A Swiftly Tilting Planet (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet)

by Madeleine L'Engle

Hardcover, 2007

Call number



Square Fish (2007), 320 pages


The youngest of the Murry children must travel through time and space in a battle against an evil dictator who would destroy the entire universe.

User reviews

LibraryThing member fyrefly98
Summary: Charles Wallace Murry is now fifteen, although he's just as quiet and serious as he was when he was younger. On one fateful Thanksgiving night, Mr. Murry receives a call from the President, informing the family that Mad Dog Branzillo, the dictator of a small South American country, has
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threatened the world with nuclear war. With a charge laid on him by Mrs. O'Keefe, his sister's normally taciturn mother-in-law, to avert the disaster, he heads out to the starwatching rock, where he speaks the rune she taught him. The universe sends him help in the form of the unicorn Gaudior, who will take Charles Wallace back in time. In each time, he must go Within a host, seeking to find the Might-Have-Been, the one choice that can change the course of history, and forestall nuclear war.

Review: I don't go in for lists of lifetime favorites, because it's too hard to narrow down my lifetime of books into five, or ten, and to tell whether I love a book because of nostalgia, or on its own merits. Regardless, if someone was standing with a pair of scissors to my library card and forcing me to to pick my all-time favorite books, A Swiftly Tilting Planet would almost certainly be on the list. I can't count the number of times I read this book as a child, and I recently re-listened to it, and it turns out I love it just as much at twenty eight as I did at eight.

Okay, so, why do I love this book? First and foremost, I love how neatly, and how beautifully everything fits together. As Charles Wallace goes Within a different host in each period of history, the book almost reads like a collection of short stories - like Cloud Atlas, although much more intertwined. I love how tiny details, names, histories, places, and words of power reappear, slightly modified, in each time, and I love that the book is structured with each line of Patrick's Rune becoming a chapter title. It's a book concerned with genealogies, and the historical legacies of our choices, and while these concepts may be somewhat contrived and somewhat simplified (it is a kids' book, after all), the way L'Engle weaves together past and present is much more intricate and complex than it initially appears.

Much has been made of L'Engle's Christian slant to her writing, but I never noticed any such slant as a child, and even though I can kind of see it as an adult, it's not nearly so obvious as in C. S. Lewis's Narnia books. Most of her characters are Christians (although not "obviously" so), and words like God and Heaven are capitalized throughout, but when Charles Wallace calls on "all Heaven" for help, he's sent a flying, time-traveling unicorn. Christian values like love and self-sacrifice are emphasized, but I don't find it to be proselytizing in the slightest.

I think, at heart, what makes A Swiftly Tilting Planet my favorite out of the Kronos Quartet is that 1) it focuses on Charles Wallace, so there's much less of Meg's whining, which got old rather quickly in A Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door; and 2) there is, in general, a lot less talking and a lot more doing, and the plot moves much more rapidly through a variety of scenes and stories, all of which interconnect to form one wonderful whole. 5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: While readers of Madeleine L'Engle's earlier books are going to be the most likely to pick this one up on the basis of name-recognition, I don't think either of the previous books are required to understand and enjoy A Swiftly Tilting Planet. It's also got a very different feel than her earlier books, so I really think everyone should give this childhood favorite a chance.
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LibraryThing member MerryMary
Probably my favorite of this trilogy. The interweaving threads of time and history, the "kithing," the story of Calvin's mother, all touch something just a little deeper with me. A wonderful book.
LibraryThing member SueinCyprus
Third in the author’s Time Quintet, this is a book which I realised that I had never previously read. Intended for older children and teens. This is a powerful story, blending history, mythology and Christian faith, with an awareness of evil in the world that is quite topical.

At times I was a
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tad confused because are a lot of characters, many of them with similar names, in several different time periods. This is deliberate: Charles Wallace, the fifteen-year-old hero of this book, travels through time (on the back of a unicorn) to make minor adjustments to history, meeting different members of the same families along the way.

It doesn’t matter; a deeper theme of the book is that of waiting for ‘the wind’ to guide, rather than reason and logic. Issues of racism and bullying are touched upon too, and the author doesn't hesitate to portray some Christians as hypocritical and dangerous. I found the blend of fantasy, history and faith worked well, with a message of good triumphing over evil. It can be read at several different levels, and provides a great deal to think about.

Highly recommended. It stands alone, but is probably best to read after the preceding two books in the series.
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LibraryThing member satyridae
I was so scared, growing up. This is one of the books I clutched to my heart like a lifeline.

So the plot's absurd, the dialogue stilted and the unicorn laughable. I don't care any more now than I did then. The core message is that there's hope- and that hope can come from the most unlikely sources.
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There's a solemn joy that underlies so much of L'Engle's work but never more than here.

Again, as an adult I see how steeped in Christianity L'Engle's work is, but it's okay. It's not like Orson Scott Card's preachifying- but more like the bones of the world as L'Engle saw it.

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LibraryThing member heidilove
nice. if you're reading my reviews you already know how deeply i like madeleine's works, both for children and for adults.
LibraryThing member lcrouch
I liked the second in the Time series much better than the first. And I really enjoy the characters and their interaction.
LibraryThing member the1butterfly
This is one of my favorites of Madelaine L'Engle's "Time Quartet," which are, of course, my favorite of her books. I loved traveling through time on a pegasus with her and watching the worlds connect. I liked being connected to Meg as she explored the excited places of the past and fixed them.
LibraryThing member lppeters
Out of the books in this series, this has been my favorite yet. I think I enjoyed reading about Meg being married and just knowing where she is at in life. I think that the turn on events that occurs in this book are more relative to what is going on in the characters life this go around as well.
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I'm not sure if I would read this book in my class, but would strongly recommend it to my students, especially if we had read any of the books in the series.
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LibraryThing member kawgirl
While not as engrossing as "A Wrinkle in Time," this book was still interesting and I remember enjoying watching Megan et. al. grow up and develop throughout the series.
LibraryThing member snapplechick
This book was great. I wasn't expecting it. It explained complexity in a interesting and creative way. I can't wait to read more from this author. She also wrote A Wrinkle In Time.
LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
This story is a little like a puzzle, trying to fit all the different characters together. It is also a story about letting go of control, but being willing to act where you are placed. The other thing I enjoyed about this novel was the exploration of the power of words. Lastly, because Charles
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Wallace is traveling through time to find the places where things can be changed, the reader gets to enjoy a number of interrelated stories.
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LibraryThing member stipe168
read but forgotten. but i remember loving it!
LibraryThing member andersonden
This is the third book in Madeleine L'Engle's loose "Time" trilogy. It follows Charles Wallace as he travels through time and inside people to change the path of the present - a world on the brink of nuclear war. There is a fairly large cast of characters all of which are well realized.
LibraryThing member aethercowboy
In order to prevent a nuclear war, Charles Wallace teams up with a unicorn/Pegasus thing to (surprise) travel through time.

If you enjoyed the previous volumes, you'll probably enjoy this one as well.
LibraryThing member hgcslibrary
A companion to A Wrinkle in Time. With only 24 hours to prevent a Tragedy, can Charles Wallace, with the help of Meg, succeed?
LibraryThing member HippieLunatic
The third in the series is, in my opinion better than the first and fairly on par with the second. I enjoyed the story and the idea of intertwining time lines, but the story seemed a bit unnecessarily convuluted at times.
As a child, I don't think I made it this far into the Time Quartet, but as an
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adult I hope to have more staying power and finish the series and perhaps even pick up a few more by L'Engle.
A Swiftly Tilting Planet does have more of an adult feel to the writing, so parents should be aware of detailed descriptions of fights, pain, and possible death.
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LibraryThing member cory123
The book A Swifty Tilting Planet is a great book heres a review about A Swiftly Tilting Planet.
The book starts out on a thanksgiving day get together they all settle down for dinner and just then Megs dad (Mr.Murry) receives
a very important phone call from the president of the United States saying
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that they need to start war with Branwen Z. maddox Well what do you know that ruins the whole thanksgiving dinner so Meg goes and talks
with Charles Wallace and he decides he wants to go for a walk so Meg goes with Charles Wallace and he has a unicorn
that nobody really knows about, well he and family. But it does not live with him where do you think it lives? Join Meg and Charles Wallace
and the whole Murry family on this adventurous fairy tale!!
This book A Swiftly Tilting Planet is a great book and I would highly reccomend for everyone who loves Fairy
tales, I give this book 4 stars
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LibraryThing member The_Hibernator
This is the only book in the original Time Quartet that I hadn’t yet read. I read all of the others when I was a child, but when I picked up A Swiftly Tilting Planet I couldn’t get in to it. So I set it aside and there it sat on my bookshelf for 20 years. This time around I didn’t give up so
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easily, but I still found it a little disappointing. It was cute, certainly, but there was more preach than plot. Also, I admit that I was a little irked about the glorious Importantness of the Murray family. They all had multiple doctoral degrees, won the Nobel Prize, and/or had chatsies with the President on a regular basis. The same story could have been told without making them all academically Important. But then, maybe I’m just jealous that I only have one PhD, no Nobel Prize, and I’ve never spoken with the President. :) 3/5 stars.
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LibraryThing member oldmanbluewater
This book offers fantastic characters: Charles Wallace, his sister Meg, and the unicorn Gaudior. I recently read through this old favorite and found that the Madeleine L'Engle's sotries only get better with age.
LibraryThing member Lindsayg
It's such a great story. The world is on the brink of destruction at the hands of a mad dictator in South America. Charles Wallace has been given the assignment of going back in time to make changes in hopes that he can avert this disaster. There's a line in the very beginning of the story that
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particularly struck me. The Murray family's Thanksgiving dinner is interrupted by a phone call from the president telling them that a nuclear war is likely about to begin. Of course they're upset, but after awhile they settle back down to eat their dinner. Meg is wondering why they're acting as if everything were normal, and her father says that the world has been so far from normal for so long, the only way to have peace is for people to create it in their hearts and in their homes. I had never really thought of it that way before, but it's so true. Most of us can do so little else that it can make us feel powerless, but in the book L'Engle shows how a global catastrophe was brought about by many many smaller events caused by individual people who didn't keep peace in their hearts and homes.
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LibraryThing member Carmin_Lynn
Fifteen-year-old Charles Wallace and the unicorn Gaudior undertake a perilous journey through time in a desperate attempt to stop the destruction of the world by the mad dictator Madog Branzillo. They are not alone in their quest. Charles Wallace's sister, Meg--grown and expecting her first child,
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but still able to enter her brother's thoughts and emotions by “kything”--goes with him in spirit.

Very imaginative and thrilling story. the way it's written is highly believable and it pulled me in all the way. It is really a fantastic read.
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LibraryThing member mrs.digby
i love reading about how everything in the world is connected.its was enjoyable to watch charles go into different people and help make the world better by just doing some little changes like adding more flowers or taking a stand against something wrong. i think it finally shows why megs mom in law
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is so angry all the time.
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LibraryThing member Snukes
I accidentally read this book first, before any other Madeline L'Enlge books. I absolutely loved it, even though I was half-lost through some of it. I went back and reread the first two books, then re-read this one and loved it even more.
LibraryThing member readafew
A Swiftly Tilting Planet is the 3rd book chronicling the adventures of the Murray children. This one has Charles Wallace front and center. The Murray's find out on Thanksgiving through Mr. Murray that a madman is planning on starting a nuclear war, mostly because he can. Charles Wallace is given
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the task of going back in time and 'Within' others to try to change the past at a 'Might-have-been' a crucial point in the time line hoping to change the present. CW is assisted by Gaudior a flying Unicorn whose special gift is to fly on the Wind through time.

I my opinion this is the best of the series so far. The first 2 were written for a younger audience than this one and the story is fuller and the characters are more well rounded. This is another tale of good vs. evil and another fun book to add to a young adult collection.
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LibraryThing member thelorelei
This third installation (or fourth, in character chronology) of the L'Engle's Time Quintet may actually be my favorite. In it, the teenage Charles Wallace is called upon to travel back in time and merge with different people, trying to change the course of the future at points where things
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"might-have-been." All this is in a desperate attempt to prevent nuclear disaster threatened by a South American dictator.
I always found this book to be more intricate and therefore slightly more engrossing than the two previous, in the way that Charles Wallace must visit many points in time to unravel and re-spin the chain of events leading to the present day. It emphasizes once again themes of interconnectedness, and how the smallest event, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can affect all of time going forward.
Once again the language is smooth and effective, but seems to have gained just the slightest in complexity. There also seem to be additional shades of gray throughout the characters in the book, making things more complicated than they were in "Wrinkle" and "Wind." This is one book I'll gladly come back to again and again.
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