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Time Quintet #3

A Swiftly Tilting Planet

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In this companion volume to A Wrinkle In Time (Newbery Award winner) and A Wind In The Door 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, but still able to enter her brother's thoughts and emotions by "kything" - goes with him in spirit.

278 pages, Paperback

First published July 1, 1978

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About the author

Madeleine L'Engle

206 books8,453 followers
Madeleine L'Engle was an American writer best known for her young adult fiction, particularly the Newbery Medal-winning A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters. Her works reflect her strong interest in modern science: tesseracts, for example, are featured prominently in A Wrinkle in Time, mitochondrial DNA in A Wind in the Door, organ regeneration in The Arm of the Starfish, and so forth.

"Madeleine was born on November 29th, 1918, and spent her formative years in New York City. Instead of her school work, she found that she would much rather be writing stories, poems and journals for herself, which was reflected in her grades (not the best). However, she was not discouraged.

At age 12, she moved to the French Alps with her parents and went to an English boarding school where, thankfully, her passion for writing continued to grow. She flourished during her high school years back in the United States at Ashley Hall in Charleston, South Carolina, vacationing with her mother in a rambling old beach cottage on a beautiful stretch of Florida beach.

She went to Smith College and studied English with some wonderful teachers as she read the classics and continued her own creative writing. She graduated with honors and moved into a Greenwich Village apartment in New York. She worked in the theater, where Equity union pay and a flexible schedule afforded her the time to write! She published her first two novels during these years—A Small Rain and Ilsa—before meeting Hugh Franklin, her future husband, when she was an understudy in Anton Chekov's The Cherry Orchard. They married during The Joyous Season.

She had a baby girl and kept on writing, eventually moving to Connecticut to raise the family away from the city in a small dairy farm village with more cows than people. They bought a dead general store, and brought it to life for 9 years. They moved back to the city with three children, and Hugh revitalized his professional acting career. The family has kept the country house, Crosswicks, and continues to spend summers there.

As the years passed and the children grew, Madeleine continued to write and Hugh to act, and they to enjoy each other and life. Madeleine began her association with the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, where she has been the librarian and maintained an office for more than thirty years. After Hugh's death in 1986, it was her writing and lecturing that kept her going. She has now lived through the 20th century and into the 21st and has written over 60 books and keeps writing. She enjoys being with her friends, her children, her grandchildren, and her great grandchildren."


Copyright © 2007 Crosswicks, Ltd. (Madeleine L'Engle, President)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,747 reviews
Profile Image for Cait.
416 reviews13 followers
February 15, 2013
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.
Profile Image for Keith Mukai.
Author 0 books18 followers
December 15, 2007
Though L'Engle's storytelling improves after the dull previous outing of "A Wind in the Door", "Swiftly" fails in other more serious ways.

The biggest problem is her somewhat silly reliance on hereditary family names from generation to generation--names that endure for hundreds of years and somehow continue to intersect.

Madoc, Madog, Maddux, and Mad Dog; Gwydder, Gedder, and Gwen; Zyllie, Zyllah, Zylle; two Branwens and a Charles and a Chuck round out the cast. I think.

Something like four different generations are followed and each generation has its own version of each namesake. But it's not just one namesake per generation--the 1865 generation has a Zyllie in America and a Zyllah in South America. Or is it the other way around? Gedder wants a Maddux to get with his sister Zyllah and wants Gwen for himself, but that Maddux is engaged to the Zyllie in America. Confusing? Yes. Does this sound silly? Yes.

The first generation's usages of the names is fine. The second generation is interesting but gets a little confusing (like if the families married in the first generation, why are Maddocs still courting Zyllahs?). And by the third generation it's just absolutely ridiculous that L'Engle is still trying to play this name game.

All this nuttiness aside, our hero, Charles Wallace doesn't seem to really do much in the story. He travels within a particular person in each generation and kind of becomes them. But only in the first generation is it clear that Charles himself steps forward and directs his host to act in a certain way. After that, Charles' influence on his host--and therefore on the novel--is less distinct.

One can infer a few instances where his presence may have made a difference, but overall the effect is to make him seem more like a passive observer than active participant in saving civilization. And passivity is a serious flaw in any story.
Profile Image for Leslie Ray.
187 reviews95 followers
January 21, 2020
I had decided to go back and finish the Time Quintet series as I had read "A Wrinkle in Time" when I was in school. I have really enjoyed #2 and #3 so far and am kind of glad I didn't read them when I was really young as I can really appreciate them more now.
This one centers on Charles Wallace and Meg, who is now married to Calvin. His mother plays a big part of this story which involves the time travel and kything that were a part of the previous 2 books. Charles Wallace must go back in time, with the help of a unicorn (how cool is that) and realign events as he inhabits certain ancestors of a dictator, who in the present, is about to cause a nuclear war. We follow the adventure of Charles Wallace and feel through Meg as she kythes with him throughout the journey.
Although these 5 books are all marketed to a younger audience, adults will enjoy them as well, if not more.

Profile Image for Trish.
2,017 reviews3,436 followers
March 31, 2018
This is the third book in the Time Quintet series that started out with Meg, her brother Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin.

The third book starts with a massive time jump that almost disoriented me: the events here start 10 years after those of the last volume with Meg being married to Calvin and pregnant with their first child, Calvin being a scientist (and currently away in England), and the family has come together for a Thanksgiving dinner. Even Calvin's mother is there and when something peculiar happens and the family is informed that nuclear war has become a real possibility, it's Calvin's mother who tasks Charles Wallace with saving the future by giving him an old Irish rune (she doesn't actively know it).
In order to do that, he recites the rune, thereby conjuring a winged unicorn called Gaudior.
Together, they travel through time to certain moments the wind takes them to where Charles Walles merges with certain characters and experiences the moments in time through their eyes.
It's about changing the past to ensure a peaceful future.

At first, I thought this book would be even more heavy-handed than in the previous volumes. However, it was soon clear that it was done to actually criticize people like . So I didn't mind. It actually had a mythological feel to it by a certain point.

I certainly preferred this kind of quest to that of the previous book although we barely got to be with Meg or even Charles Wallce - it was more about the people Charles Wallce was "visiting" with Gaudior.

The writing and audio were both, once again, very good. The author and narrator are both very talented and therefore the books are always of high quality - what influences my rating the most are therefore the repsective adventures. But now I wonder how these 5 volumes will come together in the end. Many things Meg and her brother learnt in book 2 have become essential in this third after the first book lay the foundation of who (mostly) this was about ... but how will it all come together, especially after such a time jump?!
Profile Image for Michael Fitzgerald.
Author 2 books54 followers
December 2, 2019
This one is pretty weak. The name thing is especially stupid. It takes literally 150 pages (out of 278) for them to figure out "with a startled flash of comprehension" that there's - gosh! - a connection between various people named Madoc, Madog, Maddok, Maddox, Mad Dog, Branwen, Brandon, Bran, Zyll, Zylle, Zillo, Zillah, Zillie, Beezie (B.Z.), Branzillo. And then it's on p.195 that we get "Certainly the name Zillie must have some connection with Madoc's Zyll, and Ritchie Llawcae's Zylle..." Really? You don't say! Give me a break! You are insulting the reader's intelligence - and characters in L'Engle books are supposed to be even *more* intelligent and extraordinary than normal readers. This similar names thing is something that L'Engle did in The Other Side of the Sun with several people all named Theron. I'm not sure what the purpose is, but it doesn't work because it's just unclear to the reader. It's like George Foreman and his five sons named George: just dumb - which is the last thing that readers of L'Engle books want. There are enough somewhat interesting stories in all of this, but it's not L'Engle's best work, not by a long shot.
Profile Image for D.M. Dutcher .
Author 1 book49 followers
September 6, 2011
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.



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.
January 26, 2020
“The sky lightened, and the sun sent its fiery rays over the edge of the lake, reaching up into the sky, pulling itself, dripping, from the waters of the night.”

I don't say this lightly: the first book of this series, A Wrinkle in Time, is my favourite book. Yes, my favourite book of all time. I had to reach the old wise age of 31 to find a book so wonderful, that it would make me say, without a doubt: I never ever read anything quite like this one. And well, I read three books in this series so far and I don't like them any less! Unfortunately, as it often happens, I have such a deep love for this series that reviewing it seems almost impossible. I have no way to describe the joy and wonder which filled my heart in some passages of this book, neither can I put in words the beauty of Madeleine L'Engle's poetic prose; her ability to transform words into rivers of colours, smells and taste. Her novels are like a drug for the imagination. And its beauty truly is moving; in fact this book almost brought me to tears more than once, just for the sheer beauty of some scenes (one among all, the birth of a baby unicorn). I can recommend everybody to read these books; but I don't guarantee that you all will love them just as me. I am perfectly aware that my liking for this series is very personal, and I feel like they speak to my soul. I want to read them over and over again for the rest of my life!

Profile Image for Alaina.
6,423 reviews215 followers
March 17, 2018
Okay this book was weird.

Charles is almost grown up because he's freaking 15 years old now. The twins are in like med school or something like that. Meg is married to Calvin and they are having a baby (OMG FANGIRL AND SWOOONING). Not really bummed that Meg and the twins weren't in this book as much, or that Meg wasn't on the adventure.. because Charles didn't really get to go on the last one. So it kind of makes up for it - right?

Okay that parts not weird, the weird part was that Charles went to his star-watching rock, evil echthroi were trying to catch him, and then he finds a random ass unicorn and flies back in time. I'm sorry.. but what.. the hell just happened? From then on, there's a clusterfuck of confusion because I honestly had no idea who the heck was talking .. so I just kind of assumed it was Charles the entire time talking to himself. Yup. It made the book more interesting if I do say so myself.

The adventure was okay. The confusion was very confusing and it didn't help that I was completely exhausted today either. I don't really understand why he even went on a trip with a unicorn to begin with. I also don't really understand why he was being chased. I just didn't understand a whole bunch of this book. I have no idea what the next book will have but I hope it's less confusion.

Overall, the first book was probably the best and is probably my favorite. Still holding out the judgment though because there are two more books left in this shindig. Let's do this!
Profile Image for Sarah.
1,898 reviews
February 1, 2012
Charles Wallace saves the universe from the forces of evil. Dear Lord, I hated this book. I'm going with two stars because I do try to reserve a one-star rating for truly unreadable books. This wasn't necessarily bad; I just hated it. I hated the wooden dialogue. I hated the vaguely racist patina over the Native American portrayal. I hated the fact that everyone had the same flipping name. I hated that the author circumvented background exposition with awkward over-explaining conversations (or exclamations to the dog!) and letters. Most of all, I hated that the characters were completely useless as carriers of any individual talent or strength. Literally everything in this puzzle was handed to Charles Wallace and Meg. It might as well have been any rando off the street doing these Missions because they certainly required no initiative, and explicitly discouraged independent thinking. And it had to be that way because that's the way it Was. So if it Was, then why did someone even have to do it? And why did someone special have to do it? The dog really tipped it for me. Really, a random magic dog shows up on this night to pick up the remaining slack between what the unicorn and the powers that Be have determined will happen? Ugh.

I came back to add more stuff I hated, because I hated it that much. I hated that it was apparently totally plausible for the President, 24 hours before nuclear meltdown, to call his occasional science advisor just to give him a heads-up about the end of the world. Like, how many people must be 2 or 3 degrees away from the President in this way? Did he literally sit and call every one of them? Maybe the world is about to end because he has a terrible hierarchy of priorities. I hated that NOTHING else in the world changed when Whatshername married Thegoodone instead of Thebadone. C'mon now. First of all, rudi-flipping-mentary time travel. Second, don't make the entire premise of your story the fact that everything is so interrelated and how one tiny change might wipe out the universe, and then make a HUGE change and report that the only difference in the timeline of history is that the dictator isn't evil anymore. Oh, and I so hated that Meg is nothing but dog-whisperer and baby-carrier. Meg is brilliant! And raised in a freaking female Nobel Prize-winning household. Not to say that she has to be a renowned scientist or anything, but it just would have been sweet to say what her non-house-keeping-baby-growing role is in her world. Or at least a short manifesto about feminist choices and the way she is living her feminism in this role. The end, for real this time.
Profile Image for Morgan.
80 reviews
March 27, 2008
At Tara in this fateful hour,
I place all Heaven with its power,
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And the fire with all the strength it hath,
And the lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the earth with its starkness,
All these I place by God's almightly help and grace
Between myself and the powers of darkness!

This book was absolutely amazing, and an instant classic in my mind. I now understand why everyone raved about these books. It was all because of this story here.

As the book begins, we find ourselves in the future. Charles Wallace is 15, the twins are finishing up grad school, and Meg and Calvin are not only married, but expecting their first child. It's Thanksgiving and the whole family, including Calvin's mom, Mrs. O'Keefe are gathered together to celebrate. But it's not long before trouble starts. Mr. Murry receives an urgent call from the President stating that we are on the verge of nuclear war with a small country, Vespugia, and their angry leader. As the family sits around the table discussing scenaries, quiet, distrusting Mrs. O'Keefe begins to recite this ancient rune. As she leaves, she turns to Charles Wallace and demands, "It's all up to Chuck. You have to save us all."

Each chapter is named after a line from the rune, and follows the general concept of what is presented there. So, in Chapter 2 "I place all Heaven with it's power", Charles Wallace receives his help from heaven, a Unicorn. On this Unicorn he travels through time to years and years past in an attempt to change the future.

This book really drew me in, and reminded me of a Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys Mystery. It's done really intelligently, with wonderful back stories, and lovely characters. And that rune! Oh! It's my new favorite quote. Ever. And that same power is avaliable to us today (well, probably not a Unicorn, but you know what I mean). What an awesome God we serve, one that uses people in such wonderful ways, i.e. that by writing a children's novel, we discover a prayer for our spiritual battle! Amazing!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Beth.
1,158 reviews118 followers
March 14, 2018
Five stars for enjoyment and nostalgia and quality of writing. This is so, so formative for me. So many of the things I love in literature today are present in this book. A Swiftly Tilting Planet has runes and myth and might-have-beens, and it does time travel wonderfully. (Adult-me wonders if L'Engle was referencing Barrie and Dear Brutus with her might-have-beens; child-me had never heard of a might-have-been before.)

This is lyrical and beautiful. And it still makes me desperate to see a model of a tesseract.

Note: I just spent ten minutes searching my old journal for notes on the blue eyes/brown eyes aspect. I know I wrote notes on that a few years ago, about how it really rubbed me the wrong way. It didn't so much on this reread - but it's there nonetheless. This isn't a perfect book. But it is a really, really good one.

I did find this, from a speech L'Engle gave:
One time I was in the kitchen drinking tea with my husband and our young son, and they got into an argument about ice hockey. I do not feel passionate about ice hockey. They do. Finally our son said. “But Daddy, you don’t understand.” And my husband said, reasonably, “It’s not that I don’t understand, Bion. It’s just that I don’t agree with you.”

To which the little boy replied hotly, “If you don’t agree with me, you don’t understand.”

I think we all feel that way, but it takes a child to admit it.
Profile Image for Manybooks.
3,210 reviews104 followers
July 22, 2022
So yes, when I read A Swiftly Tilting Planet (which is the third instalment of Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet series) late last night and early this morning, I not only sped through L'Engle's presented text with lightning speed (at least for me), I also did find (and continue to find) the basic plotline of A Swiftly Tilting Planet in and of itself wonderfully engaging and entertaining, with fifteen year old Charles Wallace Murry travelling through time astride the flying unicorn Gaudior in order to alter certain and particular aspects of the past and to thereby save Planet Earth from a nuclear war being threatened by a crazed South American dictator, and with a now married to Calvin O'Keefe and pregnant with their first child Meg being perhaps rather physically rather passive but still accompanying her brother in spirit via kything (and that part of the reason why I do enjoy the basic premise of A Swiftly Tilting Planet so much is that it is one of the very few time travelling middle grade novels I have encountered where going back in time to make the past different is actually depicted as something not only possible but also as required and necessary, that Madeleine L'Engle clearly describes the present in A Swiftly Tilting Planet as being dangerously tainted and deliberately put on a wrong path by cosmic evil, by the etchroi and thus desperately needing an adjustment that can in fact only occur by specifically altering the past).

But while as a story, A Swiftly Tilting Planet has been really and much enjoyable (and in particular for my time travel novels loving inner child), as an adult reader, I have unfortunately also found some rather problematic textual problems with Madeleine L'Engle's narrative which prevent me from considering more than three stars for A Swiftly Tilting Planet.

For one, I do find it rather strange and disconcerting that when the father (when Dr. Murry) at the beginning of A Swiftly Tilting Planet gets the official phone call from the Pentagon that the world is close to a nuclear holocaust, he and everyone gathered to celebrate Thanksgiving at the Murry house just seem to react with no emotions, and simply seem to continue with their Thanksgiving dinner (as come on, in the face of a global nuclear war, emotionality and a bit of depicted fear and dread would be much more realistic). For two, that time travelling (and unlike in A Wrinkle in Time) is suddenly as easy and as uncomplicated as Charles Wallace Murry riding his magical unicorn jumping into the wind, this does feel at best a bit of a textual let-down for me and as though Madeleine L’Engle is kind of running out of steam. And for three, and probably the main reason why the rating for A Swiftly Tilting Planet can for me be no higher than three stars is that I really do not at all understand why it takes a genius like Charles Wallace Murry such an incredibly long time to figure out the links between the similar sounding first names throughout the generations of Branzillos (as these are pretty ridiculously obvious and that for much of A Swiftly Tilting Planet none of the Murrays, not even Charles Wallace notices his, sorry, but this really does make me shake my head).
Profile Image for Teresa.
Author 8 books817 followers
March 11, 2019
As I said of A Wind in the Door, I didn’t know of these sequels to A Wrinkle in Time until I was an adult and read them when my son was reading the quartet. I now own this beautiful edition: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3..., so I’m rereading the books (along with their respective endnotes) but reviewing them separately.

If I'd read this when I was a child, I might've been dismayed at the idea of a grown-up Meg, in the same way Peter Pan is at the appearance of the adult Wendy. But I would’ve been won over by the stories told within the “time-travel” sequences, especially the one set in Puritan Salem, as well as the overarching story of two families splintered off from two Welsh brothers: a Cain-Abel mix of legend, mythology and historical fiction.
Profile Image for Brian .
415 reviews5 followers
September 7, 2020
"The world of trucks isn't as real to me as the world on the other side of time."

This one had a unicorn!

Okay, maybe not that unicorn.

I had to turn off my adult, analytical brain, and access the child deep down inside me, the one that holds the capacity to wonder, to believe, and to learn, because the corruption of past has not tainted it. In other words, I had to let go of all I think I know. It provided an awesome experience! I remember the awesomeness and wonder of reading these as a child. I hope to contact that mind of innocence again.

I remember, as a kid, I had frequent panic attacks. I didn't know it then, but I believe philosophers would refer to this as existential dread. I lay in bed at night (I remember the first time with vividness), and would think, and imagine. What if nothing existed. What if color did not exist, no black, no white, no something to contrast with nothing. Nothing. I felt my mind go somewhere else, and it terrified me, like I was losing my reality, losing my existence. Abnormal? Maybe. After all these years, I realized I didn't just make up those thoughts. I read them in this book. It amazes me the impact books can make on the human mind, especially the mind of a child.

The story had that "feeling" I love, that otherness of reality, what Tolkien referred to as "suspended disbelief." I think something more lies within that feeling, something real. Again, abnormal? Maybe. I can tell you, though, I like it, and I want to be there. In fact, I want to stay there. Let's be honest, this reality we live in can beat you down and scatter your blood to the four winds. Its nice to go somewhere else for awhile. It's nice to believe in another, better world- some where, some place, maybe beyond world, beyond place, beyond time. I remember criticizing Borges in my heart because he didn't know if he existed. Now look at me. I should have criticized myself. Ignorance keeps us believing the reality we know, what we see, feel, touch, experience. We feel fine as long as we don't get uncomfortable with something we don't understand. Then, fear....

So, the basic story-line: Famous Dad scientist gets a call from the President of the U.S. World War Three, and the end comes tomorrow. Sister's mother in law gives a poem called a rune, used throughout the novel. Charles goes to the rock in the field outside. Unicorn picks him up and takes him to several points in time to change the "might-have-been." This ties in with the end of the world with a grand crisis and resolution.

"He rode a Gaudior who had become as tiny as a dragonfly, rode among the fireflies, joining their brilliant dance, twinkling, blinking, shooting over the star-watching rock, over the valley, singing their song, and he was singing too, and he was himself, and yet he was all he had learned...And he rode a Gaudior who had become as large as a constellation, rode among the galaxies, and he was himself, and he was also Madoc...flying through showers of stars, caught up in the joy of the music of the spheres... part of the harmony, part of the joy."

Can you feel that? Can you believe it?

Part of the Trifid Nebula, The Unicorn
Profile Image for Christopher.
139 reviews13 followers
March 25, 2008
I hate to admit it, but getting through this book has been a bit of a chore. I'm not altogether certain if I want to finish this chapter of the "Wrinkle in Time" series, though I'm sure I'll press on because I bought the entire series and I want to get through it at least once. What is interesting about this book is that it introduces us to an adult (and very pregnant) Meg, and a teenaged Charles Wallace, who is the center of this book. After getting to know these two characters so well in the previous two books, it's a treat to see them as they get older. The fun is tarnished (for me, anyway) with L'Engle's storytelling device of putting Charles Wallace's soul or essence inside various other characters throughout the book, and dedicating entire chapters to random characters completely unassociated with the world of the Murrays. It feels like a kind of cheating on L'Engle's behalf - as if she were tired of writing about the Murray family and the quirky sci-fi creatures these books have become known for, so PRESTO CHANGO! We'll just cram Charles Wallace's soul into a few historical fiction characters and it can still "technically" be a "Wrinkle in Time" book. Maybe I'm being a bit harsh here, but I'm finding this book something of a bore, and I really wish it weren't the case.
Profile Image for Miniikaty .
571 reviews122 followers
January 7, 2019
Reseña completa: https://letraslibrosymas.blogspot.com...

La edición sigue siendo impecable y preciosa, Gran travesía se lo curra mucho y en esta ocasión tenemos un unicornio en el interior de las solapas y brillos dorados anaranjados en la cubierta (además de pequeños detalles e ilustraciones en el interior que enmarcan el número de páginas, los inicios y finales de capítulos como ya pasaba con los anteriores libros).

En cuanto a mis impresiones y lo que podéis encontrar en el interior, pues os podéis hacer una idea bastante aproximada si ya habéis leído alguno de los libros de esta saga, si no es el caso... Estamos ante una historia compleja, con un desarrollo un poco denso y una historia que envuelve muchos factores e historias dentro de la misma, así que puede resultar algo repetitivo o confuso. La pluma de la autora es muy elaborada y se centra mucho en las descripciones de los nuevos lugares a donde nos lleva o a lo que pasa alrededor de los personajes.
Profile Image for Tiff.
581 reviews537 followers
August 12, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Andrew Leon.
Author 63 books44 followers
December 27, 2014
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).]
Profile Image for Carrie (brightbeautifulthings).
837 reviews30 followers
November 27, 2020
There were a lot of books I read well before I was able to understand them. I don’t think there’s any harm in reading ahead of our intellect, since it’s a way of pushing ourselves forward, but it undoubtedly affects impressions. While I don’t remember struggling with A Wrinkle In Time or A Wind In The Door in spite of their difficult concepts, for whatever reason, A Swiftly Tilting Planet went right over my head. Maybe it was all the time travel and the overlapping family lines, but I just didn’t get it the first time around. As I got older, I learned to love it as much as the other two, but it’s earned a new place in my heart and in my life.

I don’t often get political on this platform. I have other social media for that. My blog is a place for bright and lovely things, and politics are rarely bright or lovely. But on election night 2020, this was the book I turned to for comfort. It is, after all, about a boy and a unicorn who go back in time to stop a mad dictator from destroying the planet. The stakes weren’t quite that high in America, but on a night when I was filled with fear and dread over the future of my country (and remembering the dread and sadness of our last presidential election), L'Engle brought me hope that people could choose kindness and goodness, that the smallest choices could have an impact if they were made out of love. I don’t often make sweeping statements about books “everyone” needs a copy of, but The Time Quartet would be in that category. In one way or another, these books have always been there for me, as books always are in our darkest hours.

The world is on the brink of nuclear war, which could have a ripple effect on the entire universe. In order to prevent this, fifteen-year-old Charles Wallace is sent back in time with the unicorn, Gaudior, and his sister Meg kything from the present to try and alter the Might Have Beens that would lead to peace. He finds himself in a generations-old feud between two Welsh brothers, one who values peace and goodness and the other who seeks power at any price. Trigger warnings: character death, parent/sibling death, drowning, fires, severe injury, severe illness, abusive households, racism (some countered), ableism (countered), grief.

The plot of Planet is somewhat more sophisticated and the story more of a slow burn than the previous two books, and it’s harder to follow. It’s taken age and multiple readings for me to track all the name repetitions and crossovers in the multiple timelines. (If I were a more enterprising spirit–or a better English student–I might make myself a family tree of the Maddox/Llawcae families, but I tend not to want to pause and work out details when I’m in a story that I’m reading for fun.) While making all the connections makes the organize-y part of my brain happy, it isn’t strictly necessary to understand the bigger messages of the novel. If Time examined things on a macroscopic level, spanning galaxies, and Door took a look at the microscopic level, Planet’s dimension is time and how one small thing affects another over decades, centuries, or longer. They’re a near-perfect complement to one another.

The story is grounded in the much-beloved Murray family, and through Charles’s connection with Meg, the narrative returns to them time and time again like a touchstone. The other settings and characters shift frequently as he jumps among generations, which makes it difficult to get attached to some of them–-at least until I stopped seeing them as separate rather than a continuing pattern. This time around, I felt like I had a better sense of their individual stories: how Brandon’s connection with Maddok makes them stronger, how Matthew’s selflessness saves his family (and, further down the line, possibly the world), how Beezie’s life was a tragic victory for darkness. It’s more subtle, but it continues themes of love and connectedness that I enjoyed from the first two books. In L'Engle’s world, every small action matters and there’s always a chance for redemption.

I review regularly at brightbeautifulthings.tumblr.com.
Profile Image for Neil R. Coulter.
1,090 reviews117 followers
December 19, 2017
When I was a kid, the L'Engle's Time series was just a trilogy, so this was the final volume. On this re-read, as bedtime stories with the kids, I enjoyed the first volume, A Wrinkle in Time, and liked the second, A Wind in the Door, even better. This one, though . . . it's a different kind of story. Though L'Engle attempted a much bigger, more substantial story, it falls short in some frustrating ways.

What's good about A Swiftly Tilting Planet: the language. L'Engle seems to have put much more into crafting every word of this book. She often uses alliteration, brings in some really interesting and unusual words, and infuses the sentences with a rhythm that I don't remember being present in the other books in the series. Reading it aloud was often a delight, especially for a family that loves words and good use of language.

I also admire L'Engle for looking at a bigger canvas than before in her storytelling. This book includes extensive use of time-travel, as well as Charles Wallace going "Within" other people, in avatar fashion. Elements of this story hint at many other sci-fi stories that have come since.

What doesn't work: too much, unfortunately. Though Charles Wallace seems to have some ability to influence the people he goes Within at the beginning, by the end he is lost in the narrative, seemingly not doing much to influence history. It's all a little puzzling--he's supposed to lose himself in the person he's inhabiting, but he's also supposed to repair something in time that went wrong.

The idea that something in the future can be changed by making little changes here and there throughout the past is intriguing, but ultimately too simplistic to make a great story. It's also odd how in every generation there is a man from one particular family and a woman from another, who are destined to marry. How can these two family lines always produce people who marry, then after a few generations there is another couple that is distant enough in bloodline that they can marry, on and on? I found it puzzling.

So, the plot is a little too much for a children's book. But the bigger issue is what's happened to the main characters in the years since the second book. Charles Wallace is, of course, still brilliant. The Murray parents are still geniuses who are on-call for the President of the United States. Calvin and Meg are married. Calvin, of course, is brilliant, like almost everyone in the book. Even the twins, Sandy and Dennys, the supposedly "normal" ones, not especially intelligent, are studying medicine and law, and are, of course, brilliant after all.

You know who isn't brilliant and making an amazing career for herself? Meg. The protagonist. Who, it happens, is female. Instead of accomplishing astounding things in the world, Meg . . . is pregnant. She sits around the house, worrying about her brilliant husband, and being babied by literally every member of the family ("Meg, you shouldn't be outside, you'll catch cold!" "Meg, would you like some hot cocoa?" "Meg, shouldn't you be sleeping?"). It's ridiculous. Meg, who formerly was brilliant, is now just very, very normal, and apparently helpless. During this story, she lies on her bed, observing what Charles Wallace is doing. Sad.

I like that L'Engle attempted so much with this story, but I'm disappointed with her treatment of Meg. Had Meg been the true protagonist again, instead of merely an observer, I would like the book a lot more.
Profile Image for hotsake (André Troesch).
682 reviews12 followers
April 21, 2022
Still has all the flaws of the first two books but I found this book with its interlocking stories to be the most entertaining of the book thus far.
Profile Image for Darla.
3,514 reviews618 followers
March 24, 2018
The scope of this story is quite impressive. I loved the unicorn time-travelling with Charles Wallace and the fact that they mostly stayed in the same "where." Meg is not mobile in this one, but is telepathically with Charles Wallace. She learns things about her mother-in-law's past and gains a new understanding. Along the way, can a might have been be brought to be that can save the world from Mad Branzillo?

Took a point off for the narration. L'Engle is not the best narrator for her books.
Profile Image for Jacqie.
1,653 reviews80 followers
April 11, 2012
I loved this book as a child, and probably much of this review will be my childhood experience of reading it. I've looked through some other reviews and been interested to see the viewpoints of those who don't like the book. There are certainly some race and gender reps that seem dated or not PC now, but I wonder how a child of 10 or 12 (my age when I first read it) would perceive it.

For myself, reading it about 1978 or 1980, it was an eye-opening experience. First, one thing I like about L'engle's writing is that she isn't afraid to work more adult themes into her work. Time travel, the past affecting (even erasing) the future, possible sexual abuse, it's there, but not wallowed in. But they are interesting, challenging concepts upon which to ruminate. Next, I grew up in an evangelical household, with a very authoritative view Christianity, with parents who were sexist and bigoted. Reading about a woman who could be a scientist ( I know, she works from home) and about Indians who were more mature than the white colonists who feared them were both totally new perspectives. As was L'engle's philosophy, always gently there, of a kind and loving deity who makes beautiful music, in addition to her portraying those with belief as actually open-minded, likeable people (again, a first in my experience). Her philosophy of trying to be part of a greater pattern is not confrontational. There is no epic battle in this book. Charles Wallace saves the world by helping someone be with the person they love, at the expense of himself, but it's done without fireworks, hardly even acknowledged by anyone. There's no hero fantasy being played out here. Isn't that kind of an interesting idea? Meg saves him by asking for help instead of strapping on a sword and fighting for him- isn't the idea of asking for help instead of being entirely self-sufficient against the standard tropes of fantasy? There's no sidekick-hero dynamic here. Everyone does what they can do, and the least appealing character in the book is ultimately the one who placed herself, before anyone even knew what she was doing, between her family and the powers of darkness.

I'm not a Christian myself, but have more respect for this sort of philosophy than fire and brimstone. And maybe submission is an awkward trope to wrap one's head around, but you certainly don't read much like it in these days of spunky, sassy heroines who are simultaneously totally sexy and totally virginal in the popular teen books. I don't advocate submission as the answer to everything, but maybe butt-kicking isn't the answer to everything either.

Don't get me wrong, sometimes a good sassy butt-kicking is what I like to read about. But reading about community, hope and harmony again was a refreshing change.
Profile Image for Angela Blount.
Author 5 books676 followers
December 14, 2017
4.5 Stars

Time-travel, evil dictators, Unicorns, and impending nuclear doom. Oh my!

When you break it down to it’s basic parts, it doesn’t look like this story could possibly work. And yet, somehow, it does. Not perfectly or without some name-related confusion. But what it sometimes lacks in clear logical progression it makes up for in sheer wonderment, empathy-building, and that Murry family bond which readers have—by this point—come to know and love.

In the first book of this series, the focus was on travel through outer space. The second book centered on traveling through inner-space. And this, the third book, revolves around the space-time continuum. There’s a bit of space travel in this one as well, as we take a little detour to the Unicorn homeworld… (yes, I just wrote that.) The entire story takes place over the course of a day, but spans hundreds of fictional years and many generations.

L’Engle’s writing shows a growth in complexity within this book that makes it stand out a bit above the first two books, in this reader’s opinion. As ever, her style is perplexing yet somehow lovely. And the emotional depth she achieves by giving us a glimpse into Mrs. O’Keefe’s background is absolutely moving. (I’d thought I was quite content in not liking that woman. But the author didn’t allow her to continue on as a one-note side character, and I love her for that.)

I keep seeing reviewers raging at the fact that Meg is pregnant in this book, seeming to resent her biological state and claiming she “doesn’t do anything” in this story. Sorry, (not sorry) but I call malarkey on that assertion. Yes, she’s now married to Calvin and a bit encumbered by being late-term preggers. Yet, it’s that very condition that makes her an ideal candidate for telepathically aiding Charles Wallace in the general save-the-world endeavors. The premise of this book is all about protecting the future by going back and repairing a past that has been sabotaged. It’s about legacy and lineage. And it effectively drives the stakes higher to be constantly aware that it’s not just the entire impersonal world population that’s theoretically in peril—it’s our brilliant beloved Meg, and the unborn baby she may never get a chance to meet.
(Also, Meg has been the main active character for the first two books. The girl deserves a break. And considering he’s now 15, Charles Wallace certainly deserves his own coming-of-age opportunity.)

So far, this has been my favorite book in this fantasy/sci-fi series.
Profile Image for Ariel.
1,736 reviews30 followers
November 20, 2015
I re-read all of these in a row: A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door and this conclusion. What a difference in quality. But this isn't the typical "gold, silver, brass" progression of a trilogy. It's more like 'gold, silver, mud.'

A Swiftly Tilting Planet is terribly dated and even racist. There's a bad guy in Patagonia who wants to use The Bomb and Charles Wallace can only fix the problem by traveling back in time and space to make sure the right father begets the guy with his finger on the button. The characters actually talk about bloodlines and blood here. So in this scenario, genetics create destiny.

Don't even get me started on this strange, ancient connection L'Engle cooks up between Welsh people and Native Americans in Patagonia who are envisioned as living in perfect harmony with each other and their environment. They're beyond Noble Savage and back to the Garden of Eden. The white people bring original sin--well, in the form of a Cain and Abel story--and it gets mixed into the bloodline of the Patagonian Indians. It's better than original sin coming from the Native Americans but not much. And anyway in the end, you can tell the good guy 'cause he has blue eyes. What does this say to you?

Oh, Madeleine, you hurt me with this conclusion to the trilogy, really you did.
Profile Image for Melody Schwarting.
1,542 reviews81 followers
January 12, 2023
A Swiftly Tilting Planet is a bit more fantasy than sci-fi, and thus was more to my taste than A Wind in the Door. It is a bit disappointing that L'Engle builds fantastic parts of her world and doesn't revisit them in future books, but as I'm already a few chapters into Many Waters I can tell that she does flirt with them later on.

A Swiftly Tilting Planet emotionally compelled me more than A Wind in the Door, too, with its expansive plot and continued question of seeing beyond the veneer to a person who can be loved. Lots to think over after finishing this one.
Profile Image for Janni.
Author 41 books449 followers
February 23, 2012
This book was deeply, deeply influential when I first read it. Years later, I can see it's flaws more clearly, but in many ways I don't care. L'Engle's overall sense of the universe having a fundamental all-rightness beneath its darkness, and this particular book's sense that until they do happen the awful things don't have to happen, have stayed with me through the years.

Just reread 2/11/12. Still magic. Still so deep a comfort read.

(Scattered thoughts about this book and The Arm of the Starfish here: http://janni.livejournal.com/774451.html)
218 reviews50 followers
January 2, 2009
Charles Wallace, unicorns, telepathy and time travel. For me, there is very little not to like in this book. L'Engle again explores connections through space and time, and how the actions of just one person can alter history as we know it. One of the books I can read again and again and always enjoy.
Profile Image for Lindsay (pawsomereads).
780 reviews420 followers
March 12, 2023
This was a really fast-paced story and very layered. I think I got a little lost in the past storyline and definitely preferred updates on the present storyline with characters I was already familiar with from the previous books in the series.
I think the premise was really interesting and I can definitely tell that these books were inventive for their time.
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