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on 25 April 2011
The final book in the narnia series, The Last Battle deals with a scheming chimp who finds a lion skin and convinces his donkey friend to pretend to be Aslan, sending Narnians to work for the Calormenes and give money earned to him for "Aslan's Treasury". When King Tirian, the great great grandson of Prince Caspian, realises Shift is a fraud he is overthrown by the Calormenes...at which point he calls in the help of the true Aslan.

Without ruining the ending, this book deals with the end of Narnian times, tying it in nicely with the lives of all the human children who featured in the previous 6 books.

This book, as with the others, has a very Christian theme to it, alluding to the end of time, as in Revelations, where all will come before God and be judged. Those found to be faithful will progress into Heaven, here known as the 'true' more 'real' Narnia.

A fantastic ending to one of the most loved series of all time, C.S.Lewis made this perhaps the darkest of all the Narnian novels, dealing with death and loss of faith as key themes. However, the ending is most fitting and true to it's biblical counterpart, as intended by the author.

I have noticed a few reviews on here stating that the books are too Christian or preachy, so I feel I should make it clear that these books are intended to be so. C.S.Lewis was a fantastic Christian author, as any who have read books in his signature classics will know, and as such he wrote the entire Narnian series to signify the story of the Bible, albeit much condensed and softened for children to read. If you are wholeheartedly against Christianity and find any allusion to it offensive, this is not the book for you. However, I must say, for myself reading these books 20 years on from the first time, they are just as enchanting and thrilling, and it is up to you to take what you will from them! Most of all though ~ Enjoy!
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on 21 January 2011
Unfortunately, I think that this book was the point at which C. S. Lewis' interests and my own completely diverged. Never before have I wished so much that I had read these books when I was young enough not to notice that I was being beaten around the head with the baseball bat of allegory. What started out as subtle nuances and echoes of Christianity which worked well within the framework of the story became the story. As I read the Narnia books for their stories, I was disappointed by this turn towards outright preaching, particularly as the ending which illustrated C. S. Lewis' idea of Christianity wasn't what I would have envisaged as a satisfactory ending on a narrative level. I understand that this was his motive for writing the books and that my disappointment is because of my different priorities, but I do wish that he'd been able to (or more likely chosen to, I have no doubts about his writing capabilities) blend the two aspects of the book, fantasy adventure story and religious message, as seamlessly as he did in the previous books.

However, although I found the message a bit heavy handed, there was still much about this book that I loved. I thought that the descriptions of the battle itself were very well executed: they convey both the tension and nervous excitement of waiting for things to happen and then the frenzy of confused activity as an attack takes place. Considering this action takes up about half of the book, I was impressed at how Lewis sustained this level of intensity and it makes the book an easy one to whizz through. I also thought that the introduction of Tash, the cruel god of the Calormenes, was an interesting touch and the image of him passing through Narnia is a chilling one.
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The second volume of the Narnia Chronicles closed with the possibility of Lucy and Edmund -- though not their older siblings -- returning to Narnia. "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" makes good on that story, with the intrepid pair (plus a whiny cousin) returning on a strange sea voyage.
After the events of "Prince Caspian," Lucy and Edmund are sent off to stay with their obnoxious cousin Eustace. But when they admire a picture of a strange ship, suddenly all three kids are sucked in -- and land in a Narnian sea. On board the ship is King Caspian, now fully grown, who is determined to find a bunch of knights exiled by his murderous uncle, even if he has to go to the edge of the world (literally).
Lucy and Edmund are thrilled to be back in Narnia again, but Eustance proceeds to make trouble any way he can, complaining and causing trouble among the crew. But there are problems more horrifying than any of them can guess, from dragons to sinister "gold water" to a region filled with their worst nightmares.
"The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" is one of Lewis's most original and tightly-written Narnian adventures. It's also a bit of a break from form. After two books of battles against evil tyrants, "Voyage" simply goes where no man/woman/mouse has gone before, and gives us a view of the Narnian world as more than one isolated little region.
And in some ways, it's also the darkest Chronicle. Lewis explores the theme of greed here -- greed for power, beauty, money and magic -- and has some scenes both chilling and majestic. But his archly humorous style peeks through in several places, whether it's pompous mouse Reepicheep or tea with a reclusive old wizard.
Edmund and Lucy are their usual plucky selves, albeit a bit more mature than before. But "Voyage" also introduces one of Lewis' most interesting characters in Eustace Clarence Scrubb. Like Edmund, Eustace is initially a peevish, lying boy who generally makes trouble, but slowly learns his errors. But unlike Edmund, Eustace doesn't have to ally himself to the baddie to learn that.
"Voyage of the Dawn Treader" was a turning point for the Narnia Chronicles, as well as the one that began venturing into darker territory. Engaging and tightly written.
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on 17 September 2000
Sea-faring action and adventure with Edmund, Lucy, their rather annoying cousin Eustace and Prince Caspian.
The picture in the room of their Aunt and Uncle's home draws Lucy and Edmund back to Narnia. Caspian has called them and Narnia needs their help. However, pompous cousin Eustace has also been sucked into the picture and he's in for the adventure of a lifetime and some important lessons to learn!
The voyage on the Prince's Dawn Treader takes the adventurers all the way to the end of the world - to Aslan's own land and brings them into contact with many strange people and places along the way.
Beautiful spiritual exploration or just plain fantastic, imaginative fun!
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When Caspian became king, he made a pledge to track down the seven friends of his father that had been sent to explore the unknown waters beyond the Lone Islands. After establishing peace, he sets off and is aided in his quest by Edmund, Lucy, and their cousin Eustace, who arrive from England via a magic picture. Bravely sailing into the unknown (occasionally prodded by the mouse Reepicheep), they encounter dragons, sea creatures, magic, and lots of danger. Will they be able to find the seven Lords?
I love this book in the series, probably partially because it is set at sea. The story is episodic in nature, but the quest and information found along the way keep things moving forward. And there is plenty of action and adventure to keep anyone entertained. Lewis really used his imagination to create some of the locals where the boat stops, and it's fun seeing what he came up with. I especially love the Dufflepuds, although I'm glad I never have had a conversation with them.
As with any series, there are little things you'll pick up on if you read them in order. However, it's not strictly necessarily. Anyone looking for a fantasy adventure will love this book.
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VINE VOICEon 10 October 2005
Whilst not as mythic as either Lion, Witch and Wardrobe or Magician's Nephew, this is the story I return to over the (many too many) years since i first read the books.
It shows that the format of the story evolves with fewer of the original four children entering Narnia along with their sceptical cousin, who undergoes real growth during the story, as do the other children.
Clearly a Narnia take on Homer's Odyssey, this is none the less an excellent read.
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on 24 October 2012
[Throughout the years, I have written a number of reviews that have never been published online on Amazon. These writings comprise two types of reviews: unfinished reviews, abandoned during various stages of composition, and completed reviews that for life reasons were never posted. Of the later type, back in September 2001 I wrote a cache of work, a full sixteen reviews* of several different C. S. Lewis books which have never been released. I have issued these reviews in October 2012 on Amazon.com, over a decade after they were initially written. However, these reviews were heavily edited and in several instances radically and drastically revised. I am publishing these reviews now for the first time in their original, unrevised format as written in 2001, with bracketed additions added for occasionally necessary clarification. Mike London 10-23-2012]

The Last Battle, the very last book in the Narnian Chronicles, also stands as the most impressive book in the series as far as the religious aspect goes. It also shows what LWW could have been had Lewis handled it properly. Lewis infuses Christian ideology with fantasy for fantastic results, and the result is a book that stands as one of the most beautiful things he ever wrote. There is no other prose from Lewis's hand that equals the last sections of The Last Battle and the first sections of Perelandra in terms of sheer beauty and joy.

In my own life The Last Battle has proven to be very significant because of Lewis's utilization of the Platonic concepts. I did not know it was Plato when I read Lewis, but when I took a philosophy class everything clicked, and I consider myself a Platonic Christian. This is Lewis's prime aim in all seven books of The Chronicles of Narnia. Lewis wants to provide, in story form, truths that, because he has sown the seed, when later encountered in adult life the children will be much more sympathetic to them than they may otherwise be.

Another important theme running through The Last Battle is the use of perception, and although we see it numerous times in the books we see it here the most. Those who cannot see the things of God blind themselves to it because of their own spiritual problems, and the people will not let go of their own sin to lead the life God wants them to lead. In The Great Divorce, this is the central theme of the book. People go on a bus ride to heaven, and if they wish to stay, they must give up a vice that they have retained. Only one makes the leap of faith and lets go of his red dragon, which symbolises lust. In The Last Battle, the dwarfs will not let themselves see the true beauty they would be in if they just allowed themselves the opportunity to see it.

Another thing about The Last Battle that troubles me is the presentation of Emeth. I have been undecided on Universalism as Lewis presents it. To be a radical Universalist would simply not do, and Lewis was not. I see the point he makes, and there is a side of me that really wants to believe what he has to say on Emeth, but another side of me balks at the idea. I personally would never advocate this view simply because I simply don't know if it is true or not, and as we are talking about eternity here it is not something to play around with. However, I do think this is a possibility and half the time I believe it and the other half I don't, so I simply remain undecided.
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[Also written in September 2001, these explanation of the significance of the Stable Door (not part of the 2001 review) give further illumination on "The Last Battle"]

The events at the stable are very significant for all parties concerned, for it seemed the side aligning themselves with evil are now suddenly shocked to see supernatural occurrences begin, while the animals who are afraid of Tashlan are just all the more certain that he is really angry with them, but for the truly saved are hopeful. Ginger the cat is made into a dumb animal, which really scares the bad side. Rishda Tarkaan becomes terrified to realise the god he has been serving actually does exist. Emeth rejoices, for he will be able to at long last meet his love, which is Tash.

The children and Tirian do not fully realise what is in the stable, but they want to know. Tirian grabs Rishda and goes into the stable with him. Tirian has a very surprised reaction, for the Stable is much bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. This goes into the Platonic concept of the inside being bigger than the outside, and Lucy makes the remark that once in her world a stable held someone (Jesus) who was bigger than the entire world. Then the end of Narnia comes and every one goes through that stable door, which, because of its Biblical allusions, is a very approriate door to have to travel through. Either you accept Jesus or you don't, but everyone will know Christ is Lord. That, to me, is what the true significance of the Stable Door is.
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[In April 2000, I wrote three Narnia reviews covering "The Last Battle", "The Silver Chair", and "The Magician's Nephew". However, I only completed and published "The Last Battle" review. Here is the April 2000 review of "The Last Battle"]

***** Apocalyptic fiction at its finest; beautiful children story April 7, 2000
Apocalyptic fiction has become a fashionable trend in the Christian market nowadays. Yet this book, published in 1957, proves one thing: Lewis was years ahead of his time. Although Jenkins and LaHaye are doing good detailing their fictional account of the end-of-the-world (Left Behind series), in what is taking them hundreds of pages, Lewis does in a short 200. Not that that is a bad thing, because each had different purposes. Since I'm reviewing Narnia, Narnia I will stay with.

Lewis, in his only end-of-the-world book, tells of how in the last days of Narnia, there are two animals living by the Great Cauldron. One is Puzzle, a lovable Donkey, and the other is an evil ape named Shift. Shift, thru manipulation and deception, tricks Puzzle into donning a lion skin, making a false Aslan. This is representative of the Anti-Christ. It is about how the real Aslan and the real Tash come again into Narnia, and the final show down.

The most stirringly majestic portion of the whole book is the last part, where the old Narnia passes away, and behold! the children and all good Narnians who love Aslan are called into Heaven, the New Narnia. This is the single most precious portion of any of Lewis's fiction. It drips of Heaven. The Power and Majesty of God on High is portrayed thru these pages. He goes thru judgement day (never mind this pre-mid-post trib stuff or debate), and then how the children react to being in heaven.

An interesting concept put forth by this book is a LIMITED universalism. Emeth, who is servant of Tash, a pagan god, is found in heaven. When Aslan comes and speaks to him, Emeth says he was not servant of Aslan but Tash. Aslan says that in reality he had been serving Aslan all along, and he knew Aslan, but to him Aslan was known as Tash. In other words, Emeth's perception or view was not the real Tash, who was an evil being, but the real Aslan. To an extent, I agree that this might be possible. I feel you can have a relationship with Jesus, but know him under a different name. That does NOT mean I believe all religions send you to heaven. You still have to know Jesus, and God.

The dwarves, who are in heaven, are to stubborn to let got of themselves. They perceive themselves in a horse stall (that is where the last of old Narnia is seen. It is night, and all these people in a great circle or waiting for Tashlan, which is the fusing of Tash and Aslan, exactly what the Anti-Christ is, and the children run into the tent or stall.) "The Dwarves are for the Dwarves!" This is pride. This is what it is like on earth. What to us seems distasteful, if we would really let go of our pride and let God be God, then in the end we would have ultimate joy. That is what Lewis is saying thru the Dwarves.

Lewis also uses classical philosophy to educate children. The old Narnia is called the Shadowlands, mere shadows of the More Real Heaven. This is straight from Plato. The values we hold dear, such as truth, valour, honour, etc, are manifestations of its essence. We practice truth and valour. That is a form of valour, a shadow. But the essence of valour, that is the real thing itself. Lewis uses this concept to help the Children better understand God. I came across this in this story when I was a child; I was astounded to realize it was Plato when I was in a philosophy class in college. That is why, in being a Christian, the more you act like the Christ the more Christ is in you and part of you. The more honour you show and love you show, the more Christ is you and you are him because Christ is the very ultimate of honour, and all the other vitures we hold dear. That is why God gave us the shadow of marriage, to help us understand the very real union between God and man. We become one with God, just as man and woman become one flesh in sexual intercourse. God is such an awesome God.

In the end, we have a powerful vision of Heaven. Although it is Narnia, the ending he detailed was as much our world as Narnia. His prose is fantastic. As far as C. S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity" coming out in his fiction, this is his ultimate achievement in giving hope to the Christians on the afterlife. This is my favorite (from the Christian perspective) of the Narnia series. There is so much to learn and digest from this beautiful book. The heart of this achievement is that this is written for Children, and yet he packs so much meat into it without EVER coming across as condescending OR preachy. Truly one of the best. (For adult fiction, Till We Have Faces is his best. Actually, I think that novel is his deepest novel, and his best). .
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[This is a brief paper I wrote about how Lewis imparted truth to his characters and am including the text here as bonus content to the review proper:]

Lewis has his characters experience truth in a number of ways. The four [five] works this essay will look at are "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe", "Prince Caspian", "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader", ["The Silver Chair"], and "The Last Battle". Not all of the truth the characters encounter are what the characters wanted.

In the first book, LWW, we have Edmond who has become a traitor. Edmond does not wish to believe that the Witch is bad, because she can supply his fix. This is one of the biggest truths that Lewis imparts to his young readers: addiction blinds you to the point of where your only god is the addiction itself and you will do anything it takes to get whatever you are addicted too. Edmond is a classic case of addiction, and if this were a work for adults it would have been quite appropriate to make his addiction drugs. When the Beavers are discussing Aslan, Edmond does not like the conversation. He feels this could pose a threat to getting his fix of Turkish Delight. Like drugs, this addiction ruins ordinary pleasures, and Lewis says at the beginning of Chapter IX that memories of bad magic food spoils the taste of regular food. He is so focused on his addictions that Edmond no longer cares about real life, and he will do anything possible to get it, even selling out his brother and sisters to the White Witch, which in everyday life could be a man who will let his family go hungry or will not pay the rent because he cannot get his cocain if he takes care of the basic needs of his family. Even in this degraded state of mind, Edmond gets a realisation of the cruelty of the White Witch, for what he craves the most she will not give him. For truth to come to Edmond, he must accept this terrible fact of his being a traitor and Aslan must die for him. Aslan and Edmond have a talk afterward, which, although we are not told what is said, Lewis does tell us that Edmond never forgot that conversation and he is truly a changed boy.

In Prince Caspian, Lewis gives us another boy who is struggling to discover truth. Caspian learns from his Nurse that there is an older Narnia where Talking Animals lived and there were dwarfs and tree and water people and various creatures who claimed Narnia has their home. His Uncle Miraz, however, denies this and sends his nurse away to be replaced by a Dr. Cornelius, who, as it turns out, is a half-breed of dwarf and man. It is notable that he is the only named example of interbreeding, although, according to Ford, Caspian's nurse may also have dwarf blood in her. Caspian must decide which "truth" he will believe, and because of his relatively good sense he chooses to belief the stories about Old Narnia. This ties into Lewis's theme about the longing for the truth. I highly doubt that, if a person is on Aslan's side (although Caspian is not to begin with), he/she will long for something in a deep spiritual sense and it not be the truth. Lewis talks of this in his Pilgrim's Regress, and it is God's prime instrument in conversion. People long for something true, and unless they are deceived by Satan, they will find their answer in Jesus Christ. It is also important to note the relationship between Dr. Cornelius and Prince Caspian. God wants to use you to help awake and feed that desire for God in someone else's life, and that is why He tells us to go make disciples of men. One reason Lewis chose Dr. Cornelius as a half-breed is to illustrate we are not to perfection yet, but we are progressing toward it, and also one reason the dwarfs intermarried was so the were not killed. Sometimes, as Christians, we cannot be open about our religion but must seek God to know who we should share it with. Of course, this does not apply to America yet, for we have tremendous religious freedom. As the world progresses, however, I fear that will change. Once you discover truth, then you are accountable to that truth and must help fight for it, which Prince Caspian does, and then becomes King Caspian.

Eustace Scrubb also encounters truth for the first time. Much of the first half of the novel Eustace is a perfect ass.

Jill also encounters truth in The Silver Chair. At the opening of the novel, she learns the appropriate ways to approach God, and these ways are not Satanic, as the dark magic she suggested to Eustace as a method of getting into Narnia was. She also learns in that opening scene with her and Aslan more of the nature of God. You cannot put God in a box, and Aslan will make no promises to her what he will do, but she does not doubt his word when the Lion tells her that there is no other stream. Throughout there rest of the novel Jill learns that no matter what God says, you must do as he asks, even if it seems that you will be killed or seriously harmed or seemingly impossible, and she also learns that, through the giants of Harfang, God will take care of you even if you err, but there will be unnecessary complictions if you do not do it his way.

Perhaps the most interesting of all, and certainly rather an anomoly as mostly the examples given are good characters becoming better, but in The Last Battle we have one of the central bad guys learn that there really are supernatural forces, even though he did not believe in them. Farsight, the Eagle, notices that Rishda Tarkaan is very surprised about what is in the stable and of Shift's destruction. His discovery of the truth, however, is horrific. Tash, the god he has called on but does not believe, has come to gather his lawful prey, and Rishda is shocked that Tash even exists. Lewis uses this character to illustrate to his readers that you should be careful in what type of belief system you invoke, for the worship of Tash was a cultural practice that Rishda practice not in belief but because it the culture, and he really does not believe in anything.

These are some examples of the numerous ways in which truth comes to Narnian characters.

*(These reviews covered all seven books of "The Chronciles of Narnia", the three novels of "The Space Trilogy", "The Abolition of Man", "The Four Loves", "A Preface to Paradise Lost", a revised version of my 2000 review of "Till We Have Faces", "Surprised By Joy", and "The Screwtape Letters".)
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on 10 September 2012
[This text comprises two reviews. In April 2000, I wrote three Narnia reviews covering "The Last Battle", "The Silver Chair", and "The Magician's Nephew". However, I only completed and published "The Last Battle" review at that time. In September 2001, I wrote a second review that went unpublished until October 2012. Review 1 is the April 2000 review. Review 2 is the previously unpublished 2001 review]

Review 1: Apocalyptic fiction has become a fashionable trend in the Christian market nowadays. Yet this book, published in 1957, proves one thing: Lewis was years ahead of his time. Although Jenkins and LaHaye are doing good detailing their fictional account of the end-of-the-world (Left Behind series), in what is taking them hundreds of pages, Lewis does in a short 200. Not that that is a bad thing, because each had different purposes. Since I'm reviewing Narnia, Narnia I will stay with.

Lewis, in his only end-of-the-world book, tells of how in the last days of Narnia, there are two animals living by the Great Cauldron. One is Puzzle, a lovable Donkey, and the other is an evil ape named Shift. Shift, thru manipulation and deception, tricks Puzzle into donning a lion skin, making a false Aslan. This is representative of the Anti-Christ. It is about how the real Aslan and the real Tash come again into Narnia, and the final show down.

The most stirringly majestic portion of the whole book is the last part, where the old Narnia passes away, and behold! the children and all good Narnians who love Aslan are called into Heaven, the New Narnia. This is the single most precious portion of any of Lewis's fiction. It drips of Heaven. The Power and Majesty of God on High is portrayed thru these pages. He goes thru judgement day (never mind this pre-mid-post trib stuff or debate), and then how the children react to being in heaven.

An interesting concept put forth by this book is a LIMITED universalism. Emeth, who is servant of Tash, a pagan god, is found in heaven. When Aslan comes and speaks to him, Emeth says he was not servant of Aslan but Tash. Aslan says that in reality he had been serving Aslan all along, and he knew Aslan, but to him Aslan was known as Tash. In other words, Emeth's perception or view was not the real Tash, who was an evil being, but the real Aslan. To an extent, I agree that this might be possible. I feel you can have a relationship with Jesus, but know him under a different name. That does NOT mean I believe all religions send you to heaven. You still have to know Jesus, and God.

The dwarves, who are in heaven, are to stubborn to let got of themselves. They perceive themselves in a horse stall (that is where the last of old Narnia is seen. It is night, and all these people in a great circle or waiting for Tashlan, which is the fusing of Tash and Aslan, exactly what the Anti-Christ is, and the children run into the tent or stall.) "The Dwarves are for the Dwarves!" This is pride. This is what it is like on earth. What to us seems distasteful, if we would really let go of our pride and let God be God, then in the end we would have ultimate joy. That is what Lewis is saying thru the Dwarves.

Lewis also uses classical philosophy to educate children. The old Narnia is called the Shadowlands, mere shadows of the More Real Heaven. This is straight from Plato. The values we hold dear, such as truth, valour, honour, etc, are manifestations of its essence. We practice truth and valour. That is a form of valour, a shadow. But the essence of valour, that is the real thing itself. Lewis uses this concept to help the Children better understand God. I came across this in this story when I was a child; I was astounded to realize it was Plato when I was in a philosophy class in college. That is why, in being a Christian, the more you act like the Christ the more Christ is in you and part of you. The more honour you show and love you show, the more Christ is you and you are him because Christ is the very ultimate of honour, and all the other vitures we hold dear. That is why God gave us the shadow of marriage, to help us understand the very real union between God and man. We become one with God, just as man and woman become one flesh in sexual intercourse. God is such an awesome God.

In the end, we have a powerful vision of Heaven. Although it is Narnia, the ending he detailed was as much our world as Narnia. His prose is fantastic. As far as C. S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity" coming out in his fiction, this is his ultimate achievement in giving hope to the Christians on the afterlife. This is my favorite (from the Christian perspective) of the Narnia series. There is so much to learn and digest from this beautiful book. The heart of this achievement is that this is written for Children, and yet he packs so much meat into it without EVER coming across as condescending OR preachy. Truly one of the best.

(For adult fiction, Till We Have Faces is his best. Actually, I think that novel is his deepest novel, and his best).
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Review 2: The Last Battle, the very last book in the Narnian Chronicles, also stands as the most impressive book in the series as far as the religious aspect goes. It also shows what LWW could have been had Lewis handled it properly. Lewis infuses Christian ideology with fantasy for fantastic results, and the result is a book that stands as one of the most beautiful things he ever wrote. There is no other prose from Lewis's hand that equals the last sections of The Last Battle and the first sections of Perelandra in terms of sheer beauty and joy.

In my own life The Last Battle has proven to be very significant because of Lewis's utilization of the Platonic concepts. I did not know it was Plato when I read Lewis, but when I took a philosophy class everything clicked, and I consider myself a Platonic Christian. This is Lewis's prime aim in all seven books of The Chronicles of Narnia. Lewis wants to provide, in story form, truths that, because he has sown the seed, when later encountered in adult life the children will be much more sympathetic to them than they may otherwise be.

Another important theme running through The Last Battle is the use of perception, and although we see it numerous times in the books we see it here the most. Those who cannot see the things of God blind themselves to it because of their own spiritual problems, and the people will not let go of their own sin to lead the life God wants them to lead. In The Great Divorce, this is the central theme of the book. People go on a bus ride to heaven, and if they wish to stay, they must give up a vice that they have retained. Only one makes the leap of faith and lets go of his red dragon, which symbolises lust. In The Last Battle, the dwarfs will not let themselves see the true beauty they would be in if they just allowed themselves the opportunity to see it.

Another thing about The Last Battle that troubles me is the presentation of Emeth. I have been undecided on Universalism as Lewis presents it. To be a radical Universalist would simply not do, and Lewis was not. I see the point he makes, and there is a side of me that really wants to believe what he has to say on Emeth, but another side of me balks at the idea. I personally would never advocate this view simply because I simply don't know if it is true or not, and as we are talking about eternity here it is not something to play around with. However, I do think this is a possibility and half the time I believe it and the other half I don't, so I simply remain undecided.

The events at the stable are very significant for all parties concerned, for it seemed the side aligning themselves with evil are now suddenly shocked to see supernatural occurrences begin, while the animals who are afraid of Tashlan are just all the more certain that he is really angry with them, but for the truly saved are hopeful. Ginger the cat is made into a dumb animal, which really scares the bad side. Rishda Tarkaan becomes terrified to realise the god he has been serving actually does exist. Emeth rejoices, for he will be able to at long last meet his love, which is Tash.

The children and Tirian do not fully realise what is in the stable, but they want to know. Tirian grabs Rishda and goes into the stable with him. Tirian has a very surprised reaction, for the Stable is much bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. This goes into the Platonic concept of the inside being bigger than the outside, and Lucy makes the remark that once in her world a stable held someone (Jesus) who was bigger than the entire world. Then the end of Narnia comes and every one goes through that stable door, which, because of its Biblical allusions, is a very approriate door to have to travel through. Either you accept Jesus or you don't, but everyone will know Christ is Lord. That, to me, is what the true significance of the Stable Door is.

--------------------
[This is a brief paper I wrote about how Lewis imparted truth to his characters and am including the text here as bonus content to the review proper:]

Lewis has his characters experience truth in a number of ways. The four works this essay will look at are "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe", "Prince Caspian", "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader", and "The Last Battle". Not all of the truth the characters encounter are what the characters wanted.

In the first book, LWW, we have Edmond who has become a traitor. Edmond does not wish to believe that the Witch is bad, because she can supply his fix. This is one of the biggest truths that Lewis imparts to his young readers: addiction blinds you to the point of where your only god is the addiction itself and you will do anything it takes to get whatever you are addicted too. Edmond is a classic case of addiction, and if this were a work for adults it would have been quite appropriate to make his addiction drugs. When the Beavers are discussing Aslan, Edmond does not like the conversation. He feels this could pose a threat to getting his fix of Turkish Delight. Like drugs, this addiction ruins ordinary pleasures, and Lewis says at the beginning of Chapter IX that memories of bad magic food spoils the taste of regular food. He is so focused on his addictions that Edmond no longer cares about real life, and he will do anything possible to get it, even selling out his brother and sisters to the White Witch, which in everyday life could be a man who will let his family go hungry or will not pay the rent because he cannot get his cocain if he takes care of the basic needs of his family. Even in this degraded state of mind, Edmond gets a realisation of the cruelty of the White Witch, for what he craves the most she will not give him. For truth to come to Edmond, he must accept this terrible fact of his being a traitor and Aslan must die for him. Aslan and Edmond have a talk afterward, which, although we are not told what is said, Lewis does tell us that Edmond never forgot that conversation and he is truly a changed boy.

In Prince Caspian, Lewis gives us another boy who is struggling to discover truth. Caspian learns from his Nurse that there is an older Narnia where Talking Animals lived and there were dwarfs and tree and water people and various creatures who claimed Narnia has their home. His Uncle Miraz, however, denies this and sends his nurse away to be replaced by a Dr. Cornelius, who, as it turns out, is a half breed of dwarf and man. It is notable that he is the only named example of interbreeding, although, according to Ford, Caspian's nurse may also have dwarf blood in her. Caspian must decide which "truth" he will believe, and because of his relatively good sense he chooses to belief the stories about Old Narnia. This ties into Lewis's theme about the longing for the truth. I highly doubt that, if a person is on Aslan's side (although Caspian is not to begin with), he/she will long for something in a deep spiritual sense and it not be the truth. Lewis talks of this in his Pilgrim's Regress, and it is God's prime instrument in conversion. People long for something true, and unless they are deceived by Satan, they will find their answer in Jesus Christ. It is also important to note the relationship between Dr. Cornelius and Prince Caspian. God wants to use you to help awake and feed that desire for God in someone else's life, and that is why He tells us to go make disciples of men. One reason Lewis chose Dr. Cornelius as a half breed is to illustrate we are not to perfection yet, but we are progressing toward it, and also one reason the dwarfs intermarried was so the were not killed. Sometimes, as Christians, we cannot be open about our religion but must seek God to know who we should share it with. Of course, this does not apply to America yet, for we have tremendous religious freedom. As the world progresses, however, I fear that will change. Once you discover truth, then you are accountable to that truth and must help fight for it, which Prince Caspian does, and then becomes King Caspian.

Eustace Scrubb also encounters truth for the first time. Much of the first half of the novel Eustace is a perfect ass.
Jill also encounters truth in The Silver Chair. At the opening of the novel, she learns the appropriate ways to approach God, and these ways are not Satanic, as the dark magic she suggested to Eustace as a method of getting into Narnia was. She also learns in that opening scene with her and Aslan more of the nature of God. You cannot put God in a box, and Aslan will make no promises to her what he will do, but she does not doubt his word when the Lion tells her that there is no other stream. Throughout there rest of the novel Jill learns that no matter what God says, you must do as he asks, even if it seems that you will be killed or seriously harmed or seemingly impossible, and she also learns that, through the giants of Harfang, God will take care of you even if you err, but there will be unnecessary complictions if you do not do it his way.

Perhaps the most interesting of all, and certainly rather an anomoly as mostly the examples given are good characters becoming better, but in The Last Battle we have one of the central bad guys learn that there really are supernatural forces, even though he did not believe in them. Farsight, the Eagle, notices that Rishda Tarkaan is very surprised about what is in the stable and of Shift's destruction. His discovery of the truth, however, is horrific. Tash, the god he has called on but does not believe, has come to gather his lawful prey, and Rishda is shocked that Tash even exists. Lewis uses this character to illustrate to his readers that you should be careful in what type of belief system you invoke, for the worship of Tash was a cultural practice that Rishda practice not in belief but because it the culture, and he really does not believe in anything.

These are some examples of the numerous ways in which truth comes to Narnian characters.

[Throughout the years, I have written a number of reviews that have never been published online on Amazon. These writings comprise two types of reviews: unfinished reviews, abandoned during various stages of composition, and completed reviews that for life reasons were never posted. Of the later type, back in September 2001 I wrote a cache of work, a full sixteen reviews of several different C. S. Lewis books which have never been released. I am publishing these reviews now for the first time in revised form, over a decade after they were initially written. Mike London 10-3-2012]

(These reviews covered all seven books of "The Chronicles of Narnia", the three novels of "The Space Trilogy", "The Abolition of Man", "The Four Loves", "A Preface to Paradise Lost", a revised version of my 2000 review of "Till We Have Faces", "Surprised By Joy", and "The Screwtape Letters".)
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on 8 January 2012
[NOTE: I am reissuing my Amazon.com reviews on Amazon.co.uk. This review was originally published on Amazon.com April 7, 2000]

Apocalyptic fiction has become a fashionable trend in the Christian market nowadays. Yet this book, published in 1957, proves one thing: Lewis was years ahead of his time. Although Jenkins and LaHaye are doing good detailing their fictional account of the end-of-the-world (Left Behind series), in what is taking them hundreds of pages, Lewis does in a short 200. Not that that is a bad thing, because each had different purposes. Since I'm reviewing Narnia, Narnia I will stay with.
Lewis, in his only end-of-the-world book, tells of how in the last days of Narnia, there are two animals living by the Great Cauldron. One is Puzzle, a lovable Donkey, and the other is an evil ape named Shift. Shift, thru manipulation and deception, tricks Puzzle into donning a lion skin, making a false Aslan. This is representative of the Anti-Christ. It is about how the real Aslan and the real Tash come again into Narnia, and the final show down.

The most stirringly majestic portion of the whole book is the last part, where the old Narnia passes away, and behold! the children and all good Narnians who love Aslan are called into Heaven, the New Narnia. This is the single most precious portion of any of Lewis's fiction. It drips of Heaven. The Power and Majesty of God on High is portrayed thru these pages. He goes thru judgement day (never mind this pre-mid-post trib stuff or debate), and then how the children react to being in heaven.

An interesting concept put forth by this book is a LIMITED universalism. Emeth, who is servant of Tash, a pagan god, is found in heaven. When Aslan comes and speaks to him, Emeth says he was not servant of Aslan but Tash. Aslan says that in reality he had been serving Aslan all along, and he knew Aslan, but to him Aslan was known as Tash. In other words, Emeth's perception or view was not the real Tash, who was an evil being, but the real Aslan. To an extent, I agree that this might be possible. I feel you can have a relationship with Jesus, but know him under a different name. That does NOT mean I believe all religions send you to heaven. You still have to know Jesus, and God.

The dwarves, who are in heaven, are to stubborn to let got of themselves. They perceive themselves in a horse stall (that is where the last of old Narnia is seen. It is night, and all these people in a great circle or waiting for Tashlan, which is the fusing of Tash and Aslan, exactly what the Anti-Christ is, and the children run into the tent or stall.) "The Dwarves are for the Dwarves!" This is pride. This is what it is like on earth. What to us seems distasteful, if we would really let go of our pride and let God be God, then in the end we would have ultimate joy. That is what Lewis is saying thru the Dwarves.

Lewis also uses classical philosophy to educate children. The old Narnia is called the Shadowlands, mere shadows of the More Real Heaven. This is straight from Plato. The values we hold dear, such as truth, valour, honour, etc, are manifestations of its essence. We practice truth and valour. That is a form of valour, a shadow. But the essence of valour, that is the real thing itself. Lewis uses this concept to help the Children better understand God. I came across this in this story when I was a child; I was astounded to realize it was Plato when I was in a philosophy class in college. That is why, in being a Christian, the more you act like the Christ the more Christ is in you and part of you. The more honour you show and love you show, the more Christ is you and you are him because Christ is the very ultimate of honour, and all the other vitures we hold dear. That is why God gave us the shadow of marriage, to help us understand the very real union between God and man. We become one with God, just as man and woman become one flesh in sexual intercourse. God is such an awesome God.

In the end, we have a powerful vision of Heaven. Although it is Narnia, the ending he detailed was as much our world as Narnia. His prose is fantastic. As far as C. S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity" coming out in his fiction, this is his ultimate achievement in giving hope to the Christians on the afterlife. This is my favorite (from the Christian perspective) of the Narnia series. There is so much to learn and digest from this beautiful book. The heart of this achievement is that this is written for Children, and yet he packs so much meat into it without EVER coming across as condescending OR preachy. Truly one of the best.

(For adult fiction, Till We Have Faces is his best. Actually, I think that novel is his deepest novel, and his best).
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on 16 March 2006
This is one of the best of the "other" Chronicles of Narnia, a true piece of fairytale in which the younger two Pevensies, Lucy and Edmund, team up with their objectionable cousin Eustace Scrubb for a voyage to the end of the world with King Caspian, the hero of the previous book and now King of Narnia. The book also re-introduces Reepicheep, his mouse companion, of whom it has been foretold that he will sail or swim to the end of the sea.
It is part allegory, part morality tale (Eustace goes through the same process of redemption that Edmund went through himself in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe) and part traditional pantomime story, with the inevitable "fair maid" at the end. The illustrations by Pauline Baynes are as timeless as ever, though her treatment of the ship is not as flowing as some more modern renderings have depicted it. Aslan of course makes his entrance, and the ending is pure simplicity itself, a beautiful and mystical finale which sees Lucy and Edmund take their leave of Narnia (almost) for ever. Lewis' philosophy is voiced through Aslan as well, with some interesting and humbling views on what we are permitted to know and accepting what we may never understand. Lewis does get rather political in the way he describes Scrubb's parents, and this is a very politically incorrect book, but it is a refreshing taste nonetheless of his opinions more fully explored in his adult theology and works such as "The Screwtape Letters".
A lovely book to give a child - or indeed an adult: I know at least one lady (of my parents' age) for whom this book is a firm favourite and for whom I made a Reepicheep toy at Christmas.
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