Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Book Review: A Swiftly Tilting Planet

This is the third book in Madeleine L'Engle's series that began with A Wrinkle In Time. So far, it's my favorite of the three I've read.

It's Thanksgiving, and the Murry family is gathered at the family home. Meg has married Calvin and is expecting their first child. Calvin, however, is overseas at a conference, but Meg invited his mother to join them. For the first time, she agreed to join the Murrys. The twins, Sandy and Dennys, are in law and medical school. Charles Wallace is fifteen and in high school.

Before dinner can start, Mr. Murry receives a phone call from the President of the United States. A tyrannical dictator, Mad Dog Branzillo, has threatened war. Should he launch his nuclear missiles, the U.S. will have no choice but send their anti-ballistic missiles.

Mrs. O'Keefe, who has been silent, says, "At Tara in this fateful hour..." And becomes irritable because she can't remember the rest of "Patrick's Rune." Her grandmother from Ireland taught it to her and "set great store on it to ward off the dark."

And then she looks at Charles Wallace and states, "You. Chuck. I come because of you."

Charles Wallace realizes he must go out and face whatever it is that must be faced, using Patrick's Rune. But he is not alone. He meets a unicorn at the Murry's stargazing rock and Meg is home to kythe with him. Charles Wallace must travel through time and space and save the world.

Mrs. L'Engle plays with some interesting ideas about the importance of individuals in history and that opportunities can be missed because of inaction. Patrick's Rune is as much about using the power of Heaven and the Universe as it is about one teen and one unicorn standing together.

There's also the message that there often is more to people than meets the eye. Meg comes to understand why her mother-in-law is the way she is.

Although the book was written in the mid-1970's, it is uncannily prescient about current events. Pretty sad--the world hasn't changed much.

Meg is less whiny in this book. The interweaving of local historical events and world events was quite well done. The introduction of the unicorn was okay, but I'm not sure it was necessary. I also didn't really see the point of Meg kything with Charles Wallace, except as witness to the story.

And a minor quibble: The main characters are Welsh. Wouldn't it be "David's Rune," rather than Patrick's? Okay, they're both Celtic cultures, but really...

On the March Hare scale: 4 out of 5 Golden Bookmarks