The Last Battle (#7) by C. S. Lewis

Published: March 5th 2002 (originally 4 September 1956)
Goodreads badgePublisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 229
Format: Book
Genre: Junior Fiction/ Fantasy
★ – 1 Star

The last battle is the greatest battle of all.  Narnia… where lies breed fear… where loyalty is tested… where all hope seems lost. During the last days of Narnia, the land faces its fiercest challenge – not an invader from without but an enemy from within. Lies and treachery have taken root, and only the king and a small band of loyal followers can prevent the destruction of all they hold dear.

Note: This review is what I wrote the second I finished this book. I put the book down and stormed to the computer and wrote this. I feel it captures my feeling at the time when I read it. I apologise if you liked this book, I understood from the many five star reviews people did, but I saw just as many on my side so I don’t feel too bad about it. I don’t know if you can pick up the anger in my writing tone, it is hard not to, but I was trying to be as civil as possible.

“I hated the ending. Simple as that. I wanted to throw the book across the room, scrunch it into a pile and set it on fire. I get your message Mr Lewis. Don’t shove it down my throat. You managed to slip it in unbeknownst to me in the second book, I don’t know enough of the Bible to know if you did it in any other story except the first and that was tolerable, but when you blatantly spell it out in such an insulting and judgmental manner I get pretty damn pissed off.

The book started off ok, it was a bit sad to see how the once beautiful Narnia had become but it was a new adventure and I accepted it. The whole ape thing confused me and I thought it was weird but I accepted it. Times were tough in Narnia, it was thousands of years since the early days and everyone had evolved, I accepted it. Then the children come back, there is hope yet. Oh not everyone, ok…it might be alright. But no, no it was not. The further this book went I could see the happiness and tolerance metre in my head slowly drop. Then the final part of the book came and I just got angry. I don’t know the last time I got as angry at a book as I did at this. I forgot all the other great books I had read of this series and focused on how Lewis managed to screw up the last book of the series. He almost got through it without making an ass out of himself and causing a divide in the readers. The rest of the books would vary from a few people, but this book would divide one way or the other I could tell.

We effectively rushed through the ending, skipping long explanations and just saying this is what happened and this is what it is now. Let’s all be accepting good Narnian slaves and live forever after in this wonderland and don’t think too much of how you are here. Oh and never mention those who got left behind cause they are the devil incarnate. Thank you Mr Lewis, I hope you’re happy with yourself.”

So that was was my initial reaction and review. I would like to add that almost a year later, and a lot calmer, I wouldn’t change anything because that is how I felt about what happened but I will try and offer a better summary. This is the seventh book in my chronological system, I cannot imagine how this could possible be anything other than last so that is undisputed. We are not given any real explanation why the story begins how it does and so for a lot of it I was confused about what was going on. The ending of The Silver Chair and the past history Lewis used I was expecting a slight continuation, but not having that I thought perhaps we were doing another seemingly unconnected The Horse and His Boy style book. The issue I had with that was that this was supposed to be the final book, the book that concluded all the stories, all the magic, all the crossovers and lives that we had seen; and when that didn’t seem to be happening I was very confused. The ape thing I mentioned was were my anger sort of began. Maybe not anger but I think having come from this succession of great Narnia history and beauty, seeing it being tampered with felt disrespectful. I don’t want to make any connection between the ape/human debate because I can’t entirely see how that is relevant considering what we have seen, but knowing Lewis’ ability to throw in symbolism at every turn it wouldn’t surprise me.

As I say not a lot was explained so there were times where I was reading and going along with it because I could not figure out where any of this was headed. I know Lewis had a tendency to add religion into his books. I got the message in The Magician’s Nephew, this, somehow, was a lot worse because it was not even using the imagery and the metaphor and symbolism that that book had, and even The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was subtler (for me anyhow). I won’t tell you not to read it, not at all, and I know this is simply my view on the book, other people have loved it, bear that in mind and don’t go into this book expecting the worst. I just want you to know that for me, this book is very different than the previous ones. Lewis seems to take things to another level, perhaps if he had been gradually building throughout this series the book would not have been such a shock, but for me it seemed unexpected and extreme considering where we had come from. There had been no indication that those sorts of things were possible nor that they would happen. I may have to reread some reviews to understand why people loved it, and I have an inkling, but I am willing to try.

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