While riding the RER B from the CDG airport train terminal to Paris every day during our visit last month (my husband traveled to Paris on business so we stayed up by the airport), I read David C. Downing's Inkling's novel, which I found quite transporting. I almost expected magically to exit the RER or the Metro and arrive in Oxford!
It's an interesting quest novel: the protagonist, American Tom McCord ends up searching for many things. His first goal is to find Arthur so he may write a great book and become famous and successful. Then he joins another American, Laura Hartman who has dreams connected with the Spear of Longinus, brought to England by Joseph of Arimathea. While on these two searches, McCord and Hartman meet the Inklings, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and others. Influenced by them Tom begins to search for academic integrity and focuses on more transcendent issues. The whole story is tied up with the beginnings of World War II--Warnie Lewis has been called up to active duty--and Adolf Hitler's own desire to find the Spear of Destiny that pierced Jesus's side on the cross. As Tom wanted to find historical evidence of Arthur to create his own greatness, so Hitler wants to possess the Spear to guarantee power and victory!
The pace is excellent and one of the great pleasures of the book is how Downing quotes and transforms material from the Inklings' works into dialogue. His descriptions of Oxford locations, like Blackwell's Bookstore and the "Bird and Baby" pub are quite effective. As unread pages dwindled, I did begin to wonder how Downing would wrap it all up, which he did quite handily and with a mininum of explanation and explication. I hope he writes a sequel, because I want to know how Tom and Laura's relationship develops and if Tom becomes a Catholic Christian!