Tuesday, December 08, 2015

No Dawn For Men - James LePore and Carlos Davis

You may have noticed I read a lot of fiction set in distinct historical periods, because that's what my dad loans me. But I usually shy away from ones where actual historical figures are the central characters. I wonder if it's an accurate portrayal of the person, or if it's just a convenient caricature.

But I took a chance on No Dawn For Men, even though it's about Ian Fleming running around Nazi Germany with Tolkien, trying to keep some artifact with the power to raise the dead out of the Germans' hands. Tolkien gets drawn in because apparently the Nazis loved The Hobbit, and that makes it convenient for him to meet with a well-known professor on Norse lore, who is looking for the artifact in question. Or so the Nazis think. He actually already has it, but has been searching for some way to keep it out of their hands, because he's not an idiot. So Tolkien and the professor's assistant, an extremely short, bearded fellow named Trygg with some remarkable abilities try to get the professor out of the country, but end up journeying to help destroy the thing.

So yeah, this kind of hit my nerves. There's just a little too much winking and nodding at, 'Oh, this is what gave him the idea for this part of Lord of the Rings, and this is why he called it a fellowship, etc.' That gets old, and they only pick up in frequency as the book progresses. I mean, Tolkien's books were supposed to be symbolic representations of things he had struggled with from his own experiences, right? This is making it more literal. He met actual people who live under mountains, for possibly hundreds of years. The Fleming stuff might be similar, I don't know enough about his writing to tell. But at least Fleming was a reporter and intelligence officer, so his presence I could mentally justify.

The book itself does breeze along. I went in intending to read maybe a third to a half the first night, and read the whole thing in one night. And that was with a break in there to watch John Wick again with some people. So it wasn't a difficult read, and they kept the plot moving.

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