October 08, 2011

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

This is one of those books I'm not sure what to think of. While I adore the series, this one sometimes leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Its actually the first of the series I've ever read (my mom got it for me when I was very young because of the unicorn on the cover). For that experience, all I can say is read the other books first or you will be completely and utterly lost in this book. For those not familiar with Narnia, it is a magical land filled with mythical creatures, noble people, and talking animals; not to mention the great lion Aslan.

This book starts you out with trepidation by introducing you to the last King of Narnia, Trinian, and his faithful Unicorn companion Jewel. They are enjoying a relaxing time when they hear that someone is felling the ancient tress and the dryads are dying. Behind these capers are an old tricky Ape and his somewhat less clever donkey friend named Puzzle, who was tricked into wearing the skin of a lion and pretending to be Aslan. The Ape is doing horrible things in the name of Aslan, including bringing in Calormen's to enslave and take all that is good in Narnia. The King, when captured, calls outl for help in the form of the young children who have saved Narnia in the past, and Eustace and Jill come to try to help save the day.

This book was very rushed and as so, the characters are hurried as well. Puzzle is sweet and a bit clueless but its sometimes hard to believe he would believe the Ape so readily. The Ape himself is loathsome as is most of his ready companions. Jill and Eustace are present in the book but not a lot of time is given to their characters, other than the skills they have learned and can use to help Trinian.

The writing as said before, is rushed and the story passes along all too quickly. It is probably a good pace for children, and this is a children's book and appropriate for them. It has an interesting plot and concept but I do want to take time to explain why this book infuriates me at times. These books have a decidedly Christian tone and most the time that is ok because it is only a background theme throughout the books. This book brings it front and center and out in the open and while that would be ok normally, Lewis uses it and makes some somewhat offensive judgments (at least in my opinion). Using Aslan, and the Calormen god Tash, Lewis makes some comparisons between religions that are a bit condescending. For Atheists there is apparently no hope at all according to this book as they are all quite bad people and don't get anything good in the end (there is one dwarf that might be considered an atheist at a point, but apparently changes his mind later on and receives good things). It's just a little sad that the book couldn't be more accepting and kind towards other ways of thinking.

Now that I'm off that tangent I do think this book is important to read because it is the end of the series and has a finale for the characters. Overall I'd probably rate this one 3.5 stars just because while its a good story, it is offensive to certain groups of people who may have started the series loving the other books and then got to this one.

The Last Battle
Copyright 1956
228 pages

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