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The Battle of the Sun Paperback – 7 Jun 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (7 Jun. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408800403
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408800409
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.5 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 182,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


`A spirited thriller, written with Winterson's characteristic rich and evocative prose'
--The Daily Mail

`[The Battle of the Sun] makes for the perfect distraction . . . it is both lyrical and richly inventive' -- Daily Mail The Telegraph

`Reading this book is like sitting entranced before a flickering series of magic lantern slides . . . Winterson takes her young readers on an exhilarating journey through Elizabethan London . . . the exuberant storytelling and wit are beautifully and unobtrusively grounded by psychological truth-telling . . . a marvellous book for both young and old readers - I look forward to the third in the series which is surely promised by the tantalising conclusion'
--Books for Keeps

'Very contemporary, pacey and imaginative' --Teen Titles Magazine

`If you want true literary genius, read Jeanette Winterson's young-adult novels, a stunning new facet of her career which began with Tanglewreck. They're too clever for me to summarise'

`A wonderful book to read aloud to pupils in both KS2 and 3, as the language captures the essence of oral storytelling . . . The quality of the writing carries the reader through the book with ease, a joy'
--NATE Classroom

About the Author

Jeanette Winterson's first novel for children, Tanglewreck, was widely admired. Here in her second, readers will once more relish her free-spirited literary inventiveness and style. Jeanette won the Whitbread for her first book, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit. She lives in Oxfordshire and travels extensively lecturing about her work.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Jack is a thirteen year old boy living in 17th Century London. He doesn't know it yet but an evil alchemist calling himself the Magus is planning to overthrow the Queen of England and take control of the kingdom for himself. To do this he will turn the entire capital, including the inhabitants, into gold. The final ingredient is the Radiant Boy, who is the key to finally turning base objects into solid gold. Jack is that boy and so finds himself kidnapped, taken to the disturbing home of the Magus who seeks to unlock his magic and bend Jack to his will. The young boy is by no means a willing captive and soon discovers another prisoner who was once the Magus' master. This prisoner promises to give him the key to escaping if he will free him in return. What follows is whirlwind of events where Jack meets a dragon and gains his own powers and superhuman strength. But the boy has no control over his new magic and is no match for the cunning Magus. Forced to obey him they set events in motion that will lead to the city being turned to gold in just a few days. With the Magus gone to prepare for his confrontation with the Queen, Jack is left to find a way to somehow defeat him. Helped by Silver, the heroine from the previous book of the series Tanglewreck, he sets out to not only save the city but everyone he loves before it is too late.

The Battle of the Sun is a highly imaginative book with strange creatures, most of which are unpleasant, making appearances throughout the tale. The best of these is the Creature(s) that consist of Wedge and mistress Split who were made in a bottle as a whole and then cut in half. Their presence is both malevolent, pitiful and amusing as they hop around one legged. It's this cast of the weird and the wonderful that really gives this book such a compelling feel.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Colourful, absurd, time-warped and magical, The Battle of the Sun is as likely a book as any other to fire the imaginations of young readers.

Being in part a fairy story, we have a sunflower (behaving like a beanstalk), a dragon, a knight in shining armour, a maiden held captive in a tower and a moral (an interesting one at that, overpaid bankers please note!). But this 'traditional' story has C21 credentials with concepts straight out of existentialist theory (the characters are in a house which exists only inside the brain of the Magus) and Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle ('The Dragon was busy filling the moat with what might have been water, and was but wasn't'). Younger readers, of course, probably won't have the labels but they'll appreciate the paradox and delight in the impossibly twisted logic. They will not have a monopoly on enjoyment, however.

Teeming London streets, bustling and jostling with Elizabethan vigour, add realism while the poetry is consistently rewarding. Often, we find echoes of Dylan Thomas ('the large untidy garden was night-time quiet'). Alchemy, meanwhile, may well have been thoroughly debunked but it has helped to create some memorable literature (Ben Jonson's The Alchemist, for example. Oh, and Winterson has a character called Abel here, too.) The Battle of the Sun creates riches of its own and extends an already long line of magical children's fiction.
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Format: Hardcover
I had this book for Christmas and have read the whole thing in one day. It's a super read and brilliantly overlaps with Tanglewreck without simply following on from it chronologically. I would recommend this story to both adults and children. Jeanette Winterson has a fantastic and unique way with words and anyone who has read her other books and liked them will not be disappointed. A beautifully written, cleverly plotted and perfectly paced novel from a brilliant storyteller.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The caveat first: it's a kids' book, so I'm not the intended audience. I'm trying to think back to what books I'd have read at that age. Robert Heinlein's juvenile novels (Red Planet, etc). Dracula. Mike Moorcock's Mars books. Very different.

It's full of inventive ideas and Ms Winterson is obviously enjoying herself, to such an extent that it often feels as if she's making it up as she goes along. That's okay, by the way, as long as you don't drop any plates. And she doesn't.

The style is lush and lyrical, but feels a little repetitive after a while. No doubt that's deliberate (it creates an incantatory feel) so is only a complaint from an adult reader's perspective.

Likewise the perfunctory characterization. It's like a fairytale, so there's no depth or complexity there. A character is brave, or devious, or ruthless, or honest, and motivations are: greed, love, fear. Lacking that, it reads like a role-playing game write-up in which characters are seen doing things but we never really go inside them. I'd have preferred fewer characters with more time given to them, but children now have different expectations from when I was reading Heinlein and Stoker.

Btw I only discovered halfway through that it's sort of a sequel to Ms Winterson's other kids' book, Tanglewreck. I'm not sure that matters - you can read this one on its own - but it was odd.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I make the point that this book is a sequel to Tanglewreck first, because I did not realise this when I bought it, and I think the story would have worked better had I read the first one first.

But despite my occasional confusion, this was a wonderful adventure set mostly at the turn of the 17th century, where Jack Snap is swept up into the nefarious plans of a magician who cares little for the lives of thsoe he harms, and is plotting to bring down Queen Elizabeth (the ginger one).

The plan involves the alchemists dream of creating gold - not just from lead but from anything using stolen magic from the boys who serve him. But Jack finds help from Silver, heroine of Tanglewreck, who travels in time to aid Jack in his hour of need.

This is where I got confused, and I note that another reviewer says that readers of this book should be able to read it as a standalone. Once Silver enters the story though, I was left feeling I was missing a large chunk of important information, and though I could follow the story without it, I would say that any potential readers are well advised to read that first book first, rather than assume this book works as a standalone.

That is not a criticism of the story though. Read both books because they are great, and ideal for their intended young adult audience. They work for adult readers too. Although not profound, these are thoroughly entertaining, imaginative and original stories.
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