New Novel Brings C.S. Lewis and ‘the Inklings’ to Life

A fascinating new book from Ignatius Press, “Looking for the King: An Inklings Novel”, brings to life the beloved writers C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams, in the context of a mysterious adventure story.

The novel opens in 1940, and American Tom McCord, a 23-year-old aspiring doctoral candidate, is in England researching the historical evidence for the legendary King Arthur. There he meets perky and intuitive Laura Hartman, a fellow American staying with her aunt in Oxford, and the two of them team up for an even more ambitious and dangerous quest.

Aided by the Inklings – that illustrious circle of scholars and writers made famous by its two most prolific members, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien – Tom and Laura begin to suspect that the fabled Spear of Destiny, the lance that pierced the side of Christ on the cross, is hidden somewhere in England.

Tom discovers that Laura has been having mysterious dreams, which seem to be related to the subject of his research, and, though doubtful of her visions, he hires her as an assistant. Heeding the insights and advice of the Inklings, while becoming aware of being shadowed by powerful and secretive foes who would claim the spear as their own, Tom and Laura end up on a treasure hunt that crisscrosses the English countryside and leads beyond a search for the elusive relics of Camelot into the depths of the human heart and soul.

Weaving his narrative with actual quotes from the works of the Inklings, author David Downing offers a vivid portrait of Oxford and draws a welcome glimpse into the personalities and ideas of Lewis, Tolkien, and Williams, while never losing sight of his adventure story and its two very appealing main characters.

David C. Downing, PhD, is the R. W. Schlosser Professor of English at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. He is the author of four award-winning books on C.S. Lewis: “Planets in Peril”, “The Most Reluctant Convert”, “Into the Region of Awe: Mysticism in C.S. Lewis” and “Into the Wardrobe: C. S. Lewis and the Narnia Chronicles”. Downing has also written short fiction for “Christianity Today” and other periodicals.

Order the Looking for the King: An Inklings Novel Today!

13 Responses to “New Novel Brings C.S. Lewis and ‘the Inklings’ to Life”

  1. Richard says:

    Nice… it’s gonna be a great book to read, once I finish reading ‘The Last Battle’ I probably read this one… 😀

  2. Pepper Darcy says:

    Sounds Catholic

    • Lisa D. says:

      Catholics, like myself, enjoy C.S. Lewis, too… and Tolkien was famously Catholic. I don’t see the problem.

      • Pepper Darcy says:

        yeah, I know, just the element of looking for the divine spear sounded catholic :) I know they were catholic and I read them. I have catholic relatives. I was just saying it ‘sounded catholic’ meaning it looked like it had catholic elements in it 😀

  3. Brandon Vogt says:

    Pepper Darcy:

    It is Catholic, as it’s published by Ignatius Press, one of the largest Catholic publishers. But instead of detracting from the book, it adds to it, just as Tolkien’s Catholicism and Lewis’ Anglo-Catholicism textured their epic fantasy tales.

  4. michael says:

    I take it this has no relation to the Here There Be Dragons books which also feature Lewis, Tolkien and Williams as main characters?

  5. I see you all offering some interesting speculations above, so I thought I might as well weigh in, since I wrote LOOKING FOR THE KING.

    Yes, the novel is published by Ignatius Press, but there is nothing specifically Catholic about the storyline, just Christian in general. As a group, the Inklings were just about evenly divided between Catholics and Anglicans (with the occasional skeptic as visitor), but they tended to focus on the doctrines they shared, not their differences.

    Actually, among the Inklings, the one who showed the most fascination for the Spear, the Holy Grail, etc., was the lifelong Anglican, Charles Williams. They one who showed the least interest was the most famous Catholic of the group, J. R. R. Tolkien. (As you know, Tolkien was devoted to Norse and Germanic myths and legends, not those that emerged from other parts of Europe.)

    The characters in the “Here, There Be Dragons stories” share very little with the historical Lewis, Tolkien, and Williams beyond their first names. And, of course, they go off on all sorts of adventures that none of the famous Oxford trio ever talked about in their letters!

    My goal in LOOKING THE KING was to try and show what it would be like to meet Lewis, Tolkien, and Williams in real life, how they looked, how they talked, what they argued about, etc. I would like to give readers the feeling that they’ve found a time machine and gotten to meet each one of these famous authors, and great souls, personally and to eavesdrop on an Inklings meeting in the “Bird and Baby” pub. The search for the Spear of Destiny takes my two young Americans all over England, but I believe it may well be the Inklings chapters that readers will remember most.

    David C. Downing

  6. Denise Roper says:

    If anyone is interested, I reviewed “Looking for the King” on my blog at

    It’s a really good book.

  7. Matt says:

    I have a question: is this the first of a series, or is it its own independent book? I’d love to read it, and if there’s more than one, I’d love to read them all! :)

  8. Matt:

    I have a sequel in mind, and I deliberately left several small clues at the end of LOOKING OF THE KING that my two young Americans, Tom and Laura, might well need to return to England and once again to enlist the aid and guidance of Lewis, Tolkien, and their friends. But their fate in the future lies less in their discovering any secret new talismans than in readers like you who finish LOOKING FOR THE KING and ask for another novel!

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