The Battle of the Sun Hardcover – 2 Nov 2009
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`An inventive and heroic story'
--Julia Eccleshare, www.lovereading4kids.co.uk
`Written with her characteristic energy, ambition and inventiveness . . . Winterson's first kindly, loving mother is a touching creation'
--The Times The Times
`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'
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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fantastic book! A joy to read a kids' novel that is so beautifully written. Great price from this seller too.Published 9 months ago by Family Shopper
An enjoyable caper which started off stronger than it finished. I think I preferred it's predecessor, 'Tanglewreck' slightly more. I'm still glad to have purchased it though.Published 22 months ago by Kindle Customer
Ties in with her autobiography, which makes it very interesting psychologically for fellow grown-up readers. Great adventure story for child readers.Published on 28 Mar. 2013 by melcspencer
In Winterson's sequel to Tanglewreck we are thrown back into Elizabethan London and Jack is on his way home eager to take charge of his new puppy when he is kidnapped and kept... Read morePublished on 31 Jan. 2011 by Jo Bennie
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