David Downing’s novel Looking for the King: An Inklings Novel pays homage to the Inklings (a literary group connected with the University of Oxford and made up of friends and scholars such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams) and entertains the reader with a quest that includes a holy artifact, a conversion, and love. The hero meets C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Hugh Dyson, and, as many who love them have imagined, has a pint with them at the Eagle and Child. The novel is mystery/adventure bordering on fantasy—similar to The DaVinci Code—and the Inklings are engaging dei ex machina. Downing’s plot pauses for the Inklings, but picks up speed as the hero and heroine near the end of their quest. Downing shows a young agnostic in conflict with himself as a result of meeting intelligent and attractive Christians, including his eventual love interest. His character mirrors those of us who love and treasure the Inklings for reassuring us that intellectuals can also be faithful believers. (Owen Barfield is offstage, also, leaving the Inklings solidly Christian.) Downing’s Inklings seem simply good; in fact, they were more complicatedly good, and their camaraderie coexisted with undercurrents, but at the same time his endnotes make clear that the Inklings’ ideas are accurately represented. Many fans of the Inklings will find this novel an engaging read.
Rebecca Ankeny earned her BA at George Fox University and her MA and PhD at University of Oregon. She has published a book and articles about George MacDonald and the interaction of author, reader, and text. She has taught classes on Lewis and the Inklings at George Fox, where she has been since 1988 after two years at Westmont College.
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