C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle, the final installment in the Narnia series: The end of Narnia. I didn't find it particularly depressing, nor did evil triumph. It does address themes of Ascension, Judgment, and the end of the world, but in a subtle, symbolic way; when the oldest Pevensie children, who have been told they're too old to return to Narnia, suddenly find themselves wisked off a train in our world and transported to that magical place, the young reader does not necessarily realize there's been a train crash and the children killed...

Of all the adventures in all the Narnia books, I found the following event the most meaningful: An honest man who has done good deeds his whole life, but worshiped Tash, (a “false god”) is rewarded in the afterlife, while a hypocritically pious follower of Aslan who has done evil things in His name is suitably punished.

I am grateful to C.S. Lewis for this interpretation; it fits in well with the questions a kid asks of Christian elders about whether someone who has not been exposed to the teachings of Jesus can still make it to heaven-—and is a much more satisfactory answer, by the way, than the ones being given by most people teaching Sunday school.

Be warned, I intend to talk about the whole of this book. Including how it ends. I do this because The Last Battle isn't truly a story, like the other Chronicles are. It is the end to the story. While the Chronicles of Narnia tell fantastic tales, The Last Battle brings the world of Narnia to a completion. Thus, I don't believe I am lessening the book by telling more than I would for a normal novel.

"I'm sure it is not wrong to mourn for Narnia."
-The Last Battle
C.S. Lewis

Plot Introduction:

The first six Narnia books told tales alone and of themselves. While knowing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe certainly made Prince Caspian a better read, it wasn't necessary. Each of them were to tell tales of the grand adventures into Narnia. The Last Battle, though, being the seventh and final novel, is a very different book. It starts, not with anyone that we are familiar with, nor any from our world, but an Ape. An Ape who convinces a Donkey to dress up like a lion and pretend to be Aslan the Lion. This heresy sets off a chain of events that leads up to what can only be known as the end of Narnia.

It is in this book that we discover the world of Narnia was not really Narnia. And the world of England was not really England. They were but mirrors of Aslan's true land. A place, although not directly stated, identical to Heaven. Where people feel good, even as they attempt to make themselves feel poorly, feelings of happiness and joy cover them.

In the final pages of the book, we find that the way into Aslan's Kingdom was death. In England, Peter and the rest of the crew were killed in a train accident. It took away their lives, but at the same time, it took them back to Narnia. And when Eustace, Jill and Tirian walked into the Ape's Stable they too, died. But dying is not the end of the journey. It is merely the next step into an even greater one. And it isn't until they come to Aslan's Kingdom that they realize the worlds they came from were of little importance. It was each other and the lessons learned that was vital. For the end means nothing if the journey had no meaning.


The Friends of Narnia

"Seven Kings and Queens stood before him, all with crowns on their heads and all in glittering clothes."

All those we know who came to Narnia. All those who adventured across its land. All those who, in Narnia's time of need, answered the call to adventure and saved the world as all Narnians knew it. The Friends of Narnia and the Friends of Aslan the Lion. They all returned to complete the stories that they started. Not to show their new journey, but to give all their others a sense of closure.

It is interesting to note that, when "The Lord Digory and the Lady Polly! From the dawn of the world!" came back to the land they saw created, they had become young again. The rigors of age all but stripped away from them until they were barely older than Peter. And the pains of old age that they once felt were taken away. Naught left but a fading memory of a time much less pleasant than the one they were experiencing.

Peter the High King of Narnia, as brave and stalwart as ever. Eustace and Jill, the two children who are still children when The Last Battle begins. Edmund, though he has never forgotten the lesson he learned from the White Witch, gaining the wisdom that comes with age, while keeping the mind that comes from a child. And Lucy. Dear Lucy. The first of the Pevensie children to journey into Narnia and the one who fell in love with it. Narnia never left her heart, even though she had left Narnia.

They all returned... Except Susan. High Queen Susan of Narnia who sat on her throne at Cair Paravel. Whose horn summoned the children back into Narnia to assist Prince Caspian against his uncle Miraz. Whose beauty caught the eye of Prince Rabadash of Calormen and caused him to attack Archenland when he realized that he could not have her. Whose name stood proudly as a Friend of Narnia.

But she, as often children who try to grow up too fast do, forgot about Narnia. She forgot about the fantastic journies she had been on and the amazing people she had met. She, as Lady Polly said, "wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she'll waste the rest of her life trying to stay that age". When the Seven Kings and Queens of Narnia died and journey to Aslan's Kingdom, Susan stayed behind. And she will likely stay behind for the rest of her life. Which is not to say she won't join her family, one day, but her life has led her to a different path...

King Tirian

"Here stand I, Tirian of Narnia, in Aslan's name, to prove with my body that Tash is a foul fiend, the Ape, a manifold traitor, and these Calormenes, worthy of death. To my side, all true Narnians. Would you wait till your new masters have killed you all one by one?"

Tirian is the royal descendent of King Rillian who was the son of King Caspian, from the second book in the Chronicles of Narnia. He has lived in a time of peace, for Narnia. As did his father. And his father's father. But, as all things must pass, even the peace does go. And Tirian is caught directly in the middle of it all.

Tirian represents an odd sort of resolution in the Chronicles of Narnia. Where Eustace and Jill were our heroes in The Silver Chair, they seem more human now. But Tirian is the strength and fire that drives nations. He is the same sort of man as Peter was when he stepped up against Miraz in Prince Caspian and he has the same strength of character as Reepicheep the Mouse did in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

When he slays two Calormene in anger, he offers himself up to what he believes is Aslan. He literally offers away his life because he has, although lived up to his principles, gone against his God. Even as he realizes he is fated to die, he still stands to his morals. Together, with an old friend at his side, he marches onward to face the end. And together they say: "If Aslan gave me my choice I would choose no other life than the life I have had and no death than the one we go to."

They are the last heroes of Narnia. We realize that there can be no hope for them to win. That the odds are not just against them, they are impossible. Still they fight, not because there is no other option, but because it is the right thing to do. And it is for this reason that he stands beside the Friends of Narnia in Aslan's Kingdom...

Personal Review:

"Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which on one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."

The end of Narnia... No. The end of Narnia as I know it. Of course, the adventure goes on. Because Narnia is more than just seven books by C.S. Lewis. It's more than the tales of children from England being sucked into wardrobes and paintings. No... It is most definately not the end of Narnia. But it still brings feelings of sadness.

Never again will I read the tales of Pevensie children. Nor will I hear of noble Reepicheep. Or of Puzzle the Donkey. It feels much like when, in Prince Caspian, I learned that Peter and Susan couldn't return to Narnia. Except this time, I'm too old. This time, it is I who cannot return. But, even as that thought saddens me, I am pleased at the same time.

The Talking Beasts. Prince Rillian. Tumnus the Faun. Trufflehunter. Bree. All the creatures and people I loved from Narnia have come to a sort of ending that brings closure. They have all entered Aslan's Kingdom, where people are happy because life cannot possibly be bad. And so, one cannot help but feel terribly happy for them even if there is sorrow.

It's obvious that I recommend this book, but it comes with a warning. While any of the other Narnia books stand alone, this one does not. This one is a beautiful finish to six epic stories. It is the perfect conclusion to a set of books that are fondly remembered. It is amazing, yet subtle in it's beauty. So, if you want to read this book, read the other six first. Even if it seems like I've told you everything, I haven't. The ending is so much more then what I've said, but it doesn't mean anything unless you know the Chronicles.

Thank you, C.S. Lewis.

Title: The Last Battle
Author: C.S. Lewis
ISBN: 0-02-044210-6
Publisher: Collier Books
Date Published: 1956
Length: 184 pages
Genre: Fantasy

An E2 Quest: Writeup Redemption submission.

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