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 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! 🙂