Reading Narnia: The Last Battle

Hellooo everyone! I haven’t been able to blog for the past two weeks since I was preparing for and working as a camp councilor with a group of high schoolers at the NYC Rescue Mission for a week ( check out their website)! It was a really great experience and a lot of fun. We did a lot of NY-centric activities when we weren’t working too, and it was great to spend time in different areas of the city that I don’t go to all the time. I’m hoping to talk about it more fully in a future post.

Anyway, today I’m excited to wrap up my Reading Narnia series by discussing The Last Battle. (I was hoping to review it before camp but I didn’t have a chance to.)

The-Last-Battle-CoverThe Last Battle starts off differently than the rest of the books in the series in that the story starts off in Narnia itself. Every other book has started with the children being called to Narnia before they are told what the problem is, but since the story starts off in Narnia this time, the reader can watch the story unfold more which I enjoyed.

So The Last Battle starts at the end of Narnia’s days with an ape named Shift and a donkey named Puzzle. Puzzle is Shift’s slave and does whatever he says, so when Shift finds an old lion skin from one of the non-talking animals, and decides that Puzzle should wear it and pretend to be a lion, Puzzle does as he is told.

I thought Lewis did a good job of showing Shift and Puzzle’s relationship. It’s not that Puzzle just does whatever Shift tells him to do right off the bat. He argues with him and tries to get his opinion heard, but he is so used to Shift winning these debates that he doesn’t try hard for too long and usually goes along with what Shift says in the end. It is an interesting power dynamic and it makes the reader sympathize more with Puzzle from the start.

What starts off as a fun imitation game soon turns much more serious as Shifts starts claiming that Puzzle is in fact Aslan, who no one has seen for years. Pretty soon Puzzle is locked up, the animals of Narnia are lining up to see him, and the power is going quickly to Shift’s head.

King Tirian, a distant relative of  Prince Caspian, calls Eustice and Jill to help after he hears the news. There is much debate over whether this lion is the real Aslan, even though he is being greedy because after all Aslan has never been a tame lion. But the Centaurs have read the stars and learned that it is in fact a fake. I thought Lewis did a good job depicting this debate as well, particularly with the Dwarves, who are known for siding with whichever side will benefit them more.

I have to say that I was hoping to see more of Jill in this book, particularly after Eustice was introduced in Dawn Treader and then again in Silver Chair. I wanted to see more of Jill, but I also thought she held her own defending Narnia with a bow and arrow.

As I said before this all takes place during the last days of Narnia and Narnia has a very different feel to it. While the story kept the pace going, the land itself is slowing down, and after the battle, Eustice and Jill are ushered in to the new Narnia where they meet Susan, Peter, Edmund, Polly, and Digory. I also particularly liked the way Lewis wrote about the joy and color of the new Narnia as opposed to the old. He writes,

You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among the mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the window there may have been a looking-glass. And as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different-deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know.

There has been some criticism about Susan’s absence from The Last Battle because she became interested in lipstick and fashion and things like that.  None of those are inherently bad things, and that’s not what Lewis is saying. I don’t think that that is really what Lewis was getting at. I think he summed in up when Polly says, “She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she’ll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age.” Beauty, looks, and being mature and an adult was what Susan began to idolize to a point where she couldn’t see the bigger picture any more. “Being the right age” was the thing that she lived for, and I think that is what Lewis was getting at when he said she no longer went to Narnia.

So those are some of my thoughts on The Last Battle, and I have loved reviewing the Narnia books over the past couple of weeks. Let me know what you thought about The Last Battle or any of the other Narnia books (or movies) in the comments below, and thanks for reading! 🙂

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 9.46.01 PM

Advertisements

Reading Narnia: The Silver Chair

Happy Friday everyone! I have the day off today and so far I have celebrated the weekend by catching up on sleep, getting my nails done, and enjoying all this sunshine. I guess its really summer now, especially since I’ve worn shorts and dresses more frequently than jeans this week.

It’s hard to believe that I am nearing the end of Narnia, but today I will be talking about The Silver Chair. Once again, I read this a while ago (I will be playing catch up for a while, but I am currently reading a pretty long book so hopefully that will give me some time for reviews.)

Image The Silver Chair tells the story of post-dragon Eustice and his classmate Jill as they venture in to Narnia. They are called by Aslan to find Prince Caspian’s son, Prince Rilian, who disappeared many years ago.

Once again we see new areas of Narnia  which just goes to show how vast a land Narnia really is. And once again other Narnia books have stood out more to me than this one, but much like Voyage of the Dawn Treader there were a few different things that I liked about Silver Chair.

We are introduced to a new character, Jill, who comes from a very similar background to Eustice. She isn’t quite the stick in the mud that Eustice was at the beginning of Voyage, but they do go to the same school, and she does have her doubts about Narnia, while Eustice is excited to be back.

Something that I liked about Jill was her reaction and acclimation into Narnia. I’ve talked about this a couple of times before with different characters, but each one really takes to Narnia differently. She doesn’t fall in love with it immediately the way Lucy does in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, but she also isn’t adamantly against it like Eustice first was.

It takes her time throughout the book to get acclimated to Narnia and its ways, but she doesn’t really have an “aha” moment like so many other characters do. But at the beginning of the story she meets Aslan when she is by herself, and while she is hesitant of the lion at first, she also seems  in awe of the creature.  She can definitely sees that there is something different about him. But she remains  very doubtful of Narnia, and is clearly not content with her life back home either, where she is bullied by her classmates. And while you can’t really point to one particular transformational moment for Jill, her experiences in Narnia mold her character by the end of the story.

Aslan gives Jill a set of specific instructions to find Prince Rilian that she goes on to repeat to Eustice. At the start all seems well like this journey will not be too difficult, and Jill finds herself repeating the instructions over and over. But as is so often the case, other matters get in the way and Eustice and Jill find themselves in deeper than they had expected. I definitely found myself relating to that, both in my spiritual and secular life, and I feel like that was one of the many times Lewis reaches out to his readers to cross the divide of Narnia and the real world to make the story relatable for the reader.

They find themselves (after many travels and fending off Giants) in the Underland of Narnia, where an evil Queen is keeping Prince Rilian hostage in a silver chair and hopes to use him to break through the Underland and overthrow Narnia. This was not the same Queen from Lion, Witch, Wardrobe, but there are definite parallels between the two.

It was also interesting to briefly see Prince Caspian again, this time as an old man, and Eustice’s reactions to that after meeting the Prince earlier in his life on The Dawn Treader. The difference between Narnian time and time on earth is never really specified in too much detail (magic), but this Caspain is a different leader than the Caspians in the previous two books.

I still have one more Narnia book to read (I read some other books in the meantime which I am excited to talk about later), but I felt like The Silver Chair set up well for The Final Battle, much like Dawn Treader set up for the rest of the series.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Narnia and/or The Silver Chair in the comments section below. 🙂

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 9.46.01 PM