks the knife out of his hand, and the bad guy, in an effort to catch his knife, falls off the cliff. So the good guy marries the woman, and the madman is never born.Of course, when Charles Wallace gets back, no one knows anything about the imminent nuclear war. Only he (and Meg, a bit) can remember what almost happened.Needless to say, I was very dissatisfied with the ending of the book. Actually, I was dissatisfied with most of the book despite the fact the some of the historical bits are interesting. What the book reminded me of is kids playing on a playground and shouting "magic words" to win their battles against imaginary enemies. So, again, I am left with the impression that these are really kids' books, not like, say, The Chronicles of Narnia at all, books that you can revisit throughout your lifetime.Except that, well, past Wrinkle, my kids have really struggled to read these. My younger son wasn't able to get past the first couple of chapters of A Wind in the Door despite that he tried twice, and my daughter started Swiftly something like four times and just couldn't get interested in it. Maybe, they're already too old. What I do know is that if I had re-read these before handing them to my kids to read, I wouldn't have bothered to do it. Beyond a few concepts, like the tesseract, I haven't really found anything worthwhile in the books.[Which isn't going to stop me from finishing the series, because I'm already halfway through book four (and it's even worse).]

Wow. Out of all of the Time Trilogy novels, I had the fondest memories of this. I guess as a child I skipped over a lot of it.We enter the Murray family, but about 9 years or so from the events of a Wind in the Door. Meg has married Calvin off-screen and is pregnant. Sandy and Denys are bankers, and Charles Williams is 15. I admit I wasn't crazy about that, seeing as Meg was the soul of the first two books, and I really wanted to see her interact with Calvin more. But I can understand.It sets up well. although not as nicely as a Wind in the Door. The Murrays are sitting around being smart when the President lets Mr. Murray (who is magically here this time, neither away nor kidnapped, what do you know?) that a dictator in a small South American country called Mad Dog Branzillio is threatening nuclear war, and its likely to happen. Meg's new mother in law, Mrs O'Keefe, manages to get a rune and utters a poem/spell. She seems to think Charles Wallace is the key to solving this.This I can get. The point of the first two books seemed to be protecting Charles Wallace, so this is the one where we get to see his capabilities. He's hinted to be more in a way Meg can't be, almost a new type of human in them. So we get to see his stuff. He somehow summons the unicorn Gaudior. The two go off on an adventure, traveling through time.Cool stuff, right? I admit, I was a little psyched, because I'd finally get a chance to see CW in action. And as a fifteen year old, his super intelligence and knowledge wont grate as much. maybe we will even see a love interest for him.NONE OF THIS HAPPENS.IT SUCKS.This is what happens. He saves the world by making tiny changes to Mad Dog's ancestors. It seems that the "bad" brother of two brothers married the wrong person, causing Mad Dog Instead of Blue Eyes, a madman instead of a benevolent ruler. he pops into the ancestor, lives as them, and pops out.He literally does nothing. Most of the book is the story of a welsh clan that moved to patagonia somehow and married native. CW gets subsumed into their identity and doesn't comment or even perceive differences. He dives in, we get their particular story, he dives out. Once in awhile he has a brief micro-adventure which mostly involves waiting for it to be over.He does not grow, he does not meet anyone, he does not fall in love, he just is a vehicle to move these dull stories along. Meg just sits at home being pregnant and kytheing details, recognizing the plot links so we have some semblance of a plot. No one does anything. The book ends with a time swap. Instead of nuclear war Mad Dog just doesn't exist. CW does not face him, or even SEE him. Mad Dog could have been a very interesting character to interact with, but he exists and dies offscreen.It makes no sense. I mean, CW can do this? he broke causality and time traveled specifically to prevent a result, causing one person to not exist at all. This breaks the idea of Naming in the Wind in the Door, and makes a tremendous mockery of any christian idea the trilogy might have had. Maddog is not defeated or redeemed, he is unmade into an entirely different person. It makes no sense.Neither does the rune thing. It's not explained how runes have any real power, and it's jarring considering the christian focus of the first two books. It's like L'Engle wanted to write an epic about the welsh but needed to frame it as part of the time trilogy to sell it. It's tremendously anti-climatic, shortchanges virtually every main character, is passive as all get out, boring, and staggers the mind. The whole historical idea was handled much better in Many Waters with the Denys twins, and that book shows how it should have been done. This? No.
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Reviews
Priyanka
Just posted this review on my blog http://www.PriyankaReads.com - check out this and many more young adult book reviews and recommendations there.===Rating: 4.8 out of 5 starsAge Recommended: 9 and upA Swiftly Tilting Planet is my favorite book of the quintet so far. In this book, Madeleine L'Engle introduces a number of new characters and the story line is very captivating.The book takes one back in time and the whole concept of "Within" is truly amazing. I loved how the concept of kything from A Wind In The Door was also used in this book.Calvin's family is portrayed exceptionally well in this book, and his mother is one of the main characters. The story is written so that Mrs.O'Keefe's history has something to do with The Murry family and that makes it really entertaining. I believe Madeleine L'Engle had the entire quintet planned out from the outset.Mr. Murry gets a call from the President saying that a man named Mad Dog Branzillo from a country called Vespugia is threatening the world with nuclear weapons. Any second, the man could fire a nuclear missile and the government would have no choice but to use their anti-ballistic missiles which would collide with the nuclear missile and create a giant explosion therefore destroying the world.A unicorn appears in Charles Wallace Murry's bedroom later that night and tells him that in order to save the Earth, Charles Wallace must go back in time and "Within." The term "Within" means that Charles Wallace must go inside someones body and try to be a part of them so that Charles Wallace can think their thoughts and figure out how to stop Mad Dog Branzillo from being born.When he does that, Charles Wallace figures out that Mrs. O'Keefe is somehow connected to this whole mess. Will Charles Wallace be able to stop Mad Dog Branzillo before it's too late?
Tiff at Mostly YA Lit
4.5 stars. Re-read. Spoilers abound. It amazes me how I can still be finding new things to think about and learn from in L'Engle's work even after 3-4 re-reads. The lyrical bits were a little harder to get through this time around - but no less beautiful. L'Engle has a gift for creating incredible characters - even though you only spend a short time in Madoc, Bran, Harcels, Chuck, and Matthew's brains through Charles, their stories drew me in. And can we talk about the fact that Chuck and Matthew are both probably two of the earliest physically challenged characters in juvenile fiction? I also loved how much this book gave a voice and compelling story to Mrs. O'Keefe - a woman who has several children and who isn't very likeable. Really, L'Engle did a ton of things right in this book that blends history, fantasy, time-travel...I'm still completely floored by her talent and work.
Cait
This is where this series entirely fell off the rails for me. (If you enjoyed this book, feel free to skip my rant! You are totally entitled to your own opinions!) I expected to enjoy this! It is a dear favorite of several of my friends. But no. I did not enjoy it. I loathed this book. Loathed. Let us begin with the intro! The gang is assembled again! Dad is advising the president! Mom is science-ing! Sandy is in medical school! Denys is in law school! Charles Wallace is doing a lot better in school and having exciting intellectual pursuits outside school! Calvin is presenting an important paper in England! Meg is pregnant. Seriously. This is the only thing we hear about her. I really appreciated, in the earlier books, that Meg is an intellectual equal in her family. She likes math! She's stubborn and has a tempter but she saves the day with her multiplication tables! In this book, the only mentions of what she is doing are that she is a) married to Calvin, and b) pregnant. AAAAAAAGH. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH. Then, we get in to predestination bullshit, wherein we first learn that the native population of presumed!America was perfect and peaceful and wise-like-yoda before the white man came and spoiled all that. Thankfully we had TWO white dudes, and they have helpfully color coded eyes, so we can tell who is good and who is bad for the rest of the book. (Blue is good, guys!) Also, for all the bizarre fantasy native population in the first bit, as soon as the white guys arrive, we move right back to white only characters for the rest of the book. (White characters who have a hint of exotic ancestry!) The plot hinges on which white guy is the ancestor of a crazy Latin American dictator- if it's the blue eyed guy, we're cool! If it's the brown eyed guy, nuclear holocaust! Events must be manipulated to ensure the correct lineage, so there is some time travel, some jumping thru space, a unicorn, etc. Charles Wallace lives in the heads of generations of men who: write some books, see some visions, fall down some stairs, go to Patagonia.Alongside these generations of men, there are some women! The women are pregnant. (Some see visions AND are pregnant! Some are stupid and pregnant! Some care for infirm male relatives AND are pregnant! Some marry abusive dudes and GET pregnant!) No female character is not explicitly a mother/pregnant as a plot point. (Mmm. Maybe Zillah- maybe she was only explicitly a fiancee/longed for, and her fertility didn't enter into it.) Ugh. Also: we once again have a book where the fate of all of humanity rests on a single family tree. Good things about the book: The idea of kything is pretty cool.
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