Currently Reading: A Swiftly Tilting Planet

A Swiftly Tilting Planet (Time, #3)Gaudior pawed the lush green impatiently. “Not Where; can you not get that through your human skull? When. Until we know more than we know now, we will stay right here in your own Where. There is something to be learned here, and we have to find out what.”

“You don’t know?”

“I am a mere unicorn.” Gaudior dropped his silver lashes modestly. “All I know is that there is something important to the future right here in this place where you watch stars. But whatever it was did not happen until the ancient music of the spheres was distorted. So now you go to a When of people.”

Author: Madeleine L’Engle

Synopsis: When the president calls to tell Mr. Murry that the world is coming to an end, Charles Wallace goes to the rescue with the unicorn Gaudior. Meg joins him by kything as he attempts to right a series of ancient wrongs leading up to the production of a tyrannical dictator with the power to destroy the world.

Notes: As a matter of fact, I have read this book once before. Being quite young, I had a difficult time getting into the story. It’s easy now to see why I might have had trouble as a child; Charles Wallace basically becomes a whole lot of different people throughout the tale, which means getting used to one new character perspective after another. Meanwhile, Meg scarcely moves from her bed, and Gaudior gets a little metaphysical with some of his comments.

This time, though, I had no trouble at all keeping up. After a slow start of perhaps fifty pages, I got hooked and had trouble putting the book down till I’d finished.

I’ve always loved Charles Wallace for his unique combination of innocence, vulnerability and vibrant intelligence. He brought that with him into this story, despite nearly a decade’s advance on his age, and many of the characters he goes Within share in his gentleness. Characters make or break a story for me, so I appreciated seeing the young hero’s nature in the various people he became.

The concept of righting past wrongs was fascinating, and I enjoyed watching it happen. While the requisite chronology jumps made for a rather choppy feel to the flow of the novel, ultimately, it all worked.

I love A Wind in the Door best of the Time books, but this tale’s “in this fateful hour” theme had an especial power of its own. The rune, a psalm of intercession, gave me chills. And the ending made me cry, in a good way.

Recommendation: But of course.


  1. Your "But of course" at the end says it all, Jenna. I love L'Engle's Time series, though I'm especially partial to A Wrinkle in Time, which I've sung the praises of several times over at The Hog's Head, so I won't repeat all of that here. I cried at the ending of this, too....

  2. I love L'Engle's books, though I've never read this one. I need to get it! Thanks for the review. :)

  3. This was, and still is, my favorite of the three (although I see they've made a complete 'series' adding two books I wasn't fond of). I liked Charles Wallace best in this book; he seemed more 'real' and relatable than as a very oddly precocious child/adult.

    When I was lucky enough to meet L'Engle at a book signing here in the early '90s, I asked her if we would ever learn what Charles Wallace was like as an adult (as we see her YA characters as adults in her adult novels, but not him). She kind of started, smiled, and said, "If I ever find out, you'll know." She was delightful.


  4. Thanks for the thoughts, all of you! Arabella, I love that comment of L'Engle's. So sweet.


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