Jack — which was really the nickname of C. Edith [Stein] [ LINK ], a rather poignant passage given her fate as a victim of the Holocaust less than a dozen years later than the time of this scene, Perhaps it was inadvertent, but I thought she was introduced in an especially clever manner — John is in Heidelberg, having consulted with a geologist in his quest to confirm or deny the plausibility of a civilization during the age he speculates the box and manuscript to have originated.
Jostled by arguing passersby in an outdoor cafe, he spills a lady's coffee. He gallantly orders her another, learns her name is Edith — and orders himself a Stein of beer p. She is speaking specifically of E. The villains as well as other incidental characters, as far as I can tell, are fictional, but the diabolical mastermind who harasses and threatens John has some fascinating connections. His name is Adler Alembert , the current ruler of a shadowy international criminal empire created by his grandfather but which his own genius has raised to ever-greater heights. I focus on these things because considering just who the various characters are meant to portray was, for me, a significant part of the fun.
I am edified that Doran rationalises both by and in the context of this story the idea that a scholar would have kept such an important discovery as proof for the existence of a prehistoric civilization hitherto unknown, including the holy grail of Atlantis, to himself — and furthermore plundered that proof ultimately to his own gain by publishing parts of the Book under the guise of fiction. That always seems to me a weak element in these such stories.
At first thought, in this case, why would John publish anything at all if the information contained in the Book might lead to such horrific consequences as seem implied? I could easily hide such an item in my own office, which is currently, at the end of another semester, badly in need of excavation; similarly, I often hide gifts for my wife or son at home by the simple expedient of placing them on the cluttered shelves of my home office. I was initially taken a bit aback at Doran's placing the putative historical context for Middle-earth — and Atlantis — much further back in time than I would for the former, and than Plato did for the latter.
Yes, I know it's really fiction, but let me have my fun; more seriously, I also believe the real source of the Atlantis legend is the downfall of the Minoan civilization about BC, i. The rather broad and much more remote range suggested here — sometime between thirty and sixty thousand years ago — does, however, make a great deal of sense, giving much more time for such factors as the Ice Ages' glacial movements and geological changes to have literally ground down and obscured any archaeological evidence — the great, shining cities and monuments Minas Tirith and the Argonath — other examples abound — as well as the very geography, transforming Middle-earth into Europe.
I'm not a pre historian or geologist, but it seems much more reasonable for the map to have changed so radically from something approximating this:. No book is perfect — there are of course little things that I caught that didn't ring true. It's my understanding that J. Ironically, when writing about J. Tolkien who was meticulously accurate in keeping chronology, the seasons, even the phases of the moon in his own writings, Doran seems to slip up in this area on at least one occasion: 1 May was a Sunday — so why would John have been in his Oxford office with work left over from the night before, and why would his children be in school?
That a ubiquitous box of chocolates could go unsampled in John's office literally for years, despite his offering it to just about every visitor and taking it to the pub where his friends similarly decline it , just beggars belief while making its true nature obvious — but does succeed in heightening the suspense and imparts a sense of dread every time attention was called to it, unfortunately to the point I guessed what was going to happen in the end.
Those things being said, I found this book nonetheless wonderful. Seldom am I so distressed as I near the end of a book as I was with this one, realising that the tale has to come to its end. It left me eager for more — more Middle-earth; more J. Tolkien; more Inklings; more T.
Doran … I will be seeking out more of his writing! They're minor in the bigger scheme of things, but a bit annoying. Doran's more recent novel, Terrapin: A Mystery , appears to be set in his own neck of the woods, Michigan, and I anticipate the literary ambiance to be more appropriate to the subject and setting. In seeking out other reviewers' assessments of Toward the Gleam, I was mildly surprised to see that praise is not universal, garnering mainly four out of five stars on Amazon. Were I inclined to give such a rating, it would be a full five stars.
Doran would write a sequel to this. One of those books where you think "it was OK" is a solid GoodReads rating option. Jul 30, Anne Gazzolo rated it really liked it. Overall great read. Set in England during the inter-war years, this book purports to tell the story of how J.
Dare I seem arrogant and suppose that this book is too smart for some readers? A common criticism is the amount of discourse and philosophising — which I found central to the heart of the story and enjoyed very much. Different strokes, I guess….
go to link But to me the central conflict of the tale — as in The Lord of the Rings itself despite Tolkien's oft-noticed aversion to allegory — is in truth a war between ideologies. Despite its publication by a Catholic press, this book is not an overtly Christian novel, and yet every bit as much as is Middle-earth — on the surface a tale of a pre-Christian world — it is suffused with a Christian, Catholic , world-view. In the final confrontation between John and Alembert, once the latter has discovered and devoured the contents of the Book, the latter's characterization of events and characters, specifically the contending spiritual powers at the beginning of The Silmarillian , embodies a modern sceptic's interpretation of myths and miracles, devoid of the spiritual and supernatural, admitting only reason and materialism, scoffing at the very notions of Good and Evil beyond utility and self-interest.
John, on the other hand, long-burdened as a latter-day Frodo Baggins with the weight of knowledge that could prove a terrible weapon in the hands of one such as Alembert, is determined to hold to the Good and endure virtually any sacrifice to thwart his foe. I finally developed a theory as to the meaning of the title, Toward the Gleam , as I finished the book.
LINK ]. I recommend this book to every fan of Tolkien and student of the Inklings. Posted by Kent G. Hare at Email This BlogThis! Labels: fiction , Ignatius Press , J. Tolkien , novels , philosophy , prose , religion , T. Kent G. Newer Post Older Post Home.
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