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Lavinia
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2008, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2009, 288 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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Martin Wyatt (06/05/09)

A new departure
I read the first two pages and thought, oh dear, Mary Renault. Not that I have anything against Mary Renault, who was very good in her way, but she was not Ursula Le Guin. At the end of the second page, everything changed, and it became altogether more complex, a novel about creation, writing, the life of invented characters. Ursula Le Guin has always been able to tell a good story, whatever else she may have been trying to do, and although she has "lost" one or two of the good bits from Virgil, she continues to show command over the balance of pace, pause and character.
Beth (05/21/08)

I wanted to like it better
Because of Ursula leGuin's reputation as an excellent writer of fantasy and science fiction, I eagerly started her historical/mythological fantasy, Lavinia. At the beginning, I was not disappointed.

Lavinia's character as a young princess in the household of a pre-Roman city-state is well drawn. She is independent, curious, and intent on having her own way with her life.

As stated above, Lavinia has only a line or so of mention in Vergil's Aeniad and so leGuin uses her full imaginative powers to create her personality.

However, once the plot is set in motion I found the book less exciting than I had hoped. The battle scenes seemed to drag on rather than being the page turners that are found elsewhere. A lack of familiarity with all of the characters in the Aeniad made their success or death in battle less than intriguing.

I would recommend the book to readers who are familiar with greco-roman history and mythology and enjoy novels on the subject. It is not a book for everyone, thus only a 4 in my rating.
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