Ash Donaldson’s From Her Eyes a Doctrine:
Spencer J. Quinn
Ash Donaldson’s novel From Her Eyes a Doctrine accomplishes several striking things which make it stand out among dissident literature. For one, it does what all novels should do: It tells an entertaining story – although in this case, we have multiple stories, some new, some old, some present, some past. A few of these stories are discrete; others are dropped off and revisited later. Donaldson skillfully weaves these disparate elements into an overarching narrative in which Phoebe, a white girl from the highly dystopian year of 2107, must flee the soul-crushing anti-white oppression which we all know is coming. As she does, she and the reader gradually learn about the recent past, both in America, where non-whites have violently asserted power, and in pre-industrial white citadels in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Donaldson provides concrete descriptions of how these communities would not only flourish in such harsh conditions, but reassert white identity and the culture of pre-Christian Europe. All of this we can find in other sources, but what we cannot find in other sources – and what makes From Her Eyes truly original – is how Donaldson combines the cautionary tale with mythology to create a new sub-genre of literature: the cautionary myth. Some of these myths are old, and some are the author’s invention. In either case, we are reaching into the past even as we move into the future.
The story begins in Minneapolis, now known as “Many Apples,” where 19-year-old Phoebe ekes out her uninspiring life in the white ghetto known as the South Seed. She has just lost her mother to cancer, and like many a white, is running out of reasons to keep on living. At this point in history, whites are an official underclass in the United States, similar to how they are in South Africa today. This was the result of a series of historic events during the 2040s known as the Retribution. Due to the non-white demographic majority in the United States and other countries, whites lost the ability to maintain their human rights and were effectively destroyed as a viable, enfranchised demographic. Donaldson employs several devices to describe the history of the Retribution and the ghastly times which followed (known as “the Darkening” and “the Hunger”), and keeps up the suspense by never revealing all of it all at once.
One incident in particular I cannot resist including in this review: the “Sack of Ann Arbor.” In 2055, after Ann Arbor’s progressive government footed the bill for the biggest mosque in the country, thousands of Muslims descended upon the city to attend its founding. But after a conflict with the University of Michigan over its open support for homosexuality and transgenderism, they rioted:
. . . in three days of carnage, the city experienced all the horrors that attended Constantinople’s fall. The homosexuals and childless progressives, who had so eagerly rejected their ancestors, were raped and butchered.
The first plot twist occurs when the mysterious Aethelstan rescues Phoebe and takes her on a journey to the Upper Peninsula, or UP, where racially aware whites have created a formidable stronghold against the pernicious modern world. Aethelstan is what’s known as a “scavenger,” and despite being only 23, is perhaps the greatest of them all. Scavengers hunt the “Outlands” (i.e., what remains of the United States) for white people like Phoebe who are worth saving. Ultimately, they reach their destination: Wolf Garth, located on the southern shore of the Northern Sea, known today as Lake Superior. There are three Garths on the Northern Sea, with ambitions to build a fourth. There are also the ruins of a previous settlement, Bear Garth, which had been destroyed years ago when non-white hordes from Detroit (cleverly named “Lions” for all you football fans) attempted to take the Retribution northward. They were successful, but only for a short time – and later those successes were emphatically reversed.
For the next several months, Phoebe becomes acclimated to her new surroundings and nurtures her love for Aethelstan, whom she marries. During this period she learns the history of the Garth and the great white awakening which took place in parallel to the Darkening to the south. She learns how important identity and blood are to a successful society. She learns about traditional sex roles, something that had been completely forgotten in the Outlands. Boys, for example, are forced to learn trades and receive rigorous military trials to become men.
At one point, Donaldson describes a game the boys play which was taken from his research into the culture of Appalachia. The game is warfare in miniature as two teams compete for prisoners and plot their rescue. It rewards the team with the quickest and most alert boys. This obviously has great importance for the people of the Garths, since rescuing whites from the clutches of non-whites has become one of their keys to survival.
Girls, on the other hand, aspire to have as many children as possible and learn how to keep house and educate children. Both Phoebe and the reader experience culture shock as they witness what societies are like when men and women cooperate rather than compete with each other. This is a complete rejection of feminism, something the characters discuss at length at several points.
More than this, Phoebe becomes familiar with neo-paganism, something for which she was wholly unprepared given her desultory Christian upbringing. This is where Donaldson’s astonishing amount of scholarship comes to the fore. The rituals, stories, myths, poems, and ancestor-worship are all there as the Garth denizens introduce Phoebe to a renaissance of pre-Christian European life. The citizenry feel they embody their grandparents and trace their ancestry as far back as possible. In this, they are emulating great pagan leaders of the past who resisted Rome and the Cross.
Here is Donaldson retelling the story of Radbod of Frisia, an eighth-century Dutch ruler (emphasis mine):
Like his father and grandfather, and all the generations before, Radbod followed the old Gods, the Gods of his people. Missionaries came to him, Christian missionaries, sent from an empire and a Church that he knew to be powerful. He listened to what they had to say, and he was receptive. But when he asked the missionary priest where his ancestors would be spending eternity, the priest answered quite bluntly that pagans would be in Hell. Radbod dismissed him from his kingdom at once, declaring that he would rather spend eternity in Hell with his ancestors than in Heaven with his enemies.
In one of the more chilling passages, Donaldson takes us back to the Massacre of Verden in 782 in which 4,500 Saxons were beheaded at the behest of Charlemagne for not accepting baptism. Witnessing this scene is Phoebe, who discovers that she is a seeress similar to Thorbjorg, a woman who once provided her parapsychological services to Erik the Red in Greenland. Phoebe watches the gruesome scene in the form of a horse and rescues one Saxon who, after a thrilling escape, informs King Sigfred of Denmark of Rome’s brutal encroachment.
Here is Aethelstan discussing the problematic theology of Christianity and its disastrous impact:
“I know some people used to think of Christianity as uniquely European, but it won’t let you. It commands you to spread the gospel everywhere, to baptize all nations, to cross oceans and inform other races that their gods are demons, that they should join with you to avoid everlasting punishment.” He sighed in exasperation. “What is it about the desert faiths? It’s all or nothing with them. You’re either with us, or you’re with the devil. Was it the stark contrast of sky and ground, with no intervening forests and mountains, that made everything so absolute with them? Was it the contrast of burning sand and lush oasis that made them so obsessive about sin and pleasure?
“Our folk tore themselves apart in religious wars that left entire countries depopulated, and they sent their sons to battle the heathens – the people of the heath, the countryside. And when there were no heathens left, Christians fought one another again. They fought over whether Jesus had one nature or two, whether God is really present in a wafer and wine, when baptism should occur, or whether you should cross yourself with three fingers or two. Over the centuries, millions of Whites died because of such things.”
Despite this, the characters (and likely the author) maintain a sensible respect and ambivalence towards Christianity. One of the Garths is run by Boers who had escaped South Africa during the Retribution. Despite embracing their pagan past, the Boers also maintain connections with their Christianity. Further, Brigid, a friend of Phoebe and Aethelstan’s, actually practices a few Christian customs and admits that it would be foolish to cast aside a millennium of European history without retaining the positive elements that Christianity introduced.
Donaldson focuses mostly on Northern European culture and mythos in From Her Eyes. Thus, we hear much about the Norse gods and stories, such as how Tyr lost his hand to the Fenris Wolf and how Hodur slew his brother Baldur with an arrow made from mistletoe.
We’re also introduced to lost elements of the Germanic and Celtic languages. The word “frith” is a great example. As Brigid tells Phoebe:
Frith is not a word that exists in English anymore. It’s funny, Aethelstan said once that if a word doesn’t exist, it’s because people are no longer thinking about the thing that it signifies. But here in the garth, we do think about it, so we had to bring back the old word. Frith is when you have peace in a community, and safety and security, but it’s more than that. It’s the joy of being with your own folk. It means strong families, the closeness of kin and clan. When you have all of that, you have frith.
Southern Europe has its place in From Her Eyes as well. Despite often appearing as Christian villains, the Romans play a big part in the narrative, since Donaldson and the characters themselves rely heavily on Roman sources such as Plutarch and Tacitus. The ancient Greeks are remembered perhaps more fondly, with Xenophon, Herodotus, and the Delphic Oracle figuring prominently in the story. Aethelstan’s adoptive father is named Leonidas, after the Spartan King who faced the Persians at Thermopylae.
Leonidas is also where the Slavic connection comes into play. Leonidas was Hungarian by birth and took part in the defense of Budapest against the Muslim invaders as a teenager. The Great Redoubt is what Eastern Europe is now called, and the heroic feats of the Slavs against Islam are well-known in the Garth. Leonidas himself embarked upon a Homeric odyssey after repelling the invaders once he realized his entire family perished in the fighting. He found his way to the New World and was taken in at Bear Garth. Years later, he led the reprisals against the Detroit Lions and posted a warning by a bridge that’s worthy of Vlad the Impaler. On a giant bear built from the skulls of slain Lions, a sign reads: “IF YOU SEEK THE LIONS OF DETOIT, LOOK ABOUT YOU.”
The Lions never assayed another attack on the Garths of Michigan.
From Her Eyes does resemble other works, despite its startling originality. Of course, it shares elements with any book on ancient or medieval mythology. The idea of reaching into the past while stepping cautiously into the future reminds me of The Great Gatsby minus all the decadence. Donaldson’s use of archaic language and poems is pure Tolkien, only real. There is a smattering of A Game of Thrones as well, given the story’s flirtations with the fantastic. Phoebe resembles Bran Stark in her role as seer, while Aethelstan’s uncanny martial skill brings back a pre-dead Jon Snow. I hope the author will forgive me for saying this, but there are parallels to the Batman origin story as well. Aethlestan’s parents were gunned down by criminals, just as Bruce Wayne’s were, and both children grew up with the obsessive desire for revenge. The claustrophobic and violent Manichaeism of Gotham City exists also in the Garth, since the people there all know they could be wiped out at any moment.
From Her Eyes also reminds me of the great disaster novel Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. In both stories, patriarchies and primordialism reassert themselves in the face of Nemesis. In the age of apocalypse, race is a reality, feminism is dead, and it is all hands on deck to survive. While Lucifer’s Hammer focuses more on the technology needed for survival, From Her Eyes provides the cultural glue that will make any society of Europeans thrive despite great hardships.
Most importantly, From Her Eyes a Doctrine plots out the ugly finale of multiracialism and globalism. It unmasks the anti-white agenda behind it all and demonstrates the hideous times awaiting us once non-whites achieve demographic mastery over the West. These are tribalist people, and they will utterly destroy entire white populations foolish enough not to embrace tribalism themselves. Through his expansive knowledge of history, language, and myth, Ash Donaldson has given us a thrilling and often terrifying cautionary tale about what might be, as well as vivid descriptions of how to survive in such a tragic world.
Spencer J. Quinn is a frequent contributor to Counter-Currents and the author of the novel White Like You.
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