Thursday, 13 September 2012

Novels with an Inklings-setting - a quartet


Inklings by Melanie Jeschke, 2004

Here there be dragons by James A Owen, 2007

Looking for the King: an Inklings novel, David C Downing, 2010

Towards the gleam by T.M Doran, 2011


There seems to be a genre of novels, of various types, with an Inklings setting. Naturally, I have tried a few of these including the above four.

I am very fussy about novels, and start many more than I finish, and don't like many.

Thus, of these, the only one I really liked - by the test of re-reading - was Looking for the King by David C Downing (a well known C.S Lewis scholar). I liked it because the story was interesting - being about the Spear of Destiny, which until that point I had not heard about. Of the Inklings vignettes, the account of Charles Williams was especially convincing and helpful in understanding the man. Stylistically it is unpretentious and charming.

Also charming in its way is Melanie Jeschke's Inklings (which is the first of a trilogy) - however, the book is are in a genre of women's romantic fiction which is not really of interest to me - it focuses on the rocky romance of a young, Christian and beautiful American girl in Oxford in the nineteen sixties just after the death of Lewis.

I did not like Here be dragons which I found difficult to follow and somehow nasty - so I didn't finish it. It features Lewis, Tolkien and Williams as characters (under their first names) but with no attempt to resemble the real figures.

When I began Towards the gleam I liked it very much - it focuses on Tolkien (not named as such) as the main character in an extended flashback - but after a while it degenerates into exponentially more implausible/ absurd/ sadistic encounters between him and a series of 1930s literary and philosophical figures (but not under their own names - why, I cannot guess), and a master criminal. I read it to the end (467 pages) but was pleased to get it finished.


My wife also read a 'thriller' about Tolkien and Icelandic sagas - which she enjoyed - but the genre didn't much appeal to me.

I'd be interested to hear about other novels which use Inklings settings or characters; especially if any of them are insightful about the characters.




FHL said...

A quick internet search revealed the title Mirkwood, authored by a certain Steve Hillard (never heard of him myself).

Apparently, as of earlier this year, there have been legal troubles:
("JRR Tolkien novel Mirkwood in legal battle with author's estate- Texas case will contest the right of Tolkien's literary estate to block fictional use of the Lord of the Rings author's name")

...but, none-the-less, the novel is still for sale. And (for the Kindle edition, at least) offered at a very low price:

(It is also for sale within the U.S. branch of Amazon for roughly the same prices)

I have neither read it nor researched it, so don't blame me if it turns out terrible.

FHL said...

And, according to the review linked below, also features C.S. Lewis as a character:

Now I'm getting interested...

FHL said...

... but now I'm starting to think this is the one with the Icelandic sagas your wife read...