Review: No Man’s Land by Simon Tolkien

So an embarrassing full literary disclosure….I have never read any of The Lord of the Rings books so I have no first hand knowledge of JRR Tolkien’s writing abilities but the popularity of the series speaks for itself. Many have praised this debut novel by Simon Tolkien (JRR’s grandson), as worthy of the Tolkien name in the literary world.

When this novel came across my desk for review, the last name of course immediately captured my attention and I was eager to see what the novel was about. Obviously the Tolkien name carries a lot of clout in the literary world but I wondered if this new author would be able to live up to the famous family name?

The title and cover imply that it’s a WWI period novel so right there it was an easy ‘yes I’ll review the novel’ response! Edwardian era and WWI England are a sure way to my literary heart.

From the slums of London to the riches of an Edwardian country house; from the hot, dark seams of a Yorkshire coalmine to the exposed terrors of the trenches, Adam Raine’s journey from boy to man is set against the backdrop of a society violently entering the modern world.

Adam Raine is a boy cursed by misfortune. His impoverished childhood in the slums of Islington is brought to an end by a tragedy that sends him north to Scarsdale, a hard-living coalmining town where his father finds work as a union organizer. But it isn’t long before the escalating tensions between the miners and their employer, Sir John Scarsdale, explode with terrible consequences.

In the aftermath, Adam meets Miriam, the Rector’s beautiful daughter, and moves into Scarsdale Hall, an opulent paradise compared with the life he has been used to before. But he makes an enemy of Sir John’s son, Brice, who subjects him to endless petty cruelties for daring to step above his station.

When love and an Oxford education beckon, Adam feels that his life is finally starting to come together – until the outbreak of war threatens to tear everything apart.

This novel has so much to offer readers! I was certainly impressed with Tolkien’s ability to compose a well written and historically detailed novel! To me, writing a war time novel is sometime the most difficult because war is often a depressing subject. There needs to be a balanced mixture of historical facts and authenticity with a little bit of hope within the story as well. Tolkien nailed it!

This book was inspiring but yet echoed not just the tragedy of the era but the cruelty of life but yet there was still hope because it is a rags to riches story set against the Great War. I absolutely loved following Adam’s story.

While it took a little time for me to get into the book, after an accident that changes Adam’s life happens. Then things really started to pick up for me and once I was into the book I couldn’t put it down. This is one of those books that will make you cry and cheer all at the same time. Tolkien’s attention to detail, especially when it comes to character development and historic detail was superb.

I cannot say enough good things about this book. Well written, moving, powerful, and memorable. I have no doubt Simon Tolkien has done Tolkien name justice! His writing and story telling abilities are wonderful and this historic details are well researched with an echo of truth. What a great way to kick off my 2017 reading!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: No Man’s Land by Simon Tolkien 

  • Kindle Edition, 566 pages
    Published June 30th 2016 by HarperCollins
    Review copy provided by: Author/Publisher in exchange for an honest review

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 5 out of 5

Genre: War lit, WWI, historical fiction

Memorable lines/quotes: NA


2 thoughts on “Review: No Man’s Land by Simon Tolkien

  1. i was so pleased that you liked my book No Man’s Land and that you enjoyed Adam’s story. As you say, it was a hard road he traveled but there is some hope for him at the end. Thank you for your wonderful review. Regards, Simon Tolkien

Charming comments go here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s