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The Last Battle in once again anoter beautifully written novel by C.S. Lewis himself in the Chronicles of Narnia. It was originally published in 1956 and it is the the last novel featured in The Chronicles of Narnia. Once again I found that the novel had an excellent story line and as a result I would really recommend it. I think many people would find it both exciting and engaging to read which is ideal. The novel is 228 pages and so is slightly longer than many of the other novels and is of the same genre being Fantasy children's book as the other novels.
The story is about a rather false Aslan who happens to be roamming the dangerous and at the same time wonderful lands of Narnia. Aslan makes a point of physically ordering the people of Narnia to work effectivly as slaves for the evil Calormenes. The characters Jill Pole and Eustace Scrubb are once again asked to come back to Narnia in order to help in their latest adventure. It will be harder than ever and it will involve the fight for justice in this epic battle. They will have the help of King Tiran in "The Last Battle" which gives its name to the novel. "The Last Battle" finishes between the fight between good and evil for the future of Narnia as a whole.
As you can see the storyline is fantastic and it really is a wonderful children's book. I found that it was a great way to end the series of umbelivable novels by C.S. Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia. Once again there are some excellent action scenes together with being beautifully written and full of wonderful characters, this is a must read. I hope this was useful and thank you very much for reading this!
The "Chronicles of Narnia" are bought to a bittersweet close with this final installment, "The Last Battle".
Published in 1956.
A little about C.S Lewis.
Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast in 1898 and passed away in 1963.
Lewis reconverted to Christianity at the age of thirty, and this is reflected heavily in his work. He was a good friend of "Lord of the Rings" writer J R R Tolkien. Lewis died on November the 22nd 1963, the same day that John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
This is going to be the briefest plot outline ever, because I am wary of giving anything away.
Ok. Last days of Narnia. An ape hatches a plan of dressing a donkey in a lion skin, and passing him off as Aslan. Everyone believes him. He gets all the Narnians to work as slaves for the neighbouring Calormenes, who pay him lots.
To keep everyone in line, the Ape, threatens them with Aslan, and the Calormene God, tash. He combines them, and creates Tashlan.
King Tirian, last king of Narnia, and his faithful unicorn steed Jewel, set out to show everyone that the ape is a fake.
Tirian is captured, he calls to Aslan (the real one) for help, and Aslan sends two previous friends of Narnia, Jill and Eustace, from England, to Narnia to help.
There is a big battle, Tash and Aslan make an appearance, old friends of Narnia come back, and some truths are revealed. Narnia comes to an end, a new world is revealed, and only the worthy are allowed in, including the English friends of Narnia.
I hope that was cryptic enough for you.
What I thought.
So, it's blatantly obvious that Aslan is Jesus/God.
You only have to refer to "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe", where Aslan sacrificed himself to the white witch, was killed upon the stone table, and rose from the dead, to see that.
In 1954, Lewis wrote to some schoolchildren,
""I did not say to myself 'Let us represent Jesus as He really is in our world by a Lion in Narnia';
I said, 'Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as he became a Man in our world, became a Lion there, and then imagine what would happen.'"
The Last battle is really just a metaphor for the end of the world. The good people go to heaven, the baddies go to Hell, you have to remain faithful to get to Heaven etc....
You would think this would come across as preachy. Well, at times it does. I had a few problems with the moral of the story. A few problems with what happened to some of the characters...but we will get to that.
Essentially, this is a story about good and evil. That's grand. However, when writing a novel about good and evil, your villain needs to be suitably villainous. The stories only tangible villain is Shift, The deceptive Ape.
Whilst Shift is a bit naughty, a bit selfish, and a bit blasphemous for trying to fool everyone into believing a donkey dressed as a Lion was Aslan, he wasn't truly evil. To be honest, a good telling off might have set him right, rather than what happened to him. I felt a little sorry for him in the end. I know, I know, Im a bleeding heart. It just seemed to me that he had no real friends, apart from poor old Puzzle the Donkey, and Puzzle couldn't have been considered a contemporary. If only Shift had had someone to talk to, he might have been less power hungry.
There are also links between Shift (as an ape) and Darwinism. Oh dear. I might be getting a bit too depth into this, but ah well.
"And now there's another thing you got to learn," said the Ape. "I hear some of you are saying I'm an Ape. Well, I'm not. I'm a Man. If I look like an Ape, that's because I'm so very old: hundreds and hundreds of years old."("The last battle")
Obviously, lots of hard core Christians were not too pleased with Darwin's theories. Shift being an ape, pretending to be man, and pretending/playing God, is a clear swipe at Darwin's theories, even if it's only a playful swipe.
Only Puzzle. It seems entirely unfair to me that Puzzle gets away with everything. I know he wasn't very smart, I know that he was frightened of Shift, but surely, knowing what he was doing was wrong, he should have left?
Shift threatens Puzzle with Aslan, but surely it's an insult to Aslan that Puzzle believed he wanted him to impersonate him? And again, isn't that blasphemy? Pretending to be Aslan? Puzzle gets off rather lightly in my book...although, to be fair, he apologised. Which is all that matters.
Another problem I have with "The Last Battle" as a children's book, is that's its incredibly bloodthirsty. There is killing left right and center, and no one seems to feel bad about that. None of Aslans followers ever have to deal with any consequences after killing people in the battle. Maybe they could feel a little bit worse? Or not kill them in the first place? It's a rather appalling message to send out...
My biggest problem, and this really is a huge one, is how Susan Pevensie, one of the original Queens of Narnia, Peter Edmund and Lucys sister, is rejected.
Her absence from Narnia is explained toward the end of the book by saying Susan has become interested in only "nylons, lipstick and invitations". Oh this annoys me. Surely one can be interested in nylons lipstick and invitations, without being a bad person?
Again, im trying not to reveal too much here, but the way the book ends, all the Pevensie children, bar Susan, are together. Forever. Their parents are close by. Susan is completely abandoned, in England, alone, with no friends or family left, forever.
That doesn't seem fair to me.
There is also the sense that because Susan stopped believing in Narnia, she could no longer be part of it. I just wish Aslan had given her a chance, as it seems incredibly cruel to me to abandon her like that.
Another massive problem I had with "The Last Battle" is it seemed rather racist to me.
The Calormenes, the men from the neighbouring land are dark skinned, wear turbans, and are, according to the book, a bad bloody lot.
Narnians, by contrast, are all fair skinned, and mostly good. I wish there had been a little more variety, race wise. The Calmormenes, as a whole, were referred to so badly. It made me feel rather sorry for them. It was automatically assumed that their God, Tash, was not real (he was in the end), and repeatedly confirmed that tash was evil.
I think my problems with "The last battle" are really my problems with certain Christian ideas....and Im not reviewing that (god forbid).
So. Onto good things.
It's lovely to see some familiar characters return to Narnia. I missed Peter Edmund and Lucy. Really missed them. It always seemed unfair to me that they were too old to return to lovely Narnia, and had to stay in boring old Britain.
There is a very positive sense of right and wrong in the last battle. Sometimes, it's a little too preachy, but essentially, the sentiment is there. Live your life right, be kind to other people. You can't go wrong with that.
The characters, as ever with C.S.Lewis, are written beautifully. Narnia is as breathtakingly described as usual. It really is a fairytale, and feels very real to me.
The atmosphere in the last battle is a little more sophisticated than in the previous books. Its evident that things are coming to an end. Its sad, and tragic, but dealt with beautifully. At the end, there is a new beginning.
So, I understand that I seem to have more problems with the book than plus points. Don't let that sway you though. The book truly is enjoyable, if a little dated. I think if you have a strong Christian faith, you will enjoy it immensely. Children will enjoy it immensely. Hell, I enjoyed it immensely, both when I was a kid, and when I reread it a few weeks back.
"The Last Battle" lacks the excitement and story ark of the previous Narnia books. It is a little boring in places (mostly the scenes between Shift and Puzzle), and too much time is focused upon unfamiliar characters.
There is a weird lack of sorrow from the Pevensie children when they realise they wont be going home, or seeing their sister Susan again.
I think, had I not loved this book so much as a child, I would have enjoyed it less as an adult.
My advice? Suspend your disbelief. Pretend it isn't all a thinly veiled story about God and Heaven and Hell.
Do that, and you will probably love it. If not, give it to your kids.
Buy from here,
And so to the final book in the Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle. The previous six have all set the scene for this book as well as portrayed adventures and developed characters of its own. Author C.S.Lewis brings together all of his much loved and feared characters for one last battle in the magical land of Narnia, his creation of the 1950s.
The plot features mainly the two characters of the previous book, The Silver Chair. They are Jill and Eustace, and they join forces with the King of Narnia, King Tirian, as he defends his realm against the evil Calormenes, intent on destroying Narnia and overthrowing the King. We see the return of the Pevensie children, who, although children still in our world, have aged dramatically in Narnia and are adults with titles of their own.
Lewis does an excellent job of wrapping the saga up. It is important to read all of the books in order, starting with the first, The Magician's Nephew, although The Last Battle, and indeed all the other books, can be read individually. You will lose some of the detail and understanding, but it is possible to read them as stand alone books. The books have an intended audience of 8 and above. I was lucky enough to have read them when I was very young and as such appreciated the magical world of Narnia. I highly enjoyed reading them then, and I have read them all again recently and enjoyed them just as much.
I highly recommend these books. Currently, amazon.co.uk are selling the complete set of 7 books for £25.15, although it is worth trawling the internet and/or charity shops for a cheaper bargain.