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Critical Acclaim for Quill of the Dove

“The Middle East is an extreme of everything and thus fertile ground for thriller writers: a rich and varied history, current political chaos, violence on every level, religious strife, tribal factions galore, and everywhere really bad guys who would be barely credible in fiction but for the fact that they pepper the evening news almost every day. There is a catch, though, and that is that it is very hard to keep all of the political, ethnic and religious issues straight. Most authors try to keep their plot lines as simple as possible to avoid getting inextricably bogged down in the convoluted details of local reality. But by doing so, they tend to oversimplify, even ignore, the overwhelming complexity that burdens the daily lives of those who live there. So it is very uncommon to find an author who not only sets his story in the Middle East, but who can both keep the facts straight and also avoid turning individuals and regional populations into two-dimensional caricatures. Ian Thomas Shaw is one of those rare authors. Having served as a Canadian diplomat and aid worker in the Middle East for several years, he knows the land and people well, and has a firm grip on hills and valleys, swamps and jungles of the political topography as well.” — Timothy Niedermann, The Ottawa Review of Books (click here for full review)“(


"Make no mistake: following the turbulent events of the Middle East requires patience and open-mindedness, and not least a certain intelligence on the part of readers; but for those willing to make the effort, Shaw provides a fine account of the impact of bigotry and the dehumanizing effect of war, and a chronicle of the tensions within families and the challenges of trying to broker a peace among polarized groups whose turbulent histories reach back generations. It is a first-rate effort, and it has paid off handsomely in a richly-told and layered tale that succeeds on many levels: thoughtful readers whose goal is to gain a better understanding of one of the most troubled regions of the world will be rewarded, but so too will the casual reader simply in search of a gripping and well-told tale. Quill of the Dove is quite simply one of the most rewarding novels I’ve read in a very long time." — Jim Napier, Opal Magazine October 2018 issue (click here for full review)

"Many of the other characters sprinkled throughout this piece prove effective at creating a wonderful story that tells of some of the less glorious sides of the Middle East clashes. Shaw speaks of religious and cultural clashes throughout the narrative, breathing life into these themes by giving his characters important roles. The reader is able to see the struggle through these men and women, sympathising with them throughout, while making connections with others at times. Shaw shows that he is able to develop a strong story that works on many levels, speaking to the political and cultural situation in the region, as well as the questions displacement leaves in the minds of many. I could not pull myself away at times, as the story became enveloping and kept me on the edge of my seat." — Matt, Book Reviews to Ponder (click here for full review)


"This might have been Ian Thomas Shaw's second novel, but he has already established himself as one of the greatest writers in contemporary fiction. The novel itself features a fantastic duo between Marc Taragon and Marie Boivin as they both seek to uncover the truths of the war, Marie's childhood, and most importantly, who they are as people. Reality might not always be real, but such a paradox is actually universal fact given the subjective nature of reality itself. Virtual reality might not be what it seems visually, but it is clear that Quill of the Dove will hopefully inspire peace, love and tranquility for those willing to read this novel with their own eyes."  — Alex Andy Phuong, MidWest Book Review (click here for full review)

"Canadian author Ian Thomas Shaw’s new novel Quill of the Dove proves that a writer’s memory is powerful enough to move laterally and create a searing vision of the contemporary Middle East. Shaw’s evocation of Lebanon, during the Civil War in 1982, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2007, illuminates the tragic consequences of the curve and the asymptote of West and East, never intersecting." — John Delacourt, Compulsive Reader (click here for full review)


“You cannot hide in Quill of the Dove, you can only cling to and experience it, glad that due to its two-timeline structure, you already know that at least two of the heroic ones survived. Quill of the Dove shifted how I wished to approach writing. It convicted me for hiding in the realm of the fantastic to avoid such turmoils as real-life war. A quintessential escapist, I love diving into the dramatic as long as the back of my subconscious knows it's not real. Shaw wrote real, Shaw wrote conviction and malice and the unsettling horror of knowing that even if the perfect solution to the Middle Eastern crisis was penned by peace-making fanatics crossing their personal boundaries, the solution would never be implemented. We are simply not that type of race to unclench our raised fists and let go our rage.”

— Sapha Burnell, MacroMicrocosm Literary Reviews (click here to listen to full podcast review)

"Shaw’s intimate knowledge of Israel and the Palestinian Territories grounds the drama in this heart-stopping political thriller.” — Claire Holden Rothman, author of My October and The Heart Specialist.

Quill of the Dove is an impressive debut, and Ian Shaw brings a new voice that’s strong and confident, weaving a tale with a knowledge of culture and history that draws and transports the reader right from the beginning.”— Dietrich Kalteis, award-winning author of Ride the Lightning, The Deadbeat Club, Triggerfish, House of Blazes and Zero Avenue.


Quill of the Dove is a suspenseful, powerful and ambitious novel.”— Sonia Saikaley, author of the Lebanese Dishwasher


Quill of the Dove approaches the history of Lebanon through the eyes of international journalists called upon to take huge personal risk to report the complicated facts. This is a terrific way for Shaw to tell his tale. Richly drawn characters, enhanced by his profound knowledge of the Middle East, ensure that we are along for the whole ride with men and women trying to make a difference, while trying just to stay alive. With journalists dying in disturbing numbers across the world, this novel may be providing the timeliest perspective of any on the Middle East.” — David Whellams, author of The Verdict on each Man Dead


Quill of the Dove brims with heartbreak and love for a troubled region. We so soon forget even recent history, and Shaw's inclusion of the Phalangist massacre in Beirut from the point of view of a French journalist offers insight into current Arab-Israeli conflicts; this novel is both timely and needed. Shaw's characters are memorable and his sense of place, steeped in personal experience, is powerful; the scent of orange and olive groves lingers long after the last page is turned.” — Ursula Pflug, author of Motion Sickness


Quill of the Dove is a gripping political thriller driven by memorable characters, both noble and nefarious, whose destinies are inextricably determined by war zones and conflicts. Spanning the Middle East, Europe and Canada, the novel delivers a fascinating quest for truth and love that illuminates the legacies of violence in our complex world.” — Cora Siré, author of Behold Things Beautiful


Quill of the Dove is brilliantly plotted, bursting with suspense, and populated with characters one cares about immensely. Shaw proves himself resoundingly as a master of the political thriller. Easily one of the best novels I’ve read in recent years.” — David Joiner, author of Lotusland


“If John le Carré and Robert Fisk co-wrote a novel, Quill of the Dove would have been it. The inner lives of the novel's characters and the political landscape they are condemned to inhabit are complex; the dangers they face more palpable.”—Sang Kim, winner of the Gloria Vanderbilt Prize for Fiction

“A young Canadian woman’s search for her origins. A maverick French journalist on a quest for peace in the Middle East. These two intriguing stories mesh seamlessly in Ian Thomas Shaw’s riveting novel Quill of the Dove. The final vision of a Middle East that could have been left me longing for more.” —Caroline Vu, author of That Summer in Provincetown and Palawan Story

Quill of the Dove by Ian Thomas Shaw is about identity—family, political, cultural, and religious. The novel is an expansive narrative with deft insights centred in the Middle East. Shaw's use of meticulous and extraordinary research moves us backward and forward in time, shedding light on the complex motivations of a region rife with conflict. In the telling, we are reminded that the multi-faith Lebanese, Syrian, Israeli and Palestinian nations have endured a long, tortured history. But at the core of this unputdownable novel are ordinary human beings searching for meaning, love, and mastery of their rightful heritage. A finely told history lesson about sectarian violence, mutilation and territory, and yet Shaw writes, ”Despite the war, the hearts of the villagers have not hardened.” Quill of the Dove is a love story, a political manifesto and a voyage into the depths of war where life and death lie down together. —Susan Doherty Hannaford, author of The Ghost Garden and A Secret Music.


“Ian Thomas Shaw spins a memorable tale that intertwines the personal with the political. A fast-paced thriller, lyrically told, that moves seamlessly between Europe in 2007 and the Middle East in the mid-late 1970’s, Quill of the Dove is a riveting novel that tells the story of a Canadian woman’s quest for identity amidst the turmoil of the Middle East. It’s not possible to do justice in a few sentences to the wisdom and intricacies of this very interesting and powerful novel. This page-turner will keep you engrossed throughout, providing not only insights into the very complex and layered political history that is the Middle East, but also into the deepest longings of the human heart.” — Jerry Levy, author of Urban Legend and The Philosopher and the Golem

Quill of the Dove is a novel that both delights and instructs. With its intriguing, fast-paced and riveting plot it takes the reader on an adventure into the world of entangled Middle East politics, a tapestry interwoven of intricate and insidious political games, and tragic stories of ordinary people showing extraordinary valour and endurance. The literary technique of shifting timeframes, as well as a multi-layered plot keep the reader in a delicious state of suspense. Definitively, a book of notable literary merit that satisfies a craving for an interesting read, and the desire to understand better a part of the world embroiled in turmoil.” — Jana Begovic, author of Poisonous Whispers

"With a firm but agile hand, Ian Thomas Shaw navigates his readers through the intricacies of Middle Eastern politics, identifying Lebanon as the arena in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict merges with and keeps kindling the tensions and divisions that are still tearing the whole region apart. With the gripping pace of a spy story and the complex multi-perspective offered by a well-experienced observer, Quill of the Dove spins a tale where individual destinies and the desire for peace and romance are crushed beneath the ineluctable power of much bigger and violent forces" —  Arianna Dagnino, author of The Afrikaner

Quill of the Dove compels you to believe that the power of love and a determination for peace will triumph against hatred, betrayal, and brutality. While vividly painting the horrors of war, the novel also places on its canvas the power of human goodness, yet keeps the reader uncertain to the end as it slowly reveals the hidden truths between the characters and realpolitik.” — Norman Hall, author of Four Stones


"This is a really impressive work of historical fiction, reminding me vaguely of films such as The Killing Fields, Not Without My Daughter and The Year of Living Dangerously. With a great balance of drama, political intrigue and scenic descriptions, Shaw crafts an excellent and unforgettable tale that immerses readers into earlier years and a world that vividly unfolds on every page." — Rebecca McNutt, author of Bitter Sweet Symphony (click here for full review).

"Shaw's breadth of knowledge on his subject is truly impressive, as is the structure he creates to tell the story, always maintaining a breath-taking tension between two time periods. A vivid snapshot prologue is the hook that keeps the reader enthralled until a surprising and poetic end. I was deeply impressed by Shaw's ability to tell a story that overcomes the cruelties, the complexities, and the madness of Israeli/Palestinian/Lebanese differences, and to reveal the enduring power of the human spirit that lies beneath all our political manoeuverings. It is not surprising that Quill of the Dove has been optioned as a TV series." — Amanda Hale, author of Mad Hatter and Prism International Prize Winner

Quill of the Dove is an intense political thriller written with an insight that can only come from a deep understanding of international intrigue. Spy novel lovers will find everything they want and more.” — Benoit Chartier, author of Red Nexus

Quill of the Dove is a compelling novel that quickly plunges the reader into the depths of conflict rooted in the Middle East. The author’s vivid characters and keen sense of history reveal the intricate layers of political nuance and fanatical allegiance that lead to entrenched positions and hostile environments. Quill of the Dove is a noteworthy addition to fans of international intrigue and political thrillers. This passionate tale of lives shattered by conflict will keep you turning pages long into the night.” — Sean McGinnis, author of Stark Nakid

“The reader is immediately drawn into this tale of intrigue. The characters are complex and engaging, guiding the reader through Shaw's scholarly account of a dark history in the Middle East.” — Geri Newell, author of Quite Perfectly Dead

“This is a fast-paced story told in generation-crossing firsthand, casting love and hatred, good and evil, against the backdrop of a turbulent Middle East, with all its complexity and intricacy of religious and political allegiances. Shaw holds back no punches in his vivid and disturbing description of horrors, while simultaneously word-painting acts of breathtaking kindness and sacrifice. His deep knowledge of the political and religious landscape of his story lends an astonishing credibility to the narrative.” — Robert Barclay, author of Death at the Podium


"Drawing on his extensive experience and knowledge of the Middle East, Ian Thomas Shaw has crafted an exciting political thriller of intrigue and romance. As his protagonists reach toward a peace that might have been, they battle the in-grown political, religious and tribal forces that are the root cause of this instability. In the process, Shaw succeeds in bringing to life the horrors the inhabitants of this war-torn region have been living through over numerous generations. This is definitely a page-turner that will keep you reading well into the night. Enjoy!" — Geza Tatrallyay, author of the Twisted trilogy of international crime thrillers and the Cold War Escape trilogy of memoirs


"Ian Thomas Shaw’s new thriller, Quill of the Dove, is a compelling story of the struggle between identity and destiny set against the turbulent backdrop of Middle East politics. It focuses on a woman’s search for her own identity as she tries to find her birth parents, and a man’s personal mission to overcome generations of communal conflict with a multi-stakeholder peace plan. Both characters encounter danger, sudden and brutal violence, hope, despair, betrayal and ultimate resolution as they follow their intersecting destinies. Shaw’s ability to depict all sides of the conflict humanely is a testament to his time in the Middle East and his skill as a writer and story-teller." — Susan Taylor Meehan, author of Maggie's Choice


"Quill of the Dove is both a fast-moving historical novel and a fascinating and compelling view into the shadow world of middle east politics and violence in one of the most fragile of democracies—Lebanon in the 1970s. Well researched, intense, and believable, Shaw's novel does not shy away from exposing the shifting alliances, tribal jealousies, and foreign meddling that created this tragedy. Nor does it provide cover for the continuing aggression of State players who are still heavily invested in continuing conflict in the region well into the new millennium, and for whom the cost in human lives and human misery seems of little or no concern." — Dr. Bob Abell, author and filmmaker (Corporate Prey)


“Ian Thomas Shaw has drawn on his long experience as a Canadian diplomat to produce a gripping novel that enriches and enhances the reader's knowledge of ethnic cultures and conflicts of the times. While multi-faceted, the time transitions are easy to follow. Character descriptions and development are well examined and presented. A good read for virtually any audience.” — Bill Horne, past President of Ottawa Independent Writers


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