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{November 27, 2013}   {ARC Review} No Dawn For Men by James LePore and Carlos Davis

No Dawn for MenFrom Goodreads: In 1938, Nazi Germany prepares to extend its reach far beyond its borders. The key to domination lies in a secret that would make their army not only unbeatable, but un-killable.

MI-6, knowing that something potentially devastating is developing, recruits scholar and novelist John Ronald Reuel Tolkien to travel to Germany to find out what this might be, using the German popularity of his children’s novel THE HOBBIT as cover. Joining him there is MI-6 agent Ian Fleming, still years away from his own writing career but posing as a Reuters journalist. Together, Tolkien and Fleming will get to the heart of the secret and they will face a fury greater than even their prodigious imaginations considered possible.

Both an astounding work of suspense and a literary treasure trove to delight fans of either author, NO DAWN FOR MEN is a nonstop adventure.

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It took me a little while to warm up to this novel, and I’m not 100% sure why.  In all honestly, I don’t feel like it’s written in any different fashion than LePore’s other novels, and I’ve always been able to jump right into those.  But this time, it took me a little while to wrap my head around everything that was going on in this novel, and I actually put it aside for a few days thinking I might just not have been in the right mood.  That seems to have done the trick, because when I picked it up again, I was able to glide right into the story, which is awesome, might I add, and the story flowed seamlessly together, which is what I’ve come to expect from a LePore novel.

Though it took me a little while, I really enjoyed this novel and once I was able to begin making connections between the story and The Lord of the Rings series, I was in heaven.  I was a little curious about how much of the novel was based on fact and how much on fiction though, because it’s quite obvious that some is fiction, but other elements made me wonder, so I asked James LePore himself.  And this is his awesome response:

“The book is a mix of the real and the fictional. Tolkien was in Berlin in 1938 to talk to a German publishing company about publishing The Hobbit in Germany. The book actually was believed by many ardent Nazis to support their ideology. He turned them down when they asked him to sign an oath saying he was not a Jew. He wrote them a famous letter which you can see here. This letter, when I first came across it, was one of the inspirations for the novel.”

“Fleming was a Reuters correspondent in the thirties covering events in pre-war Europe. There is no  record of his being in Berlin in 1938 but there is a consensus among his biographers that he was doing more than reporting, likely doing political and military assessments for MI-6.”

“Tolkien was actually in the Somme offensive in WWI as a signalman, and did lose three very close friends there. Fleming’s dad, Valentine, was also in France in WWI. The meeting between the two described in the Prologue is fictional. The adventure regarding the amulet, raising the dead, etc., is wholly fictional, but gave Carlos and I a chance to have Tolkien and Fleming experience things that would one day end up in their work. For example, the scene at Gestapo headquarters where Fleming is nearly tortured is a fictional precursor of the actual scene in Casino Royale where James Bond is tortured. We believed as we wrote that both Tolkien and Fleming fans would have fun recognizing these inspiring moments.”

In all truth, I find this amazing, and the amount of research that went into LePore and Davis’ novel just floors me, because it was a lot! And being able to pick out the connections was amazing, especially for me as a fan of The Lord of the Rings.  I’ll admit I’m not as familiar with Fleming’s work aside from a few of the James Bond movies I sort of watched once upon a time (never did read the books), so I didn’t make many connections with Fleming’s side of the story, but I really honed in on Tolkien, and the novel is just amazingly written.  I loved the characterization, the sleuthing, the mystery, and the fear that at any moment they could be caught.

If you are a fan of Tolkien or Fleming, then I highly suggest you pick up a copy of No Dawn for Men.  It’s very well written and a sequel in which Tolkien and Fleming are tracking down a secret atomic bomb formula in France in WWII is already in the works.  I can’t wait.  Four stars.

4 stars

Story Plant has been extremely gracious in allowing me to read an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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