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Release date Australia
May 21st, 2009
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
Dimensions (mm)
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Like Spartan Helen, I caused a war. She caused hers by letting men who wanted her take her. I caused mine because I wouldn't be given, wouldn't be taken, but chose my man and my fate. The man was famous, the fate obscure; not a bad balance.' Lavinia is the daughter of the King of Latium, a victorious warrior who loves peace; she is her father's closest companion. Now of an age to wed, Lavinia's mother favours her own kinsman, King Turnus of Rutulia, handsome, heroic, everything a young girl should want. Instead, Lavinia dreams of mighty Aeneas, a man she has heard of only from a ghost of a poet, who comes to her in the gods' holy place and tells her of her future and Aeneas' past... If she refuses to wed Turnus, Lavinia knows she will start a war - but her fate was set the moment the poet appeared to her in a dream and told her of the adventurer who fled fallen Troy, holding his son's hand and carrying his father on his back. 


"Le Guin has lovingly re-created the relatively simple Bronze age culture that ultimately gave birth to Rome. This is one of her finest achievements. It certainly deserves to be at the top of your 'must read' list." (Laurence Osborn INTERZONE )

"A world rich in ritual and piety is evoked, one teeming with divine omens and auguries. It's beautifully done. [An] intruiging, luxuriously realised novel." (James Lovegrove THE FINANCIAL TIMES )

'Compulsively readable...a winning combination of history and mythology' (BOOKLIST)

"This is a book that is as perfect as an autumn day or a truly great wine. This is life itself, coaxed onto the page. Such a perfect balance of feeling, metre and storytelling it is hard to describe." (Guy Haley DEATHRAY )

'Brilliant reimagining of the last six books of Virgil's epic poem, this beautiful and moving novel is a love offering to one of the world's great poets. Highly recommended' LIBRARY JOURNAL

'A novel that deserves to be ranked with Robert Graves's I, Claudius.' (Publishers Weekly)

"A magnificent act of reimagination, best read alongside a good translation of Virgil (such as that of Robert Fagles, whose translation is quoted here) so that Le Guin's brilliant interweaving of Lavinia's story with the original can be fully appreciated." (THE TIMES )

"Le Guin (Powers, 2007, etc.) departs from her award-winning fantasy and science-fiction novels to amplify a story told only glancingly in Virgil's epic The Aeneid. The story is that of the eponymous princess of Latium (a royal city before Rome existed), promised by her parents, King Latinus and Queen Amata, to neighboring Rutilian king Turnus (who is Amata's nephew). But omens decree otherwise, and Lavinia weds Trojan warrior-adventurer Aeneas, a bereaved and conflicted husband, son and father who will, over the years, earn the initially reluctant Lavinia's undying respect and love. Though this unlikely heroine receives only token mention in Virgil's original, Le Guin brings her to vibrant life as a dutiful virgin whose world is circumscribed by daily routines; who is the uncooperative cynosure of several suitors' eyes; and who eventually distances herself from the misrule of her stepson Ascanius (Aeneas's successor), biding her time until the new metropolis of Rome is made worthy of its intrepid founder. Lavinia's inner strength emerges in dreamlike "conversations" with the poet who created her, and in her intuitive understanding of her father's just rule, her husband's justifiable ambitions and her own unending obligations. Le Guin has researched this ancient world assiduously, and her measured, understated prose captures with equal skill the permutations of established ritual and ceremony and the sensations of the battlefield ("The snarling trumpets rang out again. A group of horsemen far out in the fields moved forward in a solid mass like a shadow across the ripening crops . . . through the hot slanting light full of dust"). Arguably her best novel, and an altogether worthy companionvolume to one of the Western world's greatest stories." Kirkus Reviews

Author Bio 

Ursula Le Guin has won many awards, including a National Book Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Newbery Honor and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement.

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