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.