Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ian Fleming and J.R.R. Tolkien save the world!

Geektastic fun for both fans of both Tolkien AND James Bond

No Dawn for Men by James Lepore and Carlos Davis is an historical action/thriller with romance and paranormal elements, which makes it sound like kind of a mess, but it's not.

Ian Fleming and J.R.R. Tolkien team up to prevent an object of dark power from falling into the hands of Nazis. It is 1938 and Hitler has risen to power in Germany and is poised to unleash his “Final Solution.” In Nazi circles, J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel “The Hobbit” is highly valued as a propaganda tool. (“It’s a children’s book,” Tolkien insists, baffled by the Nazi interest.) The scholarly writer—his expertise is Norse legends—is a veteran of WWI, so he has seen evil up close and what he’s seen has shaken him to his core. When a former student enlists his aid in fighting a magical menace, he eagerly signs on and in the process frames the story that will become his greatest epic.

Fleming, for his part, is a dashing spy posing as a journalist and living forever in the shadow of his heroic, war-hero father Valentine, who met Tolkien in a trench during “the Great War.” He and Tolkien make a very odd couple, but that could be said of the ragtag assortment of men, elves and dwarves who banded together in the “Fellowship of the Ring.” You don’t have to know anything about either Tolkien or Fleming to enjoy this book but if you are a fan of hobbits and womanizing British agents, you will enjoy the book even more.

Every single page of this historical novel is chock full of geekery and goodness, whether it’s a description of a torture that shows up in an early Bond novel or a description of a particularly lurid sunset that gives Tolkien the idea of the “Eye of Sauron” for the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
Aside from the storylines that follow Tolkien and Fleming—stories filled with action, romance, courage, and betrayal—there’s an ongoing power play behind the scenes of the Nazi inner circle as Himmler, Goebbels, and Heydrich jockey for position. It’s all very “Game of Thrones” and the stakes are very, very high. As Indiana Jones once said, “Nazis. I hate those guys.” Well, who doesn’t? And framing them as dark lords in search of an unspeakable power makes a lot of sense.

This book is a LOT of fun.

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