Van Til Tool

Using the Van Til Perspective as the tool to discover what life means and how it ought to be lived.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010



A Review Of

David C. Downing Looking for the King: An Inklings Novel (San Francisco, CA:

Ignatius Press, 2010) 285 pp ISBN: 978-1-58617-514-6

Reviewer: Forrest W. Schultz


C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien and Charles Williams are well knows as authors of stories; and many books have been written about their stories. But, as far as I know, David Downing's recently published book is the first time these men have been characters
in a story. Downing rightly regards this as so important that he subtitles his book "An Inklings Novel". The Inklings were friends of C. S. Lewis (including Tolkien and Williams) who met regularly in Lewis's home.

Although Downing's book is a work of fiction, the ideas expressed in it by these three Inklings are truly theirs. This can be easily verified because Downing has placed in the back of the book a Notes section indicating the sources of these ideas. This is unusual for a novel but is not surprising when we consider the fact that Downing has been a scholar of Inklings lore for many years and has authored four award-winning books on C. S. Lewis.

The focus of Looking for the King is aspiring scholar Tom McCord's quest for historical evidence to prove the existence of King Arthur. McCord is soon joined by another young American visiting England in 1940 – Laura Hartman, who is searching for the meaning of her mysterious dreams. Their adventures soon morph into another quest – finding the fabled Spear of Longinus. In their conversations with the Inklings, Tom and Laura not only receive help for their quests but also discussions of the relationships of the quests to matters of eternal import.

Like almost all quest stories, this one includes sinister forces; but, unlike most of these stories, this one has no gunfightes, no fisticuffs, no car crashes, and no "woo-woo" stuff. There is sophistication not only in the story's dialogues, but also in its action.

I concur with Thomas Howard when he says that "…Lewis, Tolkien, and Williams would be mightily pleased with Looking for the King. All Inklings lovers will be highly delighted." (from rear jacket) I also believe that this story will provide a good introduction to the Inklings for those who have not yet made their acquaintance. It will give those readers at least an "inkling" of what these men were like.


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