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A Rant About C S Lewis’s The Last Battle

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Please note that because these are thoughts rather than a review, the post deals with spoilers. The one thing I will say to anyone who hasn’t yet read the series and plans to – it’s important to read The Magician’s Nephew and The Horse And His Boy before reading The Last Battle as the book refers to them.

The Chronicles Of Narnia ends in the way you always hoped it would, with the children in Heaven, but Lewis puts a spin on it that is quite nasty.

I had assumed that, constantly bringing the children into Narnia and sending them back again, the book would end with them going back to England and then there would be a short epilogue to say that when they reached old age they died and went to Aslan’s country.

A few minutes before the end, when Lucy sees her parents in England, I burst into tears because I knew what had happened. In one way the ending is beautiful, and in another wretched. Accustomed as they are to going home after an adventure, the children ask Aslan when they are leaving. Aslan basically turns round and says “oh, that bump you had in the railway carriage? It didn’t just bring you to Narnia like you thought – you’re dead. And remember your parents were on the train too in order to go to Bristol? Yeah, they’re dead too. You’re here to stay, welcome.” This content is the second to last paragraph. Did we really need this kind of ending? No matter how nice it was to bring in the various characters from all the other books. And yes, I do understand that it might have been more a case that the children had come to Narnia this time because of the accident rather than because of Trilian.

So everyone is dead, but Susan is left undead in England and although Lewis provides the happy-ever-after line it only applies to those in Narnia cough Heaven. He forgets Susan straight after he demonises her. Susan is left out of the story after Lewis explains that she had started using lipsticks and saying she no longer believed in Narnia. I’m sorry, but not believing in God (because let’s not forget what this story is truly about) is a regular thing that happens when you hit adolescence and it’s a good thing to question your spirituality because it is there that you really find out about what you believe. Lewis obviously believes this is a bad thing. And he is clearly demonising women for using cosmetics, suggesting that Susan, as she hasn’t come to Narnia, is destined to Hell. Yes, Hell – for using cosmetics. Perhaps you could say that women use cosmetics because we are ashamed of ourselves – but does that make us bad? Really, enough for Hell? The whole idea of Susan being excluded from paradise is abhorrent and what Lewis is effectively doing is warning children, or rather just girls, not to experiment in harmless things. He is wrong for slurring an entire gender of people.

Lastly, my issues fall on the title. What battle? I had at least, when I first started my journey into Narnia about 16 years ago, expected an epic battle when I reached this book. Instead there is a little tiff and then suddenly Aslan comes and splits people into the group for Hell and the group for Heaven, and destroys the world. It’s a bit too random and, horrid as the Ape’s plan was, it wasn’t bad enough for this. You could say that the Ape’s calling up of Tash (the devil) made it happen, but even then it was too sudden. And then Aslan closes the door on those heading to hell, leaves the people for Purgatory just inside in darkness, and goes off.

My writing rarely goes unedited and in such a streaming rush as it has here but this communicates just how much emotion and thought the end of this series has caused me. I am disappointed that a man writing for children did so in this bad way.

Further Reading

Revisiting My Thoughts On Narnia In The Context Of Jo Walton’s Among Others



October 21, 2010, 1:43 am

I haven’t read this series, and I might, so I’ll admit that I didn’t read much of your review. I’m really interested, though, so if I do get to the series I’m coming back to read this!!

Charlie: Oh yeah, definitely read it! It’s very much worth it, just that the ending for me was a bit… *edited for spoilers*


October 21, 2010, 9:40 am

I read about what happened in The Last Battle beforehand, and I could never bring myself to read it for this very reason. I know it would only upset me :\ Have you read The Magician’s Book by Laura Miller? It’s part reading memoir, part literary criticism about the whole Narnia series. Miller writes about how she came to appreciate the books again after having been disappointed by some aspects of them. It’s thoughtful, passionate, and an excellent read.

Charlie: It’s almost as if the first six are a different series so I envy your position of not reading it. I knew about the Susan issue (had heard of J K Rowling’s opinions) but thought that would be the only problem.

I’ve heard of articles, but never a book, and it would be nice to find something redeeming in it. I’ll definitely have to check it out, thanks for the info!


October 21, 2010, 2:58 pm

I did like many of the Narnia books growing up but I have never liked The Last Battle for many of the reasons you mentioned.

Charlie: Hi Zee, I’ve been so glad to find the comments here and know I’m not alone!

Mary Ann Langan

October 21, 2010, 7:58 pm

Might try this one, thanks.


October 25, 2010, 8:48 pm

Just totally seconding that you might like Laura Miller’s The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia. Wonderful read that seems like it ties into some of your questions. Miller is an excellent writer and thinker.

Charlie: Thanks for the recommendation! I actually forgot to go and check it out so I’ll do it now.



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