Top critical review
an odd fish of a book.
on 13 July 2016
It galls me to give a three star review to a book that I actually love, but being dispassionate about it, I realised I loved the book I thought I read, not the one I have read (and read many times now). Like the idea of Logres (another, deeper country inside Britain), there's a deeper book and a deeper, more powerful story inside the one Lewis actually wrote. Once you examine in detail the plot, the characters and other aspects of That Hideous Strength, you find such glaring problems that it can detract away from the story that lies behind it. In terms of writing fiction, and fantasy fiction at that, Lewis was in the shadow of Tolkien, his one-time friend and colleague, and I think that didn't help Lewis either to improve or to specialise (his children's books are much better plotted for example). There is also a sense of this being a book that was written to tie up things, but also a book that might have started something else entirely; in fact it does neither. I found Ransom a tiresome character that is a mouth-piece for a lot of rhetoric that is almost certainly Lewis's own beliefs regarding women, marriage and so on.
But there is a huge sense of foresight and almost prescient knowledge that must not go unremarked. It's just a shame that this was the last book in a series rather than a first. I'd love to know what he might have written about the Seven Bears of Logres, too.