Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

Charles Wallace travels through time to change the course of history and prevent nuclear war.


"A Swiftly Tilting Planet" is a captivating science fiction and fantasy novel written by Madeleine L'Engle. It is the third book in the Time Quintet series, following the adventures of the Murry family as they navigate through time and space to fight against evil forces. This book takes readers on an exhilarating journey across time, exploring themes of courage, love, and the eternal battle between good and evil.

Brief Synopsis

Plot Overview

The book is set in the United States during the Cold War era and follows the story of Charles Wallace Murry, a young protagonist with extraordinary abilities. Charles Wallace is visited by a unicorn, Gaudior, who takes him on a time-traveling quest to prevent a nuclear catastrophe that could alter the course of history. The fate of the world rests on Charles Wallace's ability to change the past and ensure a brighter future for humanity.


The story is primarily set in the United States during the 1970s, with time-traveling elements taking the characters to different historical periods, including ancient civilizations and distant futures. The richly detailed settings provide a vivid backdrop for the characters' adventures and struggles.

Main Characters

The book features a diverse cast of characters, each playing a crucial role in the unfolding of the plot.

Charles WallaceA young protagonist with exceptional abilities, tasked with altering the course of history.
GaudiorA mystical unicorn who guides Charles Wallace through time and offers invaluable wisdom.
Meg MurryCharles Wallace's older sister, a brilliant scientist who supports him in his time-traveling quest.
MadocThe main antagonist, a sinister figure whose actions threaten the fabric of time and space.

Plot Summary

Chapter 1-5: The Journey Begins

Charles Wallace meets Gaudior, a unicorn, who reveals that he must travel through time to prevent a catastrophic event. They embark on a perilous journey, visiting different historical periods to gather clues and change the course of history.

Chapter 6-10: Unraveling Mysteries

As Charles Wallace and Gaudior delve deeper into the fabric of time, they uncover cryptic messages and encounter enigmatic figures from the past. Each revelation brings them closer to understanding the impending catastrophe.

Chapter 11-15: Confronting Evil

The duo faces formidable challenges as they confront the malevolent forces working to disrupt the timeline. Charles Wallace must summon all his courage and wit to overcome these obstacles and fulfill his mission.

Chapter 16-20: Racing Against Time

With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Charles Wallace and Gaudior race against time to avert disaster. Their determination and resilience are put to the ultimate test as they navigate through pivotal moments in history.

Main Events

  • Charles Wallace's encounter with Gaudior and the revelation of his mission.
  • The time-traveling journey through different historical periods.
  • Unraveling the mysteries surrounding the impending catastrophe.
  • The confrontation with the malevolent forces threatening the fabric of time.
  • The race against time to alter the course of history and save the world from destruction.

Themes and Insights


  1. Courage and Determination: The novel explores the resilience and bravery required to confront daunting challenges and alter the course of history.
  2. Good vs. Evil: The eternal struggle between good and evil is a central theme, as the characters battle malevolent forces to preserve the future.
  3. Time and Destiny: The narrative delves into the intricacies of time, destiny, and the profound impact of individual choices on the course of history.


The novel offers profound insights into the complexities of human nature, the power of love and sacrifice, and the indomitable spirit that drives individuals to defy the odds and shape a better future.

Reader's Takeaway

"A Swiftly Tilting Planet" is a gripping and thought-provoking tale that transports readers through time and space, weaving together elements of history, fantasy, and adventure. The novel's rich thematic depth and compelling characters make it a captivating read, offering valuable lessons on courage, love, and the enduring battle between light and darkness.


In "A Swiftly Tilting Planet," Madeleine L'Engle crafts a mesmerizing narrative that seamlessly blends elements of fantasy, history, and timeless themes. The gripping plot, memorable characters, and profound insights make this novel a timeless classic that resonates with readers of all ages. As readers embark on Charles Wallace's time-traveling odyssey, they are immersed in a world where the forces of good and evil collide, and where courage and determination hold the key to shaping the future.

A Swiftly Tilting Planet FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'A Swiftly Tilting Planet'?

    The genre of 'A Swiftly Tilting Planet' is science fiction and fantasy.

  2. Who is the author of 'A Swiftly Tilting Planet'?

    The author of 'A Swiftly Tilting Planet' is Madeleine L'Engle.

  3. What is the plot of 'A Swiftly Tilting Planet'?

    The plot of 'A Swiftly Tilting Planet' revolves around a time-traveling adventure to avert a nuclear threat and save the world from impending disaster.

  4. Is 'A Swiftly Tilting Planet' part of a series?

    Yes, 'A Swiftly Tilting Planet' is the third book in the Time Quintet series by Madeleine L'Engle.

  5. What age group is 'A Swiftly Tilting Planet' suitable for?

    'A Swiftly Tilting Planet' is suitable for young adult readers and older readers who enjoy science fiction and fantasy novels.