Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lavinia


Virgil’s epic poem, The Aeneid, is about the Trojan hero Aeneas who survives the fall of the city and eventually makes his way to Italy where he marries a Latin woman by the name of Lavinia. This book is her story. Lavinia is the daughter and only child of the Latin king. Any man who marries her inherits the kingdom and the suitors are numerous. However, a ghost and a prophecy proclaim that she will marry a foreigner and plunge the realm into war.

Lavinia is a blending of myth and historical fiction. The mythological element is very strong reflecting the religious views of the early Italian peoples. Religious rites as well as omens and prophecies play a large part in the story. While the author admittedly takes a few liberties with the society’s sophistication, the historical aspect is incredibly accurate. Characters are also exceptionally well done, almost equal to Christopher Priest’s skill. All this combines to make the reader feel they are really present in a slightly mythical ancient Italy.

Anyone who likes historical fiction will enjoy this book set in the time prior to the rise of Rome. Strongly recommended.

Rating: 8.5/10.
 

7 comments:

ThRiNiDiR said...

Le Guin deserves the publicity - I wonder why Lavinia is so downplayed (I don't hear much discussion on her new book which is sad given the quality of her writing).

Benjamin said...

Agreed. I've only read Wizard of Earthsea and that was years ago, but Lavinia is definitely a good book. I think part of the problem might be that historical fiction is considered belonging more to literature and thus tend to get overlooked when placed alongside the behemoths of science fiction and fantasy.

Larry said...

I'm set to begin writing the draft of my dual review of Lavinia and Jo Graham's Black Ships this weekend and it has been nice to see that those who have read Le Guin's book have, for the most part, enjoyed it greatly :D

Benjamin said...

It's a good book Larry. I've already pimped it out to some friends. :-D

ThRiNiDiR said...

I'm really looking forward to the dual review Larry.

Margaret Donsbach said...

If you enjoyed Lavinia and would like to read other novels set in the ancient world, you can find a long list of them at www.HistoricalNovels.info. In all, the website lists over 3000 historical novels. Have fun!

Benjamin said...

Thanks Margaret! I'll be sure to check that out.