Monthly Archives: December 2017

The Last Battle

By C.S. Lewis

King Tirian and his steadfast friend, the unicorn Jewel, face a most bizarre threat to Narnia. Countless animals say that Aslan has returned to Narnia after hundreds of years of absence, some saying they have seen him with their own eyes. Surely this would be cause for celebration, for Aslan brings joy, peace, and light. However, the stories of having sighted Aslan also include unexpected accounts of Aslan’s anger, punishments, and strange decrees about selling the Talking Beasts into slavery in the land of Calormen. While Tirian is first overjoyed to hear about Aslan’s return, the stories seem to contradict what he has been taught about Aslan. He calls for help from the Daughters of Eve and Sons of Adam, and Eustace and Jill find themselves magically pulled into the land of Narnia. Several hundred years have passed, perhaps thousands, since the time they helped free Prince Rilian from his enchanted bonds. Eustace and Jill immediately join King Tirian in his efforts to prove that the Aslan everyone keeps talking about is a false Aslan, but the Talking Beasts and creatures of Narnia are already terrified and confused, and don’t know what to believe anymore. The freedom and future of Narnia depend on their success.

“The Last Battle” by C.S. Lewis is the final book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, published last (just after “The Magician’s Nephew,” which was published second to last in the series). More so than any other novel in the series, the final book is a story of morality, which focuses on the conflict between faith and loyalty, and deception and betrayal. While most novels in the series contain moral lessons sprinkled throughout the story, the entire novel of “The Last Battle” focuses on the theme of faith when faced with conflicting, confusing evidence to the contrary. Aside from the title, Lewis also makes it clear this novel will be the final novel in the series through his writing. The characters review Narnia’s past by sharing stories of previous Princes, Kings, and adventures with the Pevensie children. Through these stories, all the favorite characters are revisited, including Repicheep the Mouse and Tumnus the Faun. Lewis balances the desperation of the current situation with hope by retelling the fond memories and glorious times of Narnian history, and strengthening the bonds both between characters and also the reader and the characters.

I enjoyed this book. There was a fairly significant plot point that was left unaddressed until late in the book (and I was frustrated not to have an answer immediately), but otherwise the story moved along in a coherent and quick pace. The ending was both what I expected it to be and also nothing I saw coming, so there was less predictability in this novel. I loved the nostalgia induced by Lewis’ summary of the entire series, which helped wrap everything up nicely by reminding me of everywhere the adventures of Narnia had visited. Worth the read – but only if you’ve put in the time to read the whole series! No cheating by reading just the end.

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The Silver Chair

By C.S. Lewis

Since his first visit to Narnia, Eustace Scrubb no longer seems to fit in at school because he seems so different. Jill Pole also has trouble fitting in at school. When they are both being chased by bullies, Eustace suggests asking for the help of Aslan, and when they go through a door to get away, they find themselves in Narnia. Before Eustace has a chance to explain much about the magical land, he falls over the side of a cliff. Aslan helps him to safety, but Jill now finds herself alone with the largest lion she has ever seen. Aslan sets her a task, then sends her to the same place he sent Eustace. King Caspian still reigns in Narnia, though his son, Prince Rilian, has been missing the last 10 years and the king is nearing death with no heir. Eustace and Jill set out together to rescue Prince Rilian based on the signs Aslan shared with Jill. With the help of Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle, the crew sets out to the northern end of Narnia into the land of giants, the last place Rilian was seen. With winter coming and no trace of the Prince, they make their way on hope and faith that Aslan’s signs will guide their journey.

“The Silver Chair” by C.S. Lewis is the 6th novel in the Chronicles of Narnia series, originally published fourth. As with all other books in the series, Lewis introduces new characters and new lands that both broaden the story and deepen the connection to Narnia. Puddleglum is an interesting and somewhat paradoxical character because in day-to-day circumstances, he is pessimistic and “a wet blanket,” but when faced with great threats and uncertainty, he is calm and steadfast, certain that his faith in Aslan will guide him on the correct course. By giving these traits to the character that serves as the guide on the journey, Lewis creates a role model for the children, and somehow manages to emphasize the lessons about faith. A significant change in this book is the weather. This is the second story in the series that occurs in winter, the first being the enchanted winter of “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.” The winter weather seemed both miserable and foreboding, adding challenges to the journey and reminding the reader of the previous threat of an evil enchantress.

This book didn’t stick with me as much as the previous story in the series. Maybe it was because I’m not a fan of winter, maybe because certain plotlines were predictable, or maybe it was because a significant chunk of the action takes place deep underground. Things I did enjoy were things I’ve enjoyed about other books, including Lewis’s ability to continually expand the realm of Narnia. It fits as part of the Chronicles of Narnia series and adds to the overarching storyline, so if you are reading the series, then make sure to include this book on your list.

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