KP Book Review: The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

Some books that start out bitter end up being the sweetest of all.

C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle lacks the charm, magic, and wonder the preceding stories possessed. An unsettling gloom lurks over the land as the story opens with two of the few talking animals left in Narnia, an ape named Shift and a donkey called Puzzle.The_Last_Battle When Shift and Puzzle find a lion skin, the ape gets the brilliant idea to masquerade his dumb donkey friend as the great lion Aslan, fooling many. Upon hearing the news that Aslan has been spotted in the country, King Tiran and Jewel the unicorn are thrilled, until they realize terrible deeds are being performed in Aslan’s name. Dryads are being murdered, talking horses abused, and Calmorenes are invading.

“Do you think I care if Aslan dooms me to death?” said the King. “That would be nothing, nothing at all. Would it not be better to be dead than to have this horrible fear that Aslan has come and is not like the Aslan we have believed in and longed for? It is as if the sun rose one day and were a black sun.” (Pg. 30)

The land of Narnia is suppressed by darkness. Though King Tiran is aware of this ever-present evil, he clings to his faith in the One True Aslan. As events contradict everything he believes about the great lion, Tirian determines to find out the truth, even if he must die for it.

The Last Battle is my favorite of the series, hands down. Why? As I mentioned before, Narnia is no longer the enchanting place described in The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, or even The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. At this time, Narnia is in an apocalyptic state, and the first two-thirds of the book focus on this. The Last Battle is rather grim. It is the end of the land of Narnia. Yet, beauty shines through in the book’s finale. After death and defeat, all of the characters from Lewis’s chronicles (with the exception of Susan), are reunited in a magnificent, enhanced form of Narnia that represents heaven.

The Last Battle is like candy that is sour when you first bite into it, for all is bitter and bleak; however, as the story draws to a close it releases an unexpected sweetness, especially to readers who understand the excitement of Jesus’ return.

“And as He spoke, He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth had read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” (Pg. 210)

Lewis had to decide whether to continue in the world of Narnia to avoid upsetting fans, or to put it to rest and wrap up everything in a meaningful way. Unlike many authors and filmmakers who keep pushing out content to fans (Pirates of the Caribbean and Transformers, anyone?), Lewis chose the more difficult path, but one that writers should take. Let your story run its course. It’s okay not to produce more when your story could and should have ended.

Overall, The Last Battle will never fail to satisfy. It ties all the strings together and brilliantly concludes this epic story. Lewis showed readers the birth of Narnia in The Magician’s Nephew, and in The Last Battle we witness its death in a glorious and fulfilling way that delivers hope by giving a glimpse of an even greater God and His great land that believers will someday call home.

“We are all between the paws of the One True Aslan.” (Pg. 121)

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Christine Eaton is a student at Providence Christian College who loves stories and hopes to publish children’s books. Wearing flip-flops in December, frequenting the beach, and taking every opportunity to visit Disneyland, Christine relishes living in sunny Southern California. She can usually be found happily sipping tea, memorizing lines from the latest play she is a part of, caving into her addiction to chocolate, writing encouraging snail mail, or listening to music, which is usually something folky like Andrew Peterson or the Gray Havens, or some Broadway musical (and rarely anything landing between those two categories.) Art is one of her largest passions, and her walls are covered in her sketches and paintings. Christine yearns to use her skills to glorify God by illustrating and writing her own children’s books that will teach children more about Jesus. Some of her favorite authors include A.S. Peterson, Francine Rivers, Louisa May Alcott, and Andrew Peterson. She is so thankful for the opportunity to manage Kingdom Pen’s social media accounts and help out around the Kingdom wherever she can. From the encouragement, enthusiastic young Christian writers, and her fellow staff members, KP holds a huge place in her heart and she is excited about encouraging young writers to write well and glorify God through their writing.
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  1. The older I get, the more I appreciate the depth and complexity of the entire Chronicles, and this one is definitely one of my favorites. I’ve also noticed that as a series, they are beautifully constructed, in that though they’re all more or less sequential, each one is a perfect sequel because they’re all different. Not trying to take what worked in the previous stories and use it again, but uniquely their own.
    Great review Christi; thanks. 😀

    • Great point, Kate! It is amazing how often stories are just redone and watered down through many sequels, but Lewis does bring us something fresh each time. Thanks for reading!

  2. The Last Battle always used to confuse me, but when I re-read it more recently I actually really liked it – basically all the points you said here.
    Thanks for the review. You put it so well and concisely. 🙂

  3. Armando says:

    Great book review! Exceptional work and it got me excited reading the review so I’ll have to read this series. Thank you for showing us the true joy that awaits us with our Lord. Keep these extraordinary reviews coming…adds more books to my list this summer!

  4. I really really like this book too. This review echoes what I think of it.
    What did you think of some of the theological parallels in this book? For example, when Aslan tells the young soldier that every good deed is done unto himself, even if the soldier was serving Tash? I think C.S. Lewis was an Anglican, so I don’t expect to have exactly the same beliefs on everything, but his parallels are generally pretty good. I don’t quite agree with that one though. I wonder how exactly he wanted to mirror Christian beliefs in Narnia?

    • *Intrudes* Hi, Abi. What Lewis did with the soldier who served Tash reflected his own personal views. He expressed quite clearly in his book Mere Christianity that he did not think one had to be a Christian to go to heaven.

      It’s been a looooong time since I read this book. Maybe I should revist the series.

    • *also intrudes* What Daeus said. I haven’t read Mere Christianity though. I should do that.

  5. The Chronicles of Narnia is one of my favorite stories ever. Also I grew up with these stories when I was a child so it brings back wonderful memories. When I read the Last Battle, the ending made me cry about everything that was happening, but it still was a beautiful picture about the similarity to Narnia and Heaven.
    Thanks for doing this review! I’ll be adding these books to be list of books to read for the summer!

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