Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis

The Last Battle

by C. S. Lewis
published 1956
completed December 2010

The Last Battle opens with the introduction of two new characters--a donkey named Puzzle, and an ape named Shift.  Shift and Puzzle are friends, or so it seems.  Shift is a manipulator and takes advantage of the less intelligent Puzzle.  Shift finds a lion pelt and convinces the donkey to wear it as a part of his plan to deceive the people of Narnia.  With Puzzle acting as Aslan, Shift convinces the Narnians that things are changing in the land and they need to follow him as the mouthpiece of Aslan.  King Tirian, the current King of Narnia, discovers this and fights to save his land from the Calormenes--people of a neighboring land--and Shift.  Jill and Eustace again come to help save Narnia.

I have mixed feelings about this book.  There is a very different tone to this one; it is decidedly darker.  The earlier books of the series had characters and situations that were comedic to lighten the feel.  Not in The Last Battle.  The dark clouds dissipate in the final few chapters, but the ending is bittersweet.  *spoiler*  The Narnian world has ended, and all of the "friends of Narnia" have died.  The only one left behind is Susan, who has forgetten about her time in Narnia, and now she's alone in the world with no family.

I know there are many who are angered with the situation with Susan.  It doesn't bother me as much as my perception of what happened is slightly different than some.  I don't take the train crash to mean that Aslan/Jesus wanted that to happen. Tragedies happen in life and they aren't meant to be intentional or punishments.  Susan isn't with her family in Narnia, but I don't think that she is forever excluded.  I think it is left open that should she remember her past, she would be accepted.  I'm not trying to make any general assumptions about religion.  I'm simply giving my opinion on what possibilities there are within the world that C. S. Lewis created.

The scenes with Emeth were some of my favorites.  Emeth was a Calormene who sought to do what was right.  He was angry that his people were trying to overtake the Narnians by deceit rather than an open battle.  I love the exchange between Emeth and Aslan.  Although he worshiped Tash, he was not excluded. What mattered was what was in his heart.  Whether he believed in Aslan or not, because of the courageous and honorable person that he was inside, he was allowed in.

This book was an interesting end to the series.  I haven't read The Magician's Nephew nor The Horse and His Boy yet.  I think I missed some things in this book by not reading them first.  I don't agree with everything that C. S. Lewis portrays here about Christianity, but I have respect for him and his desire to share his belief of a loving God through this series.  He created a wonderful world that I'm looking forward to sharing with my children.


  1. There is so much depth to these that its hard to take them all in during one sitting.

    I think I read somewhere that Lewis based the 4 Pevensie children off his nieces and nephews. The girl he modeled Susan off of he apparently had a falling out with, which is why she never appears again. I don't know how true that is.

    But it is interesting to think that he left her out of it, but I do like that he leaves the option open to what happens to her in the future.

    I hope you're going to read the other 2. They're both excellent as well. :)

  2. Allie--I'm glad that I'm not the only one that thought that Susan wasn't completely excluded.

    I've finished The Magician's Nephew and I'm part-way through The Horse and His Boy. I'm almost there. Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on the final 2. Those are two of my favs in the series. This one is so different from the others.

  4. Avid Reader--I loved the last two, but I've been lazy and haven't written up reviews. You're right--they are so different from the others. I think The Horse and His Boy was my favorite.