This book deserves more superlatives than the English language has to offer. The heroine, Princess Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind, is the most brilliantly-realised female character in world literature since Anna Karenina.
From her very first appearance, a thrilling encounter with an enraged Ohmu leading to a heartwarming reunion with her old mentor, Nausicaa leaps from the printed page to occupy a place in the reader's heart.
Princess Nausicaa's profound love of all living things enables her to overcome her anger at the oppression of her Valley and her natural loyalty to her native people - instead she rises above petty tribal squabbles to address the greater problems facing her world as a whole, doubly ravaged by the devastating weapons of mass destruction of her ancestors and the devastating blind ambition of her contemporaries.
Despite his grand theme, Miyazaki tells a warm, witty and poignant story of ordinary humans in a fabulously-imagined future world, featuring an exceptionally rich and diverse cast of characters, all of whom develop, interact and mature with engaging realism.
This magnificent, visionary book is as resonant and relevant today as it was eighteen years ago. At its heart is the coming of age of a Messiah in a post-apocalyptic world of short-sighted human folly and terrible natural grandeur.
Probably the best novel of the 20th century.