The Last Battle by CS Lewis
The last installment of the Narnia Chronicles is a dark, twisted and often confusing story that is still highly debated to this date. Dripping with supposed religious allegory and with the dark and often depressing tone it can be quite full on, especially for younger readers.
Starting out with ďIn the last days of NarniaĒ sets a somber tone for the remainder of the story. King Tirian is now ruling Narnia after the events of The Silver Chair. A talking ape named Shift and his friend Puzzle the donkey team up to make the donkey look like Aslan using a lion skin and convinces a group of talking animals to do his every wish.
Shift moves onto the Calormen, who enslave talking animals, and convince them that Tash, the bird-headed god of Calormen and the lion Aslan (hence the name) are both the same.
Upon learning of this, Tirian attempts to speak out against it, but the Narnianís have already fallen prey to Shiftís words and with Calormen soldiers now in Narnia it is too late.
Tirian prays to Aslan for help and Eustace and Jill return to Narnia to aid in not saving the country, but preparing for its imminent destruction. You can feel Tirianís desperation and hopelessness of the situation as the whole country has turned against him. Tirian has his own unicorn Jewel, a deadly creature not for the faint of heart that will stop at nothing to protect his master.
One of my favourite things about this book is the way it is interpreted by the reader. This rings true in most of Lewisís book but no more than in this story. I have spoken to dozens of people about this book and everyone got something different from it. Each individual had different messages, themes and interpretations of the story and this is something that no other book (apart from the Bible) has managed to achieve in history. It is a big call but upon reading this novel you will understand why.
In the final act of the story Narnia welcomes the return of three of the our Pevensie children, with Susan notably missing due to her forgetting about Narnia and choosing not to believe anymore. Polly and Digory from The Magicians Nephew re-appear as an older couple as do the Pevensieís parents to be taken to Aslanís Country, a much larger and more complete version of Narnia.
One of the more interesting allegories in this novel is when Digory makes the comparison of Aslanís country to Platoís philosophy, in that every object in the physical world has a related ideal in the metaphysical realm. Combining this idea with fantasy fiction and Christian ideas of the afterlife provides a satisfactory conclusion to the book and after the country has been emptied and Aslan leaves, Narnia falls to ruin and is drowned in fire and lava.
The great thing about doing this, it ensures that no future stories about Narnia can be written in Lewisís universe. He was careful to mention that passing through to Aslanís Country was just the beginning of their adventures in Narnia and it was a happy life moving forward.
A lot of debate about religious allegory and the appropriateness of this book for children has been discussed for many years since the books 1956 release. Through all of this it is best to read this finale with an open mind and interpret your own meaning from there. It is worth every second you spend with it and has fantastic re-read value.
The Last Battle is the perfect conclusion to the Narnia chronicles and is a stellar example of how to conclude a series in a satisfying manner.
This The Last Battle book review was written by Alaisdair Dewar
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