Lavinia

Lavinia - Ursula K. Le Guin What I liked:First, the idea to present ancient Rome at its very beginning, when it practically didn’t exist as a town, let alone a country, fascinated me. I haven’t read Vergil’s the Aeneid but I was roughly aware what it is about and I wanted to find out more. Le Guin made the obscure world of Bronze Age Italy a place one can feel and taste, a place where the influence of oracles and gods is clearly felt and people live in full accordance with nature and its forces. It is obvious the authoress did a lot of research concerning the daily life and early religious beliefs of proto-Romans and she created a very believable vision of their world which I enjoyed.The narration was slow and a bit detached but with that mesmerizing, very reflexive, watchful quality of a fairy tale. Overall not unpleasant but still not fully satisfying…ok, you can finds my complaints below. The main heroine, Lavinia, is also a huge asset here – she goes from meek, unquestioning, submissive maiden to someone who learns to stand up for herself and her child and lead others. She can be called a kick-ass heroine, for sure; she is determined to make her own choices but also fully aware of her own ficitionality. What I didn’t like:It is not exactly a fault but I felt that you cannot read this novel and fully appreciate it without having read Vergil's poem; what’s more, you really ought to have read it recently. Although I knew the outlines of the story of Aeneas sometimes I had to stop reading and remind myself about some details. So be warned: LeGuin's book is less a novel than a commentary in unconventional because fantasy-scented form. If you haven’t heard about Vergil, Troy and/or Aeneid, you might feel a bit lost.Also, having read books with very complicated, dynamic plot lines previously I wished for two things reading Lavinia: more action and more linear narration. I must admit there was very little plot and you got flashes from the future in between. No surprising twists and turns in this one – something which took off the edge, making me less eager to finish this book because I was told what would happen even before the action was actually described. I kept waiting for the climax and it somehow I missed it. Finally I would like to see more of Vergil (Publius Vergilius Maro), apparently a poet with an interesting biography.Final verdict:This was still a very fine, intelligent piece of work, and a pleasure to read, definitely encouraging me to try other LeGuin books.