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Looking For The King [Format Kindle]

David C. Downing

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Descriptions du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

It is 1940, and American Tom McCord, a 23-year-old aspiring doctoral candidate, is in England researching the historical evidence for the legendary King Arthur. There he meets perky and intuitive Laura Hartman, a fellow American staying with her aunt in Oxford, and the two of them team up for an even more ambitious and dangerous quest.

Aided by the Inklings-that illustrious circle of scholars and writers made famous by its two most prolific members, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien-Tom and Laura begin to suspect that the fabled Spear of Destiny, the lance that pierced the side of Christ on the cross, is hidden somewhere in England.

Tom discovers that Laura has been having mysterious dreams, which seem to be related to the subject of his research, and, though doubtful of her visions, he hires her as an assistant. Heeding the insights and advice of the Inklings, while becoming aware of being shadowed by powerful and secretive foes who would claim the spear as their own, Tom and Laura end up on a thrilling treasure hunt that crisscrosses the English countryside and leads beyond a search for the elusive relics of Camelot into the depths of the human heart and soul.

Weaving his fast-paced narrative with actual quotes from the works of the Inklings, author David Downing offers a vivid portrait of Oxford and draws a welcome glimpse into the personalities and ideas of Lewis and Tolkien, while never losing sight of his action-packed adventure story and its two very appealing main characters.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 513 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 286 pages
  • Editeur : Ignatius Press (4 octobre 2010)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B0045U9VU6
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  • Word Wise: Non activé
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
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Amazon.com: 3.9 étoiles sur 5  47 commentaires
57 internautes sur 60 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Finding the King 11 octobre 2010
Par Denise M. Roper - Publié sur Amazon.com
I reviewed "Looking for the King: An Inklings Novel" by David C. Downing at [...].

I enjoyed this book for many reasons: the Spear of Destiny plot was intriguing, the original main characters (Tom and Laura) are likeable and interesting, and the most importantly, the Inklings dialogue was based on quotations from their published works, letters, and biographies. When reading this book I felt that I had actually met C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams. Hugo Dyson's appearance in the novel is brief, but nearly all of his lines were really hilarious. I also enjoyed the cameo appearance by Tolkien's daughter Priscilla. Downing's detailed descriptions effectively captured the atmosphere of wartime England in 1940. He made so many references to places of interest to seekers of the "historical" Grail Hallows that I was compelled to search online for photos of the places he described in such fascinating detail. One such location, for example, is the cave of the Knights Templar at Royston. I was also very interested by the Celtic Cross at Gosforth and it's link to the Spear of Destiny legend. Another interesting place that we visit in this novel is the Abbey of Malmesbury which has a stained glass window designed by Edward Burne-Jones that is described in detail.

There are many wonderful Inklings moments in this novel. At the suggestion of C. S. Lewis, Tom McCord attends a lecture on the Holy Grail legends given by Charles Williams at Oxford. After the brilliant lecture, Tom has a conversation with Williams:

"I can't say I'm a believer," said Tom. "It all seems like wish-fulfillment and hocus-pocus to me."

Laura winced, but Williams didn't seem to mind the comment at all. "Fair enough," he said. "It is only the arrogant or the insecure who claim to know about such things, unless perhaps you are a genuine mystic. For the rest of us, all we can do is choose what to believe." (page 58)

The line "all we can do is choose what to believe" really stood out for me. I recently blogged here about how "making the choice to believe" is a theme in Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and C. S. Lewis's The Silver Chair. This line introduces the reader one of the story's most important character arcs: Tom McCord's journey from agnosticism to faith.

Another favorite moment of mine is when Tom is allowed to attend an Inklings meeting at the famous pub, The Eagle and Child (a. k. a. the "Bird and Baby"). The conversation turns to the "dying god" story of various mythologies-the Egyptian Osiris and the Norse Balder to name two examples- and the role of such mythologies in C. S. Lewis's conversion to Christianity. Tolkien explains, "We believe that the great and universal myth, the dying god who sacrifices himself for the people, shows everyone's inborn awareness of the need for redemption. As we understand it, the Incarnation was the pivotal point in which myth became history." (page 144) During this conversation Tom "felt himself outnumbered, a whole tableful of believers, and every one of them a formidable intellect." (page 145) Tom's main obstacle in making the "choice to believe" at this point in the story seems to be the problem of evil. If God is all-good and all-powerful, why does so much pain and suffering exist? Lewis helps Tom to understand that if God intervened every time someone did an evil act or had an evil thought, God would be taking away the Free Will of humanity.

There are also numerous references to the published works of the Inklings authors as well as hints of "future" publications. An example is when Lewis says, "We're hoping that Tollers will favor us with the latest installment of his `new Hobbit'." (page 150) The new Hobbit of course, would be published about 15 years later as The Lord of the Rings. I loved that the characters of Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, and Strider are all mentioned in the novel. Lewis also alludes to the series of novels that he is about to write when he says that he has been sheltering war evacuee children at his home: "They're charming creatures, though they don't know how to entertain themselves. I was thinking that there might be a story in that-children sent away from London who have a series of adventures in the country. I started something a few months ago." (page 251) The story that Lewis was referring to, of course, would be the first book of The Chronicles of Narnia.

Another part of the story that I loved was Tom and Laura's visit to Tolkien's house. Apparently "Tolkien" (the fictional character in the novel) is quite the expert on the various legends of the Spear of Destiny, and his vast knowledge helps Tom and Laura to understand all of the unsolved mysteries of their quest. (pages 163-170) I loved this part because Professor Tolkien recounts the history of the Holy Lance in great detail, and I could definitely identify with the good professor in this scene. Much of what he says in this chapter I had discovered myself from researching the history of Spear of Destiny for my book, The Lord of the Hallows. (Visit [...] for more information.)

I won't spoil the climax of the novel's main action, but the climax of the story's spiritual dimension is Tom's conversation with Lewis, in which they return to their discussion of the problem of evil. Lewis says, "If some amoral brute created the world, he also created our minds. And how can we trust moral judgments given to us by this same amoral brute? If you reject God because there is so much evil in the universe, you need to explain where you obtained your standard for discerning good and evil." (pages 211-212) Lewis offers further proof of God's existence in humanity's "homesickness for heaven," and then he quotes St. Augustine: Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee. "If the Christian view is right, we are all exiles from paradise." (page 214) Tom then realizes that his entire quest may not have been his own, but the will of Another. He prays for the first time in the novel and by doing so, Tom makes his choice to believe. Initially, Tom went on a quest for the historical King Arthur, but did not find him. He found faith in the King of Kings instead.

This novel is a must-read for Inklings fans and is truly a delight!
31 internautes sur 34 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 An Entertaining Trip to the 1940's English Literary Scene 13 octobre 2010
Par Rocky Mountain Dan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Moviegoers know JRR Tolkien as the novelist behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and CS Lewis as the author of the Narnia Chronicles. What most moviegoers probably don't know is that Tolkien & Lewis were close friends, and that both were distinguised literary scholars. Tolkien & Lewis were part of a high-brow, book-reading and beer-drinking group called the Inklings. In this novel we follow the adventures of a young American grad student (Tom McCord) who is in England during WW2 trying to track down some ancient artifacts. This is not just a plain vanilla searching-for-artifacts thriller, however. It is a book with a lot more substance. David Downing takes us on a tour of 1940s England and works into the story a lot of incidental (and interesting) material about English history & Arthurian legend. For me some of the highlights of the novel are Tom McCord's visits to various Inklings, and his being priviledged to attend Inklings meetings. Downing has done a lot of research on each of the Inklings, and is able to convincingly re-enact how they spoke and what they talked about. The novel is like getting to meet the Inklings in person, and enables us to be a fly on the wall at Inklings get-togethers. As a *thriller* "Looking for the King" is kind of low octane, but if you are interested in the Inklings, Enlish history, Authurian legend and the world of ideas in general you will find this an enjoyable and informative novel.
21 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Inklings at Home 13 octobre 2010
Par read2sleep - Publié sur Amazon.com
Fans of the Inklings often want to pull back the pages to peer behind their written work and into their lives, trying to see what they were like. This deftly written novel gives a good sense of their lives, as the main character is invited to join their free flowing discussions at the "Eagle and Child", and walks along the Thames with Lewis to the "Trout". The challenge in writing a novel like this is to create a credible narrative about people who we know as idea people, writers and talkers. Downing, a Lewis scholar, has managed to embed the ideas within the narrative of a young scholar who seeks out Lewis and Tolkien in order to help him with research into Arthurian sites in England. That task is upstaged by the troubling dreams of a young American woman he meets, which lead them together, and in a different direction. What I particularly enjoyed in this novel is that it has some of the feel and ambiance that I find in the fiction of Lewis, with out it being a copy. It is a good read, in that thoughtful, "the world is bigger and stranger than you imagine" way that marks the Inklings work.
28 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 "Almost there" in so many ways 30 décembre 2010
Par Sarah Beach - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I really wanted to like this book. I respect the research the author has done on the Inklings, and give him credit for his attention to those details in being honest in presenting the "real people" he writes about.

But this could have been so much better and it should have been.

Other reviewers praise the book for the presentation of the Inklings themselves, but that wasn't supposed to be the job of this book. If we wanted presentations of the Inklings, there are biographies and letters, and (most important to me) Warnie Lewis' diary in which he very vividly describes his friends. The job of this book was supposed to be to tell us an adventurous tale, and that is done in a rather bland fashion. I felt the presence of the Inklings was not inherently necessary to the story but was included because the author wanted to have these conversations with the Inklings himself.

The suspense is never really felt by our main character, Tom, and so when Laura reacts to things it is distanced from the reader. Tom doesn't quite seem to grasp, even after his first sinister encounter, that they might be in danger. And in fact, the "danger" doesn't even really feel particularly dangerous when it does come to the forefront.

I wish someone had challenged the author to do at least one more rewrite on the manuscript, to improve everything. I have no problem with the plot outline, but the author doesn't deliver on it.

I'm sure there are plenty who will be content with the book as it is (as can be seen by the majority of the reviews here). But my standards were set by the Inklings - what they did themselves, in pushing themselves and each other to truly polish and shine their works. And Downing does not get close enough to that.
10 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Author tries hard but this novel needed a lot of rewriting before it was ready 10 août 2011
Par Impartial Observer - Publié sur Amazon.com
This is a mystery/adventure novel that I very much wanted to like but found myself unable to do so. It's not that I strongly dislike it; it's just that I find it difficult to work up much enthusiasm for it from any perspective. Blandness was my overall reaction while reading it and it is still my reaction now that I've finished it.

About the best that can be said of this book is that there's nothing too badly wrong with it. If this sounds like damning with faint praise, then so be it. It doesn't have the glaring inaccuracies of another recent Inklings novel, Toward the Gleam by T. M. Doran. While Downing thrusts just as many Americanisms into Forties Oxford as Doran does in Toward the Gleam, the former has wisely chosen two young Americans as his main characters, thereby making such colloquialisms legitimate if not particularly felicitous.

The research on Lewis, Tolkien and Williams, in particular their verbal expressions and opinions, is excellent, as one would expect from an Inklings scholar such as Downing. There are a couple of exceptions, which unfortunately occur early in the book, casting unnecessary doubt on the authenticity on what follows thereafter. The main character, Tom, states that Lewis' Allegory of Love "had already become required reading for graduate students in America" (page 21). But this is 1940, the book had only appeared in 1936 (with a reprint two years later), and there was no American edition. So all those copies supposedly read by American graduates must have been imported.

And then there is the Dymer blunder. A clerk at Blackwell's reads out a list of available Lewis books and begins with "Dymer. A narrative poem." But Dymer was published pseudonymously (using the name `Clive Hamilton') in 1926, sold notoriously poorly, and was not reprinted -- and finally under Lewis' real name -- until 1950.

These are minor matters but they jar in a novel that rests heavily on Lewisian authenticity. More serious are the novel's structural weaknesses. For example, Tom claims that he "could really use a research assistant" (page 67), which Laura duly becomes, but it's never clear what exactly he needs her to do. He knows far more than her about the subject of his research (e.g. pages 74 & 75), which is not surprising, as he is the Masters graduate and she is not. What little he does need to find out (e.g. pages 75 & 76) could be researched in one of the many libraries all around him in about ten minutes! Neither does he require her for more mundane duties such as travel arrangements, as he has been handling these just fine until then and continues to do so even after Laura becomes his assistant (cf. page 113).

In other words, the author is too obviously manipulating his two main characters, forcing them together so that they can fall in love by the end of the book.

Another main problem with this novel is its lack of narrative tension, of suspense or sense of danger. Instead the author offers us: (a) a great deal of conversation, and (b) a rather pedestrian plot involving someone reading Laura's diary and a cyclist swiping Tom's notebook out of his hand. Not exactly the stuff of breathless adventure! The conversation is with various Inklings and there is a lot if it, for without it there wouldn't be much of a book left. Conveniently, Tom and Laura make no wrong choices and encounter no dead ends - everywhere they go turns out to be the right place to be recognised as one of Laura's dreams. Even their budding romance is too easy, and completely predictable from the first meeting onwards.

Most lacking of all is a sense of what is at stake for any of the protagonists. The Inklings, for all the pages and pages they are given, are ultimately just watchers and advisors from the sidelines, with no real stake, beyond personal well-wishing, in the events that unfold. Tom, we are told, comes from a wealthy family, and he and Laura -- whether together or apart -- can simply go back to America whatever the outcome of their sallies into rural England. There is no ultimate need for Tom to find anything on his quest or to make the quest at all. Indeed, when he does stumble upon a great archaeological discovery, he reburies it and leaves it undisturbed. Laura does achieve relief from her mysterious dreams -- the origin of which is never explained in any case. But there is little real threat or risk to either of them if they do not succeed.

Sadly, this thinly plotted novel will be for hardcore -- and rather uncritical -- Inklings fans only.
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