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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SPRITUAL THRILLER, 31 Mar 2006
By 
Klingsor Tristan (Suffolk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: War in Heaven (Paperback)
With all the fuss and furore surrounding Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, Charles Williams remains the poor relation among the Inklings, that group of Oxford intellectuals who regularly met over a pint at the pub to discuss their latest writings. Where Tolkien and Lewis both invented entire fantasy universes in which to set their epics, Williams works on a smaller scale, setting his books firmly in between-the-wars Middle England. For all that, he concerns himself just as much with the great archetypal myths as either of the other two: it's just that he puts them in an everyday context. Spiritual Thrillers, he liked to call them.
War in Heaven starts out as an Agatha Christie-type Murder Mystery among book publishers but rapidly turns out to be concerned with much bigger and darker forces - nothing less than the pursuit of the Grail, in fact (or, rather the Graal as Williams prefers to call it). This novel is, in many ways, a cousin of the roughly contemporaneous Dennis Wheatley Black Magic books. It has to be said that Williams is not quite as good at winding up the thrills and the tension as that master of plots and cliffhangers. Nevertheless, he takes us on an exciting enough ride through country-house gardens, rural churches, dubious London herbal retailers and peoples his tale with a varied collection of publishers, minor ecclesiastics, scheming villains and darkly evil Levantines. Only the appearance of the prester John, the slightly wimpish deus ex machina towards the end, rather lets the side down.
This is probably the best of the Charles Williams novels and makes for a good read. Many of the set-pieces come off particularly well. His ambitions are humbler than his Inkling contemporaries, but his books are none the worse for that - indeed, they lack a lot of the pretentiousness that often invades the others. And, if you enjoy War in Heaven, there is quite a collection of Williams' Spritual Thrillers to explore.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perhaps nothing is as commonplace as we think, 2 May 2012
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Mr. David E. Buckley "David Buckley" (East Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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Charles Williams is an excellent author who wrote Gothic-type stories where good as well as evil forces are unleashed on an unsuspecting world. Everything has a spiritual dimension. The chalice in a small village church used for the "commonplace" taking of Holy Communion (if that is really conmmonplace) turns out to be the Holy Grail. The villains steal it for their own use, but powers of good, rather than evil, are released and they cannot be controlled either by the villains or the heroes. This is a great read, an exciting book which opens the imagination to forces beyond secular and materialist thoughts and beyond our control. Fortunately both Charles Williams and I believe they these forces are good rather than evil.
My only gripe is why are these books so expensive? They are difficult to get, but nearly £8 to download a book 50 years old is a bit pricey. Fortunately worth every penny spent.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mystery, Adventure, and the Holy Grail, 20 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: War in Heaven (Paperback)
This was the first book by Charles Williams I read, and, to date, it is my favorite book of his. The opening scene grabs you, and, after a bit of tedium in establishing characters, the story moves at a steady pace from murder mystery to supernatural thriller. Anyone interested in Grail Lore will enjoy this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fine, 6 Sep 2014
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Fine
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War in Heaven
War in Heaven by Charles Williams (Paperback - 1 Dec 1949)
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