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Toward the Gleam

(Toward the Gleam #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  357 ratings  ·  78 reviews

Between the two world wars, on a hike in the English countryside, Professor John Hill takes refuge from a violent storm in a cave. There he nearly loses his life, but he also makes an astonishing discovery — an ancient manuscript housed in a cunningly crafted metal box. Though a philologist by profession, Hill cannot identify the language used in the manuscript and the tim

Hardcover, 481 pages
Published March 1st 2011 by Ignatius Press
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T.M. Doran Rachel, if I wanted to be another Tolkien/Lewis (too high an aspiration for me), I'd have written a fantasy story, not this story. As for the characte…moreRachel, if I wanted to be another Tolkien/Lewis (too high an aspiration for me), I'd have written a fantasy story, not this story. As for the characters, I found them harder (not easier) to write than characters in other books I've composed because of the limitations I had to observe, fewer dimensions of freedom if you will. Cheers!(less)

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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Feb 07, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeff Miller
May 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Earlier this year I reviewed Looking for the King and a new novel also from Ignatius Press Toward the Gleam: A Novel has similar elements. They both involve a similar historical time period with some of the same historical characters. They both involve some time of artifact that involves the main characters into an unfolding drama with increasing danger and they both have solid spiritual and philosophical underpinnings. Where they depart is that while I enjoyed “Looking for the King” as a good a ...more
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A delightful alternative history and philosophic exploration around the writing of LOTR.
I received this book for free through a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. I was out at Boy Scout Camp for two days with 17 little 11 Year-old Scouts when it showed up in my mailbox. My husband called me to tell me the good news. (He knows what is important. . .) I was excited -- it had arrived in less than two weeks from the day I received the notification! But I put it out of my mind so that I could continue to sweat effectively in the Florida heat and keep my little charges hydrated and moving a ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Alternative biography of J.R.R. Tolkien, retelling his life as if he had found an old manuscript from a civilization that is no more (Atlantis?) which he translated into The Lord of the Rings.

The hypothesized existence of powerful secrets in the manuscript arises the interest of a criminal organization, which sets the stage for the philosophical and ethical discussions that are at the center stage of the book - the clash of a Christian and an utilitarian worldview.

The book itself is entertainin
A very entertaining mystery surrounding the origins of a very ancient book found accidentally and the consequences of this discovery. By finding the book John Hill unwillingly unleashes forces of evil - those who will stop at nothing to possess the knowledge it contains only to twist it to their own purposes - and will hound him until the final battle. The epic battle of good vs. evil finds an entertaining twist in this narrative where modern, secular ideologies are pitted against ancient truths ...more
Steven R. McEvoy
I have had this book for a while, but it just sat in my 'to be read pile' for a while. It is a curious book, and many characters from history, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Agatha Christie, and more. A great beginning and looking forward to where the story goes with book 2. Full review below.
This book was a very pleasant surprise. It had been on my radar for a while and sat on my kindle for a few months. But once I started reading it I could not put it down. I read through my breaks at work an
Roland Bruno
Jul 11, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, tolkien
I'm not one for the mystery genre but when I discovered that this title's main character is based on Tolkien I had to read it. Based on the premise that the protagonist (Tolkien) discovers an ancient manuscript (The Red Book of Westmarch for the initiated) which details an ancient civilization (Middle Earth) it becomes a "Davinci Code" like search for clues for more evidence. Most of the "evidence" involves discussions with academics and little physical evidence or location searching like "Davin ...more
Manuel Alfonseca
Feb 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: maybe
ENGLISH: This novel can be considered as two different books. The first is an alternative biography (in the same sense as one speaks about alternative history). The identity of the person being biographed (a famous writer) is transparent, although he is never named in the book, except through an alias (which is also transparent). The biography is alternative in the sense that the book that made this writer famous in real life is supposed to have been found rather than written by him, therefore t ...more
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyable! Mystery, history, The Inklings, philosophy - so much to like. It was so much fun to recognize familiar and much-loved characters. My only criticism is that the author uses some American words and phrases that an English man simply wouldn't say. A great read though!
Jun 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Won this in a goodreads giveaway and I am so glad I did.

The publisher and a few other reviewers have summarized the story very well so let me give my impressions.

After I read the first chapter I had this urge to get a cup of tea and curl up in my favorite chair to immerse myself in "the story". I was hooked. The story was well paced and the characters clearly drawn. The suspense gradually built to the hoped for ending without being "over the top". Another reviewer compared it to a "DaVinci Code
Anne Gazzolo
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
I loved this wonderful book and so did my dad. Warning: spoilers ahead!! Knowing ahead of time what this book is about helped my enjoyment of it tremendously, and is the reason I was so looking forward to reading it. But if you don't want to know, don't keep reading!

Lovers of The Lord of the Rings, of which the author is definitely one, will enjoy this tale the most. The main 'character' is Tolkien himself, under the alias of John Hill which he took from the alias used by Frodo. It concerns pri
Jun 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
I thoroughly enjoyed the reimagining of Tolkien's creative process, and positing a coexistence of imagined and modern history is deliciously appealing. Full marks for imagination, and well worth a read for fans of the Inkling school of thought.

The storytelling itself is not nearly at Tolkien's level, however. Foreshadowing is written at surface-level and not merely suggestive. The cast of supporting characters is quite large, involving historical personages as well as imagined ones, but they're
Jul 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads-wins
COVER ART: B (I liked the Tolkien look.)

RECOMMEND: Anyone who enjoys a sophisticated mystery read. This is a book for adults, meaning someone who only reads the young adult or teen drama genres that are so popular these days will be bored out of their minds.

I thought the story was very well thought out and very well written. It must have taken the author years of research to get his facts straight.
I must admit I had a hard time ge
I received this through Goodreads’ “Giveaways” program. Thank you very much to all involved with that!

This was an interesting mystery read for me, especially the second half of the book. I liked the approach the author used of focusing on an individual day (occasionally two) in each chapter, jumping ahead days, months, or years in between the portrayed events.

The writing was solid mixing the mystery with philosophical discussions, yet keeping them at a level the casual reader (i.e. me) can under
May 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Though I haven't finished, I can only say it's giving me the deep pull, and restless satisfaction of the best of stories, wound round the peculiar undertones of Chesterton, Tolkien, Hopkins--yet in its own breath. There are points at which its construction and prose feel too inclined to tell. Yet the directness also leaves room to listen, and imagine--I found it both frustrating and apt. Frustrating, because at times these characters--whose voices I know so well from their writing and stories--s ...more
Feb 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Set in England during the inter-war years, this book purports to tell the story of how J.R.R. Tolkien came to write "The Lord of the Rings." It is a fantasy-adventure story, in which he triumphs over deadly foes, with the help of his trusty friends.

I've read a number of other books that take classic literary works as their starting point, and while they have merits, they normally rely too much on the original story, and don't provide much of their own. This book has some of that problem, but ove
Stefan Yates
Oct 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
An interesting thought provoking novel that puts a possible new spin on the life of J.R.R. Tolkien and his works.

All that I knew going in to this was that this was a special book and that a Tolkien fan should enjoy it. I didn't realize that the book itself was, in a way, about the man himself. A fun fictional piece that follows John through his life guided by an amazing discovery. There's action, espionage, and mystery aplenty in this novel and I'll leave it at that as I don't want to spoil it
Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
It seems strange, now that I've finished this book, that it took me almost half of the entire book to realize who "John Hill" (the protagonist) was a roman a clef for. It would totally ruin it if I mentioned it, so I won't!!

But this is one of those incredibly clever books that come out of nowhere and makes one wonder: where has this book been, and why have I not heard of it? Now, I must admit that the author, T.M. Doran, is a bit wordy, and he does get very caught up in sub-plots that invariably
David Mullen
May 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is book is so good because it feels so old. All the quotations fall just so, and there are very few false notes to be detected. That's important because the book is set amongst some of the British literary luminaries of the early 20th century Lewis, Tolkien, Williams, Christie...and they all play a fairly integral part in the plot. It's like, what if you put "National Treasure", CS Lewis, Michael Card, and PD James in a blender!! Think Da Vinci Code excitement, without the slovenly intellec ...more
Jul 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Reading this book, I was waiting for some big "wow" stuff to happen. That is what the hype seemed to promise, as well as reviews I had read. But if there isn't a huge apocalyptic event, there is a constant building of drama that sucks you into the urgency of the events. Thinking about it days later still, and in retrospect it grows on me even more.
Sep 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Very sweet read so far. Roughly 100 pages in.

2 days later...

Now finished.
It is well worth while,with mysteries, riddles, allusions and direct connections to literary figures. It is a lot of fun and at times invokes life at its richest.
Katrina Misley
Nov 19, 2014 rated it liked it
A fairly enjoyable read. Although this is not a fantasy novel, it will probably appeal to Tolkein fans. The writing style and philosophies in the book remind of Michael O'Brien's works.
Madeleine Myers
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is a book that demands to be re-read. First, because the ironies in the story and its setting are not evident in first reading, and the parallels with our own time deserve more reflection. Also because the story is so compelling that important details may be glossed over. The time and place mark a significant transitional point in human history, as does our own time and place, when the future of many nations and their peoples hang on the decisions being made by important behind-the
Ben Adams
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Engaging, delightful, and overall very satisfactory. Doran has clearly done his research, and has composed a tale plausible enough to let the reader set aside disbelief and enter in.

There are weaknesses. Chief among these, to my mind, are the somewhat contrived philosophical/worldview bouts between John and his various antagonists, which are frequent and yet don't convey a deep sense of cosmic spiritual conflict like you would find in That Hideous Strength, for example: in short the conflict is
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting story...It's hard to say much else without spoiling it (don't read the other reviews on Goodreads if you'd like to avoid spoilers.) The conceit of the story held my interest and the plot was decently intense at times. There was a lot of time spent discussing philosophy, though. At times it felt like an imitation of Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy with characters sitting sitting around arguing philosophy and religion. That got a little old, but didn't ruin it for me.

The audio book was reall
Dec 07, 2017 rated it liked it
If you're a fan of J. R. R. Tolkien's work, as I am, this book's premise is incredibly cool. If you're not a fan, I'm not sure you would even get it. When I did "get" what was happening (I won't reveal it here), I found the idea really exciting, almost electrifying. Doran really hit on a brilliant plot idea. Unfortunately, one brilliant idea can't necessarily carry a whole novel, and in this case it really didn't. Don't get me wrong, I read with interest to the end, and I enjoyed it. If I'm disa ...more
Michelle Rogers
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A new favorite that I will revisit! Such a wonderfully well written story that tied in historical figures (including several of my most beloved authors/figures of the early- mid 1900s). I love how truth and philosophy were written into this tale in such a natural manner. It was a delight to read this book and has many nuggets of wisdom I plan to revisit with future reads! I can't wait to read more of this authors works!
Callie Hornbuckle
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Definitely a niche book, but good for what it is! It’s a kind of JRR Tolkien/Inklings fan fiction, but does manage to be an engaging mystery in its own right. Recommended if you are a big fan of Tolkien and/or philosophy.
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The Catholic Book...: * Introduction 14 31 Mar 11, 2019 01:16PM  
The Catholic Book...: 8. Kuiper 5 13 Mar 01, 2019 08:07AM  
The Catholic Book...: 6. Cover Art 3 11 Mar 01, 2019 08:04AM  
The Catholic Book...: 3. Growing Character 9 18 Mar 01, 2019 04:31AM  
The Catholic Book...: 1. What is the Story About? 2 16 Mar 01, 2019 04:29AM  
The Catholic Book...: 11. Quotations 14 15 Feb 14, 2019 03:09AM  
The Catholic Book...: 10. Ask the Author 18 15 Feb 13, 2019 04:00AM  

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Born in Long Beach, California, T.M. Doran has lived the majority of his life in Michigan, surrounded by sweet water.

The Lucifer Ego (2018) depicts the theft of the ancient Toward the Gleam manuscript, and the trials and tribulations of the Oxford archaeologist recruited to recover it. Prehistoric archaeology, psychology, mythology (including Middle-Earth and Narnia)

Other books in the series

Toward the Gleam (3 books)
  • The Lucifer Ego: The Sequel to Toward the Gleam
  • Kataklusmos

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