The Last Battle (Chronicles of Narnia)

by C.S. Lewis

Other authorsPauline Baynes (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 2007

Barcode

4943

Call number

YA 813 LEW

Status

Available

Call number

YA 813 LEW

Other editions

Pages

211

Description

When evil comes to Narnia, Jill and Eustace help fight the great last battle and Aslan leads his people to a glorious new paradise.

Publication

HarperCollins Narnia (2007), 224 pages

Original publication date

Denmark: 1984
1956-09-04

ISBN

0060234938 / 9780060234935

Rating

(2807 ratings; 3.9)

User reviews

LibraryThing member clong
I had fond memories of the Narnia books from my childhood, and so it seemed only natural to pick the series for bed time reading with my eight year old daughter. And indeed the first six books of the series have generally held up pretty well (with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Silver Chair being the strongest entries, or so I felt this time around).

This last book, though, left me very disappointed. The Christian symbolism is clumsy and blatant, and it’s a dark, dreary, colonialism-tinged brand of Christianity lacking humor and love. When all was said and done, I couldn’t find a single thing about this book to like.
… (more)
LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
I might be giving this 3 or 4 stars were it not for the penultimate paragraph of the book. My first Narnia book was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I did think the imagination and imagery striking but found the Christian Allegory too blatant. Friends told me however, that with the exception of The Last Battle, those aspects aren't so prominent, and that much of the series is wonder-full. So I found it from then on up to this book.

Well, it could be said I'd been warned--but it actually wasn't the allegorical aspect per se that threw me. Maybe it's just I'd grown inured to that aspect by this book, or maybe that I'm not as familiar with Revelations as the Gospels, so I didn't feel like I was ticking off, oh, this is Judas, this is the crucifixion, etc. The story is rich in ideas, imagery and symbolism. I loved the echoes of Dante and Plato.

On the whole, the issue of that last page aside, what disturbed me most was how the Calormenes were described. There have been accusations Narnia is racist because of how Lewis depicts this southern adversary of Narnia, and I think that unfair. I think we overuse the accusation "racist" so it loses it's impact when we use it other than to mean the belief that race defines character and ability. Lewis clearly does not believe this given positive Calormenes characters like Aravis and Emeth. In fact, I rather loved the message Lewis sends through Emeth--that it doesn't matter in whose name we do good or evil, whether Muhammad or Jesus--only that the act is good or evil.

Nevertheless, it was disturbing to have Calormenes described this way: Then the dark men came round them in a thick crowd, smelling of garlic and onions, their white eyes flashing dreadfully in their brown faces. And then there are the repeated cries of "darkie" from the crowd of dwarfs. (Admittedly those particular dwarfs are villains in this book--not people to emulate--but I imagine reading those passages aloud to a child and I cringe).

There's also, to borrow Gaiman's phrase, "The Problem of Susan." Susan, we find out early in the book, is no longer a "friend of Narnia" because she denies Narnia exists now and cares these days only about lipstick and nylons and such. I can rather forgive Lewis this. He's trying to make a point I think that even those who once knew the right way can drift away and forget what's truly important. I don't see misogyny in choosing Susan for that role anymore than it's anti-male to choose Edmund for the traitor role in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Moreover, given the strong female characters in the Chronicles (especially Jill in this story) I find cries of sexism less than convincing.

But then there's that last page...

**SPOILERS BELOW***

This is the next to last paragraph in the book and series:

There was a real railway accident," said Aslan softly. "Your father and mother and all of you are--as you used to call it in the Shadowlands--dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning."

This reminded me of when my Grandmother died, the priest turned to me, my mother and aunt and rebuked us for weeping--because "she's now in a better place than you are." I know what I felt towards that priest in that moment as I looked at my mother's and aunt's stricken faces--rage.

And then I thought of Susan--no longer "a friend of Narnia" dealing with the sudden violent deaths of her friends and family and I felt the same kind of rage at Lewis.

Yes, I know--Christians believe Heaven this wonderful thing. And within the book and series the ending has its logic. But I for one felt slapped by that paragraph--I can't imagine wanting to give this to children, that one paragraph seems so malignant in its celebration of death. You guys giving this book five stars--you really want to give a child a book where dying young in a trainwreck with your entire family--parents, siblings, a cousin is the happy ending? Really?

A friend told me about Gaiman's counter to this "The Problem of Susan"--it's in the short story anthology Fragile Things. That story has some disturbing imagery, and I know some that love Narnia have called it disgusting and "blasphemous." (Definitely not a story for children--adults only here.) All I can say is having come to the end of this series I found it cathartic. (And going back to reading Gaiman and Pratchett's Good Omens, about an angel and demon working to stop the apocalypse, can only help...)
… (more)
LibraryThing member ncgraham
If The Magician’s Nephew is the most nostalgic and childlike of C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, then the next and final book, The Last Battle, is as dark and mature as one might expect from a story that spells the end for an entire world. As such, it is probably the most widely debated of the Narnia books (with the possible exception of The Horse and His Boy) and for some the unflinching nature of Lewis’ narrative is a major turn-off. I happen to think it’s a wonderful yarn, and am glad he didn’t shy away from his purpose even when it might be seen as politically incorrect.

The Narnian apocalypse begins in a rather unexpected manner—with the story of an ape named Shift, and how he gulls his neighbor, the donkey Puzzle, into wearing a lion’s skin he found in Cauldron Pool. From this seemingly insignificant happening, however, follows a chain of events that gradually lead to disaster. Soon there are Calormenes in the land, the king himself is put in danger, and once again two children are called out of our world to aid them as best they can.

My six-year-old sister confessed that she didn’t understand much of this when I read it to her earlier this year, and indeed this is by far the most “advanced” of the Chronicles. I still maintain that they are none of them allegories, but it is certainly true that Lewis explored complex philosophical and religious issues in the books. Here he is concerned with any number of things: the lie that is universalism, the way evil eventually consumes itself, the dangers inherent in materialism, etc. I cannot tell how much I am moved by Emeth’s confession: “And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me, Beloved, me who am but as a dog—”

Even people who love the series and have run into no trouble when it comes to Lewis’ outlook sometimes have a hard time taking to this book, simply because parts are so sad. I cried at least twice during this latest reread of the Chronicles, and I was shocked to find that I didn’t during The Last Battle. I suppose I have now come to the point in my life when I can see past all the tragedy to the hope that lies beyond.

A particularly effective way to cap off a wonderful series, and a favorite forever.
… (more)
LibraryThing member the_awesome_opossum
It's so depressing to see the Chronicles of Narnia draw to a close, even if it's a good one. What surprised me about the theology in The Last Battle is that the "battle" isn't one between good and evil exactly (I was surprised that the White Witch never showed up), but one between good intentions for religion and bad intentions, or perhaps mundane goals versus the divine and ultimate ones. Nearly all of the characters of the series make a final appearance, and Lewis raises the question of what exactly Narnia was - does it reside within those who believe in it, or is there an ultimate reality? Is it "Heaven" to us or something else? Interesting book, a lot milder than some of the others in the series, but I think it makes for a good send-off… (more)
LibraryThing member A_musing
There are few things as disappointing as discovering that the concluding volume to a truly great series is utterly pedantic, poorly crafted, and astonishingly trite. Lewis barely finds a story to cloak a diatribe in, and his diatribe includes such horrors as the derogatory use of the term "darky" to characterize the evil Calormenes (in case you hadn't already understood the message, and needed to be beaten over the head with it). The quaint emphasis on gender roles in the earlier books becomes thinly veiled sexism in The Last Battle (easily recognized as such by young children). The Last Battle depicts a black-and-white world of evil and heros, and unsubtly makes it clear that the evil ones are the non-Christians, who have literally no redeeming characteristics. The heros are devoid of charm and utterly flat as characters; the minor moments when a character shows sympathy and compassion are tangential to the story and message itself. The prose is stiff, preachy and self-important.

All the compassion, charm and subtlety of the earlier books has been drained. Worst of all, this is some strange form of Manichaeism mascarading as Christianity. Lewis' story here is too cartoonish to be tragic: the deep and profound tragedy is that this, in the end, is what the Narnia series comes to.

Please, PLEASE, don't read this one to your kids until you've read it yourself.
… (more)
LibraryThing member ikhaya
We still haven't finished this one. We got burnt out on forcing ourselves through the books. They are hard to read after the Horse and his Boy. They become too science fiction for me.
LibraryThing member silverwing2332
Amazing series, and an amazing book. There is very little else I can say that no one else has, but this book is wonderful, and a great conclusion to the series. These books always seem darker than books geared towards the young audience normally are. I, personally, loved how dark and deep the novel was, and although I still have trouble remembering or understanding all the details of the book, it still left an impact on me.… (more)
LibraryThing member clq
It is impossible for me to be objective about this book. Obviously the end of the Narnia-series, and the conclusion to seven books of fantastic story-telling. I had goosebumps while reading about half of it, and I'm not even sure why. I don't care one bit that it might have been a little cheesy, cliched at times, and preachy. It was a moving, worthy and brilliant end to a great series. Not that it needs saying, but it's hard not to imagine that the Chronicles of Narnia will still be read and enjoyed for hundreds of years to come.… (more)
LibraryThing member Arctic-Stranger
I have a hard time reviewing this, because even thirty years after first reading it, the disappointment that the series was over was pretty intense. This is, as the title says, the Last Battle, and Lewis does a much better job of Last Things theology than any of the Left Behind series.

I have used this book more than any other in my ministry.… (more)
LibraryThing member HippieLunatic
The Last Battle doesn't feel like the other Narnia tales. Perhaps it isn't supposed to, in that it is not only the end of the story as we can know it, but the beginning of an unknown. In some ways, it is the final coming-of-age tale, in that the adolescence of earthly life is over, and the cast of characters can begin to appreciate the fullness of a paradise life.

The absence of one character is discussed within a two page span, and while some readers may question this choice by Lewis, I have to say that I respect it. After having other portions of a Christian belief stuffed down your throat, the need to stay on track with belief, the need to keep your faith a focus, the need to want the connection and to have those lessons shown with such strength, clarity and brevity was a welcome relief.

All in all, this is my least favorite of the series, but still worth reading, if not as often as the others.
… (more)
LibraryThing member jessilouwho22
This book started out with adventure right from the beginning. I loved the whole Shift/Rishda/Tashlan thing that went on. It was so frustrating, but not in a bad way...frustrating in the sense that you just wanted to shake the Narnians that were falling for this because you knew what was actually going on. I didn't really King Tirian as much as I liked some of the other Narnian kings. He seemed a little cold and I didn't like how he was always trying to make the children feel like children in the sense that they shouldn't be fighting alongside with the rest of them for the sake of Narnia. However...the ending...blew me away. What amazing imagery! And I love love LOVED how all of the favorite characters of the previous books came back. It made me so sad that I was reaching the end of this wonderful series. I kinda saw the ending coming, as far as the last paragraph or so went, but that, by no means, took away the surprise that I felt actually finding out that I was right.

This book, out of all of them, however, felt less like a children's book to me. I mean, I suppose I can see how this is still a children's book, but this book is also incredibly dark and deep...maybe too much so for a child to fully understand what C.S. Lewis was trying to get across. It was a little rough for me to hear about Susan's fate, although there were clues leading up to it throughout all of the books.

Once again...this book was brimming with Christian metaphors and allegory. I could type pages and pages about everything that I found in this book. Although it all remained fairly obvious, this book can still be read as a simple story.

Overall, I loved it...and I am so glad that this series ended the way that it did.
… (more)
LibraryThing member hpluver07
This one was my favorite out of all of the books. I liked how all the characters from all the books came together in this one. I loved it! Perfect ending to a series.
LibraryThing member ForeverMasterless
This is the worst of all the Narnia books. While I have a strong personal dislike for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and rated it two stars as well, I can at least see why others like it. I just found it mind-numbingly boring. This, on the other hand, is hard to like and, more importantly, hard to defend.

It starts out strong, with an ape tricking his donkey friend into wearing a lion pelt that washed into a pond they frequent so that he can pretend to be Aslan and get people to do stuff for him. It's obviously analogous to the Antichrist but I'm fine with that. It's a fascinating part of the Christian myth and makes for good drama and tension.

The second half is where everything falls apart. The Antichrist signals the end times, and as you can imagine that's exactly what happens. Unfortunately it happens rather slowly, and boringly. After much ado about nothing Aslan shows up, kills Narnia, ushers everyone through a magical door into the 'real' Narnia (Heaven) and they live happily ever after, theoretically. Except all the kids actually died in a horrible train accident back in our world and Susan gets to stay behind in the world where her friends are dead because fuck her, am I right?

It's not so much the heavy-handed Christian apologist on the other end of these words that I have a problem with. After all, that's been there from the start and I've been pretty okay with it. It's more that this is the first time I've truly felt that Lewis let his faith worsen his storytelling instead of mining the Christian myth for all it's worth. The descriptions of 'Heaven' go on forever and are uninspired, which grinds the pace to a halt. All conflict disappears in the build up to the end times because you know what's going to happen so early, and that none of these struggles in the moment will really mean anything by the end.

Oh, and did I mention that it's got some pretty obvious racist undertones? And that it says Susan is denied Heaven primarily because she's off having sex, basically, and that's wrong and stuff? Like I said, it's pretty hard to defend. Still, I give it two stars instead of one because the book started off simply in the style of a parable with a donkey pretending to be Aslan because of his mean ape friend, and as that it was enjoyable for a short time. Also because it's the end of the series and it brings back all your favorite characters in the end, which does feel a little nostalgic and heart-warming. I may have only gotten around to reading all the books in the last couple of years, but Narnia has technically been a part of my life since I first read Magician's Nephew, Wardrobe, and Silver Chair back in middle school. Even with all the Christian propaganda, it's bittersweet to see it go.
… (more)
LibraryThing member Hamburgerclan
The Last Battle. Armaggedon comes to Narnia. Having read all the previous books in the series I just couldn't wait to see how it ends. Would fire and brimstone rain down from the heavens? Would trumpets blast and tempests rage? Would Aslan descend and crush all evil beneath his mighty paw? Well, sort of. This is a children's book after all. There is death and destruction, but the book hardly dwells upon it. I think I remember hearing that Mr. Lewis' theology wasn't all that much "fire and brimstone" anyway. Be that as it may, I expected a wee bit more. An unreasonable expectation, I would have to admit. Still, there are plenty of excellent aspects to the book as it allegorizes disbelief, faithfulness and judgment. It's definitely a book to put on my shelf, and I intend to keep it there until I meet the real Aslan, face to face.
--J.
… (more)
LibraryThing member trinityofone
Goddamn you, Lewis. You ruined my life.

*is only slightly kidding*
LibraryThing member Crowyhead
As a kid this was one of my favorites in the series, because I found the image of heaven at the end to be very reassuring. But now it seems a little oppressive in its Christianity.
LibraryThing member orthros
The best of the C.S. Lewis Narnia series. Ties the entire series together to an exciting conclusion. As a child, this book made me go right back to Lion, Witch and Wardrobe and start reading them all over again!
LibraryThing member t1bclasslibrary
Everyone is back in Narnia... just in time to see it destroyed by a false Aslan. All seems lost, but the characters find themselves in a bigger, better Narnia heaven, by which the regular Narnia pales in comparison.
LibraryThing member wirkman
The last of the Narnia books is in many ways the least satisfactory. Why? In part because Lewis is not quite convincing about the end of a world. The eschatology is a bit much.

And the anti-hominoid angle is peculiar, too. He has an ape become the Antichrist (or "anti-Aslan"), and apes hadn't appeared anywhere earlier. There's something a bit icky about the disguised anti-evolutionism implied here.

Oh, well. This is the least crumpled of the books in my possession. I reread it the fewest times, growing up.
… (more)
LibraryThing member boeflak
Good children's fantasy. Aslan the lion is supposed by many to be a proxy for Jesus, given Lewis' fame as a defender of Christianity. If so, it wasn't obvious to me, and the series is just as enjoyable for an infidel as it would be to a .....fidel?
LibraryThing member susan139
The last book, and yes I'm 43 and yes, I still cry at the end.
LibraryThing member antiquary
When yopung I disliked this because it was sad, but I have some to feel it is important to undestand the god guys do not always win in this world (or in Narnia)
LibraryThing member Anduril85
The last edition is a great book and a very nice end to the series, while some see it as depressing and very well it might be if you stand back and take a look i think you might find and end to Narnia that is supposed to mirror our own, so read the last book it might just make you think.
LibraryThing member AuntieClio
I didn't like this one nearly as much as some of the other books. If I had picked this one up first I might have put it down after a couple of chapters because I didn't like any of the characters. But knowing this was the last of the series helped me hang on until things started happening. It was a decent wrap-up and a good Christian parable, if you're into that sort of thing.… (more)
LibraryThing member bear08
Wow. When I was younger this book confused and terrified me. However, seven years later I see this book as an amazing and beautiful close to the land that is Narnia. The Last Battle would stand alone terribly, but as the ultimate work in C.S. Lewis's masterpiece it fits perfectly. The only disappointment is that this book is the end - that there is no more Narnia to come.… (more)

Media reviews

The Christian symbolism is clear enough, but the book can stand on its own feet as a deeply moving and hauntingly lovely story apart from the doctrinal content.

Language

Page: 0.4368 seconds