NO MAN'S LAND by Simon Tolkien
Publisher Knopf/Nan A. Talese, January 24, 2017
Inspired by the
real-life experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War
I, Simon Tolkien delivers a perfectly rendered novel rife with class
tension, period detail, and stirring action, ranging from the sharply
divided society of Northern England to the trenches of the Somme.
Adam Raine is a boy cursed by misfortune. His impoverished childhood in
turn-of-the-century London comes to a sudden and tragic end when his mother
is killed in a workersí protest march. His father, Daniel, is barely able to
cope with the loss. But a job opportunity in the coal mining town of
Scarsdale offers one last chance, so father and son head north. The
relocation is hard on Adam: the local boys prove difficult to befriend, and
he never quite fits in. Meanwhile tensions between the miners and their
employer, Sir John Scarsdale, escalate and finally explode with terrible
In the aftermath, Adamís fate shifts once again, and he finds himself drawn
into the opulent Scarsdale family home, where he makes an enemy of Sir
Johnís son, Brice, who subjects Adam to a succession of petty cruelties for
daring to step above his station. Adam finds consolation in the company of
Miriam, the local parsonís beautiful daughter, with whom he falls in love.
When they become engaged and Adam wins a scholarship to Oxford, he starts to
feel that his life is finally coming togetheróuntil the outbreak of war
threatens to tear everything apart.
From the slums of London to the riches of an Edwardian country house, from
the dark seams of a Yorkshire coal mine to the exposed terrors of the
trenches in France, Adamís journey from boy to man is set against the
backdrop of a society violently entering the modern world.
Simon Tolkien studied modern history at Trinity College, Oxford, and went on
to become a London barrister specializing in criminal defense. He is the
author of Final Witness and The Inheritance, courtroom dramas drawing on his
firsthand knowledge of the British criminal justice system, and The King of
Diamonds and Orders from Berlin, set during World War II. Simon is the
grandson of J. R. R. Tolkien and is a director of the Tolkien Estate. He
lives with his wife and two children in Southern California.